The Best Indoor Plants to Liven Up Your Space

For those who don’t know, I am a crazy plant lover who has 18 plants in her small 850 square foot home! Living plants may be a pretty sight, but they are great for the atmosphere too! Having plants in your home increases the oxygen levels, decreases bad odors, and helps improve your mood.

I have a range of different plants and cacti in my home that I’ve found at Home Depot, but I also have plants that I’ve ordered online and I love them! I was nervous at first about ordering live plants and them being delivered in bad shape, but that was not the case. Hirt’s Garden is who I typically purchase from online, and all of their plants come shipped with proper packaging and I have never received a plant that looks rough or was dead. Below is a list of easy-care plants that are great for your home & under $20 – all from Amazon!!!

Red Prayer Plant

$2.75

Tricolor Prayer Plant

$14.99

Rattlesnake Plant

$9.24

Golden Devil’s Ivy

$1.99

Snake Plant

$4.00

Monstera

$21.00
(This may be over $20, but it’s totally worth it!)

Snow White Zebra Plant

$10.00

Fern
$9.99

 

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Travel: Cape May Favorites

Last week, AJ and I took a day trip to Cape May, New Jersey and I fell in love! This little town is full of beautiful Victorian homes, delicious places to eat, and cute shops. The nightlife is pretty low key in Cape May. There are a few spots like Rusty Nail, The Brown Room, and some local breweries, but this is nothing like Ocean City, MD where it’s full of shenanigans happening. But if you’re looking to party you are not too far from Atlantic City.

From Havre de Grace, it took us about two hours and fifteen minutes to get to Cape May. The drive is through a lot of cute little farm towns, and I can’t forget to mention the awesome Cowboy Rodeo jam we passed on the way about an hour into the drive haha. Oh and just a heads up to those who are really obsessive about their car *cough AJ cough* … some of the roads on the way are not in the best shape, so look out for potholes and other big ass bumps!

Food & Coffee

Dock Mike's Breakfast

On our way to the beach, we stopped at a pancake house called Dock Mike’s. They have breakfast/lunch hours only. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, which of course we chose outside. Its very airy and has hanging plants all around, so of course, I felt right at home! The food is delicious, our waiter was very polite and offered great service and we got our food within a few minutes after ordering! This is definitely a place I’d go back to every time.

Just to give you a little heads up, mostly all stores in Cape May take cash only! All the stores and restaurants that we visited had an ATM available inside but there is a $2.00 service fee every time, so be sure to get as much cash out as you can or bring cash with you before you go.

While walking through the town, we stopped at a coffee shop called Coffee Tyme. Again, the service was fantastic and the iced coffee’s AJ and I got were phenomenal – so good I almost asked for another! They have A TON of flavor options for both hot, cold and frozen drinks. If you love coffee, you MUST stop by Coffee Tyme!

Beaches

Cape May Beach

I don’t think there is any part of Cape May I wouldn’t suggest, but we only went to part of the main beach near the Convention Hall and later around dinner time we went to Sunset Beach to watch the sunset. There is parking along Carpenter Lane, just know they are all metered. We did not find any free parking anywhere we went, but there is apparently an app you can download for the metered parking. It cost $10 for 10 hours of parking with the app or the same just in quarters – $1.00/hour without the app.

Sunset Beach Cape May

Sunset beach has a few little shops and a restaurant nearby. This is the beach known for the shipwreck that can be seen just for the shore. The sunset was beautiful but we could only stay for so long. There seems to be a large number of gnats at this beach and they will get in your face and annoy the crap out of you!

Shopping

Washington Street Mall Church

Talk about cute shops! Convention Hall has a surf shop that has adooorrrrable clothes. Along Carpenter Lane where you park for the beach, there are a few stores but the main shopping area is Washington Street Mall. The mall reminded us of Disney World. The shops are alongside a brick walkway and have a lot of character and charm to each store.

My favorite stores were Across The WayWhale’s TaleGalvanic, and Madame’s Port. All these shops have handmade jewelry, home decor, Christmas gifts, your typical beach souvenirs, little hippy things and Across The Way has a TON of air plants and other nature things!

Once you’re done shopping, I strongly recommend you walk up and down the streets surrounding the Washington Street Mall. Ocean Street and E. Lyne Lane have nothing but beautiful Victorian homes, and bed & breakfast’s that you MUST stop to see. The detail in some of the homes is breathtaking!

Lighthouse & Hiking Trails

Cape May Lighthouse

Eeeek, this was my favorite part of it all! The Cape May lighthouse at Cape May Point State Park is open to the public, and you can walk to the top for $8.00/adult and $5/child (ages 3-12). There are 199 steps, so make sure you’re ready for a little workout! Once you get to the top, you can go out on to the lookout and see all of Cape May and far out the Atlantic Ocean.

