Posted in Environment, Family life

I have many Egrets

My laptop faces a wall, but my office has a window that looks out over farmland, a marsh and a pond. With spring in full swing, I often crack open the window to listen to the birds and frogs sing. When I need to stretch my legs, I walk to the window and check out the activity.

Canadian Geese and Mallard ducks are standard fare. Sometimes, I see a muskrat taking a swim. Occasionally, Merganser ducks put on a diving performance.

But my favorite are the egrets. Once, five egrets waded in the shallows; most days two stop by. With their high-stepping black legs and neck that extends out of the standard “S” shape as they walk, I find them delightfully slow and awkward. When they spy a snack, they go statue still for a moment. In the blink of an eye, they snatch the tadpole or fish or insect and jerk their long neck straight. Even at a distance, I can see them swallow and pause before starting the process anew.

I may have some regrets in life, but time I waste watching egrets is not one.

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Posted in Environment, Family life, First Friday Five, Gardening

First Friday 5 Cheap ways to help the Environment

To celebrate Earth Day that falls later this month, I’m sharing Five Cheap Ways to Help the Environment. No fooling in this post.  I love when being green helps me save some green.

  1. Make your own foamy soap. I used to pay $3-5 dollars per bottle for luxurious foaming soap in the bathrooms. Now I spend less than $3 per year for three sinks. soapHow? I ran across this recipe a few years ago. Now I buy scented dish detergent at Dollar Tree, mix 3 Tablespoons of it with 2/3 cups warm water and voila. I refilled the same container for two years, although, I confess I recently splurged for more stylish bottle that has the fill lines marked right on it. I save money and reduce packaging.
  2. Forget buying special potassium rich fertilizer for your roses. Feed them banana peels instead. You can chop them up and scatter them up top or bury the peels. I heard this from an avid gardener, but here’s some online info.
  3. Compost. Depending how much space and waste material you have, you can go big or keep it small. Either way, composting reduces the waste stream and helps your other plants grow strong and healthy. Your local Cooperative Extension Service is a terrific resource for practical information whether you live in an urban apartment or on rural acreage.
  4. Use a reusable shopping tote. Some stores, like Target, take five cents off your purchase for each bag you bring. Those pennies add up almost as fast as those plastic bags full of plastic bags used to.
  5. Take care of those jeans you bought secondhand. I wear jeans almost every day so the news that some washes are not so environmentally friendly was a tough blow. I also used to wear out at least one pair a year. Unfortunately, the brand that fits me best costs over $120/pair when new. The brand that fits second best is about $80/pair new. If I shop at consignment shops in the nicer parts of town, I can get those brands for about $20, sometimes with the original tags. When Tommy Hilfiger said he never washed his jeans, I was intrigued. For the past 18 months, I’ve pretty much stopped washing my jeans, unless they get too dirty to spot clean. I air them out after wearing and pop them in the freezer for a day or two once a month. I have significantly cut back on my overall laundry – saving time, electricity, water and detergent. Even better, the fibers stay strong. I haven’t had a single rip appear since I started doing this, which means I haven’t had to buy a $20 replacement.

Do you do any of these thing to be green and save green? How do they work for you? As for me, I saved so much money with this post, I think I’ll treat myself to a new book.

Posted in Environment, Family life, First Friday Five

First Friday Five – Visiting #SouthDakota

I’m a little late with my First Friday Five because I was on that rarest of things – a vacation.  I’m haven’t even had a chance to upload all my photos yet, having walked in the front door of my house less than ten hours ago.

My guess is “Let’s go to South Dakota” isn’t the first thought that comes to mind during the vacation planning process and yet, it should.  Here goes my first Friday five in countdown form, plus links to relevant websites.

5. The Corn Palace in Mitchell SD – Who knew corn was so artistic? The exterior murals change every year and are fashioned entirely from corn and native grasses.  This is as good a place to stretch your legs as any since South Dakota is over 400 miles long traveling from East to West.

4. Mount Rushmore National Memorial – The giant faces are pretty darn impressive, but don’t miss the historical interpretation sites to see how the work was done. This visit I learned the dynamite blasters  became so skilled, they could blast away the rock to within inches of the final surface visitors see today.

3. Custer State Park – Located in the Black Hills, you are pretty much guaranteed to see wildlife at this massive state park and everyone in the vehicle gets in for less than the cost of a ticket to some of the drive through zoos in the area. Go early in the day or at dusk for best viewing. We saw buffalo, prairie dogs, pronghorn antelope, mule deer and more birds than I can name.  Plus you can do the needles highway drive which is beautiful, but not for the faint of heart or vehicles over 8 and a half feet wide.

2. Jewel Cave National Monument – I don’t do caves – not since I had a panic attack and had to be led out of a tour at Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, but the kids wanted to go. Since I had given them a lecture about everyone needing to make a few compromises, I had an obligation to go. We did the scenic tour. Between the open caverns and the beauty of the formations, I forgot to panic. Plus – where else can you see a 22 foot formation called “bacon.”

