Friday, April 22, 2016

Traveling Green: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

It is no surprise that I love to travel; however, I am not ignorant of the fact that most travel is not environmentally sound. 

In fact, according to environmental scientist, David Suzuki, CO2 emissions from aviation, alone, have increased 83% since 1990, representing four to nine percent of the impact of human activity on climate change. 

Do What You Can
When it comes to diet, I agree with the 80/20 rule. I am of the mindset that if I "eat clean" most of the time, at least 80%, I can indulge occasionally and enjoy the treats that I still love to eat. 

I think we can apply a similar mindset to travel. Travel by air probably will never be environmentally sound, but there are things we can do to reduce your carbon footprint, nonetheless. 

Getting there
Whenever possible, fly direct and pack light. Fewer takeoffs and landings and a lighter plane mean that you are helping in your own way to reduce the amount of fuel burned through air travel. Consider train or bus travel, and if you're a cruiser, investigate the changes that cruise lines are making to their design and onboard policies that make them more environmentally sound. 

Staying there
If you're staying in hotels, opt for green hotels. Hotels can make a significant difference in sustainability and environmental affairs. Consider how hotels use water, service their landscaping, and manage their waste. Asking questions and knowing before you book help you make the best decision and support businesses more in line with your thinking. 

Moving around
Use public transportation; this is a no-brainer. There are great apps that you can download and use offline for maps and scheduling. If you're renting a car, consider a hybrid, and bike or walk when you can. 

Eating and shopping
Shop locally. Buy from local merchants. Eat at local restaurants and avoid mass marketed chains. Support businesses that locally source their goods. Avoid souvenirs made with feathers, bones and fur. Leave the shells and stones where you found them; look at them, snap a picture for Instagram and leave them behind. Nature is not a free souvenir outlet. 

Cleaning up
Watch your own waste. Reuse your towels and bed linens. When you're hiking, carry out whatever you carry into an area. Don't assume that biodegradable products will break down anyway. Even "natural" trash can cause harm while nature tries to keep up with the waste people leave behind. Use refillable, non-plastic water bottles; bring a filter if you're not sure about local water. Avoid disposable products when possible and use refillable travel size products to avoid weight and waste. 

For the most part, most of us want to leave this planet better for the next generation. By changing what we can and saving where we can, we have the opportunity to be proactive, rather than reactive. We can all make a difference in our own way. 

If you want to know where you can make a difference today, investigate your own carbon footprint by using a calculator like this one from the Nature Conservancy

How do you reduce your carbon footprint when you travel?

Happy Earth Day and happy travels!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wanderlust Wednesday: Read, Watch, Do

If you're a traveler who is temporarily grounded due to work or financial constraints, there are things you can do that will feed your wanderlust until your next trip. 

Here are three things that you can read, watch, and do right now. 

Read...Losing the Light by Andrea Dunlop

I have this one on order; it looks like a fun read.  

From Amazon: A smart, obsessive debut novel about a young woman studying abroad who becomes caught up in a seductive French world—and a complex web of love and lust.

When thirty-year-old Brooke Thompson unexpectedly runs into a man from her past, she’s plunged headlong into memories she’s long tried to forget about the year she spent in France following a disastrous affair with a professor.

As a newly arrived exchange student in the picturesque city of Nantes, young Brooke develops a deep and complicated friendship with Sophie, a fellow American and stunning blonde, whose golden girl façade hides a precarious emotional fragility. Sophie and Brooke soon become inseparable and find themselves intoxicated by their new surroundings—and each other.

But their lives are forever changed when they meet a sly, stylish French student, Veronique, and her impossibly sexy older cousin, Alex. The cousins draw Sophie and Brooke into an irresistible world of art, money, decadence, and ultimately, a disastrous love triangle that consumes them both. And of the two of them, only one will make it home.

This is running on Netflix right now and it's on my must-see list for this week. With our summer travel taking us through Lisbon for a few days, this seemed like a natural choice. 

"When dictatorship is a fact, revolution is a duty."

Based on a book by Pascal Mercier, this film features Jeremy Irons as Swiss professor, Raymond Gregorius, who lives a well-ordered, predictable life governed by routine. One day, a chance encounter with a young, enigmatic Portuguese woman causes Gregorius to abandon his teaching career and travel to Lisbon to seek out the truth about a poet dedicated to overthrowing the Salazar dictatorship, which ruled Portugal until 1974. This has a great cast telling a great story. 

Do...Learn a Language. Start today. 
This is an easy one. Download DuoLingo on your phone and tablet and start learning. It's free and they offer 27 languages for English speakers. They also offer courses for speakers of other languages. 

We know that language learning is good for the brain, but it also makes you more marketable. This is a win-win. 

So there you have it...three things that you can read, watch, and do this week that will feed the wanderlust of the temporarily grounded traveler. 

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Weekending: Three Breweries in Three Days

Here in Massachusetts, we enjoyed a much-needed and well-earned three day weekend. Yesterday, Monday, was Patriots' Day, or Marathon Monday (the 120th running). While some companies use this day as a floater, my husband had the day off and so it became an opportunity to plan a staycation, and catch up on a few chores. 

The Señor likes craft brews. He likes trying small batch beer made by local breweries and so we decided to try a local brewery and gastropub, which became the theme of the weekend, visiting three local breweries in three days.

On Saturday, after some house chores, we went out west for a coffee at a bakery which makes my favorite almond-sesame-maple cookie. When we arrived, we were surprised (as was another patron) to find that the bakery had closed early that one day. So, it was on to Plan B, and thanks to Yelp, we found another independent coffee house where we indulged in iced coffees and biscotti. 

