Going Green 🌱

I started something new once I’d moved into my apartment, about three months ago. I’ve always recycled, but now I have to drive my huge bag of recyclables to my mother’s house for it to be picked up. The effort is more than worth it, as recycling even a plastic water bottle is 1) a chance for it to be reused in the construction of a new product and 2) might actually save one animal’s life. If you haven’t seen footage of the pilot whale  (whose body was filled with plastic waste) or the unfortunate sea turtle with a 4-inch straw stuck in its nasal canal, follow the respective links.

Seeing Earth’s beloved creatures in peril through first-hand accounts really illuminates the horrors of plastic waste. So many days do we think of our hectic schedules with work, school, extracurriculars, volunteer efforts, and household duties, that we forget that life is so much grander than ourselves. We live in such a minute speck on Earth, and the way we live as individuals does affect our fellow living creatures. We even affect  our future selves in return. Animals, such as fish, eat plastic by mistake. But…think about what happens after we catch and eat them… Scary, huh?

hermit crab litter - NG going green
Image by National Geographic

Recycling should be made easily available to everyone in any area. If the department of waste in one area isn’t close by, do you think that many people would make the trip? “Just to throw garbage away in a different place?” It is hard with our incredibly busy lives (that we mold for ourselves) to make time for “trivial” matters. But when you think of how much you, special reader, can recycle from your every day garbage, you will see how quickly all of that waste can add up. All of those recyclable items won’t end up in our oceans. Crabs will be able to find only shells to make their home in. Whales and turtles won’t eat plastic bags because they look like jellyfish. Animals can survive and thrive without manmade garbage in their habitat. How selfish of us to use Walmart plastic bags when we all have a green bag or two in our house, holding laundry supplies or kids’ toys. They’re only $1 in most places today, unless you prefer a more expensive canvas tote to do your shopping.

Replacing our plastic straws from fast food places with hard plastic or metal reusable straws will prevent so many animals from choking, suffocating, and ending up with a torn up nostril.

All of these steps make our lives a little bit more difficult, but when you think of that little squirrel who won’t get its head stuck in a plastic six-pack ring or a tummy so full of trash a whale can no longer eat, a readjusted lifestyle can become a little easier to swallow.

What I’m Doing
  1. Deconstructing K-Cups to Recycle – I put a basket next to our Keurig coffeemaker at the office in which everyone can toss their single-use K-Cup. I found this tool that allows me to cut open a K-Cup to pour out the coffee grounds and separate the 3 recyclable materials it consists of: aluminum top, plastic cup, and paper filter. All of these are recyclable and can be thrown separately from each other. The sorters at the recycling facilities will NOT deconstruct these themselves. Can you imagine how much waste they have to sift through?
  2. Replacing Single-Use Plastic Straws with Reusable Straws – I know…this one is tough for me, too. I received these hard, plastic straws as a gift, and I love them. I don’t mind washing these at all. It’s difficult not to grab one when handed a drink at a fast food restaurant, and Starbucks always hands me that iconic green straw with my iced tea or frappuccino. Reusable straws are not hard to come across. You can also use paper straws, which are biodegradable. Check your local superstore, or order some online from Walmart or Amazon. If you frequent Starbucks, they also sell that famous green straw in a reusable form. Look out for those by the mug wall. (P.S. I’m currently saving up plastic straws to reuse them in some fashion…I’ll keep you posted.)
  3. Avoiding Plastic Coffee Stirrers – At work, our bosses provide us with miniature plastic straws with which to stir our coffee. In my effort to reduce my straw usage, I developed a new method to my coffee brewing when I’m away from home. I first pour in my creamer and then let the coffee brew over it. At a local coffee and gelato shop, they have provided customers with pieces of dried pasta with which to mix their honey or cream into their beverage. It was so innovative, and I’m thinking about buying cheap pasta and doing the same at work…but one can only spend so much extra money!
  4. Struggling with Plastic Bags – As well as with the straw dilemma (just the sheer number of them), I’m struggling with this lifestyle change. I just discovered this wonderful thing called Walmart Pick-Up. I buy my whole shopping list online; someone shops for me; then I drive there so someone else can load it into my car. I don’t even have to get out of my vehicle. Unfortunately, each item in my cart gets its own bag. If I get one pack of butter, one bag of tortillas, and one yogurt, I’ll have three plastic bags for which I now have to find a use. Usually I reuse them as trashcan liners, but I collect so many that I’ll never be able to use them. There is a plastic bag recycling box at the entrance of most Walmarts, so I will soon make use of those. If there is a Target nearby, I believe they also do plastic bag recycling. Keep in mind your department of waste will not recycle plastic bags. It’s sad…but true.

