Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies… A Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Craters of the Moon Excursion

National Parks are my favorite travel destinations in America and it has been a dream of mine to visit Yellowstone! When mom and I were planning our trip out west we decided not only to see Yellowstone but also visit Grand Teton National Park and Creators of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. Our excursion began on September 5th and we made our way back to the south September 10th. We had a wonderful time!!

It was nearly impossible to pick out my favorite photos from the trip to share on my blog. After scrolling through hundreds of photos I took, I finally found the ones that best displayed the highlights from our trip. The pictures turned out breathtaking but do not do justice to the true beauty and uniqueness of these National Parks!

Places we stayed:

Old Faithful Inn- Built in 1904, the Inn was full of character with its unique log cabin architecture, massive stone fireplace and a treehouse located inside the lobby.

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins- The cabins were a nice size with a lovely front porch and a beautiful mountain view. They were within walking distance to the General Store and Visitor Center.

Lake Lodge and Cabins- These cabins are located in a wooded area and within walking distance to the lodge. We saw several elk grazing not far from our cabin. The view of Yellowstone Lake was an incredible site while eating breakfast.

Sleepy J Cabins in Swan Valley, Idaho- Tucked in a quiet, country setting near the base of Baldy Mountain these cabins were the perfect place to stay. They were located halfway between Yellowstone and Creators of the Moon.

Yellowstone National Park

IMG_5228 Artist Point, the most painted/ photographed spot in the whole park

iphone (7) Old Faithful Geyser, a staple of Yellowstone

Lower terraces  Lower Terraces in Mammoth Hot Springs

IMG_5166  The Arch at north entrance of the park

sheild spring Shield Spring, one of the many hot springs we saw in the area

[For more details on the pictures below hover over each square.]

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton NP (7)                          The Grand Tetons

Grand Teton NP (15) Jenny Lake,  Mom and I had a delicious picnic at this spot

Grand Teton NP (4) View from Colter Bay Visitor Center

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Grand Teton NP (5)Mount Moran is the large mountain in the middle

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Grand Teton NP (14) Willow Flats Overlook

The aspens were beautiful throughout both parks!

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve 

Craters (2) Trail heading up one of the crater ash mounds

iphone (64)On top of the ash mound

Craters (4) Hiking up Inferno Cone, those are cars at the bottom. Mom is standing about 1/4 of the way down. The picture is taken from about halfway up.

Craters (5)View at the top of Inferno Cone

Craters (6)This is one of the trails that led to all the caves

Craters (1)Hardened volcanic ash as far as the eye can see

Craters (9)We had to climb over mounds of rock to reach the end of Indian Tunnel

Craters (8) Opening of the tunnel where we had to climb out

Craters (10)Once we reached the top, we then had to follow iron markers back to the trail

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IMG_5499 These pretty yellow wild flowers were the only flowers for miles and miles

IdahoThe overlook outside of Teton Pass, was so majestic we had to stop and take pictures!

Have you ever been to Yellowstone? What was your favorite thing about the park?

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4 Eco-Friendly Product Reviews

I started using several new to me Eco-Friendly products and wanted to share with you what I thought! It’s encouraging to see a plethora of environmentally friendly items available. The products below are items that I have been yearning to try! The reviews and thoughts are my personal opinion.

Yellow Bird Shampoo Bar: Grapefruit, Rosemary, and Lavender       

 Product details:

  • Cleans Without Striping  – A great sensitive scalp shampoo. Sulfate free, silicone free, and paraben free. Contains no harsh detergents that strip hair of protective oils. A natural alternative for psoriasis shampoo or dandruff shampoo.
  • Perfect Travel Shampoo – An all in one Eco-Friendly shampoo for men and women. Use also as a body soap, face soap, or shave soap. Recyclable box provides convenient on the go storage. Cruelty-Free and Vegan.
  • Gentle Hair Restoration – Bar Shampoo includes Kaolin Clay and Sea Salt to help remove unwanted buildup. Trace vitamins and minerals also provide organic hair care for dry hair, oily hair, and thin hair.
  • Soft, Shinny Hair – Vitamin E rich Argan and Jojoba oils hydrate and protect hair from frizz. Freshly scented with grapefruit, rosemary, and lavender essential oil. Contains no synthetic fragrances or perfumes that some may find irritating.

My thoughts – The soap lathered up well and smelled great! Having longer hair, it took some time to get all of the soap rinsed out. I did use a small bit of conditioner on the ends of my hair to keep tangles and dryness under control. My hair felt light after it dried and not weighed down by buildup. The bar cleaned my hair thoroughly and felt refreshingly healthy.

