Wednesday, December 29, 2021

2021 A Year In Review, Environmentally Speaking

'Tis the season, this week between December 25th and January 1st, where all sorts of lists start coming out. The bests and the worsts. The top movies-books-music of the year. The most memorable events of the year to make history. I'm sure there's more.

Along those lines, and knowing that the last couple have been some hard ones, I thought it might be interesting to compile some of those lists here that look at the year from an environmental perspective.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

May your Holidays be Full of Warmth and Cheer

 Using this space and place today to wish you warmth, cheer, joy, love, and laughter. 

Thank you for the gift of traveling alongside GTG all these years.

Image created at

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

#Twelvetide & Purposeful Kindness

12 is is one of those recurring, symbolic number--especially during the holidays.
  • There's the carol: "12 Days of Christmas"
  • The actual "12 Days of Christmas" fall on the dates of Christmas through January 5th, leading up to January 6th's Epiphany.
  • There's the cyclical nature of 12 months in a year, which is the cycle from one Christmas to another
  • And we have 12 hours doubled to make the 24 hour cycle that makes one day.
Those 12 actual Days of Christmas can also be called "Twelvetide."

I ran across a post about Twelvetide on Dr. Wallace J. Nichol's Facebook Page. [Dr. Nichol is the author of Blue Mind, one of my favorite environmental books.] The post was about both the 12 days between Christmas and New Year as well as their family traditions of random acts of gratitude, kindness, and community service. Their post was about their family list from 2016-2017. Some of the activities they did as a family that year included a beach cleanup, Starbucks gift card deliveries to those who were in need, letters to children in an orphanage, cookie deliveries to the forestation, a care package for an ill friend, thank you notes to mentors in their lives, sock donations to a homeless person, and more.

Ironically, parallels were instantaneous as I was also currently reading the book Twelve Days of Christmas: A Christmas Novel by Debbie Macomber. Essentially a lighthearted, holiday Hallmark movie in a book, this story was about a woman writing a blog about her crotchety neighbor (deemed "Ebeneezer"), and what the effects would be if she "killed him with kindness" for 12 days straight. [Spoiler alert--it worked.]

Podcaster Charlene Johnson has a similar tradition to the Nichols' #Twelvetide above called "10 Envelopes." This link takes you to this year's story of their family's annual tradition.

All three are variations on the concept of random acts of kindness. [This link, by the way, has a slew of ideas if you need some.] Purposeful kindness falls in line with the idea of giving--not just gifts but of your self. Giving is also a strong seasonal theme with Hanukkah, Christmas, and the African American holiday Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa falls December 26-January 1, and  has similar themes of community, unity, working together for the common good, and giving of themselves in the 7 principles. 

The beauty of purposeful kindness is that it does not have to be tied to any one holiday, any particular time of year, or any set religion.

As the year is winding to a close with Christmas and the pocket of Twelvetide ahead, and the start of the new year, maybe now is the season for you to practice some purposeful kindness. What big or little things can you do to go outside yourself to help others? With the stressors we've seen from everything between the pandemic to politics to other global concerns, now more than ever before, it might be the time to reach out and make the world better for each other. 

Whether it's one thing or a total of twelve, use this time of the year to pay forward some seasonal joy.

Art from

Saturday, December 18, 2021

A Wrapping We Will Go

If you celebrate Christmas, you are in that final stretch. With any luck, you have found every perfect gift item for everyone on your list. Some may be gifts that give back in one way or another, some may be from shopping local (always great for the community merchants), and some may be gifts that aren't "stuff." Hopefully any orders have traveled as they were supposed to and have landed on your front porch with care--and without delays.

Now, let the wrapping begin!

Wrapping gifts is another one of those environmental conundrums. There's a lot of waste involved in wrapping (and the packaging of those gifts if they all come on your doorstep).

We have our bow box (a long time tradition), our container of gift bags, and try to buy paper made out of recycled materials when we can. But here are some other ideas if you need them from Eco With Em. 

For more ideas on reducing your wrapper waste check out these links:

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Gifts That Are Light On Your Wallet AND The Planet

As we all know, 'tis the season for gift giving and shopping. If you are still doing both, this may be just what you need. I ran across this graphic on Eco With Em's Facebook page. (I love her illustrations and approach to environmentalism.) It serves as an excellent reminder that gifts can have great meaning and not come with a pricy gift tag, being both good for your wallet and our planet! 

