Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Will you be having a “green” Christmas this year?

Around this time of the year, for most families, spending money is at an all time high to get ready for the holidays. Here are some helpful tips that individuals should use to save money and have a one-of-a -kind beautiful “green” christmas.


  1. Hand-painted holiday cards
    Sending out christmas cards can be a crucial part of the holidays. This is a way of keeping in touch with your loved ones and updating them on your past year. But do they have to come at such and expense?! The answer is no! Making your own cards comes with many perks including conserving both resources and money. This is a great way to get your kids together to get them excited about the holidays. Examples like painting a decorative border around a favorite photograph to make a postcard or cutting out magazine photos and using them with old wrapping materials could create a very special card. Not to mention the recipients of the card will love the creativity that went into it.

  2. Homemade wreaths
    Be a sustainable designer this year by creating your own wreaths. This is great way to get creative and will also help to save some trees and money! Use fallen limbs or evergreen trimmings from your yard. You can also collect pinecones from your lawn for a pinecone wreath, or use old or broken ornaments to create a shiny, modern version. Forget Styrofoam wreath forms. Make your own out of cardboard, rolled up newspapers, or an old metal coat hanger! Your beautiful designed wreaths will put a unique stamp on your home for the holidays!

  3. Invest in LED tree lights
    
Replace old strands of Christmas lights with energy efficient LED ones. LED bulbs lose less energy to heat than traditional bulbs, which makes them much more efficient. This is great news for your energy bill. Plus, some LED bulbs last as long as 30,000 hours, compared with 750 hours for a standard bulb. That’s a lot of twinkle time, which kids will be impressed with as well!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pros and Cons of Going Tiny

A few days ago, my husband and I watched a documentary titled Tiny. The story follows a young couple in Colorado and their journey to build a Tiny Home. I found the idea of downsizing to a space that was less than 1,000 square feet and interesting and challenging idea. 
Some of the pros to living in a tiny home are of course the cost. On average it takes around $32,000 to build a Tiny Home, the average home was sold at $188,900 according to an article in Huffington Post published in March 2014. Having to move into a smaller space also helps eliminate clutter. You have to really decide what you can’t live without and get rid of the rest. Living in a smaller space with less surface area than your typical apartment or house also helps with spending. That pretty 72 inch flat screen may look really nice, but where are you going to put it? If your home is on wheels, many of them are, you can take your home anywhere. You can travel and see the world with ease. Also, having a smaller space means less cleaning and more time spent doing thing you love. From a sustainable living standpoint living in a Tiny Home shrinks your environmental footprint tremendously. 

The cons that I have found after doing some research are the space is very tiny, hence the name, living with a spouse in a tiny home gives you no personal space. Also, if you are a pet person, tiny homes really aren’t the best place to live with a pet because of the tight quarters its hard enough to fit another person. Storage because of the small space is very minimal. Even though the way the storage is set up in some homes it’s pretty cool there is very little you really have to pare down your belonging. Not only is there no personal space in the main part of the house but the bathroom situation… not exactly ideal. 

There are some great pros to living in a tiny home and a few hang ups. It’s a lifestyle I think is very respectable. I’d love to know of ways to live the lifestyle of tiny home dwellers in my traditional home.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Teaching Family About Sustainability

Sustainability and appreciation for the environment is something our family values.  But after my second child was born, I began to really think about how I can teach my family the importance of the environment, so that they can grow up with the knowledge and apply it to their lives.  In a world of technology, how can we make sure our kids grow up environmentally conscious?  I think this education starts in the home.  

Jenna Francisco of The Looptail,  created by G Adventures, posted a great piece discussing this very same topic. "10 Tips for Sustainable Travel with Kids," discusses children and their future impact on the environment.  Here were my favorite tips that Jenna offered:

  • "Encourage your kids to practice conservation at home and on the road" - helping kids understand the choices that we make every day have some type of impact on the environment.
  • "Teach your kids basic rules to respect wildlife"
  • "Making smart food choices while traveling" - making those good choices can be applied to our everyday life, in addition to when we are traveling.
  • "Talk to your kids about the environmental impact of transportation, and then choose the cleanest ways to get around" - talk to kids about how modes of transportation (cars, buses, trains, planes, boats) can be harmful to the environment.  Practice what you preach; use alternative modes of transportation when possible.  If you can walk/bike to the market or park, make it a habit with your family. 
    What tips do you have to share?

