Tag Archives | health and wellness

How to Create a Natural Disaster Survival Plan

Hello, Friends! Emergency preparedness has been on my mind, since Hurricane Matthew is quickly approaching. We have lived through several category 1,2 and 3 hurricanes before, so I know how important it is to be prepared.

This week, the mister and I have been updating our family’s natural disaster survival plan, kit, and backpacks. I thought if I walk you through my process, it could be of service to some of you out there. First, I wrote a new natural disaster survival plan – this is especially important for us, since this is the first major storm we have experienced since we moved back to Florida. Read on to learn how to create your own natural disaster survival plan.

1. Review, Update + Practice
First things first, once a year you should sit down to review, update and practice your natural disaster survival plan. This is the one way that you will be able to make the necessary updates to the plan and practice makes perfect. Everyone in your family should have a role when it comes to your plan, including the kids. Some examples include choosing a designated place to meet if your family becomes separated and establishing an out-of-state emergency contact, someone everyone in your family can contact to say “I am OK! if you become separated. Please have your children memorize this number in case their cell phone goes dead.

2. Should I Stay or Should I Go Now? 
If you know about the disaster ahead of time – in cases such as; hurricanes and volcanoes, you need to quickly decide if you plan to stay or evacuate. If you live in the area that is going to be directly hit by the natural disaster, it is best to leave as soon as possible. However, leaving doesn’t mean you have to hop on an airplane or drive hundreds of miles. You usually only have to drive several miles to get out of harms way – you don’t want to get stuck on the freeway or at the airport during a natural disaster. For example, the last time we lived in Florida, when we heard that Katrina (category 1 at the time) was headed our way (we lived on the beach at that time), we grabbed our hurricane kit and backpacks and drove to a hotel (that accepted dogs) outside of the cone.  Always better safe than sorry.

3. Have a Last Resort Plan
If you decide to stay during the natural disaster and then for some reason you have to leave your home at the last minute, you need to know where to go. Have a list of shelters in close proximity that you can get to quickly and have an emergency preparedness kit and backpacks (for each member of your family) ready to grab and go, including blankets/pillows, food, change of clothing, toiletries, water, medicines, and other survival items.

4. If You Plan to Stay – Stay and Prepare
Do not wait until the natural disaster is knocking on door to prepare. For natural disasters such as hurricanes, install your hurricane shutters immediately. If you have a generator, replace the oil/gasoline and make sure you have enough to keep your generating going for several days, make sure the generator is in working order. (Remember to only run the generator outside and away from your home, this is very important, many folks have died due to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning). If you need a very long extension cord, make sure to pick on up immediately. If you need supplies to board up your home, get them now. Choose a safe room in your home that has no windows and that can shelter your family if your homes outer structure breaks apart. Great examples are inside bathrooms, closets or stairwells. Choose an out of state emergency contact, someone everyone in your family can call to say “I am OK” if you become separated from your family.

5. Prepare for Special Needs Family Members + Pets
If you have a family member that has special medical needs, contact your local emergency management department to find the local special care shelter. If you need to take a family member to the shelter, make sure that you pack enough food, water, medicines, and supplies for each person for at least three days. If you have pets, take careful consideration on what you will do if you have to go to a shelter or evacuate. Many shelters will NOT allow pets – please have alternate ideas ready in case you have to leave.

6. Prepare Your Home
After you have made all of the necessary accommodations to protect your home from the natural disaster – contact your insurance company to find out what disasters and damages your policy covers. Determine whether you need to add more coverage protection and ask yourself, would my insurance cover the costs to rebuild my home from ground zero if necessary?

7. Prepare Your Survival Kit and Backpacks 
You should have a natural disaster backpack for each member of your family. We have dedicated backpacks that are packed with all of the essentials necessary to sustain each of us and our dogs (Noodles and Olive) for at least 3 days. Included in each of our packs a blanket/pillow, two changes of clothing, toiletries, first aid kit, bug spray, flashlight, hat, vital documents, credit cards, cash, notepad/pencil, a book, card games, rain gear, and our hiking boots. We also have separate large survival kits that house our food, water, Swiss army knives, tent, paper goods/plastic cutlery, rope, solar powered radio/flashlight, extra batteries, tape, garbage bags, wipes and other supplies that will be necessary, if we have to grab and go we are prepared.