May you both give and receive some of these gifts this holiday season!

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Decisions, Decisions: Christmas Tree Edition

Choice. The world is full of it, and we are always making them. Sometimes they’re simple and merely a matter of taste: vanilla -vs- chocolate, Pepsi -vs- Coke. Star Wars -vs- Star Trek. Regular -vs- decaf.

Sometime they go deeper into moral, economic, political and they are much harder. This is often true with environmental dichotomies: Wind -vs- Solar Power. Reuse -vs- recycle. Paper -vs- plastic. 

The same holds true with one of the most classic Christmas symbols—the tree. The dilemma? Real -vs- artificial.

The answer? Not always simple!

As Matt Hickman's November 2021 Treehugger article "What's the Environmentally Preferable Choice: A Real Christmas Tree or a Faux One?" points out, a big determining factor is what are your post-Christmas plans for that tree of yours. Some quick points: Tossing a real tree in a landfill is never a good idea. Make sure it gets outside in time for your local municipality to compost it or turn it into mulch. Additionally it could become a home in the woods for wildlife if you take it there. If you are going artificial, make a plan to keep it a long time so that you are reusing it, not buying new every year and/or adding to the landfill.

Here are some other takes on the same concept:
Moral of the story…you need to do what works best for you. I love the smell and act of cutting down a real tree, but it’s not practical if you travel, and it is not safe have it up for a really long season.

The neat thing though, is it is not necessarily an "either/or" situation. There are other options too. Check out Treehugger's Katherine Martinko's 2021 article "How to Have the Greenest Christmas Tree Ever" on how to help your tree (whichever type you choose) have a lower environmental footprint. There's a great link in that article taking you to Green Moxie's 2020 article "35 DIY Christmas Trees made from Recycled Materials" with some fabulous and inventive ideas and photos that get you to Plan C for your Tree: Not Real, Not Fake, But Something Else! That's all the magic of this season--your imagination and some lights can carry you far. Might be worth consideration if you've yet to make your tree decision this year... or may have you planning ahead for your 2022 Holiday Season!

Photos from

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Seasonal Shopping: Gifts That Give Back

Finding that “just right” gift can be tough. 

Now, during this early- moving to mid-December time, the pressure is on. Email inboxes are filled up with marketing and sales galore... all while threats of global logistical issues are looming that package delivery might be slowed down. Time is ticking, you want to get gifts here if you're shopping by mail. You're wrestling the stores and the questions of  "should I mask or not" as talk of more Covid variants loom. Financially, you are working inside your gift-giving budget, trying to not break the bank, but meanwhile also trying to give a gift that sends the right message and speaks from the heart. 

None of this is an easy task! Holiday shopping is not for the faint of heart!

Additionally, you might also be wrestling slightly with the materialism side of life, wondering if the true meaning of Christmas is getting lost in the shuffle—especially if you are trying to spread that message to the little ones in your life too. Insert visions of the A Charlie Brown Christmas here!

But there are gifts out there that can possibly fit all the bills mentioned above. Gifts you'll enjoy, but they are also gifts that give back. Companies have made it part of their business model to include paying it forward where your purchase brings gifts not only to yourself but others. Some companies that fall in that category include: 
At least four of these companies were on my shopping list this holiday season.

In thinking about these companies, I knew there had to be more. And there are. Here are some links to lists of many more amazing companies that give back. If you are still shopping for that perfect gift, check these out! I'm sure there are tons more and I'd love to hear about them. 
For more thoughts on gift-giving visit...

Saturday, December 4, 2021

A Clean Garage...and a Box of Legos!

Every season or two, it seems that garage of ours gets out of control and needs some major taming. Two weekends ago was our magical moment for that. Our weekends had kept us on the move most of the fall, so when our first one opened up right before Thanksgiving, and it was a nice one (weather-wise), it seemed like the time to jump. Additionally, my motivation in part was that if I wanted to get to our Christmas boxes for the holiday decorating, I needed to at least carve that path!

About 6 hours later....once most everything had come out to the yard and gotten put back in again, I finally wrapped it up. Always a daunting job (where I always feel a little bit like Indiana Jones facing the unknown), it always comes with major sense of triumph when accomplished.... not to mention a sore muscle or two!