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014

    Sustainable Heroes - September

    Alanis Morissette

    Alanis Morissette is known for her work as a musician and singer, but also for her environmental advocacy and advocacy for healthy mind and body.  During a summer tour with Barenaked Ladies, together they worked to benefit the non-profit organization Reverb.  The organization creates custom programs to "green the tour itself" and educating concertgoers on how they can help the environment. While touring, she uses bio-diesel buses to get from city to city.

    In 2003, Morissette was given the Environmental Media Association Missions in Music Award.

    She face a long battle with eating disorders over the course of her life, but has beat the disease and has become a spokesperson and advocate on the dangers of eating disorders in order to educate others.  After becoming a vegan in 2009, Morissette ran a marathon to raise awareness on eating disorders and to support the National Eating Disorders Association.

    Alanis Morissette narrated a film on global warming, called The Great Warming.

    Learn more about Alanis Morissette at Alanis.com.

    Monday, September 15, 2014

    What does "human food" taste like to animals?

    Laura Moss, a contributor at Mother Nature Network published a fun article about food and if "human food" taste the same to animals as they do to us.  According to the article, the ability to taste certain flavors varies with each type of animal.

    The number of taste buds differs by species. Humans have about 10,000:

    • Birds generally have very few taste buds. For example, chickens have only about 30.
    • Dog's have around 1,700, while cats average just under 500.
    • Herbivores (cows and pigs) have humans beat. Cows have around 25,000 while pigs have 14,000.
    • Catfish have more than 100,000 taste buds that line their body and are concentrated around their mouths.
    Read more the full article on MNN.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014

    Sustainable Heroes - August

    Ed Begley Jr.


    This month I'd like to recognize Ed Begley Jr. as a sustainable hero.  Known by most as a Hollywood actor, Begley began his journey as an environmentalist  in the 1970's, when he became a vegetarian, started recycling and even bought an electric car.  An electric car in the 1970's?  It's true: the electric car was a Taylor-Dunn.

    Begley is involved with several environmental affiliations including:

    • Environmental Media Association
    • Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
    • The American Oceans Campaign
    • League of Conservation Voters
    • Environmental Research Foundation
    • Walden Woods Project
    • Thoreau Institute
    • Earth Communications Office
    • Solar Living Institute 
    • Tree People
    • Friends of the Earth
    • Sequoia ForestKeeper
    • Green Wish Inc
    • Orang Utan Republik

    Most recently Begley and his wife, Rachelle Carson, star in their own reality series called "Living with Ed." The show follows Begley and his wife as they attempt to live a green lifestyle, trying to out-eco neighbor Bill Nye.  The series is shown on the Planet Green channel.

    In 2014, Begley co-hosted the 24th annual Environmental Media Association Awards with Stana Katic.






    Thursday, July 31, 2014

    Sustainable Heroes - July

    We recognize Kate Fletcher this month as part of our series that recognizes notable individuals making an impact in the sustainability industry.

    photo via http://katefletcher.com


    Learn more about Kate and her latest projects by following her on Twitter: @katetfletcher




    Monday, July 21, 2014

    10 ENERGY SAVING TIPS FOR THE KITCHEN

    https://www.facebook.com/Sustainia/photos/a.354941001187707.104146.336489353032872/894590820556053/?type=1&theater


    Check out these 10 Energy Saving Tips For The Kitchen from Sustainia:


    1. Cover your pot to speed up cooking by 6%.

    2. Use one-pot steamers and stacked steamers to cook meals on one stove plate.

    3. Chop your vegetables into smaller pieces to cook faster.

    4. Match your pots to the stove plates to stop heat from escaping.

    5. Use the kettle to boil only the water you need.

    6. Cook in bulk and save time and money by making meals you can eat the following day.

    7. Don’t open the door when you use the oven as heat can escape. Be patient.

    8. Save time and electricity by defrosting food in the fridge and not the microwave.

    9. Cook with ingredients that are at room temperature. This saves cooking time.

    10. Bake a few dishes in the oven at the same time.


    Learn more about Sustainia on their Facebook page.

    Thursday, July 3, 2014

    Sustainable Heroes - June

    I'd like to introduce a new series on our blog,  called "Sustainable Heroes".  In keeping up with industry happenings, I've come across a lot of great press surrounding the initiatives of those celebrities and philanthropists who are taking great strides to improve the future of our environment.  I thought a series highlighting notable individuals who are doing great things in the "green" industry would be a great way to share these wonderful stories with our readers.

    This month we recognize comedian and actor, Will Ferrell:



    - Active member of the National Resources Defense Council
    - first celebrity to drive the BMW Hydrogen 7
    - Ferrell built a very eco-friendly house,with solar-energy system
    - Ferrell partnered with Robert Redford in a project to Save the Colorado River Delta.

