Sunday, December 25, 2011

enjoying the little things in life: christmas morning with my puppies

it's a quiet christmas morning, and i've got a puppy on either side of me snuggling

Making Fresh Tracks with Responsible Living

So, now that I've taken a look at what I've already accomplished in living responsibly, I have a good idea of the things I want to work on moving forward.

1. Eating less packaged food. This also goes with our goal to eat healthier. The less packaged the food it, the more natural the food is.

2. Recycle more. Basically, we need to move out of our condo to a place where we can recycle.

3. Unplug our power cords more often. I know it's not realistic to do it every time, but if it's the majority, I'd be happy.

4. Eat out less often = less paper waste

5. Eat less non-free trade chocolate. Can I possible go all the way with this? I love chocolate so much...

6. Resist the urge to buy new. Have a sustainable perspective when I shop.

7. What resources do I have (money, food, time, care) that could benefit others?

Green Resolutions Met

It's that time of year where we start to think about resolutions for the new year - making fresh tracks if you will. Sometimes when we start thinking about looking forward, we forget to remember what we have done.

I've had a chance to think a lot recently about ways I can be more sustainable and responsible in my life, and as I explore this endeavor, I want to compile a list of what I'm already doing. Maybe some of these ideas can give you ideas.

1. Using a reusable water bottle for taking water to work each day. No disposable bottles for me!
2. Take my lunch to work regularly - less waste from fast food packaging.
3. Print household documents on the other side of paper.
4. Cut paper that's been printed on already on one side into quarters for notepad paper
5. Reuse tissue paper and decorative bags for wrapping gifts.
6. Leave curtains closed to block drafts in the winter time. Opening blinds when the sun is shining directly in for the light and the heat.
7. Cut up tshirts into rags, which we use to clean all sorts of surfaces.
8. Read books from the library! (keeps my house from cluttering up too!)
9. When I do buy books, buy them used
10. Use vinegar solutions to clean my windows and surfaces.
11. When I can, buy household items and clothes from the thrift store. (fulfills the thrill of the hunt too!)
12. We eat the venison from the many deer that the hubbs shoots each year. We hardly ever buy meat.
13. Combining trips with errands. Running errands annoys me, so when I can combine them it saves me time and gas.
14. I regularly wash our clothes in cold water; very rarely in warm water.
15. We don't use fabric softener, nor dryer sheets.
16. Of course, we use CFL's as much as possible
17. I've gotten in a good habit of using my reusable shopping bags (it took a while for me to remember them!)
18. As mentioned in an earlier post, I use grocery plastic bags that my parents have generously given me, for scooping up the poopies poop.
19. We reuse wine,whiskey, and coke bottles as taper candle holders.
20. All of my throw pillows have been recovered with old curtains, sweatshirts, or other extra fabrics.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Vintage Window Turned Bulletin/Photo Board

I found these awesome vintage windows at a thrift store in Nashville in the spring. It's a perfect example of a project where I get the bones for the project and then 'marinate' on it for a while before I do anything. Here's what I did with one of the two windows:
I made this bulletin board/photo frame for my sister's apartment. I screwed on some brackets to the back so that she can hang it if she wants to. I also screwed in two knobs on the front that allows it to be a small hat/coat rack when it's hung. I finished this project almost six weeks ago, but only last week was able to give it to her, so I had to hold it in til then.

I still have window number two to complete. I'm currently halfway done. I'm turning that window into a side table and I'm super excited to see how it turns out!

Monday, September 5, 2011

fresh idea: easy personalized lampshade

Here's a fresh idea that I did back in 2005 when I was a counselor at Lake Forest Ranch. I wanted to do something where my campers that summer could sign their name and I could remember them forever. At the same time, I wanted them to sign something that I could actually USE. I am a big fan of having things in my home be as functional as possible.

