farewell, december

The closing track off one of my top albums of 2013 is so fitting today. Farewell, December, indeed. 

Happy New Year everyone!


Well, we meet again, December 31. You came again too quickly, and I don't like how much older I am each time we meet. But no matter. It's here, and I am ready to face 2014 head-on. This year was not one of my finer ones, even though I had many wonderfully great highs, from all kinds of adventures with my boyfriend, to adopting my sweet sweet love Milo, to visiting and falling in love with San Francisco.

I've been feeling very brainstormy over the past few days and have been thinking of what to do with this space. I want you, the very nice person reading this right now, to feel engaged and be interested, because I can't stop myself from writing. What do you want to read about? More tips on how to be greener? More features on eco-friendly topics? More personal posts, or posts about other non-environment things I love? More travel posts? More local posts? More cat photos (Lord knows I have enough of them)? I want to hear from y'all more often, so I want to write something you'd like to read!

Tomorrow I'll share some green new year's resolutions for you to consider adding to your list. And I'll help you figure out why you should keep your green new year's resolutions. But you're on your own for New Year's lunch.

merry christmas!

I hope you have all had a fulfilling, joyous Christmas! What was your favorite gift that Santa brought? What was your favorite food at your family dinner?



holly days

I love all of the preparation surrounding Christmas, from shopping, to list-making, to wrapping, to decorating, to movie-watching, to music-blaring. And now it's time to really reap the benefits of the preparation. The parties are starting to happen, gifts are starting to be opened, and ALL THE FOOD is being eaten. I've loved visiting with family and friends a little more frequently in the past couple weeks.  I've loved looking at Christmas lights around town (and hope to do a Christmas light tour bike ride soon!). I loved the Christmas symphony performance. I really loved visiting Noel Acadien Au Village for the first time in many years with one of my best friends and her husband (on his first ever visit.)

One of my favorite Christmas albums is Snowed In by Hanson (obviously), and since this album came out when I was 12, I've really grown into loving the song At Christmas. As a child, I remember feeling like Christmas Eve was the longest day in the world, and I couldn't wait to tear into all the presents that had been under the tree for weeks. I know lots of those presents got shaken multiple times because I was just too excited. My parents would take us out for lunch or to the mall just to walk around, so we could feel like time was passing by more quickly. And we would always wake up between 6:30 and 7 on Christmas morning to see what Santa left us. And as I've grown older, the lyrics to At Christmas have become the anthem to how I celebrate the holidays. It's more about the family and friend togetherness, and creating that scene of a festive holiday time. 

Now this is what Christmas means to me
Being together with your family
And the wise men who fallowed that star

To where our baby Jesus lie

Christmas is, without a doubt, more stressful now than before, but each year, I try to stop often and let the season really envelop me. I usually fail miserably at not letting stress overwhelm me, but I try harder during the holiday season to remember what it's all for. One of my absolute favorite moments is when I'm sitting (laying) on my boyfriend's couch in the evenings, and the only light in the room is coming from the Christmas tree. That cozy, cheerful feeling is Christmas to me. It's my favorite season, and I want to fully appreciate every minute of it before it's gone for another year.


gift idea friday: bambeco

It's time for another edition of Gift Idea Friday! This week's featured website is Bambeco, who might be my new favorite green retailer.

Bambeco has a great 2013 holiday gift guide, sorted by type of recipient, such as pet lovers, nesters, or outdoors adventurers. The products they sell are beautiful and eco-friendly, and you can find many things at different price points for anyone on your list.

And if you choose anything from the gift guide, 10% of the sales will go to the Nature Conservancy, an organization that works for the conservation and protection of ecologically important land and water. So the benefits are threefold: you'll find unique gifts for anyone, you'll help the earth by choosing recycled products and a sustainable company, and you'll help out a nonprofit organization focused on helping the environment. You have until January 15 to make it count!

Bambeco also focuses on sustainability in delivering your gifts. They reuse boxes to ship out packages instead of using new, and they use Carbonfree shipping from Carbonfund.org. Carbonfree shipping helps to offset the environmental toll of so many shipments.