ECBI Bamboo Toothbrushes, 100% Natural Organic Biodegradable and Vegan  Bamboo Soft BPA Free Nylon Bristles   
                                        

Product details:

  • Natural and Organic Smile – Bright and white teeth,  bamboo toothbrushes are environmentally conscious, renewable and sustainable, better than traditional toothbrushes.
  • Comfortable – Smooth ergonomic 15 degrees handle promotes deep cleaning and comfort, great for sensitive gums.
  • Go Green – Zero waste packaging. Eco-Friendly BPA free bristles, Phthalate free, plastic free, PVC free.
  • Durable – Stronger and harder than wood, pack of 4 bamboo toothbrushes will last one full year.   

My thoughts-  These brushes are shaped just like a plastic toothbrush and did a quality job cleaning my teeth. The bristles are soft and easy on the gums yet firm enough to remove plaque. What I love most of all is that every bit of this toothbrush is biodegradable!

Utopia Home Top-Quality Lightweight Mesh Bags   

 Product details:

  • Breathable material with double stitching allows it to carry a good amount of weight without damaging the material; see-through design assists in finding the required product in no time.
  • Multipurpose set as the bags can be used for holding a wide variety of products ranging from food items to stationary and more; it’s an ideal shopping bag, laundry bag, grocery bag, travel bag, storage bag and more.
  • The bag can be refrigerated when required as it made in-line to serve the purpose well; a great alternative to a regular plastic storage bag as its reusable and helps in playing an important role for purifying the environment.

My thoughts– I purchased these bags to reduce the use of plastic. They are durable and can hold large fruits and vegetables without ripping. I also used these bags to keep my daughter’s toys organized. They are perfect for toys with lots of small movable pieces.

SmartyPits Natural/Aluminum Free Prebiotic Deodorant: Cool Cucumber   

 Product details:

  • Prebiotics contribute to the biodiversity & strength of your skin microbiome.
  • For those with baking soda sensitivities, the magnesium deodorant is just as effective but gentler on the skin.
  • An aluminum-free, Paraben-free, Phthalate-free.  

My thoughts-  Normally I’m a lavender scent kind of girl but I wanted to give SmartyPits cool cucumber a try. The deodorant smelled fresh and light! I applied it once in the morning and before going to the gym which kept me dry all day; even in the Mississippi humidity! One thing to note…the stick does seem drier than most other deodorants at first. However, it does a great job at quickly adjusting to body temperature which makes it easier to apply. I find that it also helps to rub on the deodorant in a slow fashion and doesn’t leave any flakes or stains on my clothing. Overall SmartyPits worked great for me and smelled wonderful, I even used the mini travel size on my trip to Yellowstone National Park!

What new products are you wanting to try?

2018 Christmas Card and Family Highlights

I hope this Holiday Season finds you happy and healthy. Our family had a wonderful year full of memories and blessings!

Cameron – Had a great experience emceeing two events this year. One was the get ready to run kids one mile race with over 2500 people in attendance. The other was for employee field day at his place of work. His team won the ultimate frisbee championship at work for the third year in a row!

Michelle – This year I marked several state and national parks off my travel list! Cameron and I enjoyed a cooking class at the Viking Cooking school in Greenwood. I had the privilege to be on the cover of Yes Ma’am magazine and share Go Green values with the community. It has been a great year educating others on Environmental Sustainability.

Liston – Liston is now 18 months old and busier than ever. She loves to read books, talk, play with stickers, eat fruit, outdoor activities, playing with animals and enjoys helping me water the plants on the patio!

The Vincent’s Top 6 Highlights 

  1. We had a great family vacation in Rosemary Beach, Florida
  2. I traveled to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming
  3. Cameron stuck to his resolution of eating healthier meals and snacks throughout the day
  4. Liston turned one in May and had a magical Fairy Garden Birthday party
  5. We celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary
  6. Started this blog!

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Merry Christmas from our family to yours! 

National Recycling Week!

National Recycling Week is here and National Recycles Day is November 15th!

Waste has a negative impact on Earth and our landfills are quickly filling up with debris. Let’s raise awareness about recycling! Also, when buying products please choose goods that are made from recycled materials.  #AmericaRecyclesDay #NationalRecylingWeek

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This chart and other information on America Recycles Day can be found at https://americarecyclesday.org/.  Happy Recycling Week!

Go Green Article in Yes Ma’am Magazine

Recently I had the privilege of being on the cover of the Fall issue Yes Ma’am magazine! When I saw the actual magazine in person I was overjoyed with delight, I could not wait for my family and friends to pour over the periodical! The magazine featured an article on pages 6 and 7 about Go Green initiatives I’ve been implementing at both work and home. With environmental sustainability being such an important aspect of my life, the piece highlights several ways the community can begin making a positive impact one step at a time.