In the same parking lot of the lighthouse, there are a few hiking trails. The trails are not too long, and you see some pretty trees and little birdies along the way. There is also a pond you can stop by if you follow the red trail. TIP: Pay attention to the sign when you first enter the trail though, to make sure you know what color trail you want to walk. Watch out, there are a few snakes that will spook you but your walking on a maintained pier type trail! AJ and I walked the red path but somehow got lost, but if you do the same… don’t worry there are arrows to tell you how to get around and it’s not a crazy trail.

Pond at Cape May State Park

So, there you have it. Our first trip to Cape May was a success and we can’t wait to go back!

Quotes For Your Next Outdoorsy Post

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” — John Muir

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” — Lao-Tzu

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” — John Muir

Sky above, earth below, and peace within.” — Unknown

“Wonder often. Wander always.” — Unknown

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“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”  — John Muir

“Always take the scenic route.” — Unknown

“The world is big, and I want to get a good look at it before it gets dark.” — John Muir

“Let’s wander where the wi-fi is weak.” — Unknown

“In every walk with nature, one received far more than he seeks.” — John Muir

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Always in need of Vitamin Sea.” — Unknown

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in an office or mowing the lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” — Jack Kerouac

“I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” — Robert Frost

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” — Aristotle

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“Reality whistles a different tune underwater.” — Tom Robbins

“It feels good to be lost in the right direction” — Unknown

“I have a therapist. Her name is Nature.” — Unknown

“Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery.” — Unknown

“Discoveries are often made by not following instructions, by going off the main road, and by trying the untried.” — Frank Tyger

 

The Best Plant-Based Household Cleaners

Puracy
+
Made from plants & natural minerals 
+ Developed by a team of Ph.D. chemists
+ Safe for children & pets
Sulfate-free

+ Natural fragrances
+ Renewable ingredients
+ Free of harsh chemicals
+ Never tested on animals
+ Made in the USA

It is hard to find products that are good for us and the environment these days, and I’ve learned that most products on the shelves don’t list the ingredients! The FDA – which ensures the safety of things we put on our bodies, does not cover the products we clean with. ISSA – which regulates the labeling and registration of chemical cleaning products, does not require companies to list the ingredients on their packaging. The only ingredients they are required to list are chemicals that can “cause concern for our health”. That also means companies are not required to test the cleaning products.

Puracy claims their products are…

“Effective: Puracy worked tirelessly with our team of Ph.D. chemists to create a line of proprietary plant and natural mineral-based home and personal products with botanical fragrances that did not have an asterisk at the end. Once you have our products in your hands, you’ll know that they have already passed head-to-head tests versus both synthetic and natural competitors.”

“Friendly: All of our products are uniquely formulated to do more with less. In other words, they last longer, use less packaging and are made from the purest natural ingredients available. They do not leave residues behind and, because they are non-toxic, they are safe to use around children, pets, and the environment.”

They also…

“Give Back: Our mission to provide natural and organic household essentials to those in need is very important in what we do. For every sale, Puracy donates natural and organic products to families and children that are less fortunate. We do so through organizations such as Austin’s Children’s Shelter, The Ronald McDonald House, and more.”

“Support Local Artists: All Puracy products feature original hand-drawn artwork created exclusively for each label. Each stunning piece of artwork showcases the pure, raw beauty of the natural ingredients you’ll find in every bottle of Puracy.”

My Favorite Scent

I am absolutely in love with the Green Tea & Lime product line. The hand soap leaves your hands soft and clean feeling. The multi-purpose cleaner gets the job done while making the places smell great.

I bought a set which included the multi-surface cleaner, laundry detergent, dish soap, hand soap and stain remover. The laundry detergent is Free & Clear which is nice for those who may have allergies or sensitive skin and it works well! A 25 oz. bottle will wash up to 96 loads of laundry because it is concentrated and you only use a pump or two. I personally use this detergent with Method Ginger & Mango fabric softener from Target.

The Lavender & Vanilla hand soap that came in the kit smells good, but it kind of reminds me of a hospital soap. I still prefer the Green Tea & Lime overall.

Make The Switch

The next time you go out to buy cleaner or laundry detergent, check the back of the bottle. I have been using products for years that I’m unaware of what’s inside them, but with my latest research, it has really made me more conscious of what I purchase now. If you’re ready to make the switch to all natural products, click here!

12 Realistic Ways To Be More Eco-Friendly

Buy Eco-Friendly Products:
Many stores now sell eco-friendly cleaning supplies, makeup, and other household essentials. Flip the product over and read what you’re buying. Remember, if you cannot pronounce the word, it’s probably not safe. You want to stay away from phthalates, parabens, BPS/BPA, lead, PVC, oxybenzone (found in sunscreen), 1.4 dioxane and diazolidinyl.  Puracy & Mrs. Meyers is a good brand to look into if you haven’t already.