A clean garage also always leaves me with a trunk-load of items to take to the Good Will and coats for the annual coat drive at school. This year did not disappoint. Additionally, it left me with a box of Legos.

Last year, we were able to gift our niece a giant box of our old Legos for Christmas. (My kids were major Lego kids). The perfect way to repurpose a great toy. But, even with that tub, there were still so many. We had sorted out the odd pieces, but given being both a Lego enthusiast and an environmentalist, I knew there had to be something else we could do with them. The major plan involved them sitting in my garage for a year. But the time had come for them to move beyond my garage.

Luckily, in addition to "reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle," I now can add "RePlay."

RePlay is one of the many sustainable elements of The Lego Company--namely, their brick recycling program.  I grabbed a mailing box that would accommodate my bricks, went to their website, and printed off a free mailing label (where they will cover the postage). After my Legos were all bundled up and postage affixed, I dropped it off at a FedEx store. Once the box o'bricks gets back to them, they are cleaned, then donated to classrooms and Boys & Girls Clubs. If the Legos don't satisfy their needs, they then are ground down to be made into new Legos. If that don't work (for whatever reason), they are can be reused as material for other things. This level of circular economy and returning items back to their creator company is the ultimate gift that keeps giving!

Standing in my doorway, looking into my clean garage is definitely a "feel good" experience. But equally warm and rewarding is knowing that my time was well spent packaging up my kids' well-loved Legos for someone else who would love them just as much. It truly is a gift that keeps on giving, and they are much better placed than in a recycle bin or landfill!!

To learn more about RePlay and Lego's Sustainability practices, visit their website.

Some stats about their donations so far: 

Photos from my camera and compiled into Lego Replay logo from replay lego recycling. Screencast statistics from on November 24, 2021.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

1000 Hours Outside Revisited

I've written about the concept of "1000 hours outside" before, and for the last several summers, I've tracked my time outdoors as well. Winter weather (and not being a major fan of the cold), wounded knees, and work always get in my way of really diving in on the same level that I can in the summer. 

But, perhaps the 2 items below may be able to help me with that!

Ginny Yurich, founder of 1000 Hours Outside's blog and website, has had a bit of a brand explosion lately. It's not a surprise given that the outdoors are the safest place to be given Covid, and that messaging has been strong for over a year and a half. Additionally, stress seems at an all-time high given the pandemic and more. Outdoors is an excellent place to decompress, recalibrate, and find your center in an often upside-down world. The health benefits of nature for mental, spiritual, and physical health are undeniable.

So kudos to Ginny for bringing these two new digital items into the world to help inspire us to get OUT in the world, especially when it's a little chilly out there!

The 1000 Hours Outside Podcast

Whether you find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or their YouTube Channel, you can soak in the benefits of the outdoors while you are cooking, cleaning, driving, or more in their podcast. Currently in their second season, here is a playlist of what you can find there.

The 1000 Hours Outside App

They have always had paper trackers on their website, but now you can go about tracking your outdoor habits on your favorite device using their app. Available on both the Apple & Google Play App Stores for $2.99, you can do it all digitally. A small price to pay for greater health and wellness!!

Podcast list image from, logo from

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Floating Faucet of Plastic

Clamshell carryout containers.

Red solo cups.

Plastic bottles.


Take-out utensils: Forks, Sporks, Spoons, Knives....all wrapped in plastic.

This is just a fraction of the carnage the last 20 months of pandemic carryout and ordering in. In fact, single use plastic has been up 250-300% since the pandemic began. As we shifted to single use items to help keep the Covid germs at bay, our consumption of plastic and single use items skyrocketed...which also means so did our waste and our over-reliance on plastic. 

In an effort to show how important it is to "turn off the plastic tap," Ben Von Wong created a 3-story art installation of a faucet pouring out plastic. Ben is known for other environmental installations including ones comprised of 168,000 straws, 18,000 plastic cups, or 10,000 plastic bottles. Part of what he wanted to show in this installation and the number of pictures he took was that "there is no away." We attempt to "throw things away," but this place does not exist. Nor can you "recycle things away." Plastic Pollution is a real problem, and one that needs a solution.

It's actually a really good message to keep in mind as we wrap up Thankgsiving, move past Black Friday (and their weekend deals), approach Cyber Monday, and make our way to Christmas. (Do you really need all of that plastic that's out there, tempting your wallet?!?)

