My baby steps towards more sustainable living:

I am someone who cares about the impact of my existence on this planet. I care about the legacy I will leave behind, the lives I can improve, and the help I can offer to those who may need it. I care about the lessons I am teaching my children about caring for others, and doing the right thing – even when it’s not easy and no one is watching. I care about living my best life, with the least impact I am currently capable of making, to our environment. It is important to me that I leave any space I occupy better than I found it, and this includes our beautiful planet.

I realized a few years ago now that there are some very easy steps anyone can take to help reduce their carbon footprint throughout their lives. I wish I had done so many things differently in my 20’s and 30’s when it comes to how I chose to live and spend my money. Now I check most decisions I make against a simple test. I ask myself – is there a way to accomplish what I want to accomplish in a way that is less damaging to our environment? Then I ask- Can I currently afford it? If the answer is yes to both of those questions, I move forward. I am not yet in a place financially where I can take some of the major steps towards sustainable living that I WILL someday take but there is plenty I can do right now to help mitigate my impact.

Here are some easy, simple, and affordable ways you can reduce your environmental impact.

Opt for reusable items in your everyday life.

I was the queen of single serve items when my boys were young. I was doing the “work from home mom” thing 21 years ago, way before it was cool or on trend. I felt that using single use items such as paper plates, solo cups, grab and go water bottles or juice boxes and plastic straws were a huge time saver. I can admit even now they do save time – a tiny little bit of time, not a lot of time – and nowhere near enough time to justify my additions to our worlds garbage problem. Plus, they’re WAY MORE EXPENSIVE!! Today I choose to reuse. I quit my toss away plate habit and made some simple substitutions in the kitchen. You may be wondering which single use items I have swapped out- well, here are just a few examples:

  1. Water bottles – We now have a selection of BPA-free refillable water bottles and I carry one with me pretty much everywhere I go. I chose bottles that have measurements right on the side, so not only am I keeping plastic out of the landfill I also know exactly how much water I have consumed in a day, which is helpful. I just use the filtered water from the refrigerator.
  2. Silicone baggies – This is a newer change and I am happy to report that it’s working out well. I just decided to purchase my second set to increase my overall stock because they do get used up quickly. However, the investment is minimal. They are less expensive than continuously buying the plastic ones that just go into the trash, and they’re pretty easy to clean. At first I was washing my plastic baggies (if they were salvageable) but I still was only able to stretch the uses to 2 or 3 times. The silicone versions come in all the same sizes you’re used to and can be reused over and over. You can easily have them delivered right to your door with your next Amazon order!
  3. Silicone stretch lids – I also ditched the plastic wrap sheets and began using the stretchy silicone versions. They work well and have reduced my dependence on plastic wrap. However, I have found them to be a little tricky to apply from time to time. Ease of application aside, I am very pleased with them and will continue to stay away from their plastic counterpart.
  4. Metal straws – These are super cute! They come in stainless steel or multi colors with their own little straw cleaner brush, and I also put mine in the dishwasher. I feel so much less guilty about using these. Plus they don’t have that weird mouth feel the paper straws have. Pro-tip – they travel really well too!
  5. Metal or glass soap bottles – One at a time, I am replacing the plastic single-use bottles with more sturdy options and going for the refills packaged in sustainable products. It’s a slow transition but eventually I hope to eliminate the plastic bottle from my life completely. For now, I make sure the items I still buy that way (like shampoo and conditioner) are in recyclable containers and that they get into the recycle bin at home, not the trash can!
  6. Make up removal wipes – Oh my Norwex! I love my Norwex products and I was so pleased to find that the body cloths did a great job of removing my makeup using only water! They also leave my skin feeling very clean, no chemical residue or slimy film left behind. More on Norwex products next because truly this company is doing some incredible things with environmentally friendly products and chemical free cleaning.

Opt for chemical free or natural cleaning products.

I was a diehard Tide user. It was my brand! I loved the scent and I felt it did an amazing job at cleaning my laundry. Turns out, many detergents actually consist of mostly water, harsh chemicals that degrade fabric, and are scented with artificial fragrance. I didn’t know that artificial fragrance items like those used in laundry detergents, dryer sheets, fabric softener and scent boosters are linked to cancer. Seriously. Google it. I have now swapped out the harsher items for plant-based laundry detergents, and I use white vinegar in place of fabric softener (which in my opinion actually works way better to soften and doesn’t leave behind residue that breaks down the fabrics in your clothing). I have also broken up with the dryer sheets and replaced them with wool dryer balls. If I want a scent I add essential oils. Oh yeah, these are also less expensive in the long run, too.