Recycle:
It is so easy to recycle nowadays. Mostly all stores/restaurants have a recycling bin available next to the trashcan, and recycling pick up from your home is much easier these days too. Here is more information on what & how you can recycle.

Use LED Light Bulbs:
LED bulbs are the most energy-efficient. They use only a quarter of the energy a traditional incandescent bulb uses and last almost 25 times longer. Not only are they better for the environment, but they save you money on your electric bill! Find LED light bulbs here.

Buy Reusable Bags:
Head over to your local grocery store (or any store really) and pick up a few reusable bags. Leave them in your car so you can take them with you when you shop. They only cost a few dollars and are very convenient, especially since some hold up to 40 lbs. per bag! Plastic bags are not biodegradable and when they do finally break down (in about 10-20 years), they can cause harm to wildlife and sea life. The picture above is of a turtle swimming with a plastic bag.  To us, we know the difference but to them, they do not, they think it is their favorite snack – a jellyfish.

plastic-trash-oceans-marine-animals

Change Your Thermostat:
During the winter, turn your heat down a degree or two. I know you hate being cold, but that just means you can go buy some more cute blankets from Target! Don’t heat/cool an empty house – if you are going out of town for a few days, turn the temp up or down depending on the season. My house is always at 69 degrees in the winter, crazy I know but a degree or two really helps save on electricity. During the summer, I typically leave the windows open for as long as I can until it’s unbearable but my AC is set to 75 degrees. Again, crazy to some I know but I personally love being warm.

Buy Local Produce:
Not only does this support your local community and local farmers, but it is better for the planet. Buying local reduces the waste from packaging and reduces the use of fossil fuels from transportation.  Transporting food requires burning more fuel, and it also means you’re not getting freshest food.

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Plant Trees:
Trees and other plants provide us with oxygen. They are what filter & remove the pollutants from the air we breathe. Plant a new tree every year in your backyard, or help a friend plant a new tree in their yard. Not to mention caring for something from the start gives you a great sense of pride & joy. I personally love having plants inside too! They bring life to my house and I enjoy taking the time to nurture them. #CrazyPlantMom

Don’t Litter:
Just don’t do it. It’s that simple.

Clean Up Litter When You Can:
I know it may seem annoying or gross to pick up another person trash, but do it if you can. If you see anything that you know belongs in a trashcan – pick it up! Doing this will make you feel better about yourself and it may even spread the thought to others who saw you do it.

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Carpool & Use Public Transportation More:
When you can, ride with a friend or co-worker or take the bus or train. I know this is not easy, especially for people like me who live in the suburbs, but if you know you’re going to the same place, see if you can carpool and split the gas money. Taking public transportation is also a great way to save money, especially if you can find it for free! I know there is always a concern for taking public transportation, so here’s an example of what I mean: if you don’t live in a city, take the Mega-bus to NYC instead of driving there.

Become More Aware:
Educate yourself & educate your family. Take the quiz from my last post to help you understand your carbon footprint.

Share Your Knowledge:
Being eco-friendly is the cool thing to do! So share what you’ve learned with your friends and family. Take these simple steps and be more conscious of what you’re doing. Make being environmentally friendly your new hobby!

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Bonus: head over to my fellow blogger’s page, Outdoor Families Magazine and check out her 29 eco-friendly tips and tricks. 

What’s Your Carbon Footprint?

carbon-footprint

The Global Footprint Network is working towards changing how the world manages its resources and responds to climate change. My first week in Environmental Science class, I was asked to take a quiz based on my lifestyle choices.

“The Ecological Footprint is the only metric that measures how much nature we have and how much nature we use.”

The purpose of this quiz is to measure how fast we consume resources and generate waste compared to how fast nature can absorb that waste and create new resources. Here are my results:

carbon footprint results.png

As you can see, I would require 3.3 Earths and my Overshoot Day would be April 21st! (my goodness, this is shocking!) If you are wondering what “Overshoot Day” means, it is basically the date that all resources on the planet would be exhausted if everyone lived the same way as me. Seeing this data really opened my eyes and made me realize that we cause more harm to our planet than we think. Day by day we forget that the Earth doesn’t revolve just around us. We are lucky to have such a beautiful place we call home, but we take that for granted. It’s easy to look past the unseen harm that we cause the environment, even for someone who is passionate about it.

Since taking the Ecological Footprint quiz, I have been working my hardest to make positive changes, even if they are small ones. I encourage you to take the quiz here: Carbon Footprint Calculator. When you finish your quiz, share your results in the comments below! I’d love to hear your ideas on how you can realistically reduce your carbon footprint. Hopefully, this will open your eyes just as much as it did mine, and we can all work towards a better future.