    Check out this hilarious promo video for the Raise the River Project:




    Will Ferrell also uses his humor in this "Green Team" video, which offers tips on how to be more sustainable and eco-friendly:










    Monday, June 30, 2014

    Summer is here!

    Summer is here, and on top of the sun and the longer days it means the farmers' market will be back in town. We're so fortunate to have a huge farmers' market that sets up right around the corner from our house. It's been a part of our Saturday routine to take a trip out to the market to get the food we need for the week ahead.

    Taking these trips has played a huge part in our efforts to be more "green" and has improved our diets at the same time. Foods sold at farmers' markets are locally grown, not shipped from across the country - using valuable gas and resources to get it here. If helping out the environment isn't enough to convince you to take a trip to your own farmers' market, the prices and health benefits certainly should be!

    Most stands at this particular market offer a choice of three baskets of fruits or vegetables for only $5! This is typically how much I would spend on peppers alone, buying from the nearest grocery store. The cheaper prices have made eating healthy less of a burden on our family's budget. Buying from the farmers' market also takes away the temptation to buy junk food - you won't find bulk packages of Oreo's being sold at one of the stands.

    While every market is going to be a little different, I highly encourage everyone to at least check out the nearest market, it could end up being a great, new part of your weekly routine!

    Thursday, June 19, 2014

    Tips and Tricks

    Here are a few of the ways we're being more environmentally conscious (and saving money too!)

    1.) Ditch the sandwich baggies - having a reliable set of Tupperware will save you money and spare the landfills from your bags when you're done with them. 

    2.) Buy a timer - Time your showers! I know how hard it is to avoid taking long, hot showers, but setting a timer should help remind you to turn off the water!

    3.) Invest in a Brita - Unfortunately, I'm one of those people that gets grossed out by tap water. So instead of buying tons of bottled water, I've bought a Brita filter to handle it.

    Thursday, June 5, 2014

    Happy World Environment Day!

    June 5th is World Environment Day! It's a day every year dedicated to taking action to improve the environment. To tell you the truth, I hadn't even heard about this day until last year when my son's school celebrated.

    There are stakeholders around the world dedicated to raising awareness about efforts to save our planet, but it's also encouraged that we use the day to do something good for the Earth. It can be as simple as taking a shorter shower, or skipping on the store-bought spring water for the week.  I'd love to hear what everyone else is doing to help out!

    Friday, May 30, 2014

    LEED Certification - Check it out!

    I'm happy to say I've been doing a lot more reading on what big businesses and people are doing to help out the environment. You may have already heard about this one, but LEED Certification serves to encourage builders to construct more environmentally-sound structures. I suggest taking a look to learn more! It's great to know that big things are happening as we try and make our small changes.

    Friday, May 16, 2014

    Gluten-Free Pizza!


    Hi all!

    I just wanted to hop on here real quick and send out this recipe I tried that was a huge hit around our house!!  It is so delicious!!!

    Fresh Mozzarella Brussels Sprout Pizza


    A unique take on a healthy pizza! This is a must try recipe, especially if you like Brussels sprouts.Fresh Mozzarella Brussels Sprout Pizza (Gluten-Free)Ingredients:
    • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
    • 1 large Roma tomato, thinly sliced
    • ¼ cup pine nuts
    • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, shredded
    • 2 cups fresh Brussels sprouts, halved
    • 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
    • 1 tsp. chili powder
    • 1 gluten-free pizza crust
    Directions:
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    In a large skillet over medium flame, heat olive oil and garlic; cook for 2 minutes.  Add tomato, onion and Brussels sprouts.  Cook for 10-15 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are soft. 

    Transfer mixture to a food processor; pulse until smooth.

    Spread gluten-free crust on a flat surface; add fresh mozzarella, followed by Brussels sprouts mixture. Sprinkle with pine nuts.  Line the outside crust with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

    Place pizza onto a pizza stone or baking sheet; bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.  Top with chili powder.


    ENJOY!!

    -Tiff and Cliff

    Saturday, May 3, 2014

    Goodbye VT. Hello Toronto!



    Leaving Vermont, flying over Lake Champlain!  Pretty view from the sky.  Next Stop, Toronto!

    Friday, March 21, 2014

    Rhode Island!!!


    We decided to go for an early spring getaway to Rhode Island this March.  We wanted to make the most of our extended weekend there so we jam packed our days with lots of fun and interesting excursions.  Tiffany would agree with me that there’s plenty for solo travelers, couples, and families to do.  From pristine beaches to delicious seafood restaurants, you’re going to love Bristol and Providence.