    TrashDebrisManagement - vermillionville
    Image via Vermillionville.org

The first thing I want to improve is using reusable bags when I do shop in-store, and I also want to get some reusable produce bags when I buy my fruit or my rabbit’s veggies. There’s no need for single-use bags anymore. We can shop without being wasteful. When I can, I will also recycle my excess bags in the store.

Are you making steps toward a greener life? Are you sharing your inspiration with others? It’s hard to change your whole lifestyle, but isn’t saving our future family’s planet worth the extra effort?

Photograph by David Doubilet, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE | Read the linked story to find out what plastic did to a little seal pup like this one.

What about saving the innocent animals? How can you turn down this face?

❤ Michelle


When One Learns to Fly

Friday afternoon as I was decompressing from work, I was startled by fussy squawks from the jays outside. I watched one come to my porch to grab a peanut. Assuming the pair were just hungry, I resumed whatever I was doing until I was ready to leave to visit my family. But later, as I walked to my car, I was stalled by a horrific sight–a baby blue jay had fallen nearly twenty feet from the oak tree and flat onto the pavement! I was sure it was gone from such a plummet, but then I saw it breathing.

I threw my bags into the car and grabbed a cardboard Honey Maid Graham Cracker box from the recycling. Tearing it open, I slowly approached the wee feathered babe. I saw its eyes flutter open as I slid its limp body of electric blue feathers from the cement and onto the box. It began to screech at me, as its parents did while they swarmed the tree branches above my head. I thought it must have knocked itself unconscious.

Baby Blue Jay

Careful not to juggle him around too much, I placed him beneath a bush outside of my apartment gate. He sat on the box breathing heavily. I ran inside to refill the birdseed, and I placed a pile next to the baby just in case he’d want a bite while he recovered. Apparently I’d popped his bubble, and he began to cry at me again–beak wide open so I could see his magenta baby bird tongue.

Then I thought, well, other people might like to see this. Maybe I could get a good photo while he sat regaining consciousness. When I returned to capture his beautiful face forever, he regained some strength, stood, and hopped off around my neighbor’s fence! It was a blessing. My heart was beating so quickly during the endeavor because I thought he wouldn’t make it to live another day with us.

I realize, then,  that American culture has made us vain, making us believe that we need to tell all of our social media friends about everything we do. We want to document every moment, meal, trip, and we don’t just appreciate what God gives us; we take these little nuances for granted. I saved a baby bird from being run over. I should have relished in the fact that he was breathing and his parents watched from inside the bush while I fed them. Observing him and making him comfortable with my presence would have been so much more rewarding than attempting to take a picture. I think his retreat was a sign that I need to learn to enjoy life and not always try to snap an Instagram-quality picture. I don’t know how quickly I will change my ways, but being aware of the appropriate time for photos will be my goal.

This baby bird helped me to see just how precious our moment was, just me and him. Petit Bleu.

I am not certain on Petit Bleu’s condition, though I haven’t seen him or any jay feathers lying around. His right wing was fanned out when I found him, so I didn’t know if it had been broken or not. When he hopped away, the wing seemed to fold back into place and he flapped both of his wings enough to allow him to jump up to the sidewalk and around the side of the fence. I believe I might have heard his crying this morning when I saw his parents stopping by for breakfast. It seems he may be alright, after all.

❤ Michelle

Final Photo Challenge: All-Time Favorites

Every moment was a precious thing, having in it the essence of finality.

-Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

It was incredibly sad to read that the Daily Post blog posted their final Weekly Photo Challenge. When I joined WordPress about five years ago, I wrote my first posts with inspiration from these challenges. It encouraged my photography soul to branch out into all different directions. I’ve learned how to take photos from different angles to give them a different feeling or meaning. I always thought it was spectacular to see how people would interpret the same picture in various or contradicting ways.