My idea: decorate a lamp shade! It was super easy too! All I did was buy a basic white lampshade from Wal-Mart (because that's the only store they had in town :) ) and then supplied sharpie markers.
I love this because now six years later, I still have this reminder of my fabulous summer at camp as a counselor and all of the girls that were a part of that summer. I love this too, because anyone can do this and for so many different situations. Another cool thing is that I did this again when I worked there a second summer, so I can have a matching pair!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

enjoying the little things in life

finding a GOOD book. not just an ok book, but a really, and truly, GOOD book...

by the way, i'm reading "Unbroken" right now and highly recommend it

For a long time, I have followed zenhabits' blog and loved some of their articles. This is one of them. The point that made me want to put this as a link on my blog (and to help me remember to do this) is the point to "Scare Yourself- Live Outside Your Comfort Zone". Blogs can seem so personal, and yet in our long-distance world, just another way to get to know each other. It was very scary to consider putting my ideas out there, but I do it all the time in my daily life, why not to those in my long distance life.

So, this post is my "out of my comfort zone" item for today: admitting that it's scary sometimes to put your ideas out there.

Check out this great article:

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I'm so excited about this vase!

I am so excited about this project! It was a gift for my mom and was inspired by some vases we saw in a cool store in Denver at Christmas time. I wanted to see if I could imitate it and I gotta say, I'm pretty excited about how it turned out!

Here's the original:

Here's my version:

Here's how it happened.

1. Went to the craft store and got some small width painters tape, blue spray paint, frosted-glass spray paint (new discovery!), and a glass vase (for my next project, i'll hit up the thrift store for the vase)

2. Tape off the vase. (was not as time consuming as you might think-especially if you're watching a movie)

3. With vase upside down, paint the blue. Let dry completely.

5. Once it's completely dry, peel tape off carefully

I'm so excited to give this to her, and even make one for myself. Although, I would use it mostly as a candle lantern...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

worship and yoga

Today I had a great idea to combine two free online resources to create a calm experience for a Saturday morning: Pandora and YogaToday. For now, I just have the free account for pandora and set it to Jars of Clay's station. Then, I'm a member of YogaToday, which offers a free class each week that you can watch online. I was able to lower the volume on the yoga video so that I could follow visually and then listen to pandora at the same time. Needless to say, it was a great way to start my day off in worship and praise!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

a good word

Remember you don’t have to say everything to say something

- Beth Moore

Friday, April 29, 2011

here's a thought...

Here's a thought...Why did I never think of this before?

I've been having trouble focusing while at work and actually having to do some number crunching and thinking. I work in an open office right now and this morning it was particularly noisy and distracting. So, I put on my headphones and put on some classical music on pandora. My other stations I've had set up before were still too distracting, but classical music was enough noise to help me ignore the other noise around me, but not too distracting.

I guess I've always thought of pandora as more current music, but it's got classical as well. Why had I never thought of this before?

Friday, April 22, 2011

"check" (insert finger swoop here)

Fresh Tracks...Half Marathon

Last fall I ran the Boulder Half Marathon! I completed it! I was so excited to do it and yet hated it at the same time. I now understand the runner's high, but I also know that running is not my passion. I guess you could say this accomplishment was on my personal "bucket list". I've always had this mental list of things that I think would be neat to do or learn and this made the list.

After tearing my ACL in high school, I got into running to stay active. I've always stayed at that level until last year. Slowly, the idea to see if I could do a half marathon came to mind. I had never pushed my body that much and a part of me wanted to just see if I could do it. It's amazing to see what your body can really do!

I can't say that I'm jumping out of my seat to run another one soon. I'm so glad I did it, though. I know now that I can push my body further than I ever thought. I realized how fun it is to work toward a goal like that for months and I realized how fun it was to say that I accomplished something new!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Responsible Living Roadblocks Where You Live

If you've been following the craziness that is the Morris world in the last six months, you know that we have recently moved to Tennessee from Colorado. It has been an adjustment in a lot of ways, almost all good adjustments, but there are some challenges. Now, Colorado has a reputation for being fairly sustainable and earth friendly, and well, the "south" really in a lot of ways does not have that reputation. I've been pleasantly surprised at how responsible our immediate environment has been in Nashville, but there still are some roadblocks.

So far, I feel challenged to live sustainably where we live and I am torn between if it is something about living in this part of the country or the type of living situation we have now. Let me share my inner struggles...

I want to recycle, but our condo building does not have recycling, just garbage pick up. Blame Living Situation!
My solution: I have found more public recycling bins down the area that I "covertly" dump a bag here and there in or drive over to the recycling center to drop it off. One of our grocery stores has separate bins for plastic, aluminum, etc that I will use, but it is hard to remember to take this stuff over. I mentally have this on my list of things to research for the building, because I've heard other people voice this need for recycling pick up as well. It could be an easy solution...(i hope)

I want to recycle glass in my covert recycling efforts, but the local recycling pick up service won't accept glass. Blame the city!
My solution: avoid glass? collect glass up in my small home until I have a good enough amount to take to recycling center? I'm still working on a solution to this one that makes sense in our full life.

