Sunday, December 31, 2023

Happy New Year 2024

A new year is is ahead. 2024. 52 weeks of new are right here with the flip of the calendar page. 

Using ChatGPT, I created this ABC list of environmental well-wishes for your year ahead. May it serve as an inspirational checklist of 26 ways you can green your routine and your 2024.

Afforestation adventures await! Plant some trees or visit some new forests to check out their flourishing biodiversity.

Breathe deeply and take in the bliss of crisp, clean air by "getting out there."

Cultivate sustainable habits and conscious choices for a greener and cleaner future. Start by looking at your home products.

Dive into the depths of eco-conscious decisions. Say no to plastics when you have a pollution-free choice instead.

Embrace renewable energy by opening windows or curtains to bring the sun and wind power in.

Foster a love for our feathered friends. Visit a bird sanctuary or do a little backyard bird watching.

Grow a garden of green: make your backyard bloom with blossoms or a become a bounty to veggies to feed your family. 

Harness some humans-nature harmony: take time out in nature to find fellowship with flora and fauna.

Illuminate your home with energy-efficient lightbulbs to save money and energy.

Join hands with environmental advocates for Mother Earth.

Kindle the flames of environmental education to spread eco-awareness to keep knowledge going and growing.

Let love for our Earth be a guiding star, leading us toward sustainable practices and eco-friendly living.

Marvel at the beauty of marine life, less impacted by mankind, though not immune from pollution.

Nourish your body with organic food to maximize your own health and wellness.

Optimize waste management in your own home: turn trash into treasures when you recycle, upcycle, reuse, and refuse what you no longer need.

Plant the care of conservation by supporting endangered species and restoring ecosystems.

Quietly observe the delicate balance of nature, appreciating the beauty of the separate seasons.

Reduce your own transportation impact: while you might not be ready to buy a lower emission electric vehicle, can you carpool, walk, ride your bike, or take public transportation to get from point A to B?

Sow seeds of environmental stewardship, cultivating a sense of responsibility and care for our home planet.

Turn the tide on pollution, so that our rivers and oceans run free of marine debris.

Unleash your own creativity and celebrate the creativity of architects and artists who masterfully weave sustainable design and environmental awareness to their work.

Value, protect, and celebrate the variety that makes up the rich tapestry of species of life on Earth.

Walk gently on the Earth, leaving behind footprints of kindness and care.

'Xperience the joy of eco-friendly exploration. Go out and adventure into the great outdoors. We protect what we love.

Yearn for a world where green spaces thrive, especially in urban worlds where green spaces provide an escape. 

Zero in on sustainable solutions. May zero-waste lifestyles and circular economies become the norm.

Disclaimer: AI was my friend with both the ABC list and the art of this post. I used ChatGPT and the following prompt on December 17, 2023 to build the inspiration for this post. My prompt that I used to create this post: "You are a creative and genius wordsmith who loves to craft creative text. Create an inspired ABC list of environmental well wishes for the new year ahead: 2024."  I then tweaked the verbiage a bit to make it a more streamlined post. Art created using the Magic Media tools of using this prompt (then I added the embellishments of the year and graphics): "Happy New Year picture, realistic, pixar style people of all ages and races there, including white, asian, hispanic, and black people celebrating the new year with a happy new years signs around the room, in a party setting."

Friday, December 29, 2023

Katherine Hayhoe's Inspirational Recommendations for Climate Content

I subscribe to climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe's weekly newsletter. I've written about Hayhoe in the past, and her interesting dichotomy between her data-driven profession and her faith as a Christian. Her bio on her website shows her rich background from her University of Illinois days (ILL-INI), to her current roles as Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy and professor at Texas Tech University. She is also a principal investigator for the Department of Interior's South-Central Climate Adaptation Science Center and the National Science Foundations Global Infrastructure Climate Network. In her "spare" time she's also written Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World and previously hosted the podcast Global Weirding.

She knows her stuff when it comes to climate change.

In her latest newsletter, timed right at the holidays, Hayhoe listed out some podcasts, books, and social media accounts to jump into in order to build hope and education around the issue of climate change. You can read that newsletter here, or find her inspirational social media post (with the following images) on her Facebook page. With the doom and gloom that can be a heavy find when learning more about the climate implications on our planet, it is refreshing to land on inspirational leaders and lessons about how we can make a positive impact in our every changing world. Lots of great places to look into with the new year ahead!

These social media accounts suggestions from Katherine Hayhoe:
Alaina Wood: The Garbage Queen on Instagram and TikTok
Climate Adam on Instagram and YouTube 
Others on Instagram include:

For other recommendations from Katherine Hayhoe, check out her FAQ and recommendations page

Images from and

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Seasons Greetings 2023

This Christmas,
May you have the fulfillment
Of seeing around you
The people you love the most.
May you have the satisfaction
Of creating special memories
They will remember with pleasure forever.
This Christmas,
May you feel peaceful and contented,
Knowing what Christmas means,
And celebrating it your way.

By Joanna Fuchs

While this poem is about the holiday I celebrate--the holiday that is ahead this weekend--may the sentiments hit you for your holiday of choice. Replace Christmas with the word "holiday, season, winter, solstice, recently-passed Hanukkah, New Year..." or whatever wonderment you hold in your heart at this time of the year. 

Sending you my very best for a love-infused, peace-inspired holiday season.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Winter Solstice: December 21, 2023

This year, Winter Solstice occurs December 21st. The shortest day of the year--meaning the day with the shortest number of daylight hours. According to the Farmer's Almanac, this date happens annually, either on the 21st or the 22nd of December each year.