To see more images of all of his installations, check out his website.

Image from, Video from

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving 2021

Cheers to you and yours this Thanksgiving season. May your gratitude list be long this year, and may your health be well. 

If you are looking for some ways to help "pay it forward" this Thanksgiving season, this Yahoo news photo gallery "7 Ways to Give Back and Make an Impact on Thanksgiving" has some great ideas of ways to be of service this season.

Additionally, these old GTG archives might serve some Thanksgiving inspiration for food, fun, flavor, and festivities:

Image created at

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Planning Your Environmentally-Friendly Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of family togetherness. But as with everything, it requires a little bit of planning. Here's an infographic I created to help you get your prep in order to be as environmentally-friendly as you can on Turkey Day!

While you're at it, be sure to check out the "Guest-imator" so you can plan for the right sized meal for all your guests!

Additionally this GTG post from last year has some good tips for planning a zero waste Thanksgiving.

Guestimator image from and infographic created at

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Birthdays & "Be Kind"

Birthdays always put a smile on your face. Especially if you are a kid--what a jubilant day! Your day! But even as an adult, and even as those numbers get bigger, it's that special day all of your own. It's a day of a little bit extra attention, a tad more novelty, and maybe even a surprise or two. If you are on Facebook, you know that they give out birthday notification for your FB friends, and it's touching to see all those people from every corner of your life who took a minute or two out of their day to wish you well. Love or hate Facebook, it's the one thing that they do really well.

I recently had a birthday, and it certainly was the novelty of the day that made it. The kindergarten and the second grade class that spontaneously broke into song when I walked in their doors. The well-wishes from colleagues and kids alike as I walked down the hall (having heard my name in the list of birthdays du jour). My daughter joining us at my son's soccer game with a bouquet of flowers. Birthday cards and gifts that were unexpected. Trips made in the few weeks before and after that were loosely tied to myur birthday to be special visits with special people. I think it's the novelty and the adventures that were missed most during the 18-20 months of the pandemic, where days rolled into each other with a very "Groundhog's Day" movie of each day being on solitary retreat. 

One of the many surprises along the way came from a dear friend of mine who sent me Ellen DeGeneres' "Be Kind" box. The arrival on my doorstep was a good surprise as it was, but I really loved the sentiment that Ellen put into the concept of the box of goodies that came my way. She's been long known for her charitable works and in 2016 she was the recipient of the People's Choice Award for Philanthropy. She was quoted as saying, "It is a little strange to actually to get an award for being nice and generous and kind, which is what we are all supposed to do with one another. That is the point of being human." 

"Be kind" has become her trademark and motto over the years. Approximately 3 years ago, Ellen created her Be Kind Subscription box. I got the Fall 2021 box from my friend. Yes, it's a lovely gift, but the elements in side and the meaning behind them are some of the most beautiful part. I found myself reading the booklet of the box's content and my heart filling up with the humanity and charitable association that backed everything. It had me diving into websites to learn more about these amazing brands that are affiliated with the contents of this Be Kind box:

  • A bottle of ZenWTR -- where the bottle is made from "100% recycled, certified ocean-bound plastic" in order to reduce marine debris. 1% of their sales go to preventing ocean pollution & promoting recycling campaigns. 
  • Earrings from The Sanctuary Project -- Their mission is to provide jobs and job training to women who have not only endured but survived trafficking, violence/abuse, and additiction. 100% of their sales are reinvested in this mission.
  • An organic cotton zippered small pouch from Terra Thread -- Created by the father and daughter team Via and Vizan Girl to create environmentally friendly, fair-trade, carbon-neutral products, where the purchase supports Feeding America. The collaboration with Ellen's Be Kind Box this season will provide 460,000 meals to American who struggle with hunger.
  • Exfoliating bath body scrubber from Daily Concepts -- An organic, vegan, biodegradable soy-based bath scrubber that tells you when it's time to replace when the label text fades. This company supports LAVA MAEX which provides Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area homeless folks with mobile showers.
  • Laundry detergent sheets from Miracle Brand -- Zero waste laundry detergent
  • Self care items like the Modern Monet paint by number kit and Rose Quartz bracelet (the stone of compassion, peace, and unconditional love) from Charged Wellness (where you can opt into a donation to their monthly for a discount on your purchase). Both of these companies hold balance, creativity, self-renewal, and rejuvenation central to their mission.