It's too bad I'm pretty much finished with my Christmas shopping, but I can bet that all future holidays will include a visit to Bambeco's site!

deck the halls…with eco-friendly decorations!

There are 15 days left until Christmas – are you prepared? I have to admit that I am not! There are still a few gifts I need to buy, a few being delivered this week, and lots left to wrap. But the decorations are up and the get-togethers are planned! So that's something, right?

Last year, I did a three-part series on Christmas shopping, decorating and gifts and how each part of the holiday can be more eco-friendly.

When doing your Christmas shopping, shop smartly. Try local businesses first for your gifts, or choose gift cards to encourage your loved ones to also shop small. I've picked up a few of my gifts from local shops, and I'm super excited to give them out. If you're looking to save money, try following your favorite local shops on Facebook or Twitter, or add yourself to their mailing lists. There's always a good chance there will be sales and discounts posted that you wouldn't otherwise know about.

If you choose to shop online, first of all, do it early! Avoid having to pay for quicker shipping or using air freight, which takes more of a toll on the environment. If you're making an order from a website, see if there's anything else you can buy at the same time so you can condense packaging. Don't buy one item from 10 different websites, but rather buy three or four items from one website. And choose websites that sell earth-friendly goods, such as Hipcycle, Vine, Abe's Market or Buy Green. There are so many more websites, and you can find just about anything you want recycled, up-cycled, or made with earth-friendly materials. The benefit of online shopping is the amount of boxes you get in the mail that are perfect for wrapping gifts with! Save those boxes and packing materials and use them again.

Decorating is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season. I love the cheer and coziness that decorations bring to a home. I'm not sure how many times in the past few weeks I've told my boyfriend just how much I love our Christmas tree in his living room. Once your home is decorated, turn off all the lights but your Christmas ones, and enjoy the festive glow while you watch a movie and drink hot chocolate. Bonus points, you'll save electricity from turning your regular lights off. 

When you decorate, look for pieces made with eco-friendly materials, such as burlap, hemp, or organic fabric. Use LED lights for your tree, around your home or outside. They use less energy, helping to lessen the impact on your utility bill when you're already spending extra money on food and gifts. They also keep their cool better than incandescent lights, making your tree a little less of a fire hazard. You can also find decorative solar-powered outdoor lights, eliminating the need for a Griswold-style power cord overload. Keep in mind that they will be more expensive, and chances are, the lights won't be very bright. But they are still pretty!

You should also buy decorations that will last for multiple years. Vintage ornaments give a Christmas tree a classic, timeless look. Our tree has lots of ornaments on it that are relics from our childhood days, and they are my favorite ones. I've been growing my decoration collection for a few years now, and each year I take a few of my family's decorations that they are no longer using. The tree skirt we have has been around for years and still looks great. It only needed a slight cat-proof modification this year (ahem). 

There's a large debate on whether real or artificial trees are more eco-friendly, and there's no clear answer on a winner. Real trees are obviously the more natural choice, and many cheaper artificial trees are made with toxic chemicals and are not recyclable. But, artificial trees can be reused for many years, while real trees are one-and-done. Does anyone plant their Christmas tree outside after the holidays are over? It's a nice thought, but I'm not sure it's possible in South Louisiana! Real trees can be recycled, though. For many years, our city picked up trees separately and sent them out to the marshes, where they would then get placed as a barrier to keep the wetlands from eroding. The city no longer does this, but you can take an idea and use your tree for another purpose. I think this year, our tree will make its way to my boyfriend's family's camp, where it'll go in the water to help some erosion.

Are you ready to wrap? Hold one for one second. Shiny, waxy gift wrap cannot be recycled. Keep that in mind when you buy your gift wrap, and adjust accordingly. Last year I bought what is essentially decorative brown kraft paper wrap, and it was merrily recycled. I used eco-friendly twine and jute for ribbons, and used a few sprigs of Christmas tree branches as extra decoration. I also made a couple magazine-paper gift bows; while those were fun and pretty, I am not sure I'll be taking that extra step this year. You can go the classic route and use newspaper as gift wrap. If you get gift bags and boxes, keep them for future uses. Bags have a very long life if they are taken care of and not ripped. Tissue paper can also be reused. Or you can shred regular old copy paper to use for stuffing inside boxes and for protecting breakable gifts. 