7 Important Hiking Essentials

So, if you know me well enough, you know I enjoy getting outside as much as possible! Sometimes it’s just down the street to Susquehanna State Park, and other times it’s a few hours away. But whether you’re exploring close to home or far away, there are a few important essentials that I recommend.

MRLW-J35896-110315-F16-060CLOTHES / BOOTS
To start, your outfit is the most critical part, especially what’s on your feet! You want boots that are comfy and waterproof.  I personally love my Merrell Capra Venture Mid Gore-Tex boots. They are waterproof, breathable, have excellent traction and are surprisingly very comfortable. When I first started hiking, I wore Nike’s, but ever since I found my Merrell’s, I can’t venture outside without them. Hiking boots may not be required, but they are very much necessary!

Outfits, of course, depend on the weather. Ladies, I recommend a breathable t-shirt with leggings. Guys, I’d also suggest a breathable shirt and hiking pants. I stay away from shorts because I’m not a fan of poison ivy or being cut by branches. If it is raining or windy out, I wear my favorite Columbia windbreaker. I always have a light jacket or hoodie tied around my waist since the temperature typically drops when you get deep into the woods. Winter, I wear my 686 winter jacket, an Under Armour ColdGear and thick fleece leggings.

ospreyBACKPACK
Osprey Manta AG 36 is the bag I am currently using, and I love it! When looking for a good pack, you want to make sure it has good support, is lightweight and has a spot for a water reservoir. My Osprey pack hugs my hips just right, keeping the weight off my back and it is comfortable on my shoulders. It may be on the expensive side, but a decent backpack is key to having an enjoyable hike. This pack also comes with a 2.5L reservoir to hold the good ol’ H2O.

SMALL ESSENTIALS
*Mostly all of the skin care products I have added to the list is paraben, aluminum, and sulfate-free.

Sunscreen – Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Spf 60+, 3 Fl. Oz.

First Aid Kit – First Aid Kit – 163 Piece Waterproof & Portable

Bug Spray – Rest Easy – Environmentally Friendly Bed Bug Spray

Hand Sanitizer – All Day Hand Sanitizer Sulfate, Aluminum, Triclosan and Paraben-Free

Pocket Knife – Tactical Pocket Folding Stainless Steel Blade Knife

Matches/Lighter – Portable Strom Wind Proof Matches

Toilet Paper – Toilet Tissue To Go

Solar Charger – Dizaul Portable Solar Power Bank Waterproof/Shockproof/Dustproof

Flashlight – LE CREE LED Adjustable Focus Mini Flashlight

ADDITIONAL WATER BOTTLEwater bottle
Currently, I am using a glass water bottle that I got from Target. I like using glass instead of anything else because it is BPA free, and does not contaminate the water with plastic or metal tastes/chemicals if it gets hot or cold. (Worried about it breaking? Buy one with a silicone sleeve on the glass bottle to keep it protected). You can also use stainless steel bottles since they are non-reactive, BPA free and lightweight.

SNACKS
Whether you’re going for a short or long hike, don’t forget your fuel! Most of the snacks I bring with me are granola bars or fruit bars. But every once in a while I’ll pack a PB&J on wheat. My favorite bars are Nature Valley Crunchy Peanut Butter, and That’s it. Apple and Strawberry fruit bars. For protein, I pack a Lenny & Larry’s Snickerdoodle Cookie. If those don’t meet your taste requirements, any kind of granola or fruit bar will work. I pack these because they are small and most of the time they are full of proper nutrients and are quick & easy to eat. You could also pack almonds, cereal in a bag, or fruit like a banana, apple or grapes.

eno_doublenest_hammock_tealkhaki_dh0067HAMMOCK
I don’t go anywhere without my hammock – it is what makes my hikes worthwhile! Eagle Nest Outfitters makes quality lightweight and compact SingleNest or DoubleNest hammocks. They are made of parachute material, which makes them very durable. The set up is super easy, within a few minutes, you will have a spot to relax in, all you need are two trees about 8 feet apart from one another.

canonCAMERA
Can’t forget about the camera! I use both my iPhone 7 camera and a DSLR Canon EOS Rebel T6i. My phone takes decent photos, but when I want a really good shot, I use my Canon. It is easy to use and has a wifi feature so I can upload my photos to my phone in seconds. The lens I use the most is a Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM.

These essentials are just a few of my recommendations, some more important than others but I hope this list helps you! Now, go explore somewhere cool and share your adventure with me by tagging me @explorashann on Instagram or Twitter!

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For more tips, head over to REI and view their expert’s advice on the 10 Hiking Essentials.