I’ll always find meaning in my photography now that I’ve exercised my creativity in the field. In honor of this meaningful challenge, I present to you two of my All-Time Favorite photos I shared for this challenge:

“Close-Up,” 2015

“Wall,” 2015


A Saturday Tale

It was a chilly, winter Saturday morning, and I wanted nothing more than to follow my New Year’s resolution and chase adventure!

My family decided to take a stroll through our local farmer’s market to visit an old friend (who sells thebest salsain the whole world) and grab a hot breakfast cooked to order. We enjoyed her quail egg breakfast sandwiches, as well as some baked cinnamon donuts by the most exquisite baker in town. Is your mouth watering yet?

We also tried some spicy BBQ sauce made with cane sugar, and warmed our frigid fingers to a blend of freshly ground coffee, made from a local couple. I’m SO grabbing a bag of that Sumatra next time! Pop that into the French press and steam away…

A couple of other goodies we found was a homemade king cake by the talented Mrs. Francis (who’s basically everyone’s grandmother), some chips created by a guy who was in the high school band with me, some divine pastries from yet another baker, and a bottle of herbal root beer kefir soda. I have to admit…I really dig this soda! It’s fermented with yeast, and the lady who makes them in town has so many flavors to choose from! When I visit her tent, it’s like going to a juice bar. She even has little fountains so you can taste a few different flavors to find your favorite. Be warned–these are considered probiotics! (And make you feel GREAT!) [Insert Thumbs-Up Here]

I’ll take this time to mention I also pet the most adorable boxer I’ve ever met. She’s chocolate brown with a satin coat, and the sweetest smile and tail wag! I made her extra excited, so she almost knocked her owner to the ground… She looked like this, just a darker brown.

I apologize for the lack of photographs, I seem to have been too concerned with keeping my hands warm that I neglected my phone! You can see a few of our buys here, though:

A Saturday Tale 1.jpg
Can you spot hard-boiled Mardi Gras quail eggs?

The Farmer’s Market was only the beginning of Saturday adventures, though. After running a few errands and resting for a couple of hours, it was time to get ready for the Polyester Power Hour PartyIt was a night filled with disco music by a local band, Krossfyre, and boogie shoes all around. The band was phenomenal! No one even needed a chair, because everyone wanted to dance. If you want to hear some clips, visit my Instagram post and swipe past the photos.

I’ve never really been “out,” as people call it, because I don’t drink, and I don’t prefer to be around a bunch of people who drink too much. It’s not usually how I have fun, so it was a new experience for me. But…this party was a riot, and my beau and I had a blast!

The main reason I had a blast was due to two people whom I’ve been dying to meet–the hosts of the morning show on our local radio station! I have been listening to them for nearly 15 years now, and it was an honor to meet them. It MADE. MY. YEAR. Thank you, C.J. and Debbie Ray, for being so kind to take a photo with me.

A Saturday Tale 2
-beaming with pure happiness-

What new experiences do you look forward to on the weekend? Once you have the chance to unwind and have time to do what you love?

❤ Michelle

DIY: Spooky Flower Arrangement

Autumn Lovin' Series Banner

Hey, friends! Happy Friday. I stayed home from work today (much to my dismay) nursing a migraine. Alas, I hope your Friday was much more enjoyable!

One of the best parts of Halloween fun is decorating the house. Halloween is one of my absolute favorite holidays, and it is also fun to cook and munch on festive snacks amidst the ghouls and vampires haunting every corner of the house. A dining room table, whether or not you are entertaining, is a great place to spook up the room! Everyone seems to meet at the dinner table for food/snacks at my house.

Flower arranging is also one of my favorite hobbies, so why not combine flowers and Halloween? Not the usual combination, but I’ve seen some arrangements that are to die for! In this segment of the Autumn Lovin’ Series, I’m giving you some easy ways to spook up your bouquet.

If you’ve missed any stops on our autumn adventure, visit the series page!