Chemical overload is another huge issue for our earth and our bodies. While the options for environmentally friendly plant-based cleaners are growing, and there are the original natural options like vinegar and baking soda, my personal go-to solution for everyday cleaning is the Norwex Envirocloth. The weave of the fibers helps remove 99% of germs and dirt using only water, while silver strands woven right into the fabric of the cloth self-purify. The window cloth works like magic so I ditched the glass cleaner too. I was using a steam mop to clean my laminate wood floors and realized a little too late that it was causing water damage, so I also switched to the Norwex mop system for my hard floors. No more harsh chemicals, no more damaging heat, and no streaks or films left behind. Just clean floors with minimal effort. Magic! Yes, I regularly clean my home with mostly water, even now during a pandemic, and no, my family and I haven’t gotten sick (knock on all the wood). I do still use small amounts of disinfectant products like diluted bleach on SUPER high touch areas since Norwex products are not meant to be disinfectants. I am also religious about hand sanitizer and masks. I have tons more information on this and other great Norwex products and I would love to discuss them with anyone who is curious to learn more, but this isn’t supposed to be a full-blown sales pitch. If you’re curious for more reach out! You can also visit this website to browse the full catalog of products they offer. I’ve been using Norwex for 3 years now and I signed up to be a consultant with Norwex last year for the awesome personal discount. I share information about them with my friends and family because I love the products and believe in their mission.

Invest in our greener future.

Let’s talk about K-cups. I love my Keurig! BUT the guilt over tossing those little K-cups was getting to me so when mine started to act funny I invested in a newer version that allows me to brew a full pot or a single cup with refillable pods. No more plastic trash guilt while I am trying to enjoy my morning cuppa joe. I even recycle the coffee grounds by adding them to my compost pile to fertilize my garden …which brings me to my next topic, food waste! Many cities are now starting to offer composting options by suggesting we add our kitchen scraps to the yard debris containers. This is a great option if you don’t garden, but if you do garden …COMPOST! Reduce the cost of commercial fertilizer by composting your own food scraps for use in your garden. I have only been gardening for 2 years (yep, I’m late to that party) so I have a lot to learn and I can’t wait for all the exciting things we have planned this year for sustainable home food production.

There are so many more things we can still do to help protect our environment and we will continue to systematically swap out harmful habits for sustainable ones little by little. Our first really big investment in this area is on the horizon. We plan to become less dependent on the power grid by converting our home to solar energy in 2021. We will then own our power instead of renting it from the electrical company. There are currently huge tax incentives being offered for converting to solar. We also have plans to go electric with our vehicles, eventually. If you’re interested in learning more about converting your home to solar, reach out! I have a hookup!

Other areas for improvement I have identified in my life include: choosing clothing made from sustainable fabrics by companies who run their businesses in sustainable ways instead of the fast fashion industry; cutting down on paper waste by making sure I am taking advantage of every e-delivery billing notice available to me; choosing beauty products that are made with natural ingredients and sustainable practices; driving less… I know there are many more. Maybe you have thought of some I haven’t yet. I would love to hear from you about what they are and what you are already doing in your own life to become more earth friendly.


PNW Spring 2023!

 I love it when the first signs of Spring start to pop up! Delicate little buds forming on the branches of the trees, bright green leaves peeking out from the dirt, promising early flowers and new life.

Spring is a season of awakening and renewal, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Pacific Northwest. After months of grey skies and rainy winter weather, the arrival of the springtime sunshine is greeted with enthusiasm by locals, visitors, and hibernating plant life alike.

Check out these early signs of life from my yard this past weekend. 

I am so lucky that the street my home is on is lined with Japanese Cherry Trees. Each spring I look forward to the 3 weeks when the trees are in full bloom and the delicate soft pink flowers dance in the breeze. They only last a short while. The blooms begin to fall in mid-April covering the streets in pink and white blossoms that resemble a freshly fallen spring snow.  

My street, 2022

The Pacific Northwest is home to many beautiful cherry blossom festivals, including this one in Seattle: Visitors can admire the delicate pink and white blossoms while enjoying cultural performances, food, and drinks. Seattle’s University of Washington Cherry Blossom Festival and Portland’s Cherry Blossom Festival are two examples of the many celebrations of this beautiful flower that can be found in the region. The Portland Japanese Garden offers this fun website to keep a watchful eye on the beautiful blossoms! 