    From where to stay to where to dine, you’ll find this guide helpful when deciding which places to go and what types of things to do, see, and experience while in the New England state.


    Bristol Offers a Peaceful Atmosphere Complete with a Seaside Symphony


    Bristol is perfect for people wanting to get away from the noise of the city.  The quiet downtown area is great for walking and sightseeing and the sea-filled air makes it impossible to want to do anything but spend the day outdoors.  Nearby Colt State Park with its Narragansett Bay is symphonic.  You’ll be at peace listening to the sounds of the ocean.  Lay out a beach blanket, read a book, or take a nap.  The waves lapping at the shore will be enough to lull you into deep relaxation.  Tiff was snoring within 10 minutes :P (Hopefully she misses this comment)


    Here are some additional places that you’ll want to put on your list when visiting Bristol:


    •Historic Wood Street
    •Bristol Harbor Inn
    •Sakonnet and Greenvale Vineyards
    •Aidan's Irish Pub                                                                        
    •Jacky’s Galaxie & Sushi Bar


    Providence Caters to a Younger, Hipper Crowd with Its Cafes, Storefronts, and University...So needless to say, Tiff and I fit right in....


    Like with most college towns, Providence is abuzz with energy.  Prospective students wanting to experience the city will find the Brown University area especially attractive.  Heck, I wish I could go back to college and go there.  Get your fill of cafes, bakeries, and funky shops.  You’ll find everything you need in the way of souvenirs and good eats in this exciting Rhode Island city.


    You’ll want to check these places out in Providence as well:


    •Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design
    •Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park
    •Annie Brownell House
    Waterfire Providence - Impressive and exciting! Must see!
    •Craftland
    •New Rivers
    •CafĂ© Nuovo


    A weekend trip to Rhode Island in the spring is ideal for people of all ages.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a solo traveler wanting to explore the beauty of New England or a family looking for a fun getaway.  You’ll find everything that makes you happy in Rhode Island.  From seaside accommodations to rich cultural experiences, Bristol and Providence are two New England cities worth visiting this year.


    This was a great little getaway to start out the turn of the nice weather!

    -Cliff and Tiff

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

    Smart Shopping!


    Hi everybody!!  I hope you have been enjoying our travel adventures and I hope that some of our tips and suggestions are worth the read!  I wanted to put something up a little different than travel today.  Well, okay, a lot different.  I wanted to post about being a smart shopper and spender!


    Money doesn't grow on trees, or so the adage goes.  Prices on everything seem to be going through the roof these days!  Being frugal is both a mind-set and a lifestyle, and something that needs to be committed to with discipline.  The habit of spending when the feeling strikes must be tempered with a focus on spending money wisely and making informed purchasing decisions.  Here are three ways I have found that help take control over spending and stretch finances without going broke in the process.  Cliff loves that I have this mindset!!! :)  I’m hoping that it pays off down the road if you know what I’m saying ladies... ;)


    1. Make a budget and stick to it (Trust me, I know this is challenging!)

    Developing a budget is key to knowing how much money is coming in and controlling where it goes.  Fixed expenses, just like arranging large pieces of furniture, must be in the plan first, as they are typically the largest expenses and carry the most importance in being paid on a timely basis.  Mortgages, rent, car payments, insurance, student loans and credit card payments are examples of fixed expenses.  Forgetting any of these could damage credit or cause other problems.  

    Next in line are utility payments. Without electricity, phone or gas for heat, life quickly becomes uncomfortable.  Don't forget water and sewer and having enough to pay property taxes.  If things are tight, consider reducing services such as cable or internet, cell phone apps and unnecessary club memberships.  Watch utility use, take fewer or shorter showers, turn off lights or TV when leaving the room, consider having a dimmer on your lights to use less wattage/power.  Oh my, now I’m starting to sound just like Cliff!


    2. Plan before spending

    It is so easy to see something that strikes our fancy and purchase it without giving thought to the costs related to the purchase.  I wouldn’t be truthful if I said I wasn’t guilty of this, but I’m working on it!  Buying an item on sale is only wise if it is an item that will immediately be put to use, or reduces spending in other areas.  Large purchases really should be researched and price compared to provide the best bang for your buck.  Shopping for information, best prices and where an item can be found locally is easily done on the internet, which will actually end up saving gas, time and buying impulsively (and going against your budget!!).


