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?

01-harp-seal-pup-nationalgeographic_1936617.adapt.590.1
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

 

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:

image
“Close-Up,” 2015

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“Wall,” 2015

 

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…

Muahahahaha…

❤ Michelle

Autumn Lovin’ Kick-off!

Autumn Lovin' Series Banner

Welcome to the first installment of this year’s autumn series, Autumn Lovin’! Fall just gives me all the happy feels when it finally arrives. I’ve noticed everyone I’ve been around today has been in an unusually good mood. Probably that cool, dry air we’ve been blessed with!

When I began to write this post, I was sitting at Starbucks enjoying a beverage that nearly every girl in America waits for: the (in)famous PSL. I made one once, but I couldn’t remember whose recipe I followed. This year, though, I decided to combine a few different ideas to build my own recipe. I require real, cooked pumpkin in mine, not just the spices and flavored syrup.

Some people don’t care for the flavor of pumpkin, so you can go ahead and skip down to the bottom to get your first Fall Freebie! But let’s be honest: there aren’t many pumpkin haters!


Grocery List

What you’ll need to start preparing your single-serving Pumpkin Spice Latte:

  • 1 cup Almond Milk, or preferred milk
  • 1 tbsp Puréed Pumpkin (canned will do)
  • 1 tbsp Sugar, or preferred sweetener
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp Cinnamon*
  • 1/8 tsp Nutmeg*
  • pinch of Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/2 cup Extra Strong Coffee
  • whipped cream, if desired

*Keep one of these handy for a finishing sprinkle on top!

Directions

  1. Combine milk, pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, and spices into a pot and heat on medium-low heat until the milk is warm. For those of you who haven’t heated milk this way before, you will notice the mixture begin to thicken slightly, and all of the pumpkin should be broken down.
  2. Using an immersion blender, whip the milk mixture until frothy. (If you don’t have one of these, grab a whisk and get ready for a workout!)
  3. Pour coffee into your favorite campfire mug, and add the milk mixture to the coffee.
  4. Add a dollop of whipped cream on top with your favorite topping: sprinkles, nuts, or just another little dash of nutmeg (my flavorite!).

All that’s left is to grow a whipped cream mustache and drink that sucker up! Yum yum yum~ Nothing like cool air and a little cozy-something to warm you up on the inside.


Like I promised…here’s your first Fall Freebie! I drew these Autumn Lovin’ printable stickers myself and wanted to share them with you. Just download a copy of this PDF to access them. If you print them out on a shipping label, you can cut each picture out to make your own stickers! They are so cute for the beginning of the school year to decorate notebooks, a journal, your planner, or a birthday card for a friend. Of course, you could also give them to the little ones so you can find them in the weirdest places later on!

◊∴Autumn Lovin’ Stickers∴◊

I hope you enjoy your delicious fall beverage! I know I have. I had to make a double recipe so my mom could have a cup, too. You can’t just make one for yourself! Do you have a particular beverage you love to drink in the fall? Share with us in the comments!

Are you lovin’ autumn yet?

❤ Michelle

Fit for the Future

Good evening, all!

I’ll start this update honestly, by saying that today was rough at work. Naturally, writing will help to ease that anxiety and remind me that “it is just a job”. So I came to you guys! This fall will be an extremely exciting one for this blog and I hope it will be for you as well. Currently I am sitting outside listening to the squawky bluejay and the buzz and sweet chirping of hummingbirds at the feeder—that’s a good start to fall, if I must say!

Part of this excitement is a new series I’ll be starting Friday! I hope all of my readers will return (after my long hiatus) to join me on an Autumn Lovin’ adventure, because I just can’t resist its charms! There will be 7 installments, or so I have planned, and will be posted once-a-week on Fridays. Ponder all of these wonderful things that fall brings: color changes, pumpkin recipes, feelings of the ever-encroaching holidays, sweaters, boot socks, costumes, camping, new crop to harvest… The list goes on!

◊◊◊Have an idea that you’d like to share, or is there a favorite thing that you look forward to all year that comes in autumn? Do you even care for the season? Get in touch with me in the comments below!


Business #2:

Heard of Write 31 Days before? I actually did it last year! If you don’t know what this is and want to participate, here’s a link to the website that will be most helpful in informing you.

Last year, I did 31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes, which was just a more specific version. Basically, you join thousands of writers around the globe writing every day of the month in October. This event happens every year, so it is definitely something I look forward to!

I will be changing it up a bit this year, since I am running the Autumn Lovin’ series during the month of October as well. I read on that same website that they are also hosting a micro-blogging for 31 days on Instagram. I haven’t fully researched their explanation of what it is, but I am significantly intrigued. I have my Instagram account linked in the sidebar, so if I do decide to micro-blog for 31 days, you can keep up with me there!

Well, that’s the skinny of it. Lots of new stuff coming! I hope you stick around for tons of fall goodies and photos. For me, it’s the best time of the year!

❤ Michelle