With the holidays swiftly approaching, it may be worth considering checking out a Be Kind box or longer term subscription for your friends or your family....or visiting one of the affiliated companies included here. Next season for Winter there'll be a new box. Might be an interesting quarterly check in to see what good you can do for you (or a loved one) and our world. What a great way to "Be Kind" indeed!

Be Kind box from, Birthday image created at

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Hydrotherapy for the Win

I found myself at a hotel overnight about a month ago. More importantly, I found myself in my happy place. 

The pool.

Our backyard above ground pool has been dying a slow death this past year, with promises from my husband that it has seen its the last year. Threats, but sadly not idle ones. Metal over time rusts; and ours is rusting terribly. It currently is sitting completely empty, drained, somewhat a sad little puppy--and I envision the hack saw isn’t too far away. I'm not sure who will mourn its loss more—me or our Portuguese Water Dog.

I think it’s going to be me.

As I was in the pool this weekend, reunited with the zen that comes to me when I’m in the water, I was in the one place I can truly be in the moment. [I’ve written about this before, more than once.] I do a version of Tai Chi in the water, focusing my movements to my breath. Having taken a Tai Chi class before, I know there are distinct movements in the martial art, so I can’t call what I do Tai Chi. Maybe I’ll call it “My Chi.”

In the water, I can move in ways I can’t on dry land. I don’t swim. But my “My Chi” is a version of water aerobics and knee-lift bouncing/running that would never happen in a world with gravity and the knees I currently have. Lately too, as my knees have gotten worse and medical injections don’t seem to have the magic they once did, my “My Chi” surprises me and what I thought my body was capable of. Gone is the pain, all because of the gentle pressure of the water. I can do more. I can do my calisthenics bouncing for hours in the water, when being on my feet and walking on land hurts far more than I'd like.

Recently as part of some school diversity/inclusivity professional development, we did an identity wheel based around our own self identity focused about a dozen identifiers including gender, race, age, spirituality, and more. After reflecting on ourselves, we went through a series of questions analyzing where we felt we were how it related to our teaching. We then congregated by the identifier in the room that answered that for us. The first question: "Which one of these categories do you think about every day?" For me, it was “physical ability/disability.” For too long now, my knees are a constant thought. What I can I do? What can’t I do? How does it feel? How does it limits the things I enjoy like hiking or even walking? It has me feeling my age and mortality all of a sudden, way more than I like.

As I was in this very simple hotel pool, doing my moves, I felt invincible and energized in a way I haven’t felt since the sunny days of summer. 

I didn’t want it to end. 

I talk often about #BlueMind—both here and in my own brain space. Here in this hotel pool, I realized I was also talking about #BlueHealing as well. Hydrotherapy for the win.

Pool picture from my camera, quoted picture created at

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

TED Countdown Global Livestream

On October 30th the meetings of the minds of TED came together to host and post TED Countdown, a global climate livestream. From their site and in their own words, "Countdown is a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, turning ideas into action.

The timing was not accidental. It happened purposely on October 30th, just the day before the start of COP26 (The United National Climate Change Conference) hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy. Leaders from nearly every nation around the world met in Glasgow starting October 31st for nearly two weeks to discuss possibilities and plans to address climate change. COP26 wraps up Friday, November 12th. If you've heard a little bit about it but want to learn more, they have a very comprehensive website. Additionally you can watch their livestream or recorded events on their COP26 YouTube Channel.

TED's Countdown serves as a prelude to COP26. The "countdown" of mention is their initiative to land on climate change solutions to work toward a future of zero emissions. To start, that will involve a highly aggressive goal of cutting greenhouse gases in half by 2030. To do this, it will require all of us getting on board as changemakers, involving communities, cities, organizations, universities, clubs...everyone!

Given it is now beyond October 30th, TED Countdown Global Livestream is no longer live; however, it is recorded and lives on YouTube. By watching the two and a half hour recording, you'll see experts, entertainers, and activists share lots of information about what it is important to care about climate change. You can keep learning, keep getting inspired, and keep being involved in taking part in making a difference. 

