conservation

The Magic of Late Spring

June 17, 2016

The Magic of Late Spring // livelovesimple.com

β€œIn the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
–Margaret Atwood

There’s something so intense about these last few days of spring. School is getting out. The wildflowers are beginning to bloom. Daylight seems to stretch on forever and the possibility for magic seems endless. It has always taken my breath away. These luminous moments when anything seems possible. We’re just on the cusp of summer and there is everything to look forward to — campfires, beach trips, fireflies.

The past few days, the weather has been just perfect. Sunshine and blue skies and a little bit of a breeze. I’ve tried to spend as much time outside as possible. If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat, then you may have seen me buzzing all over the place lately, squeezing in as many day trips as I can. Last month, I started working on a little project with Ford, test driving their C-Max Energi hybrid. So of course, I’ve been taking advantage of having a shiny, new — incredibly efficient — vehicle to cart us around on our adventures. We’ve been all over from the city to the beach to the countryside, and I’ve been thrilled by just how little I’ve had to fill up the gas tank.

The Magic of Late Spring // livelovesimple.com

The Magic of Late Spring // livelovesimple.com

The Magic of Late Spring // livelovesimple.com

The Magic of Late Spring // livelovesimple.com

The Magic of Late Spring // livelovesimple.com

The Magic of Late Spring // livelovesimple.com

The Magic of Late Spring // livelovesimple.com

The Magic of Late Spring // livelovesimple.com

It’s been a pleasure driving around in the C-Max for the past month. I love the idea of plug-in hybrid vehicles and the benefits that they offer. Things like reduced dependence on petroleum fuels, reduced environmental impact through reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and consumer savings on energy and fuel costs are all win/wins. Good for the environment and good for our pocketbooks. Even though it will probably be a ways off, I will definitely be looking at hybrids when I start shopping for my next vehicle.

Learn more about Ford hybrids and the #drivingonenergi program here and on Facebook, too.

I hope that you’ve been squeezing in some fun yourself and enjoying these last, magical days of spring. Here’s to summer being right around the corner.

in the garden // late july

July 27, 2015

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

Late July brings bounty & beauty to our garden. These are my favorite photographs from the garden yet. I could just sit and stare at them all day. They capture the plant life out there so beautifully. What I didn’t capture is the animal life! It’s constantly buzzing back there. Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other birds (eating insects) are a constant presence. We deliberately cultivated the garden to be fauna-friendly, including plants that are especially attractive to our beautiful pollinators. Hooray for bees & butterflies!

When we returned from vacation over the weekend, there was so much deliciousness to be harvested. We are thrilled that our hopes for a bountiful season have panned out. It’s truly wonderful to eat these fresh, organic vegetables that we grew ourselves from seed!

At the moment, the flowers that are in bloom are zinnias, bee balm, black-eyed Susans, lavender, anise, hostas, and yarrow. We have some flowers that we hope will bloom soon, including one giant one that is seven-feet-tall!

The vegetables that we are currently harvesting are cherry tomatoes (red & gold), salad tomatoes, yellow zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, and red cabbage. We’re bringing in lots of thyme & basil for cooking and there’s spearmint for garnishing drinks. We just harvested all of our carrots. Our sugar snap peas are finished for the season. We’ve got two big bags of them in the freezer. We have a crop of fall vegetables coming in strong, too; including pumpkins, broccoli, onions, beets, kale, Brussels sprouts, and winter squash. We’ll be seeding spinach shortly, as well.

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

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in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

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in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

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in the garden // livelovesimple.com

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in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

We are very pleased with our garden. It’s been an incredible journey from seed to harvest. It means a lot to us that Roman has had a big role in the process. He helps with all of the watering and harvesting. We love being able to expose him to the labor & miracle of growing food.

Here are the previous phases of our garden this year:

I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for us. Also, you have no idea how excited we are that we are going to have our own little pumpkin patch this autumn. It’s a dream come true for this Halloween-obsessed lady right here! xo

Our Wood-burning Stove

December 2, 2013

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livelovesimple.com

This month, we completed the installation of our new wood-burning stove. This is one of our first, and most important, steps toward sustainable living. Wood-burning stoves are one of the most energy efficient and environmentally-friendly ways to heat the home. Wood burners outperform both solar panels and ground source heat pumps. The type of stove that we chose — a double combustion wood burner — enables 90% of smoke and particles to be converted to heat, keeping emissions to a minimum. Additionally, the wood that we use in our stove is all sustainably harvested (by my husband) from fallen/dead trees.

