small business saturday, november 30

As you plan your shopping missions for Black Friday, make it a point to include Saturday, November 30, which is Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010 to promote shopping at locally owned businesses, and support local economies in the holiday season. It was intentionally set to be the day after Black Friday and serve as a contrast to the promotion of big box stores that have changed business for local stores. While Small Business Saturday is a great one-day event, it's important to consider shopping at local businesses as much as you can throughout the year.

A great part of the Small Business Saturday site is the map that lets you view participating small businesses in your area. And American Express customers can get discounts on their participating small-business purchases on November 30.

To get in on the action, follow Small Business Saturday on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This Saturday, get out and support your local shops and restaurants! Your shopping keeps more money and jobs in your city. And your loved ones will receive great unique gifts with personality.

learning from older generations

My grandmother's 90th birthday recently passed, and we managed to gather a good portion of the family for a birthday party. It's been a few years since I made the hour-plus drive up to her house in the country, and with the brisk winter weather this weekend, it made for a nice start to the holiday season. The air felt like it shifted to winter mode and everything just looked a bit more wintry than it did just a few days before. It was great seeing aunts, uncles and cousins whom I haven't visited with in a long time. But what hung with me after leaving was the feeling of my grandmother's house itself. My mother grew up in that house and I grew up visiting that house. And I loved the feeling of visiting again and seeing how little has changed. The same furniture is in the same place, the same artwork and family photos hang on the walls, and the house just seems to be a constant in a changing world. We all grow up, but the house stays the same welcoming home it always was. 

My grandmother is not an extravagant lady, and doesn't need all new furnishings every few years. Her car from 1984 still sits in the driveway. Her furniture is beautifully vintage, without the irony. She isn't necessarily green by choice, rather she is green by virtue. She's from a generation who didn't have as much and knew how to live with what she did have, and because of that, she's more eco-friendly than many modern households. If things work, there's no need for her to replace them. Some might view it as old, but I view it as sensible. And on top of that, I view it as comforting. I've grown up, but the house is still the same as I remember when I was four years old. 

My grandmother collected buttons over the years and kept them in a mason jar. I always loved poring through the collection when I would visit, and one year my grandmother let me take the entire jar home. I keep it on display in my apartment as a family keepsake; but the buttons can also serve as a reminder of their previous lives as spares for clothing. I plan on keeping that jar of buttons in the family for a few more generations as well.

Visiting this weekend also made me appreciate the beauty of the drive. Those winding country highways are so much more scenic than taking the interstate, and the wintry day provided for beautiful skies and natural settings. I am by no means a country girl, but sometimes I appreciate getting out of the city for a little while and making a drive like that, passing through tiny towns and seeing farms on either side of the road. 

An eco-friendly lifestyle was the norm for my grandmother, and visiting her reminds me of that, plus it's an inspiration to live more like that and be less materialistic.

gift idea friday: rewined candles

Now that it's not too early to be holiday shopping, I'll be doing a seasonal Friday gift idea feature. Each week I'll share a great eco-friendly gift idea for different people in your life.

This week features Rewined Candles.

Rewined Candles are made from recycled wine bottles. They're cut and sanded down, then filled with a soy wax candle. Each candle's scent is based on a type of wine, and they smell amazing! Each candle is hand-poured, and Rewined is based in South Carolina. You can buy the candles online or in retailers near you (just click on Retail Locations at the bottom). 

Candles make a great gift because they are universal. You could give one to your mom, coworker, children's teachers, extended family, and just about anyone in between. And these candles make it look like you put a little more thought into the gift than a plain drugstore candle. AND you get to spread the eco-friendly holiday cheer with a gorgeous way to promote recycling.


sustainable thanksgiving gatherings

Am I the only one who feels like Thanksgiving should be tomorrow!? It's completely throwing me off, man! Not to mention that it jips us of some of the Christmas season, and I cannot have a short Christmas season! Sorry not sorry I'll be decorating the house before Thanksgiving. I have too many great Pinterest crafts that need to be properly displayed. And I've been blaring Christmas music and watching Christmas movies for a week now, so there's that.

Oh right, back to what we're here for. How to make your Thanksgiving more eco-friendly!

Since food is the main part of most Thanksgiving celebrations, let's get your bases covered. Shop locally for your meats and vegetables. Local products don't have to travel as far, saving on energy and gas costs. And shopping local keeps more money in your city. Visit your farmer's market before the big day and stock up on as much produce for your dishes as you can. If you're in a city with a large farmer's market, you may even be able to buy your meat there!

Funny side story about "local" meats. A few years ago, I was spending a week with my best friend in Massachusetts. We were driving around this quaint, picturesque small town killing time before a Hanson concert when my friend suddenly slammed on her brakes and cracked up laughing. When I looked up I saw three turkeys crossing the road right in front of us. Had she not reacted so quickly, we would've had a large Thanksgiving dinner in her car…in July. Which I would guess is about as local as you can get. I do please request that you not kill your Thanksgiving dinner with your car.

And if you can't get what you need from a local company, look for organic products that were kinder to the environment during production. When you go shopping, don't forget your reusable bags in your trunk!

If you're having a small dinner, skip disposable dinnerware and cutlery altogether, and just use what you have. If you're having a larger gathering and don't have enough place settings for everyone, look into getting sustainable dinner party supplies, such as the ones from Susty Party. Be sure to cover everything from plates and bowls, to cutlery and cups, to napkins. If you're pressed for time and need disposable dinnerware, look for items made of bamboo or recycled plastic. If you buy regular plastic dishes, make sure they are recyclable, and ask guests not to throw them away, but to put them by the sink so they can be rinsed for recycling. Just don't use anything styrofoam!

Now, to set the table. Look for organic or sustainable-material tablecloths and placemats, such as ones from Rawganique or BambEco. Some great sustainable materials are bamboo, hemp or burlap. Or get creative and use items from around your house. You could use a nice bed sheet that's not already serving a purpose. Or if you're extra Cajun, just throw some newspaper down on the table. To us, a plastic folding table set up outside with newspaper on top certainly means great food is about to be eaten. 

Put out soy or vegetable wax candles instead of traditional paraffin ones. Choose flowers or plants from a local nursery – or your own yard! (but not your neighbor's!) – instead of ones from the grocery store. You could also decorate with other items found around your house and yard and keep the decor very earthy.

And as you always should, be sure to recycle everything that's recyclable. Put out one or two clearly marked recycling bins where people will see and use them. If you've got a compost pile or bin, throw in what food scraps you can.

If you're a guest at someone else's house, bring a local or organic bottle of wine for the hosts. Fetzer is one of my favorite wines, and it's partly due to their efforts in being a sustainable vineyard. You can also look for the Eco Glass label on many different bottles of wine. Eco Glass uses 25% less glass than traditional wine bottles, saving materials and shipping weight, which saves in fuel consumption for delivery trucks. 

If you're traveling, then take steps to make your travel greener, from making sure your vehicle's tires are properly inflated to taking an empty (per TSA's guidelines; you can fill them up after the security checkpoint) reusable water bottle on your plane trip. 

And if anyone is making green bean casserole, save me a heaping portion and a seat at your table. THANKS!

happy america recycles day!

Hope you are all doing something today to participate in America Recycles Day! It's been a pretty active day over on Twitter, and you can follow it all with the #AmericaRecyclesDay hashtag.

And if you're anything like me, you've been hooked on Batkid saving Gotham City today. It's refreshing to see a positive news story and see the good that can happen when people come together. More of this, less hurting others, please.

Wishes do come true, and this world could, so much, be a better place if people were like the Make a Wish Foundation crew and volunteers and the residents of San Francisco, helping to make Miles' dream a reality for a day. I'm so inspired by all of this and want to make my world a better place and make myself a better person. Let's do this, okay!? Let's be superheroes for the planet and for others.


november 15: america recycles day

This Friday, November 15, is America Recycles Day. Organized by Keep America Beautiful, America Recycles Day is the only nationally recognized day for community education and recycling collection events that encourage hundreds of thousands of people to recycle.

So how can you participate in America Recycles Day?

  • Make sure you recycle as much as you possibly can! You should be recycling every day, but especially today, make it the highest priority. If you collect your recycling inside, make sure to bring everything to your outside bin or community dumpster for pickup.
  • Offer to recycle for others - whether your office or neighbors. Offer to take any of their recyclable waste and put it out for pickup. At work, go around to everyone's desks and offer to collect any recyclable waste, or leave a special bin for them that you can pick up later.
  • Grab some bags and get outside yourself or with your children or a group of friends. Go on a litter hunt and recycle as much as you can. Instagram what you find to join the Litterati movement.
  • Visit the America Recycles Day website and look for a recycling event in your area. There are tons! However, there are none in Lafayette, and the nearest one is in Abbeville, where a proclamation was made this past Monday that Friday will be America Recycles Day in the town.
  • It may be too late for this year, but look into hosting an event. There are instructions on how to register your event, and it doesn't specify how long the process takes. But if it's too late for this year, start planning ahead for next year!
  • Take the America Recycles Day pledge! It's free and takes about 2 minutes. I signed this morning and pledge to recycle more unwanted mail. You can also take the pledge on behalf of your company, giving you an even bigger recycling footprint.
  • Share the message with everyone! Let your friends and family know about America Recycles Day and encourage them to participate too.
  • Participate in the America Recycles Day Thunderclap. Take a couple minutes to authorize Thunderclap to post a Tweet, Facebook status or Tumblr photo on your behalf. They will then post a message on every authorized account at the same time on Friday, like a social media flash mob!
  • Follow America Recycles Day on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to keep up with the activities.
It's easy to participate; now all you have to do is choose how you will. Join in and help to make this year's America Recycles Day the best one yet!

link friday, 11.8

Man, this morning was one of those mornings where I woke up almost angry that it wasn't Saturday and I couldn't sleep in a little longer. At least it's only one more day away!

In local news for this week's link roundup:

And in other news:
Hope you all have a wonderful and green weekend!


winterize yo house!

While the weather has been bipolar for the last few weeks in Louisiana, and I've been able to keep the air conditioner off except for a couple warm evenings. It's currently cold, so I'll take what I can get, and that means you'll be learning about winterizing your home today! And do everything now before it gets warm again, so that when it's cold again you'll be good to go!

Heaters are a huge drain on utilities and will quickly run up your electricity bill, especially if you run it without taking extra efficiency measures. And you shouldn't, because why would you want to spend extra money to let hot air leak out of your house?

Having an energy-efficient house means you're already basically winterized, but there are a few little extra things you can do to ensure a comfy season. 

Some standard efficiency measures you can take any time of the year include hanging up thermal curtains, using ceiling fans, sealing leaks in doorways, replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs, and using a programmable thermostat. These measures help to keep the heat out in the summer and the cold out in the winter, and keeping the air inside the home at a stable temperature year-round, without requiring overuse of your air conditioner and heater.

Apartment Therapy recently featured six ways to save money while fixing up your home for the holidays. Most of the tips are repeats of general energy-efficiency upgrades, but there's one great tip that I need to start doing more. 

Ceiling fans are a lifesaver during Southern summers, but they're also built for comfort during colder months! Just about every ceiling fan has a switch on the base that controls the spin direction of the blades. With the reversed direction of the fan drafts, the cooler air is pushed up and the warmer air is pushed back down, making your room more comfortable without needing to put on the heater. It's a strange concept to me that ceiling fans can be used in the winter as well, but it's nice to get year-round use out of them!

Green Philly Blog talks about a simple way to check for air leaks in doors and windows, allowing you to figure out just where you need some extra weather-stripping. Their test involves an extension cord, a blow dryer and a candle. You'll also need two people - one to go outside with the blow dryer, and one to stay inside with the candle. The person with the blow dryer points it at the same spot on the window where the other person is holding the candle. If the flame starts dancing, you've got an air leak, and you can mark the spot for sealing later. Just don't catch anything on fire!

Houzz also has some tips on how to make your home ready for the holidays, and most are focused more on design and entertaining, but there's one good and useful tip for energy efficiency. They suggest closing vents in rooms that are rarely used, so the heat can be redirected to rooms that are used more often. If you wouldn't want to completely shut off circulated air to rooms, you can still close the vents to where there's a small gap to allow a little heat through. With this change, the heat will be distributed to where it will be most used and will help to keep the electricity bill down.

Space heaters also help to confine heat to spaces where you need it, without heating up the whole house. But always be careful with space heaters! You don't want to run them too long or they will start to rack up your electricity bill on their own. They also pose a fire hazard, so make sure you don't place them too close to anything combustible, especially upholstered furniture. There are no Energy Star-rated space heaters, so it's up to you to use them as efficiently as possible.

And there's always the old-school method of keeping blankets around for when you get a little chilly. Doesn't require any electricity or pose a fire hazard. Blankets really aren't a standalone solution (unless it's only slightly chilly in your house, or it's not cold enough outside to justify turning on the heater), but they can help you use the heater in a more efficient way. Instead of blasting the heat at 74 degrees, turn it down to 68-70 and use a few extra blankets on the couch and in bed. (Hot chocolate also helps to keep you warm with those blankets, and you get 10,000 extra cozy points!)

The main things to remember when winterizing your home are to keep everything sealed so there are no air leaks and wasted electricity, and to try alternative methods in order to keep your heater from needing to run all day and night. Staying warm and keeping your house warm doesn't have to cost a ton of money!

early november outdoor fun

It's finally, FINALLY getting cooler around Louisiana, in time for it to be November. The Halloween rains brought a nice cold front through, and the weekend was impeccably beautiful. We spent Friday evening and most of Saturday riding our bikes around town, and soaked up all the time we've missed on bikes these past few months. From a ride downtown (complete with my chain falling off twice) to a ride through our college campus and park, then rides to the homecoming parade and tailgating, we got some great exercising in. Riding through campus was a fun, but surreal experience. I grew up in this town, and the college has always been part of my life, but it's a smaller part these days than it used to be. As we rode around, we saw all of the changes happening on campus (for the good, of course), and it brought back a lot of memories. It's already been six years since I got that degree, and while I don't really have dreams of going back for a higher degree, I do still miss those days sometimes.  

The homecoming parade and tailgating with friends were the perfect ways to spend Saturday. We rode by the grocery store to get some beer and water on the way out to tailgating, and I laughed to myself seeing the woman in front of us purchasing sherry and dried porcini mushrooms. Sometimes I think I can be a decent adult, and then I'm in line at the store buying beer behind a woman buying sherry to cook with her mushrooms. But I think I'd rather not feeling enough like a grown-up than feeling too much like one.

How could you not wish to take a nap in the grass when it looks this inviting? I never got an outdoor nap in, but I certainly dreamed about it all weekend.

Sunday we headed out to Abbeville for the annual Giant Omelette festival - where 5,029 eggs go into making the largest omelette around. And then it all gets eaten within 15 minutes. This was my first time out at the festival and I enjoyed it very much. The omelette was pretty good, especially with local crawfish put in it. As much as I consider myself a city girl, there's a part of me that always loves visiting the real-life Stars Hollows of the world, complete with their festivals. (And now I've made myself want to rewatch all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls pronto.)

One side thought… aren't acorn's just nature's version of bubble wrap? The acorns have been falling like crazy the past few weeks, and since they're all over the place, they're impossible to avoid stepping on.

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