Pretty reusable bags make for great gift bags, and the recipient also has a nice bag to use when shopping during the year. I love to put gifts (especially for showers) in nice reusable bags or baskets, so everything can be put to use later. There's already such an overload of non-reusable gift bags and paper; why add more? 

I also choose not to spend money or waste extra paper on gift tags, as gorgeous as some of them are. There are so many eco-friendly options to tagging gifts though! I usually just write the person's name directly onto the gift wrap, and this year I have some nice metallic pens to make it look extra fancy. You can also use the decorative fronts of old gift cards, or use up those wrapping paper scraps. Just tape it right on to the package, or affix it to a ribbon or bow. Stamps are also a creative idea. You can use letter stamps for each family member's initial, or just use a few holiday stamps. If you want to get extra crafty, Apartment Therapy has some great handmade gift tag ideas. I might just break down and try one or two of these, but I won't leave out my shiny new metallic markers!

And when it comes time to open gifts, keep a separate bin out for recyclable materials. Don't let your hard work just get thrown out with that waxy paper.

So, now that you've got the eco-friendly Christmas basics down, it's time to get crackin'. If you're hosting any kind of holiday gathering, check out my party post so you can keep the eco-friendly theme going.


thanksgiving and shopping

Welcome back everyone! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

We started out Thanksgiving at my parents' house, where I ate entirely too much food and cheated on my meatless diet. And I'm pretty unapologetic about it, because this was GOOD. My contribution to the dinner was smothered sweet potatoes, made with local sweet potatoes (that my mother bought from a farm in central Louisiana) and local smoked sausage. It was pretty easy (especially with doing the prep work the night before, allowing you to only have to wake up at 8am on Thanksgiving!)

And since there were leftovers for days, my boyfriend and I have taken to calling it Tater Snasage. It's the little things in life. Also, I swear it gets tastier after a couple days.

We only get cold Thanksgivings every so often, and this year was one of those times. There's really nothing better than a cozy house with a fire going in the fireplace.

I participated a little bit in Black Friday shopping at two places and remembered why I don't shop at certain big box stores, ahem, after three trips to get more Christmas lights, and still ending up with peach-hued white lights. At the other (nice) store, I had a pleasant trip and found so many great gifts.

And then I accompanied my boyfriend to the LSU-Arkansas game, which turned out to be a really fun afternoon. I don't consider myself an LSU fan, but I think it's my newfound Friday Night Lights obsession that has renewed my interest in football.

And then Saturday was Small Business Saturday! We ventured out to a local burger place for lunch and saw the biggest crowd I've ever seen inside.

After lunch we headed out to River Ranch to check out a bunch of local shops. While we didn't purchase anything, I did find a few items to add to my own Christmas list, and I got ideas for gifts for parties and swaps.

Sunday, we hung out around the house and decorated. I'm so proud of the holiday burlap wreath I made. And once Christmas is over, I'll be able to change the green bow to a black bow and make the wreath UL-themed, so it can be used all year round! We went to the Christmas tree lot Saturday evening and picked out a great tree for the living room. There's nothing I love more than the smell of a live Christmas tree in the house. And there are already gifts under the tree! (And the cats love to lounge on the tree skirt!)

But of course the fun is not over yet, with the designated shopping days still going on. Are you finding any great online deals today for Cyber Monday? I haven't even looked yet! (Hint to my family: Y'all might want to share some lists so I can take advantage of some sales!)

And tomorrow is the culmination of the holiday shopping season kickoff days, with Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday serves as a reminder to give back during the Christmas season, after the big shopping days are over. It's easy to participate in Giving Tuesday. You can join in on social media and become an ambassador. And then, visit the Partners page to see which nonprofit organizations are participating. You can choose to support local organizations, or ones that are dedicated to causes you are passionate about. (Cheers to The Green Project for being the only Louisiana environmental organization to be a partner! Hopefully there will be more next year!)

In the past few years, I've loved including charitable donations as part of my Christmas shopping and plan to do what I can this year. Why not be a Santa Claus to a nonprofit organization!?

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