1. Badlands National Park – In my opinion, this wind carved landscape is one of the most beautiful places in the world and worthy of a multi-day visit. Bring sturdy hiking shoes, a sense of adventure and lots of water. The Badlands is an open park, meaning there are no limits on where your feet can take you.  If you can get to that grassy knoll atop a steep rock face, go ahead and have your picnic there. If scrambling up rock faces and returning to the ground via loose rock slides is not your thing, then at least stop to look around and admire the scenery. The Badlands erode at the rate of an inch a year. Geologists estimate you only have another 500,000 years to visit before they are gone.

Wherever your travels take you, I wish you a safe and happy journey, and if you have a minute, I’d love to know your favorite vacation spots.

 

Posted in company, Crimson Romance, Environment, Guests

Happy Earth Day (with guests)

I’m a nature loving girl, as is my daughter and my mother.  I think we inherited our love from my Grandfather, who was a steward of the earth long before Earth Day made us more aware of the special place we live.

To  honor Earth Day I invited a couple of friends to share some ideas on how to take care of our planet.  Please welcome Kenyatta Copeland, project manager with Jordan and Burke an environmental consulting firms that specializes in watershed restoration, and her husband, Malcolm Patterson, Senior Project Manager with H20 Environmental. H20 also specializes in watershed restoration, water quality planning and regulatory compliance.  I first met them in Synithia Williams’ You Can’t Plan Love.  Even though I’m convinced the heat between them is partially responsible for global warming, I couldn’t think of anyone better to take over my blog for a day.  Without further ado, may I present Kenyetta and Malcolm.

Kenyatta: Lola invited us here on Earth Day to talk small steps you can take to celebrate Earth Day every day.

Malcolm: One of the reasons I work on environmental initiatives is because I’m an avid fisherman. I see firsthand the impact of pollution on waterways and I like the challenge that comes with finding ways to protect a resource I use.

Kenyatta: And I like making a difference in my community and seeing results first hand. But you don’t have to work at an environmental firm to make a difference. Making small changes in your daily life can not only improve water quality, but have multiple environmental benefits.

Malcolm: For example, switching from a gas mower to an electric mower not only prevents the possibility of leaks and spills during oil changes that can be washed into the storm drain and ultimately our local waterways, but it also reduces air pollution.

Kenyatta: Conserving water in your home saves this valuable resource, and reduces the amount of energy needed by water providers to treat and supply water.

Lola: Reading between the lines, does that mean sharing a shower is good for the planet?

[Awkward pause.  Kenyetta blushes.  Malcolm clears his throat.]

Malcolm: My job requires lots of travelling, so carpooling with co-workers saves gas and reduces air pollution. I also make a habit to book hotels that offer environmental services such as recycling for their guests.

Kenyatta: I love going out to eat with my girlfriends, so looking for restaurants that serve local food is something we do to not only support local businesses, but gives me assurance my food is fresher since it wasn’t shipped halfway across the country.

And since Malcolm also can’t cook, we eat out a lot but never sit in the drive through line. It’s faster to go inside and it reduces pollution from our vehicles idling.

Malcolm: I though this interview was about Earth Day, not my lack of culinary skills.

Kenyatta: Sorry, baby, just making another “green” point.

Malcolm: Because I love you, I’ll let it slide. I hope you enjoyed our simple tips on ways that you can go green.

Kenyatta: We wanted to touch on things you may not have considered before and hopefully our information gave you something to think about. You can learn more green tips at http://earth911.com/, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Earth Day Page http://www.epa.gov/earthday.

Thanks, Lola, for having us hang here today and spread our green message. Maybe next time Malcolm can sing the Captain Planet theme song.

Malcolm: You had to bring that up, didn’t you?

Kenyatta: Only because I love you.

Lola: Awwwww. Thank you both for coming and sharing some great ideas with us. Next time I’ll figure out how to imbed songs.  Malcolm’s singing is something I want to hear.

You can get to know Kenyetta and Malcolm in You Can’t Plan Love by Synithia Williams

Knowing firsthand the heartbreak that comes when desire and emotion rule a relationship, Kenyatta Copeland assumes marrying Brad Johnson will lead to a safe and secure life. But as much as she believes she can plan her future, it’s hard to ignore the way her boss, Malcolm Patterson, ignites her passions with just one look.

After Malcolm learns of her engagement, he makes a play for her heart and reminds her that passion between a man and a woman has its perks… but also its costs. When Brad confirms his suspicion that there’s more than work between Kenyatta and Malcolm, he devises a sinister plan to keep Kenyatta by his side.

Torn between her promise to marry Brad and her irrepressible longing for Malcolm, Kenyatta must decide if she can live her life in a passionless marriage of convenience or once again trust her heart. Yet Brad does not intend to let her go easily, and by the time she realizes the depths of his treachery, it may be too late.

Synithia Williams is also the author of Worth the Wait and the forthcoming Heart to Heal.  You can find her books at Amazon, B&N, and more.