As a person who feels like dark at 5:30 after the November time change is blacker than midnight, I'm actually always eager to find myself on the flip side of Winter Solstice. I like daylight and sunshine! Short, dark days are harsh! Longer days ahead truthfully make this northern hemisphere girl's heart sing!

I happened on the Royal Museum Greenwich's website, which had some beautiful imagery and also some interesting facts about Winter Solstice. (They also had some beautiful pieces about Christmas in Greenwich too--who wouldn't want to go ice-skating with the Queen's House as the backdrop!)

One of the most interesting parts of their Winter Solstice page was how it is celebrated worldwide, both now and historically:

This neopagan, pre-Christian festival "the Fest of Jul" occurred in Scandinavia at this time of year. Lighting fires was very symbolic during this cold festival time, as a sign that the heat and light needed to return. Hence the born tradition of the Yule log, which historically was a tribute to the Norse god Thor. Other Norse traditions relate to the sacrificing of the Yule boar (to honor Freya) or honoring the Yule goat (a nod to Norse god Thor's two goats). Today, many still celebrate by lighting a Yule log, or taking part in Yule singing (or waisalling, a pre-cursor to Christmas caroling).

My son's Middle School Latin class annually celebrated Saturnalia (and still does though he's well past Middle School age). This Ancient Roman seven-day festival began on December 17th, honoring Saturn, father of many of the gods (and of course the namesake to the planet Saturn). Saturnalia was a time of feasting, gift giving, and fun--school and businesses were shut down to take advantage of the seven days of fun and festivities. Sacrifices were made to the Temple of Saturn and revelry would be the theme during this holiday.

The Dongzhi Festival
In Eastern Asia and China, this is one of the highly important time of years. Breaking down "Dongzhi" in Chinese, you have the combination of winter + arrival...meaning literally: the coming of winter. The shift to longer daylight hours was cause for celebration as it brought about positive energy. It ties to the yin-yang philosophy of  harmony and balance. This also served as the time of harvesting the winter crops, which also brought about honoring the farms, crops, and plenty brought to the people, and feasting together as a family.

In Iran, Shab-e Yalda ‘Yalda night’ or Shab-e Chelleh signifies the ‘night of forty.’ This Iranian festival has friends and family coming together for food, drink, family togetherness, and poetry readings all night long. Pomegranates, watermelons, and nuts are specialty foods of this festival. It is also celebrated in other parts of the Middle East, including Iraqi Kurdistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.

While not a holiday, Stonehenge is a high profile place of celebration of the winter solstice. In part, during summer and winter solstice, the alignment of the stones with the sun is significant, especially at sunrise, which provides context for its significance as a seasonal monument when it was created around 3500 BC. It was a place of both Druid and Pagan celebrations of this time of the year, and it continues to draw visitors today.

Image from: the first one created at; the 2nd & 3rd from 

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Sustainable Gift Giving Meets Santa's Workshop

This past weekend I was in a vortex of Christmas crazy and creation this weekend. My eyes were a bit bleary, crossed, tired and hurting. My body was sore for over-sitting in worker bee mode. Santa's Workshop was at full tilt, no stops, knee-deep in Christmas construction. 

'Tis the season, right?

As time keeps ticking, we are getting closer to the mailing deadlines, priority shipping dates, and The Big Day. It can be overwhelming, trying to get it all together... especially if you are trying to "shop till you drop" to get those perfect Christmas or Hanukkah gifts.

If you are feeling like you are running out of good ideas, here's where shopping in an eco-friendly way. These two visuals can help with inspiration. Additionally, Green Action Centre's post "Sustainable Gift Giving" can help you go deeper with ideas on their ten categories listed in the infographic below. It may be just what you need to find that "something just right" for that "someone special!"

Images from and

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Christmas 2023: Christmas Cards

I haven't sent Christmas cards for years (with maybe the exception of a dozen to extended family I never see and who aren't on social media). With Facebook, Instagram, and the like, it seems like all my friends already know my life and what I've been up to. Sending a card almost seems redundant. It also became "one more thing" to an already busy season, and it was an easy cut for me to make in the digital era. 

Moreover, when you start adding in the expense of the cards and then the cost of the seems like an awful lot of money during an already expensive season.

Blogger, artist, author, and environmentalist Emily Ehlers (known as Eco with Em on Facebook and her website) summed it up perfectly in this poster she created. I saw it at the end of the holiday season last year, and tucked this away to share this year!

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Hour of Code 2023: December 4-10

In January of 2013, Hadi & Ali Partovi (two Iranian-American brothers) started with the intention of making computer programming more accessible to people of all ages. They launched the first Hour of Code in sync with Computer Science Education Week that December 2013--5 years after Computer Science Education's first week, which was December 6-12, 2009.

Computer Science Education Week takes place during the full week that encompasses Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper's birthday. Grace Hopper was born December 9, 1906. She was a woman ahead of her time: a Vassar graduate, a naval officer, a mathematician with her PhD from Yale in that and mathematical physics, a World War II veteran, a computer programmer, a software developer, and one of the developers of the programming language COBOL. She's credited with literally "debugging" the first computer infiltrated by a moth, coining a term we still use today. She was the first individual woman to receive our country's highest technology award: the National Medal of Technology in 1991 and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016 by President Obama.'s Hour of Code is December 4th through 10th this year--making this the 11th year of highlighting that anyone can learn to code. Now a global movement across 180 countries, Hour of Code inspires people of all ages to take on some coding activities for at least an hour. In my K-5th grade tech classes, we'll all be coding this week!

Looking for some ways to host your own Hour of Code, check out these activities: