Photo Friday | Preparing for Earth Day

As with pretty much everything so far this year, Earth Day is still managing to sneak up on me!


For yet another weekend, the rain looks to put a damper on events, but I'm still looking forward to attending the annual Earth Day festival at Vermilionville to check out the booths and exhibits.

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Earth Month Spotlight | Simon Mahan

When I think of go-to environmental people in Lafayette, I think of Simon Mahan. The husband and father of two who hails from Missouri has become Lafayette's voice on alternative power and energy.

He's an advocate for wind and solar energy and supports local options for electric vehicle drivers. And his home is partially powered by solar panels, so he practices what he preaches.

Photo courtesy Simon Mahan.
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Photo Friday | Bubbles, Not Balloons

First, a note of housekeeping for Lafayette residents: Tomorrow's Household Hazardous Waste Day collection has been canceled, thanks to yet another Saturday full of thunderstorms.

During this week's Project Front Yard Gr8 Acadiana Cleanup Festival of Service, I got to share a little about eco-friendly alternatives to balloon releases. Check out the video here. Videos definitely remind me of why I'm a much better writer than speaker, ha!


I had a lot more fun than I even expected blowing bubbles and planting a seed ball in this community space, and now I'm looking forward to planting the rest of these wildflower seed balls in my own yard.


These seed balls, by the way, are from Seedles, a small business out of the San Francisco area. I actually happened to discover them via Facebook ad, and it was perfect timing when it came to needing some samples for this video.

One thing I noted in our live video is that if you use flower seed packets or seed balls for community or memorial plantings, it's important to choose flower varieties native to your area. Seedles allows you to choose your region when purchasing seed balls, so I was able to pick flowers for the Southeast part of the United States.

Southeast Wildflower Seedles - Butterfly Weed, Partridge Pea, Lance-Leaf Coreopsis, Plains Coreopsis, Purple Cornflower, Rattlesnake Master, Indian Blanket, Standing Cypress, Blazing Star, Wild Blue Lupine, Lemon Mint, Drummon Phlox, Mexican Hat, Clasping Coneflower, Black Eyed Susan, Scarlet Sage, & Spiderwort.

In Eco Cajun spirit, my outfit this day was mostly secondhand. I have to say, for spending $1 on this dress at a garage sale, my cost-per-wear is almost too small to calculate at this point. Definitely a staple dress in my closet over the past year, and I anticipate even more wears this summer as I prepare to live in comfortable dresses.

In a bit more housekeeping, if you missed my Earth Month spotlight on Sustainable Anna, read it now! I've got two more really exciting spotlights coming your way in the next two weeks as well.

I've also got a column out in the Times of Acadiana on how practicing self-care is extremely beneficial. Take a few minutes to read that, then a few more minutes to meditate. It'll help you jump start your weekend for sure.
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Earth Month Spotlight | Sustainable Anna

What better time than Earth Month to share about other awesome environmentalists who are making a difference in their own way?

To kick off this series, I'm introducing Anna from Sustainable Anna. Four years ago, she embarked on a personal challenge to buy products made in the United States and with sustainability in mind. I've gotten to know her through social media, and I love that she's based near Houston, Texas - another green blogger here in the South!


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Photo Friday | Earth Month Goals

I'm a little bummed that the first full weekend of Earth Month is going to bring some thunderstorm to Louisiana (and a lot of snow to a big part of the country!), but it's not going to stop me from working toward my own personal Earth Month goals.

In addition to working on some fun new blog posts and preparing for Festival International, I'm looking forward to some simple ways to celebrate Earth Month.

Don't forget to visit Project Front Yard's Facebook page next Wednesday afternoon, as I'll be going live to talk about why balloon releases are harmful to the environment and share some of the alternative options that are a lot less wasteful! It's part of Project Front Yard's Gr8 Acadiana Cleanup, and I'm looking forward to all of the events coming up next week.

So, what are my goals for this month?

Ride my bike more often.



I, of course, am no stranger to a good bike ride, but especially this year, I've been relishing in my afternoon rides around my neighborhood. During my pregnancy, I've remained dedicated to exercising, although I've had to adjust my routine a little. Yes, I am very bummed about taking a break from hot power yoga and working on inversions, but it's completely worth it.

In exchange, I've been going on neighborhood rides more often to get some cardio exercise and some sunshine. I hope Baby enjoys riding as much as my husband and I do!

Spend time outdoors.


And by outdoors, I'm pretty sure I'll end up meaning "my backyard." We've got some yard work projects to do, but I also just want to sit outside and enjoy getting out of the house. Maybe I'm a little extra stir-crazy this year, especially with my energy levels taking a hit the past couple months.

Because Moncus Park is currently under construction, we probably won't make it out to the front part often to set up our hammocks, but I hope we can get there at least once!
 

Continue to refuse single-use.


I'm not perfect at refusing single-use items 100% of the time, but I'm absolutely more conscious of it. Earlier this week, I was able to use my metal straw at lunch at a restaurant. Today for lunch, the only options were Styrofoam cups for fountain drinks, canned soft drinks or bottled water. I had forgotten a reusable water bottle, so I skipped the drink altogether, and waited until I was back at my office to get some water. 

It may not have been the most convenient, but I was committed to passing on the Styrofoam cup. (Cans are probably the best option in this instance, but I need water right now much more than I need a Sprite!)

In all honesty today, I still ended up with a plastic bag (that I'm saving for cat litter), a plastic food container and plastic utensils. I was not waste-free at all, but at least the plastic bag and utensils will be reused and the plastic container will be cleaned and recycled.

Pick up litter!


Well, you know this is always part of my goals. Tomorrow is Project Front Yard's annual Trash Bash, and I'm really hoping the rain doesn't keep me indoors. If it does, I'll still plan to make some time to walk around my neighborhood and pick up any litter I see.

If you do want to sign up for Trash Bash, you have until this evening to do so! Register for free here.

Do you have any goals for this Earth Month? Let's hear em in the comments!
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Why I'm Committed to Sustainability and the Environment

Happy Earth Month, y'all!

I'm excited about what I've got planned here on the blog during Earth Month, but I wanted to kick off by taking a step back to WHY protecting the environment is so important to me - and why I hope it would be important to everyone.


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Earth Month Events Across Acadiana

With all of the springtime events ramping up and Easter weekend just ahead of us, it's strange to think that Earth Month is only three days away. Of course it's one of my favorite times of year, between the environment-related events, decent Louisiana weather and abundance of things to do in the community.

Whether you live in South Louisiana or not, there are sure to be Earth Month events happening near you. Mark your calendar so you don't miss out on the fun!



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Starbucks' Quest for a Greener Coffee Cup?

One morning last week, as I was trying to get out of bed and ready for work, I heard on KATC's Good Morning Acadiana that Starbucks was pledging $10 million to develop a recyclable and compostable coffee cup to combat the waste it produces. Even while still a quarter asleep, I cheered as the morning show anchors were all, "Just use your own!" and they both held up their stainless steel coffee cups. You go, Tracy and Dave!

I keep thinking about Starbucks' "effort" and how it really misses the point entirely. Many waste reduction groups and bloggers have covered how this is a classic example of greenwashing - making you think something is more sustainable than it actually is.

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Photo Friday | Leaders Against Litter and Earth Hour

The spirit of Earth Month events are really kicking up already, even if there's still a full week left of March. Today was Keep Louisiana Beautiful's annual Leaders Against Litter statewide cleanup, and tomorrow marks the annual Earth Hour event at 8:30 p.m. in your local time zone.



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World Water Day 2018 | Water + Nature

Every year on March 22, the United Nations celebrates World Water Day. This year's focus is on water and nature, exploring how nature can provide us solutions to tackle crises like floods, droughts and water pollution.

http://worldwaterday.org/
Graphic provided by World Water Day


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Going Green in Style with Paperless Post

When it comes to receiving holiday cards and party invitations in the mail, you typically think of a physical envelope in your mailbox. But you can still send your friends and family a beautiful and exciting card or invitation while still maintaining the spirit of reducing paper waste - enter Paperless Post!


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Photo Friday | Crawfish Boils

Here in Louisiana, tis the season for numerous backyard, family/friend gathering crawfish boils. The beer is cold, the tails are hot, and the waste can sometimes fill multiple trash cans.

But with a few key items, you can very easily transform your crawfish boil into one that produces a lot less waste.


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Eco-Friendly Easter Alternatives

It's an interesting year for holidays, with Valentine's Day coinciding with Ash Wednesday and Easter falling on April Fool's Day. I keep forgetting that Easter is actually only two weeks away. For us, Easter mostly consists of family gatherings, church and boiled crawfish. If I could even tell you how much I am looking forward to some crawfish...

If you've got younger children, your Easter probably consists of baskets, treats and dyeing eggs. All things I loved as a child!

It's not hard these days to make Easter activities a little more sustainable and eco-friendly, thanks to natural egg-dyeing methods and reusable gifts and decorating options.


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Photo Friday | Spring-ish

The first full week of March is coming to a close, and I, for one, am very ready for the weekend! The past two weeks have been a small rollercoaster, including in the weather. For all my Northeast friends, I hope y'all are staying warm and safe!


Springtime has been in full force down in Louisiana, even with the temp swings. While I love the blooming flowers everywhere, I don't love the accompanying yard work and mulch projects (y'all).

I am looking forward to the time changing this weekend so I can start going for bike rides around the neighborhood after work!

Yesterday was International Women's Day, and I loved seeing all of the empowerment and camaraderie on social media. There's so much to say, and I kept it simple as I shared on Instagram, "Here’s to resilience, persistence, confidence, and climbing the damn mountains."


Let's keep lifting others up and working together every day! A little support goes a long way.

To all of my blogger friends, activists I admire, family, friends, professional colleagues, and coworkers, I wish you all courage to pursue your dreams and confidence in your day-to-day lives.

Two years ago, I shared a roundup of a few of my favorite environmental women, so check that post out here!

https://www.theadvertiser.com/story/entertainment/2018/03/06/eco-friendly-alternatives-balloon-releases/386197002/

My newest Times of Acadiana column was published yesterday on a subject that's become one of my little soapboxes - the problem of balloon releases and balloon pollution. In my column, I share a few alternatives to balloon releases, one of which is to plant flowers or a tree in honor of a legacy. Head on over to Times of Acadiana's website, or pick up a paper locally to read the rest of the column!

I hope you all have a great weekend!
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Green Business Spotlight | EarthHero

As I've written about before, shopping sustainably online can be a little overwhelming. But when there are websites that serve as eco-friendly marketplaces, it makes shopping a LOT easier.

EarthHero is one such great marketplace, selling everything from clothing to home goods to pet products to beauty and personal care. They're a great place for people just starting out on a zero-waste or sustainable journey, because you can pick up all the essentials at once.


EarthHero works with different sustainable brands and carries items that follow strict standards. Each item carried on the site has corresponding icons to tell you exactly how the item is eco-friendly.

https://earthhero.com/impact/?ref=caitlinr

So what I did order for my first EarthHero purchase? A pair of shorts and beeswax food wraps, naturally!
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Photo Friday | Ways to Make Your Home Environmentally Friendly

One of my life goals is to live in a truly sustainable, eco-friendly, energy-efficient home. While that goal might be many years away from happening, there are still budget-friendly steps I can take to make our current home a little more sustainable.


When I heard that furniture and home decor company Arhaus was looking for a few ideas on greening homes, I thought about some of the things we've done at home and some of the things I've shared on the blog before. Arhaus has a partnership with American Forests that enables them to plant a tree for every purchase made during their storewide sale. And a commitment to planting trees is especially timely with International Day of Forests coming up on March 21! I appreciate when companies pledge to give back year-round.

https://www.arhaus.com/

In addition to these tips, some other ways to go greener at home are to:
  • Furnish your home with a combination of sustainable items (like some of these tables from Arhaus) and secondhand, thrifted or family heirloom items.
  • Switch out your current light bulbs with energy-saving LED bulbs.
  • Donate or sell the things you no longer need or want, instead of just throwing them away.
  • Repurpose stained or torn t-shirts as cleaning rags.
  • Place a recycling bin next to your trash can inside your house, to make it as simple as possible to recycle.

What are some ways you've made your home more eco-friendly?
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Green Around Acadiana | UL Lafayette Solar Lab

Over the past few months, five acres of land have been transforming into something unique for Lafayette. Just off Cajundome Boulevard and Eraste Landry, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has been building a 1.1 megawatt solar panel farm and research lab as part of its Research Park.

Construction is very near completion, and the lab is expecting to begin operating this month.

Photo credit: Simon Mahan
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Photo Friday | National Skip the Straw Day

I'm a sucker for those random 'celebration' holidays that pop up all over social media, so of course I'm here today to say Happy National Skip the Straw Day!

Will You Accept This Skip-the-Straw Challenge?
Will You Accept This Skip-the-Straw Challenge?

Today at lunch with my coworkers, I went with my usual "Water, no straw please" order and the waitress obliged with no issues at all!


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Photo Friday | Environmentalism

The warm weather and actual sunshine that's been around in South Louisiana for the past couple of days has definitely gotten me longing to be outside more and ride my bike around my neighborhood. Sitting inside is definitely not helping any post-Mardi Gras sluggishness!

So today is short and sweet. Give a Shift About Nature shared this sentiment on their Instagram yesterday and it really resonated with me. So simple, yet so hard to get across.

Photo courtesy Give a Shift About Nature

As you take advantage of this springlike weather this weekend, take some time to go outside and see what you can clean up. Most likely you'll be cleaning up after someone else instead of yourself, but either way, our planet will benefit from someone cleaning up.
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Mardi Gras Festivities

How is everyone hanging on this Lundi Gras? The weather has certainly not been friendly to the festivities this year, but it seems like everyone still has that Mardi Gras spirit going strong!

My favorite parts of Mardi Gras this year have definitely been the unique sustainable initiatives of Krewe de Canailles and Project Front Yard.


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Photo Friday | Vegan Fashion

Because of my background in advertising, I've always enjoyed watching the Super Bowl for the entertaining commercials. Now I love just about all of it - the game itself, the commercials and the halftime show.

I actually loved Justin Timberlake's performance this year (apparently not the most popular opinion, but oh well!), but what I did not love at all were his outfit and the backup dancers' outfits. They could have been done so much better, and with better color choices.


A day or so later, I learned on Instagram that at least Justin's outfit was made of vegan materials, and that it was designed by Stella McCartney.

Y'all know I love some sustainable, vegan and fair-trade fashions, but I still can't get behind this styling. I'm not very educated on Stella McCartney as a brand, although I know they are very committed to vegan materials and sustainability in general, and that's something I deeply respect from a more mainstream brand.


I dearly hope that sustainable fashion becomes more mainstream, but what I'm afraid of is that people are going to equate sustainable fashion to ugly fashion. And that's simply not the case! There's so much beautiful fair-trade, vegan-material and recycled-fabric clothing available, and the fact that it's kinder to the environment and the workers makes it all even better.

What did you think? Were you a fan of Justin's Super Bowl performance and style??
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Krewe de Canailles: A Sustainable Mardi Gras Parade

Mardi Gras is now less than a week away, and this weekend is packed with events around Acadiana. Unfortunately, the weekend also looks packed with some rain, so you better break out the rain jackets, ponchos and rubber boots.

With Lafayette's usual Friday night kickoff parade being moved to Lundi Gras, it opened up an opportunity for a group of determined and creative Lafayette residents.


Krewe de Canailles is Lafayette's newest parade, and it was made possible through funding from Civicside's 24 Hour Citizen Project, an event held last July. Since then, Krewe organizers have brainstormed, worked out the logistics, and enlisted sub-krewes to take part in a unique walking parade.
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Photo Friday | Project Front Yard + Krewe of Rio

Since January 6, Mardi Gras season has been in full swing, with balls just about every weekend. Lafayette's first parade rolls this Saturday, as Krewe of Rio kicks off the parade schedule.

This year, Krewe of Rio has teamed up with Project Front Yard to help make their parade a little less wasteful. Last weekend, Skyra and Lisa with Project Front Yard visited the krewe's float staging space and helped collect cardboard boxes and plastic bags as krewe members loaded up their beads for throwing.

The cardboard boxes were saved for recycling collection, and the plastic bags will go toward Project Front Yard's school project Plastic Bag Roundup.

Collecting the trash at the start will make a huge impact on the amount of waste left behind by the floats.


Tomorrow evening, Project Front Yard volunteers will serve as the final float, walking the parade route to pick up recyclables and waste. The cleanup aims to help divert parade waste from becoming litter on our streets, in our yards and in our waterways, and to help divert recyclables into the recycling stream.


“The Krewe of Rio is proud to partner with Project Front Yard to set an example of how to have fun and also be environmentally-conscious. “We recognize that Mardi Gras is an important component of our community culture and a huge tourism asset. We want to maintain the beauty of our neighborhoods and streets as well,” said Larry Comeaux, Krewe of Rio President. “We hope that our example creates a domino effect for other parades and events in Lafayette to follow.”

“Project Front Yard was founded on the principle of community pride and we are excited to work with Rio to create a sustainable approach to Mardi Gras. We love when community members take ownership and pride in showcasing a clean and fun way to ‘Laissez les bon temps rouler,’” said Skyra Rideaux, Project Front Yard Coordinator.

Three years ago, Project Front Yard held its inaugural Krewe of Rio parade cleanup, which I really enjoyed participating in. (Head into my archives for that recap blog post!)


We got a great workout, in addition to saving a ton of trash from becoming litter, and collecting a ton of beads to donate to LARC for their resale program (check out my blog post on LARC's efforts).


If you're heading out to the Krewe of Rio parade or any other parade in Acadiana, make sure to pack food and drinks in reusable containers and pick up any waste you may have before you leave!





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Photo Friday | Pet Adoptions

Last Friday on my social media, I celebrated my cat Milo's five-year adoption anniversary. It's mind-boggling to think that I adopted my first pet five years ago already.

After Dax's health scare two years ago, Milo went to stay at my parents' house, which eventually turned into his new permanent home. (Dax and Milo very much like this arrangement, as do my parents!)

I still love to take a trip down memory lane, looking at pictures of Milo when he was just a kitten. Some of my favorites will always be the ones from when we took Milo on his first bike ride. Coincidentally, Facebook's On This Day feature reminded me that this bike ride was five years ago today!


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Green Brand Spotlight | Karst Stone Paper

A few months ago, one of my columns for the Times of Acadiana covered how you can reduce your paper usage on a daily basis.

After the column went live on the website, I received an email from Jonathan with Karst Stone Paper, where he introduced himself and the brand. All of Karst's notebooks and planners are made with tree-free paper - specifically, the paper is made from recycled stone.

 


Stone paper is future-friendly, made from one of the most abundant substances on earth: calcium carbonate. What you’re looking at is recycled — we repurpose waste stone produced by the mining industry and construction industry, crush it into a powder, and combine it with a non-toxic, recyclable binding agent to make stone paper. Not one drop of water and not one tree was harmed in the making of these notebooks. 

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Photo Friday | Thawing Out

This week has definitely thrown me a little off-kilter, with a day and a half out of my office and cooped up in my house. This ice storm definitely comes in second place to December's snow day, because that didn't quite wreak as much havoc.


While it might have looked like a winter wonderland outside, it was anything but once our hot water pipe froze and then burst. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to a warm bath this evening now that our pipe has been replaced.