We’ve been using the stove for about a week now and are already appreciating the benefits. Our dog Bella is the stove’s #1 fan. You will find her in front of it all day & night. This is a joy for Roman because he just adores her. Matthew loves the stove, too. Chopping firewood has always been a favourite activity for him. And I love it because it is beautiful to look at, friendly to the environment, and drastically decreases the money we spend on our winter gas bill.

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I am really pleased with this addition to our home and grateful for the work that Matthew did to secure the best stove at the best price. There is nothing like cozying up to the fire with my family on a cold winter day.

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Our Day at Space Farms

September 20, 2013

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I’ve been wanting to take Roman to Space Farms all summer. When my friend wanted to spend her day off from work with us yesterday, I knew it was the perfect day trip! We had the most gorgeous day, perfect weather, and so much fun. We picked my nephew up from nursery school and made the hour trip north.

Space Farms originated in 1927 when Ralph and Elizabeth Space bought the first 1/4 acre of a complex that now expands to more than 400 acres. What began as a small general store, repair shop, and a wild animal shelter, grew to become New Jersey’s largest combined zoo and museum. The Space’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren continue the family tradition of conserving wildlife and preserving American history. (Read more history here.)

I hadn’t been to Space Farms since I was a little girl and my memory of the place was hazy at best. It definitely exceeded my expectations. There is an abundance of wildlife. Because it is a smaller, family-owned zoo, I didn’t expect it. I couldn’t believe how many different species of animals there were. I only captured a fraction of them in my pictures. There are also eleven museum and showcase buildings with everything on display — from old-fashioned carriages to Civil War rifles and an antique doll museum to a genuine antique blacksmith shop.

I fell head over heels in love with the baby tiger — Tiger Lily. But the cutest part of the day was when my four-year-old nephew said, “Aunt Dee-Dee, when you told me we were going to Space Farms, I thought we would at least some aliens!” Hahaha! I explained to him that “Space” is the name of the family that owns the farm. He had such a great time, even if we didn’t see any aliens. πŸ˜‰ I’ve never seen a four-year-old so fascinated by artifacts. He walked through each of the museums with wide-eyes and intelligent questions. That boy is definitely an old soul like his auntie. Roman was an angel, too. He took in all of the sights & sounds, didn’t make a peep but for a few giggles, and took a little nap after lunchtime. I feel so lucky to have such sweet boys in my life, I really do.

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Have a beautiful Friday & a lovely weekend, friends! We are off to my hometown’s annual picnic tomorrow, so fingers crossed for more nice weather. If you have a moment, we would so much appreciate your vote for our little blog over on Top Baby Blogs! It’s just two clicks. Click here to vote for us.

xo

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Dot & Army Napkins and The Best Guacamole!

August 21, 2013

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I’ve fallen in love with our new Dot & Army napkins. I have been trying to move away from using paper towels and paper napkins for awhile. Although using them is convenient — it’s not great for the environment and it just seems wasteful. Admittedly, I’m still breaking my addiction but our new Dot & Army napkins are making it easier. Dot & Army is the Etsy shop of the sweet Jennifer. Since the age of 8, Jennifer has been sewing and repurposing items — once for her Barbie dolls, then vintage corduroy into her son’s Halloween costumes, and now vintage linens into one of a kind, eco-friendly cloth napkins.

For me, there is just something romantic & nostalgic about cloth napkins. It takes me back to the 1950’s and makes me feel very “Betty Draper.” They add a beautiful pop to the dinner table or a picnic and I feel good about creating less waste with each use. Check out the gorgeous yellow set that Jennifer sent me to try out.

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While I was making guacamole the other day, I used a few of the pieces to dress up our snack table. How pretty? And since I’m sure you’re dying to know — here’s my favourite guacamole recipe, too. πŸ˜‰

Ingredients
4 ripe avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
3 small onions, diced
handful of cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
3 cloves garlic

Directions
Put all ingredients into the blender & blend until slightly smooth, but still thick enough for dipping. Et voila! Enjoy!

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Go check out the Dot & Army shop on Etsy. And one more bit of exciting news — Jennifer is offering a special for Live, Love, Simple readers! Save $10 on all orders over $30 now through the end of September. Just use code ‘livelove10‘ at checkout. Thanks, Jennifer!

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