Tag Archives | green lifestyle

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!

Ways to Make Your Home More Sustainable

There are many ways to make your home more sustainable this spring and summer. You can remodel using eco-friendly materials and appliances, grow native plants, cook more food at home, cool your home without using the AC all the time, and upgrade appliances. Below are some ways to make these changes.

Remodel Using Eco-Friendly Options

Did you know that over 10 million kitchens are remodeled every year? When you decide to remodel your kitchen, look for Energy Star appliances rated for saving water and energy. Use sustainable materials for your cabinets, countertops, and backsplashes. Wood, stone, and tile are all materials that are natural and recyclable. Use wood materials free of toxic materials in your home. Install low-flow faucets in your sinks because they reduce water usage by about 30%. Paint your walls with paint and finishes that are low in VOC or harmful chemicals. These paints are safer for your whole family. Visit antique stores and salvage shops near you to find furniture, accessories, outdoor fixtures, crafts, and art you can put in your home.

Choose Native Plants To Grow in Your Garden

Native plants grow best and adapt to your geographic area better than other plants. They are often easy to care for and you can find them at your local garden center. You can purchase native flowers, vegetables, and herbs already growing and transplant them into your garden. Native plants will attract birds, butterflies, bees, and local wildlife. These plants provide food for local wildlife to help them survive. Finding out about native plants means visiting your local garden center or clubs to learn what is grown locally. These plants will save you money and are usually easier to maintain.

Make More Food Products at Home

Start by buying a sheet pan and parchment paper to cook more fresh vegetables for your meals. Wash and cut the carrots, potatoes, squash, peppers, cabbage, add olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven. Roast at 350 or higher for 20 to 30 minutes. The vegetables should be soft and slightly browned and you can roast them individually or mix them. Learn to saute greens, spinach, swiss chard, or cabbage. Look for recipes and follow instructions. Rice is easy to make in the microwave and is a great side dish with meats, seafood, stir fry, and stews. Learn to use beans in chili and soup recipes. They add protein, vitamins, and nutrients to meals. Try whole wheat or gluten-free pasta they have more nutrition than white pasta.

Prepare more food at home and skip frozen and prepared dinners. Over the last 7,000 years, people have fermented plants and grains to make alcohol. Learn to make healthier meals and cut down on alcohol, as too much is bad for your health. Other easy recipes to prepare at home are pasta dishes, homemade salad dressings, sandwiches, eggs, salads, and sauces. Start with simple recipes with fewer ingredients when learning to cook new dishes.

How to Cool Your Home Without AC

You might want to cut down on using your air conditioner and find ways to cool your house without it. Place box fans in the windows to run at night or a ceiling fan to make your air conditioner more efficient. Many evenings you will find the ceiling fan cools the room enough so you do not need air conditioning. Use cotton or bamboo sheets that breathe and do not trap heat and moisture. Open the window and slider door in the late evening and let some cool air come in. Shut shutters, blinds, and shades during the day to keep heat and the sun out. Wear comfortable lightweight clothing at home; shorts, tee shirts, and comfortable shoes. Try taking a cold bath or shower before going to bed. Cook meals outside on the grill or prepare early in the morning when it is cooler.

Update Older Appliances and Features

Did you know that 85% of the homes in the US were built before 1980 and need improvement and updates? Start slowly to replace old appliances with new models one at a time. Look for Energy Star appliances that save money on water and electricity. Buy a smaller-sized refrigerator or a dishwasher that saves on water when you wash dishes. Buy sustainable products for flooring or wood paneling or even recycled materials that can be reused. Install low-flow faucets and a shower head to save on water use or use LED lightbulbs to save energy. Paint your cabinets or stain them instead of installing new ones.

Finding ways to make your home more eco-friendly and sustainable will improve your health and make it more comfortable to live in.

Clever Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint This Summer

There are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint in the summer months. You can exercise more and use the car less frequently, grow a garden, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and conserve energy using energy-saving devices. Below are some specific ideas of how your and your family can reduce your carbon footprint this season.

Try a New Mode Of Transportation

Just one gallon of gasoline emits tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Cut down on using your car this summer and walk and bike in your neighborhood instead. Think about walking to the mailbox instead of driving to the local post office to mail letters. When you drive somewhere and park, walk an extra few blocks rather than drive around to nearby destinations. You do not have to park as close as possible. Consider using the bus for local transportation, as choosing public transit can reduce the number of other vehicles on the street. There are over 6 million car accidents in the United States yearly, partially due to overcrowded roads. Choose local parks and trails in your state and walk and hike locally or enjoy taking a stroll around the block instead of a nightly drive to clear your head.