    3. Purchase Bulk Quantities

    You can get more for your money if you purchase items that you use regularly in bulk quantities.  No ladies, buying clothing in bulk is not what I am talking about, good try though!  I’m mainly talking about groceries or frequently used household items.  Bulk purchases generally have a lower price per unit than smaller or individual portions.  Items that will keep for a long period of time, such as toilet paper, rice, and pasta, can be purchased in bulk quantities without fear that they will deteriorate before you can use them!


    By using these smart shopping tips, you can easily trim your expenses by hundreds of dollars per year.  Each of these tips is simple to implement and you will see the results quickly.  All you need to do is commit and stay with it!  The money that you save will be very useful for taking care of your other needs, like family expenses or saving for the future.

    Friday, February 28, 2014

    Gluten Free Stuffed Peppers

    Cliff and I got invited to a cookout the other day and I was asked to bring a dish to pass around dinner.  As you may know, I am on a gluten free diet as I have Celiac Disease and because of this, I was nervous about preparing a dish for people who aren't gluten free.  Anyway, I stumbled upon this recipe and decided to cook it for Cliff and our son before I brought it to the cookout.  Absolutely delicious!!!! :) 

    Stuffed Peppers Recipe



    Ingredients: (Serves 6 if you follow this list)

    -1 lb ground beef                                   -1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    -1/2 cup uncooked long grain white rice     -1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    -1 cup water                                          -1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    -6 green bell peppers                              -Salt and Pepper to taste
    -2 (8 ounce) cans of tomato sauce            -1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

    Prep Time= 20 minutes  Cook Time=1 hour

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    2. Place the rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook 20 minutes. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the beef until evenly browned.
    3. Remove and discard the tops, seeds, and membranes of the bell peppers. Arrange peppers in a baking dish with the hollowed sides facing upward. (Slice the bottoms of the peppers if necessary so that they will stand upright.)
    4. In a bowl, mix the browned beef, cooked rice, 1 can tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Spoon an equal amount of the mixture into each hollowed pepper. Mix the remaining tomato sauce and Italian seasoning in a bowl, and pour over the stuffed peppers.
    5. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, basting with sauce every 15 minutes, until the peppers are tender.




















    Really easy to put together and it tastes great!  Great reviews from the cookout so I decided to share it here with you all!

    Enjoy :)

    -Tiff
                                          

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

    Sunshine State!


    As many argue that winter in Florida is the best weather in the United States, and many travelers come to experience relief from cold winters elsewhere, I would have to agree from my previous trips down and the fact that Vermont is nice and chilly these days, let me tell you!  However, travelers to Florida will need to prepare for some of the unique elements of winter in the Sunshine State. Here are a few tips for travelers to consider.


    1) Prepare for All Weather

    Weather in Florida tends to be unpredictable, and winter in Florida is especially difficult to project ahead of time. While temperatures rarely drop below 40 degrees in Florida even during winter, it is not uncommon for the temperature to reach into the 80s during cold months. Because of this, travelers will want to ensure that they are prepared for weather conditions that can change rapidly. Fortunately, winter weather in Florida is fairly pleasant, but travelers will want to be ready for a wide range of temperatures.  I think this advice would apply more for the January/ early February time frame as we went in late February and the weather was an average of about 80 for us and its only going up!!!  But it’s better to be safe than sorry!


    2) Plan Ahead

    Florida's population changes dramatically depending on the season.  In winter, Florida becomes home to many people from the Midwest and the Northeast.  Because of this, travelers to Florida want to make their reservations ahead of time just to be safe.  It should be noted, however, that Florida's infrastructure is ready for this influx of visitors and temporary residents, so travelers should not be too concerned about bad traffic and difficulty in making reservations, especially if you travel to a tourist area like Orlando, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, etc.!


    3) Spend Some Time at the Beach

    While the water may be a bit too cold for swimming, you will want to spend at least a bit of time at the beach while visiting Florida. The beach can be a great place to spend an afternoon or evening, and many of Florida's best restaurants and tourist locations are located near the coast. In addition, those on the east coast of Florida may wish to explore the barrier islands, which is home to some of the most interesting locations in the state. Fortunately, all locations in Florida are relatively close to the beach so all travelers can at least make a day trip and spent some time watching the waves.


    Those who have been to Florida in the winter understand its appeal, and those who have never been to the Sunshine State may wish to visit in winter. With a bit of preparation, travelers can ensure that their winter trips to Florida will be enjoyable and memorable.  Great trip to make to get some sun in the winter!
    P.S. for you eco-friendly comrades out there, there is a South Florida Chapter of the USGBC. 

    Get your Green on!

    -Cliff and Tiff