My biggest inspiration for Going Green has been my daughter. I want Liston to be able to enjoy all the wonders nature has to offer, such as our National Parks, gardens and oceans! As Chief Seattle states… “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors: we borrow it from our children.” If we can stick to the rule of thumb of leaving a place better than how you found it, then our children’s future will be much better off. It was such an honor getting the opportunity to share my passion for Go Green initiatives and values. I hope it portrayed the message that if we work together we can make our Earth and the home of children a Greener place!

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To read the magazine click on the link below. Be sure to check out my article on pages 6 and 7!

https://indd.adobe.com/view/892cbedb-bad8-4b54-8933-3a82b7d4def2

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I hope you enjoy the magazine!

Pumpkin Pulp and Roasted Seeds

Happy Fall!

Pumpkin season is upon us and every year my husband carves a pumpkin. My job is to dig through the ooey gooey pulp in search for seeds to roast. Roasting seeds is a Fall tradition in our home and this year my daughter will get to try them for the first time.  Pumpkin seeds are one of my favorite Fall snacks! They are a healthy snack packed full of fiber and valuable nutrients. They’re also delicious!

Last Sunday my life group carved pumpkins and everyone saved their seeds for me. With an abundance of seeds I was ready to start roasting!  I also have a garbage bag full of pulp for my compost!

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I like traditional seasonings on my pumpkin seeds but there are so many different ways to spice them up. Below are the ingredients and instructions I use for roasting seeds. Give it a try and add your favorite seasonings!

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (feel free to add more if desired)
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Instructions

  1.  Give the seeds a good rinse, removing as much of the pulp as you can. Pour seeds on to a rimmed baking sheet and allow to dry overnight. The next day, pick out any remaining pieces of pulp.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Spray a clean baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Toss seeds in a bowl with the olive oil and salt. Spread the seeds on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Taste and season with additional salt or seasonings if desired. Enjoy!

Fresh Herbs and Spice

Herbs are great! I love the way they smell and how easy they are to grow. There is nothing better than having fresh herbs available at your fingertips, especially when you can save money by not having to buy them at the grocery store! I wanted to share with you the herbs I’m currently growing. I have Rosemary on my front porch in large planters, while my Dill, Thyme, Oregano and Parsley are growing in small pots on the back patio.

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What are your favorite herbs to grow?

 

 

How Does My Garden Grow? With Help From a Compost!

I absolutely love working in the yard and with all my flowers! Some of the plants were passed down from family members; others I have had for years. Composting allows me to give my plants the best natural nutritional soil to help them grow to their fullest potential. I began composting back in high school but stopped when I started college. Now I’m back at it and teaching my family the tricks of the trade! Plus I get to educate my daughter on how to create less waste.

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Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to benefit plant growth. It enriches soil by helping retain moisture while subduing plant diseases and pests. Compost also reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.

When starting a compost, it’s best to pick a dry shady spot near a water source. Different sized bins and structures can be used depending where the compost will be located.  Add compost material in layers alternating between brown dry and green moist items. Brown material includes; dead leaves, branches, and twigs.  Green moist material includes; grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds. Your compost pile should have an equal amount of brown to green layers. Be sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded for quicker breakdown. Once your compost pile is established, mix grass clippings into the pile and bury fruit and vegetable waste about 10 inches under the compost material. Every few weeks turn the material and add water to help maintain the compost. Mixing the material aerates the compost and speeds up the process to completion.

When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use. Be patient for this process can take anywhere from several weeks to several months depending on the size of your compost. Some people choose to cover their compost which is optional.

Below is a great list of items of what to compost and what not to compost from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

What to Compost 

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags
  • Nut shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Yard trimmings
  • Grass clippings
  • Houseplants
  • Hay and straw
  • Leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • Cotton and Wool Rags
  • Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
  • Hair and fur
  • Fireplace ashes

What Not to Compost

  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
    – Releases substances that might be harmful to plants
  • Coal or charcoal ash
    – Might contain substances harmful to plants
  • Dairy products ( butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt and eggs)
    – Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants
    – Diseases or insects might survive and be transferred back to other plants
  • Fats, grease or oils
    – Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Meat or fish bones and scraps
    – Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Pet wastes ( dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter)
    – Might contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses harmful to humans
  • Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides
    – Might kill beneficial composting organisms

*Some have suggested to not add onions or garlic because they repel earthworms; which are an important part of the ecosystem.

Making compost keeps materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Compost is great for the environment and returns  organic material back to the soil for enhanced growth!