One of the more random events of the ice week/cabin fever was getting outside Wednesday afternoon to check out the ice situation and spotting this little pup walking down the street alone. We took him in, I cuddled him a lot, and we checked around with neighbors to see if anyone knew who he was for.

After a trip to the vet to learn he's not chipped, we managed to catch his owners driving down the street looking for a lost dog. The reunion was incredibly sweet, and we got to meet two more of our neighbors. Here's your Wednesday afternoon with a side of all the feels.


With the temperatures getting back up to what we're more used to this weekend, I'm ready to give our heater a break and get some fresh air! We've got a few house projects to get back to, and I've got a girls night planned with my high school friends. After wearing my same few sweaters and thick socks all week, it'll feel great to put on something different.


What do your weekend plans consist of?

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La Cuisine de Maman | Styrofoam-Free

When the temperatures dip outside, that means one thing to Cajuns: it's gumbo weather.

This winter has seen its fair share of prime gumbo weather, but one of my favorite days was back in December, the day before it snowed.

I was getting together for lunch with my friend Liv, a fellow 705 member and an advocate for zero waste journeys, before she and her family moved to Colorado. I suggested meeting up at La Cuisine de Maman, the restaurant located inside Vermilionville in Lafayette.

Photo courtesy La Cuisine de Maman Facebook

The restaurant is known for its homestyle Cajun cooking and seafood buffet (which I haven't tried out yet!), but to me it's known for something else - it has transitioned away from Styrofoam to-go containers. Thanks to the Bayou Vermilion District, who operates Vermilionville, the restaurant switched to using compostable bagasse containers in late 2016.


The day we got together, it was cold and rainy outside, the perfect day for some comfort food.

I immediately opted for a bowl of chicken and sausage gumbo with a side of potato salad. Liv ordered shrimp and grits. We both ordered "water no straw" and grabbed our own stainless steel straws instead. It was fun to have a friend to talk about green lifestyles and zero waste efforts with for most of a lunch date.

Photo courtesy La Cuisine de Maman Facebook

One thing I didn't realize much about La Cuisine de Maman is how affordable it really is. My giant bowl of gumbo (which I was too hungry to take a picture of, so this is from their Facebook page) and potato salad were seven dollars total. SEVEN! I feel like most restaurants in this town now charge upwards of $12 a bowl, not including the potato salad.

Oh and how satisfying that gumbo was. I've already eaten lunch today and I'm salivating over the thought of eating this gumbo again.


Another way the restaurant cuts down on waste is by using cloth napkins.

Photo courtesy La Cuisine de Maman Facebook

If you're in Lafayette, or you're traveling through the area, take a quick detour for lunch to La Cuisine de Maman. It's just across the street from the airport, and you don't have to pay the Vermilionville admission fee in order to dine in.

Help support this locally owned restaurant with a commitment to sustainability and reducing waste! Sign up for their email list to get the daily restaurant specials each week.

And if the weather permits, pay the admission fee and check out Vermilionville.


VISIT

300 Fisher Rd Lafayette, Louisiana 70508 | Website | Facebook | Instagram
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Photo Friday | Winterizing Your Home

The cold is back in South Louisiana, and we're bundling up again! Dax has it right - wrapping up in a blanket and staying in bed all morning to stay warm.


After last week's arctic blast, I wrote a column for the Times of Acadiana on ways you can winterize your home to make it more energy efficient, which helps you conserve energy and save money.


Check out the article to get the full list of tips, and stay comfortable the rest of this winter!


http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/entertainment/2018/01/09/ways-winterize-your-home-comfort-and-savings/1005582001/

One of the ways I share in the column is using these simple drawstring pouches to cover pipes, and we use some of our scrap rags as well.


Lined thermal/blackout curtains are also helpful for keeping heat inside the home and cold out.


You can bet I'll be conserving my own warmth and energy this weekend by wearing my comfortable thick socks and loading up with blankets, just like Dax. 

Happy weekend, everyone!
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