After picking up some needed house supplies at the big box store up the road, we went in search of a local brewery and as luck and location would have it, just over the border into Vermont, we found the Whetstone Station Brewery and Restaurant in nearby Brattleboro

The brewery and gastropub, with a fire-lit deck and bier garten, overlooks the Connecticut River and features a Mug Club, which rewards you with your own personalized mug and other discounts and benefits once you have tried 99 of the experimental brewery's beers in one year. 

They only make one brew regularly: their own IPA, but they publish their recipes on their website. 

The Señor tried the beer sampler...

And their famous Brewer's Burger; however the local favorite seems to be Tim's Awesome Burger, loaded with Vermont cheddar cheese, red onion, tomato, maple marinated bacon and peanut butter...yes, peanut butter. 

Not the famous peanut butter burger, but delicious, nonetheless. 

On Sunday, we took off for Maine, heading up to Portland. The northern New England coast has its share of local brews as well, but in Portland, after a lovely afternoon tea in a cute French patisserie

we went for an in-house brew at Gritty's, self proclaimed as Portland's Original Brew Pub. They also have locations in Freeport and Auburn, Maine. 

We took advantage of the $.50 wing happy hour special and the señor enjoyed their famous BPA.  

On Monday, we went back out west for two reasons. We planned on purchasing our flights for Spain and Portugal, which we did at the travel agency we typically use, and we planned on coffees at a favorite coffeeshop, and dinner at another brewhouse in the Pioneer Valley. 

What we didn't plan was having dinner with a dear friend; what a wonderful surprise, indeed! 

We finished off our weekend with cappuccinos and cannolis at the bakery across the street from the brewery. 

It was a lovely end to a lovely weekend. 

If you're visiting New England, here are the places that made our weekend itinerary. 

Whetstone Station
36 Bridge Street
Brattleboro, VT 

Portland Patisserie and Grand Cafe
46 Market Street
Portland, ME 04101

Portland Brew Pub
396 Fore Street
Portland, ME 04101

Esselon Cafe 
99 Russell Street (Route 9)
Hadley, MA 01035

Northampton Brewery
11 Brewster Court
Northampton, MA 01060

La Fiorentina Pastry Shop
25 Armory Street
Northampton, MA 01060

What was the highlight of your weekend? Are you a craft beer fan? Where is the best local brewery and gastropub in your area? We're always up for a road trip. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday Inspiration #19

Is it time for a vision board and some SMART goals? 

Life is precious. Make it happen. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

From O Magazine: New and Improved

I am a longtime subscriber of O Magazine, and I love reading the contributors' questionnaire at the beginning of every issue, which relates to the monthly theme. 

The theme for the month of April is self improvement. 

Here's how I answered her questions. 

One small adjustment that made a big impact...Personal Development. 
I read or listen to some form of personal development every day. When you work on yourself, everything else falls into place. You can read books on how to be a badass. You can listen to podcasts about enjoying the simple things in life. You can read books on decluttering or nutrition or creativity or travel or cooking...whatever makes you smile. If you spend some time every day working on yourself, the return on your time investment is huge. You will love your ever-evolving self and become stronger from the inside out, every day. 

My friends would say that I need to wardrobe.
No doubt, I need to update my wardrobe. I wear the same "uniform" every day and most of it is in neutral colors. I'm okay with having a small wardrobe, but I need more color and style. 

The hardest habit I ever broke would love to break is...added sugar and fake sugars. 
Sugar is my kryptonite. I would love to remove all added sugar and artificial sweeteners from my diet. I have seen the sugar detoxes, but have yet to sustain it, and so it continues to be on my list of goals. One day at a time. 

One thing that will never change curiosity. 
I love learning and exploring. Passion does not have to consume every activity of our lives. 

In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert says, "The trick is to just follow your small moments of curiosity. It doesn't take a massive effort. Just turn your head an inch. Pause for a instant. Respond to what has caught your attention."

How would you answer the same questions?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sunday Inspiration #18

Happy Sunday, friends. 

Let peace begin with me. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Ahora 16: April

I have a hard time finding fiction that I like, but I have had recent luck. After reading and loving The Rosie Project and its sequel, The Rosie Effect, I decided to try another work of fiction. 

I am completely enthralled by Anita Diamant's The Boston Girl. I am listening to the audio book, read by Linda Lavin, and I feel like I am sitting at Addie's feet, listening to her story. This may become a new favorite. 

A Bullet Journal...I love lists and rather than starting various lists on single sheets of paper, I decided to combine everything into one book. Some of it is practical and some of it is fanciful, but it's all mine and I'm having a lot of fun. 

A lot of tea. Bigelow's Mint Medley is my new favorite. I'm a two-bag per cup drinker. My mom tells me that I'm wasting a bag and I should just leave one bag in for a longer time, but it's just not strong enough, so in go two bags, and a bit of honey.  

My weight in asparagus. I have been roasting asparagus at least once a week, and tonight, I discovered that I don't like white asparagus; it's just too corky. I drizzle it with olive oil and then sprinkle it with fresh pepper and Himalayan salt, and then I roast it at 400 for about 15 minutes. In the summer, I grill it. 

Six graduate credits. I am one major project and one section of a module away from completion. In two weeks, the spring semester will be over and I can start planning ahead for summer fun. 

Then there's Gracie...

I am still working on my push goal and I am one giant step closer, but there are still a few variables that need to fall into place. Please continue to send positive energy my way. 

That's what's going on in my world these days. 
How about you? What is happening ahora in your world?