Stressed out? Nature can fix that!

When somebody asks you, “How are you doing?” which of these answers are you most likely to give?
a) fine
b) good
c) busy

d) crazy busy! 

If your answer included some form of busy, you are not alone. Here in the US, we pride ourselves on our productivity. It’s good to be busy. We’ve developed a culture— if not even perhaps a cult—centered on the premise that being busy is a sign of importance, status, and success. In today’s world, it’s all to easy to strive to be busy, to over-commit, and to overextend ourselves thinking that it’s just what needs to get done. Continue reading “Stressed out? Nature can fix that!”

Find Your Naturehood

I really like this new campaign by the US Forest Service and Ad Council: Every neighborhood has a naturehood. I’m not sure that it’s a brand-new idea—Canada has a naturehood program too, as do some individual communities—but it does have some great messaging about getting outside.

What’s a naturehood? A naturehood is simply nearby nature: parks and other special places close to home that allow to get outside and unwind. Because nature isn’t just something far away—it’s all around.

How to Find What’s in Your Naturehood

Want to get to know your Naturehood? One thing to do is to look for new places close by that you may not know about, or places you haven’t yet visited or fully explored. There are tons of great apps for exploring nature. But if you’re looking for new places in your neighborhood, Continue reading “Find Your Naturehood”

Kill Your Lawn

Pop quiz: What’s the most heavily irrigated crop in the US?

If you deduced from the title of this post (because you’re smart like that) that it’s our collective lawns, then you’d be correct. A new study estimated that more than 40 million acres of land are some type of lawn.

Yes, lawns are great for looking nice, running around in, and keeping the insects at bay. But they are also a pain in the ass. At a minimum, your lawn needs to be mowed, and depending on where you live and what type of lawn you like, it may also need to be watered, fertilized, aerated, or weeded (usually using herbicides that target non-grasses). All that tending leads to some pretty severe environmental costs.

Personally, I don’t have a lot of love for our lawn, even if it does feel nice under bare feet. Mostly this is because I hate mowing the lawn. I’ll put it off as long as possible Continue reading “Kill Your Lawn”

Blueberry Mini-Adventure (and Muffins!)

We all hated jack pine in college. In forestry school, we spent an entire fall semester alternating our time between cool, moist hardwood forests and the hot, dusty jack pine plains. The hardwoods were comfortable to work in and a lot less likely to harbor nests of vicious hornets. It took me a long time to come around and enjoy being in jack pine.

One reason to like jack pine: blueberries!

Recently we went put to pick blueberries and run the dogs, and this is what it looked like:

Walking through the j-pine. Watch out for ground-nesting hornets!

Continue reading “Blueberry Mini-Adventure (and Muffins!)”

Sauerkraut Gets a Makeover (And It’s Looking Better Than Ever)

Let’s face it: Sauerkraut has an image problem. At best, the fermented food elicits memories of an Oktoberfest side dish served alongside bratwurst, and probably only consumed after drinking a boot (or two) of beer.

But this isn’t your grandmother’s sauerkraut anymore. New and improved kinds are popping up on everything from burgers to health blogs—and for good reason. Read entire article at > >

Gardening 101: Everything You Need to Know to Actually See Your Garden Grow

These days, more and more people are discovering the joys of playing in the dirt—though grown-ups might prefer the term “gardening.” Food gardening is especially hot, with nearly 20 percent more households hopping on the food-growing train during the past five years. Renewed interest in gardening may be due in part to the local food movement. Locavores are interested in having greater access to healthy, high-quality food, knowing where their food comes from, and supporting the environment and the local economy. Gardening (especially organic gardening) certainly fits the bill! Read entire article at > >

Finding a Way to Live the Dream

Everybody wants to retire early, right?

This is my dream: that we’ll be financially independent by 55, allowing us to work as much or as little as we want, to volunteer, to travel, and to spend our spare time playing outdoors.

I get really excited to think about this and often wonder if and how we can get there sooner.

In my mind, this is what retirement looks like. It's my happy place.
In my mind, this is what semi-retirement looks like. It’s my happy place.

Continue reading “Finding a Way to Live the Dream”

5 Free Apps for Exploring the Outdoors

A few months ago I finally caved in and got myself a smartphone. I’d been putting it off for as long as possible, happy to be called a Luddite by my techier friends while I kept my cheapie flip phone for occasional calls and texts. But I upgraded phones* for my bike tour, and was grateful for being able to take photos and find my way Google Maps.

Smart phones are amazing! We are so fortunate to have these sophisticated, pocket-sized computers that can tell us just about anything we could possibly want to know in about 4.2 seconds (or faster, since your phone is probably better than mine). Of course, the challenge is to make sure that smartphones enrich life, and don’t become an avenue to wasting away hours on Facebook and computer games.  Luckily there are tons of apps that provide awesome information about our local environment. Continue reading “5 Free Apps for Exploring the Outdoors”