Not only do cars come with harmful emissions, but they can also be expensive to maintain. Around 96% of Subarus sold during the past decade are still on the road, which means many drivers may also have to deal with expensive vehicle maintenance to keep their cars operable. You can cut down on necessary repairs by ditching your car for a bike this summer whenever possible. Biking is a great way to exercise or get from point A to point B. If you live close to where you work, walking or biking to work in good weather can be a great way to burn calories, shed a sedentary lifestyle, and reduce your environmental impact. You can bike or walk in parks, local college campuses, the neighborhood, or in the heart of the city. Don’t forget to learn the safety rules and follow them when biking or walking. Walk and bike to places a few miles near your home to start; you might find you love it so much that you try not to take the car if you don’t have to!

Plan a Garden Or Grow Plants in Pots

Plant a garden this year and start growing some herbs and vegetables. Go to a local garden center and purchase native flowers, vegetables, and herbs. You should also stop using chemical pesticides and buy organic pesticides made from natural ingredients (or make your own at home!). While Oklahoma has over 540 common pests, they can be kept out of your garden in ways that won’t harm the surrounding environment if you stick to natural pesticides and insecticides. Your garden center can tell you how to care for the plants you buy. Buy plants for the deck or patio if you don’t have the time to care for a garden. You can use the vegetables and herbs you grow when cooking. This can help you reduce the environmental impact associated with purchasing groceries that come from far-away farms. You might even consider collecting water in a rain barrel to use to water the lawn and your plants at home, thus saving water!

Use a Programmable Thermostat and Fans to Reduce Energy Consumption

Installing a programmable thermostat will help you save on your electric bill when cooling the house. This handy device can increase or decrease the temperature, even when you’re not at home. Other ways to cool the house include closing the shutters, blinds, and shades during the day. You can also use a fan instead of an air conditioner or to supplement your AC. You might even think about switching to a green energy plan powered by renewable energy. Remember to unplug appliances you’re not using and cook on the outdoor grill instead of using the oven to reduce your overall energy consumption and to keep your home more comfortable throughout the hotter months.

Eat Local and Reduce Meat Consumption

This summer, shop at your local farmers’ market where they sell local produce grown in your region. You should always aim to buy seasonal produce, as it is less expensive and can be transported in a more environmentally-friendly way. You can always prepare your vegetables in large batches and freeze for later use to reduce waste. Find some new recipes for vegetable, fruit, and pasta salads or soups and try them out this summer. Be sure to try some new fruits and vegetables you have never eaten before every week. You can also reduce meat consumption in your diet, as the meat industry can be incredibly harmful to the environment.

These tips will help you reduce your carbon footprint and help you find a way to promote green and natural living in the warmer months.

Helping Holidays: 4 Green Gifts That Give Back

 

The holidays are all about celebrating acts of giving, making it the perfect opportunity to make your gift giving smarter this season. There are so many amazing businesses out there that give back when you purchase one of their products. These companies are tied to doing good somewhere in the world every time a purchase is made. Read on for my 4 favorite gifts that give back – and if you hurry you can still get these goodies by Christmas.

1. Warby Parker Glasses
Eben and I both wear glasses and love the stylish, affordable frames from Warby Parker. For every pair of glasses that you buy, a pair is donated to a person in need. If you don’t wear glasses, that is alright – Warby Parker also offers fantastic sunglasses.

+ Warby Parker  

2. Feed Bags
I have been familiar with FEED Bags for a very long time – I remember first seeing them in Whole Foods back when we lived in Georgia! FEED Bags come in a huge selection of styles and sizes and with each purchase a portion of the proceeds go towards feeding the children of the world.

+ FEED Projects

3. TOMS Shoes
Most likely you are already familiar with TOMS shoes – for every pair you purchase a pair is donated to a child in need. With a great selection of shoes for everyone on your list, TOMS is the perfect holiday gift!

+ TOMS

4. Bogo Brush
Every year I stick a toothbrush in the holiday stocking – this year I will be stuffing a brush from Bogo Brush! Bogo Brush is another company that donates a product to a child in need – in this case, an eco-friendly toothbrush made from waste – because a healthy smile is a happy smile.

+ BOGO BRUSH

Do you have a favorite gift to give that gives back too?

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!