If you are in the path of Hurricane Matthew, please prepare now if you haven’t already! It is always better to be safe than sorry. Stay safe everyone!

photo via Rick McCharles



TODAY is our 17th wedding anniversary! Hooray! Seventeen amazing years. Jayson and I have experienced many wonderful things together. During our time together we have lived in TWELVE different homes, in FOUR different states. We have loved SIX sweet dogs and ONE beautiful son! Through thick and thin, our marriage has strengthened and our friendship grown. I feel very lucky to be married to my best friend. Jayson makes me laugh every SINGLE day and always makes me feel special, beautiful, and loved. It’s pretty wonderful to get to spend your time with someone you enjoy so much. Happy seventeen years Mr. Lyon – I love you!

October Traditions: Spooky Tales by Candlelight

Now that Eben is getting older, he isn’t into Mr. Sweet Greens reading aloud to us (heck, we can barely bet him to hang out with us at all!) Ha!

Unless it is during the month of October. That is when our family enjoys our fun tradition, Mr. Sweet Greens reads us spooky tales by candlelight. It really is a treat!

We close the curtains, kill the lights, light our eco-friendly candles and put our reusable tea lights in all of our indoor Halloween decorations. It really gets us in the Halloween spirit and it is neat to see Eben get really excited for it. We usually have a yummy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies or another pumpkin treat along with homemade apple cider or cocoa.

I am looking for a spooky book to read together this month – any recommendations? Does your family have spooky October traditions? Please share them in the comments section!

Eco-Friendly Ways to Decorate Your Dining Room for the Holidays

Eco-Friendly Ways to Decorate Your Dining Room for the Holidays

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: Thank you supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.


The holidays are right around the corner! I have already been teasing Mr. Sweet Greens that I am ready to get out the Halloween decorations. He just rolls his eyes at me. Ha! I can’t help it, as soon as September hits all I can think about is Halloween and pumpkin spiced everything! I can’t wait to get out those giant reusable bins full of decorations. And don’t even get me started on Christmas and Hanukkah. Bring it on!

We have quite a few Halloween decorations for all areas of our home, but one of my favorite spaces to decorate is our dining room. We have a large dining table, chandelier and windows that I always deck out! For Halloween, the chandelier it is covered in cobwebs, Spanish moss, a black crow or two and a bunch of little spiders. For the winter holidays, I hang large round ornaments and candy canes from ribbon in the windows. Am, I putting you in the holiday mood? Here are some of my favorite ways to decorate my dining room table, chandelier, and windows for the holidays.

The Dining Table
During the “regular” months of the year, our dining table centerpiece consists of a large silver bowl that is overflowing with card games. It makes it really easy to start up an impromptu game of Old Maid or UNO right after dinner. And any extra time that I can sneak with Eben is okay with me! During Halloween that bowl gets filled up with our small Halloween themed games (one of my favorites is Spot It Halloween) and books. It’s a fun reminder to take some time after school to heat up a mug of spiced apple cider to play a game or read together. When Eben was younger, Mr. Sweet Greens would read us spooky stories in the dark. Now, we read our own spooky books together by candlelight. So fun!

During the winter holiday months, I fill the bowl up with Christmas and Hanukkah themed books and our huge collection of dreidels. In case you didn’t know, Dreidel is a favorite for anyone who celebrates Hanuakkah. It’s basically a game of chance played by spinning a top. It is a wonderful game night activity for the entire family and one that you should definitely add to your activity calendar for December.

The Chandelier
Decorating our chandelier is one of my favorite things to do during the holidays. By decorating it, you can completely change the feel of the room itself, which is a plus for holidays!

For Halloween, you can decorate it with cobwebs, paper bats, hanging ghosts, or any other combinations of fun pieces to spookify your dining room!