Embedded video from; Image from

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Daylight Saving Time -- November 7, 2021

'Tis the season... not yet the holiday season, but that post-Halloween time when it's so crazy-dark in the morning, making it hard for some of us to pull ourselves out of bed in the morning. It always feels harsh. At least to this kid.

But that all changes this weekend with Daylight Saving Time (for 48 of the US states)--when we roll back the clocks sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

I found these two sites rich with several resources:

Free Technology for Teachers is often one of my go-to sites for edtech information. Website author Richard Byrne has a great post with a collection of 6 videos all about Daylight Savings Time. For information junkies who like to learn (like myself), you'll find them all well done and good choices. The 2015 National Geographic one is my favorite, but I loved learning tidbits of knowledge from each one. 

Creative Teaching with Miss Hecht's Facebook Page always has some fun Bitmoji classroom resource boards. You can spend some time getting lost in all of her clickable creations. She created the one below for Daylight Saving Time that are geared for early to mid-elementary-aged students.

Come Monday morning when you are your cherubs are waking up with the sun again, it might be worth watching one or more of these videos so you know why you might be having that slight feeling of jet lag!

Embedded Bitmoji board from Creative Teaching with Miss Hecht's Facebook page., Image from

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Books & Podcasts for Parenting During this Tech-Centric Time

I'm always a fan of a good podcast as we'll as a good book. That's why I was particularly struck with the latest email I got from Dr. Delaney Ruston, Screenagers documentary filmmaker and creator/blogger of the Screenagers Movie website.

Her latest post this week, Books and Podcasts List To Help With Parenting, lists some of both for parents of our tech-centric kids. 

Below are the names of each that she listed, along with a few additions of my own (listed below). To learn more about each title, check out Dr. Ruston's post, or the other links below. [She also includes focus questions with each of her posts.]

  • Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence--by Anna Lembke, MD
  • The Guide: Managing Douchebags, Recruiting Wingmen, and Attracting Who You Want--by Rosalind Wiseman    [Her Website Cultures of Dignity looks like an amazing resource--love their "What is Dignity" video on their site!]
  • Emotional Agility Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life--bySusan David, PhD
  • The recent episode of Freakonomics, The Economist’s Guide to Parenting: 10 Years Later (Oct 20, 2021) 
  • Ask Lisa (Hosted by Lisa Damour)
    • Particular episodes of mentioned by Dr. Ruston:
      • Sexy Social Media. Where Should Parents Draw the Line? (April 13, 2021)
      • How Do You Help a Kid Who Shuts You Out? (September 07, 2021)
  • Talking To Teens: Expert Tips for Parenting Teenagers Podcast (Host Andy Earle)
    • Particular episode mentioned by Dr. Ruston:
      • What to Say to Motivate Your Teen (Sept 5, 2021)

My Additional Recommendations:

Podcasts I love (not specifically for managing tech):
Let me know if you have any others that really speak to this topic!

Image created from

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Happy Halloween.... And Pumpkin Planning Ahead for November!

Have a mighty keen, safety scene, candy cuisine, super duper Halloween!

Be safe out there this Halloween weekend!

Come Monday....

Haunted houses will have shuttered their doors.

Pumpkin patches will be harvested and sit empty.

Ghosts and goblins will float away on to vacation.

Jack-o'lantern lights will have all blown out.

Countless costumes will have been tucked away for another year.

And candy bowls have only scraps of wrapper left inside.

....Welcome to November. 

With the weekend festivities, November is a mere calendar flip ahead. Once Halloween is behind us, nature will start to settle in on your jaunty jack-o'lanterns. If the weather is warm, it might speed up the decomposition process, leaving you with a wrinkly version of Grandpa Pumpkin Jack. 

Rather than just toss your decaying, done pumpkin in the trash where it will land in a landfill, why don't you check out some of these ideas, fresh from Proptalk: Chesapeake Bay Boating. Be sure to click this link to learn more! (Unpainted pumpkins only for these reduce, reuse, recycle ideas.)

  1. Compost it.
  2. Turn it into a planter (great for an uncarved pumpkin).
  3. Make it a "snack-o'lantern" for backyard birds.
  4. Set out unseasoned seeds for treats for your yard critters.
  5. Plant your own pumpkins for next year with those seeds.
  6. Chunk down your pumpkin for your four legged backyard buds.
  7. Make your own roasted pumpkin seeds.
  8. Bake to create a serving bowl for your Thanksgiving themed events ahead.
For some fun ways to ready your pumpkin for the compost heap, check out Treehugger's "How to Host a Pumpkin Smash (And Compost Jack-O’-Lanterns)." A "pumpkin smash" might be just the fun you need way to get any frustrations out that's been stockpiling during this crazy Covid pandemic time! 