I cringe every time I throw paper out at work. Blame workplace environments!
I know that even in Colorado this was a problem, and it bothered me there too. A lot of small businesses just see recycling as another expense to add to their long list - or are too busy running their business to think about it. If there is non-confidential information on a sheet, I will take those papers home to use for basic printing needs at home. I also cut up the sheets into quarters and use as note-paper instead of sticky-notes.

I want to bike to work since I'm so close! Blame the south!
I tried this once so far and it worked ok, but if the day was any hotter I would have been too sweaty to feel good about being at work. Blame humidity! I guess this will be a winter pasttime now that I live in Tennessee.

Nashville seems really progressive and actually very similar in urban mentality as other places I've experienced, but it's interesting to see roadblocks to living sustainably that you never even thought about had you never lived there. Not that these roadblocks are excuses. There are roadblocks all over the world for living responsibly: no matter where you live.

I believe we are stewards of this earth and therefore should take care the resources we have been given. Plain and simple. I may not always succeed in this and often times, yes, I am wasteful. But, I refuse to be content in that. There is always something else I could do or not do to live more resonsibly.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fresh Cleaning: Vinegar

I love the idea of switching over to natural cleaning techniques. It's hard to think about making your own cleaners when you work full time and are going in a gazillion different directions when you aren't working. While I'm not 100% converted to using only natural cleaning products yet, I have found white vinegar to be so helpful and easy (and cheap!).

It's this easy! I went to the dollar store and bought a couple spray bottles. Then, I filled them with 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water and labeled them with a piece of tape. I keep one bottle downstairs and one bottle upstairs. At first the smell reminded me or dying easter eggs, but now that I use it more often, it just makes me think of "clean"!

There are tons of sources on the web and in books at your local library to find ways to use vinegar and other natural cleaning products. I recently stumbled upon this site for uses for vinegar specifically.

Hopefully this helps you start and continue your path toward safe cleaning in your home!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Simply Organized: Plastic Bins

How do you stay organized when you like to try new things and your husband does too? One of my best solutions so far: plastic bins. Depending on the size of your hobbies, you can use whatever size works best. In our case, I buy the 20 gallon plastic bins from the hardware store.

We have now collected about twenty bins already that house anything from our electrical cords to camping gear to extra sheets. I like to buy the bigger bins because I know I will have plenty of space for multiple items. To go out and buy a ton of bins might be a big chunk of money all at once. I have simply bought a few bins here and there as I have needed them. Don't feel pressure to have it all perfect immediately. Our homes are a work in progress!

Why I love these bins?

* they are strong! (much better than cardboard boxes)
* they can easily stack and store in an organized way
* I don't have to look at what is inside of them if I don't want to (I tend to buy the opaque containers)
* Since we have moved a few times in the last few years, I feel more sustainable since I'm buying a permanent moving solution, rather than buying boxes I'll dispose of later
* I feel good about having important mementos in them since water can't get in if there is a flood in the basement
* it's easy to just grab the bins we need for an excursion, like when we go camping, we just grab the camping bins and everything is in one place
* everything I need is in its own bin. everything has their space and I know where to go for that item!
* plastic bins are easy to reuse over and over again over the years

Fresh Tracks

There's something so beautiful and exciting about the untouched blanket of a snowfall. Even if there is a path hiding below the snow, your footprints are making the path as you walk across it. YOU leave your mark. We have so many opportunities to make our own fresh tracks in our daily lives.

Thanks for joining me here at Fresh Tracks! I am a person who is always learning and creating and growing! Sometimes maybe too much! I often feel like I have too many hobbies to delve completely in all of them, but I love learning new and different things. I love learning from others out there and maybe some of my thoughts and ideas can inspire you to create and try new things too.

I also get really excited about the LITTLE things in life. I'm a simple person really - ok sometimes, not really - but I strive to be. But really, the things that bring most joy are the little things - like taking a walk right after a perfect snowfall. Thanks for joining me in my adventures!