For your basic arrangement, you can buy your own flowers to arrange, or purchase one from a florist. I used fresh flowers because I just prefer them. It is helpful to put your greenery first, if you have lots of it, but because most of what I was adding were flowers, I just accented with a few pieces of greenery from the yard.

Also, when adding your flower or greenery, point the stem toward the opposite side of the vase, and stick it in the vase at an angle.

1 spooky flowers

I found long, spindly stems of fake vines and branches, two of which were orange and black–perfect for that Halloween-spooks vibe! After trimming them a bit, I poked them in sort of haphazardly to give the arrangement a whimsical, uneven appearance. These stems will provide an excellent space for cobwebs.

Yes, you read that right—cobwebs! I learned this next trick from a demonstrator at a florists’ convention (sorry…Halloween jokes…I just can’t help myself. #corny).

First, you’ll want to heat up your hot glue gun and get an extra stick of glue just in case (I used a lot). I used two pieces of floral foam for silk flowers. Then squirt the hot glue all over the styrofoam and quickly rub them together. When you pull them apart, you’ll see delicate tendrils of glue that resemble nasty spiders’ webs!

Next, you’ll just wrap these sticky strings around your arrangement, however you want them to look. Some will clump up and be uneven, but that is perfect. Cobwebs are clumpy and weird-looking. This is nasty and full of Halloween spirit, okay?! Make it creepy! Make your arrangement in a skull like I wanted to! Cobwebs are just the perfect touch.

Do you enjoy decorating for Halloween, too? We used to deck-out our old garage to be one of the scariest in the neighborhood! I’ll be decorating my beau’s apartment door next week for a contest, so I’m psyched for that.

I’ve also been up to a Write 31 Days challenge. See my Instagram account in the sidebar to catch up on everything Coffee Thoughts!

And if you’d like some more hauntingly great inspiration, visit my Pinterest board, Autumn Lovin’!

‘Til next time,

❤ Michelle

12 spooky flowers

Photos of the Season

Autumn Lovin' Series Banner

Welcome back to the halfway-point of the Autumn Lovin’ Series! I take lots of photos (as my phone told me this morning I have run out of storage), and this season especially encourages me to capture every special moment. Mostly I’ve taken pictures of the sunset, but I love taking photos with my family and at events like festivals or other outings that I enjoy particularly in the fall.

There are so many opportunities to take pictures at home. Our back yard is beautiful, and our neighbors’ cat blends right in.

When I’m away from home, I get even more inspiration! We don’t get a huge view of the sky where I live, so when I see a huge sky, it makes me want to take as many shots as possible so I can remember it.

What inspires your creativity? Photography, art, writing, or otherwise? 🍁📷🍂

❤ Michelle

Fall Favorites

Autumn Lovin' Series Banner

Bienvenue! Another Autumn Lovin’ segment is coming for you and with many suggestions for your seasonal entertainment; stay tuned for your second Fall Freebie, too!

Before we begin, I’d just like to point you down there to the sidebar where my Instagram photos are lodged. I’m taking part in the new Instagram Mini-Series for Write 31 Days! This daily writing series happens every year in October, and you can join in on the Write 31 Days website. There’s also a link to the official Facebook group where you can follow and meet other writers who are also taking part in the annual challenge. You can follow my “Coffee Thoughts”  edition by clicking on any of the Instagram thumbnails in the sidebar!

Want to start the Autumn Lovin’ Series from the beginning? Visit the Kick-Off post!

Today for our Fall Favorites, I’d like to share 10 of my favorite things that I like to take part in during this cozy season—my favorite:

