Category Archives: Books

Why It’s Easy Going Green

My experience in Yosemite opened my eyes to what’s at stake if we – as a nation, as a global community – DON’T start living sustainably.

I don’t want to lose the beauty of Yosemite’s high country – the beautiful blue of the sky, the snow-capped peaks, the crystal-clear lakes.

Goal #2: Transition to a more simple, greener lifestyle.

I’ve been dabbling in thoughts of going green for several awhile. I started reading several blogs on the topic – but very specific types of green blogs:

Eco Chic Blogs

Some of my favorites include EcoSalon and Ecofabulous, and I’m loving my newest discovery, Shift Your Habit.

I have learned that going green doesn’t require the sacrafice of comfort, style, or even a lot of money. I have also learned that there are A LOT of small changes one can make.

And I am starting with the one thing I swore I would never do:

I have hated compact fluorescent lighbulbs (CFLs), basically because I am very particular about lighting and I’m not living in a home bathed in an eery yellow or blue glow. I had told Jason once that there was no way I would switch to CFLs…unless the technology improved. Well, it has.

The book Green Chic: Saving the Earth in Style has taught me how to buy CFLs (the author is not a fan of the nasty coloring either). Wattage and Kelvin temperature are the two big things to look for.

We’re taking it a room at a time. First up: our living room. Three of our four lamps now sport CFLs (the other has a three-way bulb, and the CFL tech hasn’t gotten there yet). We got 13-watt bulbs with a Kelvin temp of 2700. Besides the slight delay when you first turn them on, there is no visual difference.

Baby steps. By the time we eventually build our dream home, I’ll be well equiped to make it as green as we possibly can!

5 Tips for Giving Camping a Try

As I’ve stated many times before, I am not your traditional “camper.” I had a couple of horrible camping experiences as a child through Girl Scouts.

The first trip, it rained the whole time and I was crammed into a small tent with several other girls – not all of whom did I like.

The second trip was camping in a cave. Our troop’s space was the farthest back in the cave and it was the last weekend of the cave-camping season – i.e. we slept in thick mud with water dripping down all around us.

So how did I overcome these traumas and actually become a camper? Here are some points I followed and would recommend to you:

  1. Go in with an open mind. My husband Jason framed our first test trip this way: my Girl Scout trips weren’t “real” camping. Looking at it this way helped me leave my childhood bagage behind, and it meant I was giving something a try that I had “never” experienced before.
  2. Understand and communicate your comfort level. I have discovered that there are many ways to camp, and different methods of camping fit the variety of personal comfort levels. Not thrilled with the idea of sleeping on the hard ground? Get an air mattress and outfit it just as you would your bed at home. Concerned that camping will be too much work? See if you can borrow or rent a pop-up camper. Freaked out by the quality of basic amenities (ex. bathrooms)? Look into RVing.
  3. Don’t push it on your first time out. My first real camping trip (again, see the first point) was short. We did two nights – to at least make the effort of putting up a tent worth it – and only had the one full day to be outdoors. Jason also selected a state park super close to the WI Dells – or as he put it, close to civilization. That first trip was enough for me to get a feel for the experience (sleeping outside, cooking over an open fire, etc.), but it allowed for an easy escape if things didn’t go well.
  4. Slowly get your feet wet if you’re really not into the idea of camping. Now that Jason and I are hiking regularly, I’ve realized that to have done this BEFORE taking the camping plunge might have made me less nervous about it. I would have re-discovered that spending ample time outdoors wasn’t that bad and could be very enjoyable.
  5. Read and prepare. It wasn’t until after that first trip that I started reading intro-level camping information. I looked into books and discovered Let’s Get Primitive: The Urban Girl’s Guide to Camping by Heather Menicucci. I realized it would have been a helpful book for me to have read before that first trip. I started Googling info on camping lists and, from there, created my own. I would have enjoyed my first trip more (keeping in mind that I enjoyed it plenty) if I had felt more prepared.

I’m sure – no, I know – that most of my close friends and family would not have voted me “Most Likely to Become an Outdoors-woman.” But I wanted to give a try to a hobby my husband truly enjoyed. I kept an open mind, took it slow, and quickly realized the true joys and benefits to the camping experience.

Keeping in mind some people’s reluctance to camp, what tips/advice would you give beginners or anti-campers willing to give it a try?

Are You Happy?

There’s a loaded question. I’m almost finished reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, so happiness has been at the forefront of my mind. It’s not that I’m unhappy, it’s just that I feel like I could be happier. It seems that petty, minor inconveniences and the stress of the day pull me away from what’s really important in my life: my family and friends, my health, and my work. There are so many wonderful things in my life, but I don’t feel like I enjoy them as much as I should. I would like to change that this year.

In 2010, I want to challenge myself to boost my happiness. I have spent much of January trying to figure out what barriers have been in my way. One of the big ones I keep coming back to is energy. I never feel like I have enough energy to accomplish what I want to. I find it hard to get myself out of bed in the morning. I feel like doing absolutely nothing when I get home from work. At the end of the weekend, I realize that I wasted two whole days. Not that relaxing isn’t important, but it’s not very satisfying when I realize that I had things to do (read, scrapbook, blog, etc.), things I enjoy, but completely wasted my time.

I’m going to try using my blog here in my challenge in conjunction with Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project Toolbox. February’s focus is Energy and this first week I’m going to work on getting enough sleep, not too little and not too much. For me, this is ideally 7.5 hours. We’ll see how I do!

If you’re anything like me – you have a good life but feel like you don’t appreciate or enjoy it as much as you’d like – I’d definitely recommend reading The Happiness Project. It’s an easy, interesting, and helpful read.

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