As soon as the days start to lengthen, and the sun peeks out from behind the clouds I put away my winter skis and begin dreaming of all the wonderful outdoor activities waiting for me to enjoy. Canoeing, kayaking, fishing, camping, hiking, and exploring are all top of my list, but my favorite activity is gardening. 

I love my little garden. I love picking up the remaining fall leaves and preparing the beds for the herbs and vegetables I will be planting soon. I love pruning and shaping and coaxing all my little plant babies back to life. Yes, I called them my plant babies and yes, I talk to my plants.  Don’t you? 🙂 

Here are a few photos from last year when the garden was full and providing delicious food for myself and my family.                                 

Spring also marks the re-opening of the various local farmers markets where you’ll find delicious organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs. You can choose from handmade crafts and locally sourced meats to freshly baked breads and gooey treats. There is no shortage of fragrant roasted coffees, locally produced wines, hometown brews, and carefully formulated beauty products. Our farmers markets offer something for everyone.  If you have been considering a visit to the PNW, send me a message! I would love to connect and chat about your travel plans!


Happiness, Sunshine, and fewer pests!

It’s mosquito (and yellow jacket) season!

I absolutely love sitting outside in my backyard, soaking up the sunshine on a hot summer day while appreciating all the hard work we’ve put in on my patio and garden. It’s almost like a meditation to wander through my garden, watering my flowers, snipping off the spent buds, ripping a wayward weed from its hiding place, and feeling the breeze gently flow across my sun warmed skin. I relish the moments where I get to enjoy the fantastic food, hot of the grill, carefully cultivated by the handsome and talented Brandon V. I love listening to the kids laugh while jumping on the trampoline. It’s my little slice of heaven! …That is until the mosquitoes and yellowjackets invade! Every year they would return, biting and buzzing their way through my yard and driving me mad! The yellowjackets would almost chase us (or probably the delicious BBQ) inside, deeply hampering my ability to sit peacefully and enjoy my beautiful yard. (Have I mentioned yet that I’m kind of a wuss when it comes to bees that sting?) I detest spraying deet anywhere near my clothing or skin, and while I love my essential oils they didn’t quite keep the more aggressive mosquitoes away completely.

I decided last year that enough was enough, and we took some easy (and beautiful) steps to help discourage them from attending our backyard gatherings.

First, we started at the end of the season last year by making sure any yellowjacket nests in our yard were knocked down, and we double checked at the beginning of the season this year to ensure that no new ones had been built. I also purchased and hung 5 separate wasp and yellow jacket traps against the perimeter fencing of my yard. Three of them are the ugly bright yellow traps you can get at any hardware store (I hid those behind things) and two are cute little colored glass jars I picked up from Chuck’s produce at the end of the year clearance sale last year… I hung those in the more visible locations.

Then, I did some research on plants that deter mosquitoes. I was extremely skeptical, I’ll be honest. I didn’t think it was actually going to have as big of an impact as it did. I figured lemongrass essential oils and the disgusting smell of deet were probably still in my future!

Early in the season I planted citronella, lemon balm, rosemary, mint, lavender, and basil. I lined my patio seating area with their beautiful fragrances and foliage.

I am so pleased to share with you that it worked! The mosquitoes have been relatively non-existent this year on our patio. We even had a close family friend remark that by this time of year he would typically be eaten alive while sitting outside. While a wayward yellow jacket will occasionally wander over to our bird bath to get a drink, we have not been plagued every time we barbecue.

I just love it when a plan comes together!

Stay safe out there!



Fire pit revamp

We recently decided to replace our old fire pit with something a little bit more useful. The old one was inherited from the previous owners of our home, and didn’t serve any other purpose besides being a fire pit. We decided to upgrade to a cute little circular fire pit that has an awesome table top  turning it into a coffee table when it’s not in use. The old one sat there for weeks, untouched. I was trying to decide whether or not to send it to the dump. I hate adding waste to the dump! I decided I needed to find another way to utilize what we already had. Instead of sending it off to rot amongst the garbage, I repurposed it into a planter! I decided to use flowers that could mimic the visual appeal of fire. I chose French Fireball Marigolds, French Flamenco Marigolds, First Flame Yellow Celosia Plumosa, First Flame Early Scarlet Orange Celosia Plumosa, and Zinnia Elegans Zahara Double brilliant mix. I chose these flowers, not because I know anything about them, but because they looked like fire to me. Then I created the arrangement by using the taller flowers in the middle and placing the shorter flowers around the outside to create height and depth. I was able to pick the flowers up at a discounted price, and I reused an old item I had laying around so this beautiful “fire” feature was very inexpensive!

Fire pit repurposed