  1. Movie – This category is probably the hardest! With ABC’s 13 Nights of Halloween I can’t choose my favorite; so I nominate this channel as my favorite Halloween movie(s)!
    • A couple of my favorites include Sleepy Hollow, Coraline, The Addams Family, Frankenweenie, The Nightmare Before Christmas, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and even the musical, Sweeney Todd.
    • If TV shows are included, I also enjoy watching the Halloween Baking Championship and Halloween Wars on the Food Network, as well as Once Upon a Time on ABC.
  2. Music – Any Danny Elfman music, especially from Nightmare Before Christmas, is wonderful, plus Monster Mash and music from Hocus PocusHarry Potter music is also just perfect for the coming-of-Halloween and witchcraft vibes! I love to feel like I’m in the season when they come around. I want to experience it fully so I don’t feel like I missed out in the celebration that can break out every day!
  3. Color – My absolute favorite color, if I had to choose, would be a pastel orange. I love light and bright colors. But this season, I prefer a burnt orange, more dirty-pumpkin color. (Pumpkins are the cutest. They’re up there with donut cuteness, ya know? Did I mention I love pumpkin-everything? Especially just pumpkins in general?!) I’ll just admit that October is my favorite color. #stereotypicalwhitegirlquote
  4. Apparel – Wearing and surrounding yourself with earthy colors really bring out the color changes in the season, as well as that cool—yet still cozy—autumn air. Colors like dark, golden yellow, olive greens, and maroon/burgundy are huge this season. Try mixing those into one outfit—you’ll even get others feel that autumn aura! If it is cold where you are, light scarves may be the perfect way to easily dress up (or autumn-up) any outfit for any occasion. Well, maybe not jogging. Don’t go jogging with a scarf. Ankle-high boots with a cute buckle would also help you to settle in and take advantage of the cooler weather. Right now, I’m still dressed in shorts and sandals. Maybe one day it will get cold. Maybe…
  5. Activities – Other than baking, which I adore…
    • If you’re looking for something new to do this season, just to change it up, the first thing I’d recommend is grabbing a pumpkin from your grocery store and carve it up. You get to decide what you want your special pumpkin to be, and it’s easy!
    • I also think geocaching something really fun to do outside. It’s hard in the summer with bugs and the sun beating down, but it’s much more enjoyable in the fall.
    • Camping and hiking are always a good idea. Always. I want to go camping.
    • Photography—because the autumn colors, duh!
    • Birdwatching is a relaxing way to enjoy your morning coffee. Migrating birds start coming around when the weather gets cooler, so we see many different species throughout the season, and even in the winter. Right now, we have hummingbirds visiting, but they will be going soon. Who is in your yard?
    • Going on a hay ride is itchy, but fun! Especially if you’re riding to a giant bonfire where there will be s’mores.
    • Visiting a pumpkin patch near you is a great place to take family photos and participate in family activities that only happen in the fall. Be wary of pumpkin prices, though. Might want to get those at Walmart…
  6. Beverage – This category is also a difficult one, because beverage stores all over introduce new fall flavors every year. I like a good PSL, but I have to admit that it can’t be my favorite. Hazelnut roasted coffee is my favorite, actually (I could drink it all year), but I also enjoy Mexican hot cocoa and a warm, cinnamon-y apple cider.
  7. Snack – Two words: PUMPKIN. BREAD. That is all.
  8. Art – This time of year, soft watercolor paintings is what’s in. From woodland animals to pin-up zombies and skulls, it’s a competitive show out there. Not to mention, Inktober is currently in progress. Check up on your favorite artists on Instagram by searching the affiliated hashtag and watch their 31-day inking journey!
  9. Book – (Disclaimer: this is shocking, so please don’t scream.) I haven’t yet read Anne of Green Gables, but I do plan on it! I am looking forward to reading this book as a part of making the most of the season, as well as my free time. There’s also a new series on Netflix based on the book, titled Anne with and ‘E’. I’ll give that a gander once I’ve finished the book.
  10. Poetry – My favorite poet has always been John Keats; well, ever since we studied Romantic Poetry in British Lit. He wrote a beautiful ode, To AutumnIf you’re a lover of literature like myself, here are pages one and two of his original manuscript this famous poem. (Totally fan-girled when I found these!)

That just about covers everything that you can fit in this fall! If you have any other fall experience that you’d recommend to me, I’d love to hear it. I’m always up for new adventures. If you dip your toes into anything I’ve suggested, tell me about it!

Just as I promised, here is your Fall Freebie! The freebie today is an autumn-inspired memoir that could also double as an autumn romance poem for you to enjoy. I think romance + fall = super cozy feelings. Don’t you?

◇.:Late Autumn- A Memoir:.◇

See you next week on Friday the 13th…


❤ Michelle