Images created at

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Ode to Cheat Lake

Earlier this month we had a 3 day weekend. 3 day weekends bring about the magic of that bonus time. More time to sleep, rest, and just “be.”

I found myself on that beautiful 3rd day basking in unseasonable warm 80 degree autumnal weather. Taking in the early sign of fall, soaking in the sun at Cheat Lake Park in West Virginia, I found myself feeling a little nature-fixed, inspired, and poetic:

hanging leaves, tipping the tops of trees, transforming from their summer green.

Healing body in the warmth of the October sun, breathing in the view.

Eager for time to stand still while surrounded by the panoramic beauty.

glow, lightened, and a-livened by the sun dancing on the water, slowing my breath.

Touched by the slightest of breezes, enamored by the serenity of the scenery.

ooking around at the vista that surrounds, I am 

Abundantly filled with grace, gratitude, and tranquility. I am

Keenly aware of this moment in time, and how
Each day these leaves will redden, yellow, orange, and fall—shifting deeper into the crisper, cooler, later season of Fall.

For that reason, we must soak it in while we can, sitting in the stillness, taking in the moment.  

Catching it before it moves on.

Pictures from my camera.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

'Tis the Season to Be Carving

Every day of October is one day closer to Halloween. It's a different kind of "decking the halls" than you do in December, but one that a lot of people do. Finding that perfect front porch pumpkin then carving it into a work of art is a big part of the Halloween season.

If you still haven't found the perfect pumpkin carving plan, here are some resources that may spark inspiration!

Carving Resources:

The National Park Service has issued a Park Pumpkin Carving Challenge, complete with print-friendly templates and photo gallery so you can step up your carving game!

The Pumpkin Lady has a slew of free templates too. You can click through multiple pages of images and ideas, all listed alphabetically and many inspired by nature. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the "Show me the Pumpkin Carving Patterns" at the bottom, then click through all the options until you find the template that suits your taste.

No Carve Options:

Let natural finds from the woods or your backyard serve as inspiration by using Fireflies & Mudpies "No Carve Nature Pumpkins" with these no carve ways to deck out your pumpkin into something special.

Image from

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Fall Foliage 2021

Leaf Peeping. Color Touring. Finding (and photographing) the fall foliage.

Chasing the colors of the leaves is a real thing.

Here in later mid-October, the peak times for fall leaves hitting their prime for colors is starting to shift from north to south, with many areas already surpassing their peak season of colors.

But fear not, in many places it is not too late. Additionally, color variations often depend on the temperatures and amount of precipitation of the summer and early fall. Not to mention, later dates land the further south you travel.

Click the link for The Farmer's Almanac to check out the state-by-state-show-the-date chart for 2021. For me in Maryland, it looks like peak season is this week! Check out this chart and plan accordingly to set your sights on the vibrant colors of fall. (Here's a screenshot of this year's peak dates from their website.)

Banner created at Screenshot from

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Climate Change + Gender Equity = Global Solutions

More and more I'm running across items that directly showcase environmental concerns as social justice concerns. The interconnectedness is undeniable.

In this January 2019 TED Talk, Katherine Wilkinson, who worked on Project Drawdown to draw down atmospheric emissions, highlights the importance of gender equity at helping to make a significant difference with climate change. In her opening remarks, she said that two powerful things are on the rise: global warming and women and girls. Of course, in 2021, this feels dated given that this talk was just 2 months prior to major onset and shutdowns due to Covid. However, I believe very few things in her speech would change today, other than moving the number of global impacts up to 3 things in order to include the Covid. This pandemic has been another major impact on environmental injustice. 

In her talk "How Empowering Women and Girls Can Help Stop Global Warming," Katherine details just that. She showcases the power of a more equitable world and how it's benefits are far reaching. Let's be bold, as she suggests, and seize the opportunity to be in this together to achieve global solutions to our climate crisis. 

Video from, Image from

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Blue Mind to the Rescue

The day I wrote this, I had a really crappy day. One of those body shaking moments where I felt like I was going through my skin, bouncing out of my mind due to a "mood most foul." I needed to escape—and I probably needed to eat.

So I escaped to an area restaurant, one I'd purposely chosen for its water view. Luckily it was a downright gorgeous day. Outdoor seating called my name. I needed to neutralize my stressed "red mind," decompress, take hold of myself, take on some healthy food, and get in touch with my #BlueMind. Grab hold of a little #VitaminN. Breathe and chill.

Water does indeed have the ability to wash away some of what ails you. It slowed my breathing and my heartbeat. It helped me get through the mental and emotional exhaustion of the moment. 

Sometimes a change of perspective and a little time away can do wonders!

Thank you water for rescuing me.

Images from my camera.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Survival of the Fittest

We can thank Charles Darwin and his evolutionary theory for enlightening us to the concept of "survival of the fittest." (Frequently it leads me to think of Social Darwinism and how that same concept is at play, but I digress.)

The survival of the fittest is still at play today as animal adaptations are still underway, as Katie Hunt shares in her Sept. 7th CNN article "Animals Are 'Shape Shifting' in Response to Climate Change." Highlighting research from Australia (which is featured in the journal Trends in Evolution and Ecology, Hunt shares that some of the "shape shifting" include:

  • Beaks, wings, legs, and ears for some animals are getting bigger to help deal with the heat and regulate their body temperatures as global temperatures continue to rise. (Birds in particular.)
    • The Australian parrot's beak size has increased an average of 4%-10% during the 150 years between 1871 and 2021.
    • Shrews and bats have also been following suit with their ear, tail, wings, and leg sizes.
  • Some species are getting smaller. Smaller body mass holds less heat.

There is some question about causality and correlation--are the adaptations truly survival-related, are they just happening simultaneously, and are they positive or negative changes? Sometimes there are just too many variables. But evidence has shown it is a growing phenomenon. 

Time shall tell, and may prove Darwin right!

Quotes from

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

How is it October?

Every day the world keeps turning, spinning on its axis, traveling around the sun. 

Never is it more evident than when seasons begin to change. Same too with that monthly flip of the calendar. Last week with that flip to October and seeing the holiday decorations appear at school, it hit me harder than usual. In pondering the reason, it's probably because of the settling into school and the lingering of pandemic lifestyles. We've lived a lot outside, and the fall where I live is shaping up beautifully, but those outdoor experiences are starting to feel numbered. 

But, the comment in my image above struck me: autumn is the season that us that shows us that change can be beautiful.  We often get stuck in the quagmire of fear and the vulnerability or discomfort that is associated with change. But it is with this seasonal shift that we can take notice of the bounty:
  • Scampering squirrels, tucking away their treasure trove of nutty treats.
  • The color blast of reds, yellows, oranges, and browns adorning our trees.
  • The changing temperatures, still warming us under the sun, but refreshing breezes that tame the day.
  • The crispness in the air that are a welcome relief to summertime humidity.
  • The warmth of flannel, fleece, sweatshirts, turtlenecks, jeans, and snuggling under blankets.
  • Fireside chats by backyard bonfires with warm beverages.
  • Migratory birds making way overhead, squawking as they head to warmer territories.
  • Apples and pumpkins, cocoa and hot chocolate, flavors and colors that have been missing for the year.
  • Festivals that crop up that have us basking in it all.
Given the wealth that surrounds, it's time to soak all of the sights and sounds of the season while we have it! 

Image created using my photo of the school decor that greeted me this week, created at

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Continuing to Make a Difference, One Act At A Time

According to Wonderopolis, a video goes viral when it tops 5 million views, typically in a very short time and due to multiple shares on social media.

Over 18 million views strikes me as viral. 

This video, posted by Pall Sidgurddson in April 2019, showcases both how pollution in the form of marine debris has impacted nature AND how connected the human and natural world can be. The video details scuba divers helping an octopus replace its plastic cup shell with something far more protective. You can learn more about the dive and experience on Upworthy's article entitled "Kind Scuba Divers Try to Convince a Tiny Octopus to Trade its Plastic Cup for a Shell." This one small act of kindness potentially saved both this coconut octopus and any potential, future predators from consuming that plastic cup. 

One small act of kindness always makes a difference!

Video from