For the winter holidays, by hanging some pine branches and cones off it, your guests will instantly feel the room is Christmassy and you get that amazing pine scent too.

You really can’t go wrong decorating your chandelier for the holidays, it is fun for everyone!  And it looks really amazing when you invite friends and family over for Hanukkah dinner or Christmas brunch!

The Windows
Decorating the windows in our living is one of my favorite traditions. It is something that my family can enjoy from inside our home and it’s a fun treat for our neighbors outside too! I try to mix it up every year so that we have something fun and new to enjoy. It’s fun to get creative and try a lot of different ideas.

For Halloween, I have decorated with everything from homemade spooky silhouettes to pumpkin, bat and ghost cut-outs. When Eben was younger this was a particularly fun activity to do with him. Most younger kids love to draw and cut out pictures – having them hung on the dining room windows is just the icing on the cake.

For the winter holidays, I love to hang small wreaths tied with ribbon from the middle of each curtain rod. Other options that are super fun are large ornaments, pine cones or even stars or snowflakes. Anything that can be strung with ribbon is perfect for this project!

You can decorate your dining room table, chandelier, and windows for any holiday and it can be a tremendous amount of fun to plan with the kids. Just gather up some supplies, and spend a fantastic afternoon crafting decorations together. Seriously, Eben and I decorate ours together for every holiday, it’s a super fun tradition!

The bottom line is, when it comes to decorating for the holidays, you don’t have to spend any money, just gather up a few supplies that you already have on hand and just have a good time! Because, after all, that is the whole point! Have fun!

Eco-Friendly Family Activity: Board Game Night


Now that it is back to school time we have very little time to hang out as a family. Even on nights when we’re all at home, there’s always something to contend with; be it extracurricular activities, social lives, homework, or my own business being, well, busy! To combat this and get some quality family time in each week, we spend Wednesday nights having a family board game night.

While the classics are always good, (we have a big bowl on our dining room table full of small games!) there is such a variety of fun and interesting new games available these days! Today I’d like to tell you about the four games that we have been playing quite regularly, recently. All of them are produced by Blue Orange Games, a fantastic board game company with a focus on being environmentally friendly and sustainable.


Dr. Eureka: This is definitely my new favorite game! A fast-paced game that makes you feel like a mad scientist, it can be a real brainteaser. The goal is to match the position of colored balls in a test tube, based on your “scientific formula” card. Up to 4 people can play at a time, and a typical game only takes about 15 minutes, so it leaves plenty of time for rematches or other activities. I really love Dr. Eureka, probably because I am the best at it in my family and I win every time! Ha!

Fast Flip: A really fun speed and matching game, this one features a veritable fruit salad of adorable, healthy foods. You have to match numbers and fruits together depending on what comes up with your cards and tokens, and is small and portable. It’s great for bringing along on family vacations, and is perfect if friends come over because it can be played by anywhere between 2 and 8 players.

Gigamons: No, this has nothing to do with the Pokemon Go craze! It’s a board game where the earth’s elements are represented by creatures with mythical powers. In this tile matching game, you earn powers from the various elemental creatures that help you with gameplay. A great memory booster, this game is also suitable for even younger players, so if you have a young child in the house, it would be a great choice.

Top That!: This fun little matching and stacking game is great for any kids who enjoy magic tricks. With problem solving elements, and a focus on being quick and perceptive, it is a fun, fast-paced game great for all ages. My family had a fun time playing it, and the little rabbit coming out of the top hats is so cute!

The games we’ve enjoyed playing at recent board game nights are all the better for being eco-friendly. The games themselves are quick to learn (great for parties!) and work on important skills like memory, coordination, critical thinking, and visual perception. The components are manufactured from nice, sturdy materials and obviously made to last (these will be passed down for generations to come). Best of all, Blue Orange Games is committed to planting two trees for each one used to create their wooden game pieces! They’ve won over 200 awards for game design, so you really can’t go wrong. I can whole-heartedly recommend checking out their catalog of games for yourself, and maybe starting a new weekly tradition with your family.


All opinions are my own – we are just huge fans of Blue Orange Games!