Archive for August 2013 | Monthly archive page

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By DC EcoWomen and Recent Honeymooners Lisa Seyfried and Dawn Bickett

You did it! You planned a successful green wedding.  You composted, you recycled, you upcycled, you thrifted, you ate local.  You did everything that you could to minimize the impact of your wedding day.

But now there is another hurdle.  You want to plan a trip away from everything (and everyone!) and relax.  How do you carry the green theme into your honeymoon?

Here are a few tips:

1. Go Somewhere Local.

You don’t have to go to Hawai’i or a fancy villa in Tuscany to celebrate with your new partner.  You can go to that little B&B an hour away that doesn’t get phone service.  You can go on those great little day trips that you’ve been meaning to take for years but never had the time. You can go camping in the Appalachian Mountains – and get there with public transportation, too!

2. Practice Eco-Travel Tips.

While you’re on your trip, bring your own water bottles and opt for local snacks. It can be really romantic to wander a new town’s farmer’s market with your new person.  You can also scale up the usual fare by eating at restaurants that serve local, eco-friendly food.  On our honeymoon, we found fancy restaurants that served meat from the area that was grass fed and finished – so yummy!

3. Spend Time with Each Other.

Ok, I know, this is a given.  But you don’t have to get wrapped up in new and exotic activities to make a honeymoon special.  Taking a walk down to the beach in the early evening is just as special as paying tons of money to horseback ride down the beach.  Instead of waiting in lines for planned fun, go off the beaten path and explore what’s right in front of you. Which brings me to the next point…

4. Pick a Hotel or Lodging with Care.

Do your research.  Pick a place to stay that’s close to what you are looking for.  If you like hiking, pick a place that has lots of trails that start right by the hotel.  Make sure it’s public transit accessible.  Find out what kind of place it is; are they also eco-friendly?

5. Consider Ecotourism Destinations.

Dying to go somewhere exotic?  Don’t give up on having a green honeymoon.  If staying local just isn’t your scene, try ecotourism.  Ecotourism programs provide a way for you and your new partner to enjoy fragile parts of the natural world while supporting their conservation.  From Costa Rica to Iceland, you can make memories without the impact of that luxury resort.  And if you are relying on long air trips to get you there, consider buying carbon offsets to start to balance out the cost to the climate.

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Guest post by Tanara Bowie

Are You Holding A Plate Too Full?

Sometimes I can sense when I’m approaching overload, but other times I don’t realize until I’m in the midst of it. I imagine it’s a combination of my Type A “get ‘er done” personality and working as a D.C. area PR person for clean-energy companies, while also being a caregiver, among other roles. But I know I’m not alone in holding a full plate that sometimes feels close to tipping over.

There used to be a time though that I’d beat myself up mercilessly for not being able to take care of everything perfectly. Looking back, I think about the things I’d say to myself that I would never say to anyone else—whether I liked them or not. Are you stupid? Why’d you say that? Why’d you do that?

Thankfully, simple, mindfulness techniques like meditation and deep breathing exercises, which I began as a way to show myself the compassion and kindness that I often show others, have stopped the withering, critical thoughts.

Don’t get me wrong. I still feel a range of harmful emotions like anxiety: Will the LA Times really be on this call? Have I done enough to make this event successful?  I also feel profound sadness when I see the devastating effects of climate change around the world.

When these situations arise, I stop, find a quiet spot and take a series of long, deep breaths. Then I slowly exhale them out. I do these exercises to get myself present and grounded because the future-thinking I’m engaging in or the feelings of helplessness I experience when I see extreme drought and hunger take me away from answering the question: What CAN I reasonably do?

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By DC EcoWomen blogger Dawn Bickett

One of the reasons I love Washington DC is that its strong public transit and walkable neighborhoods often make owning or using a car unnecessary. But when I tried leaving the city for the great outdoors, I found I could barely get past the Beltway without one.

Turns out, I was wrong. Car-less DC EcoWomen, I have some exciting news! It is possible to hike, backpack, and camp outside of DC without driving there. And not only can it be done, it can lead you to one of the most famous hiking routes in the United States: The Appalachian Trail.

This summer, a friend suggested going on a backpacking trip, and I checked to see if we could get somewhere without taking a car. Looking up nearby hiking trails, I discovered that the Appalachian Trail briefly touches West Virginia in Harpers Ferry. Then, just 25 miles north of Harpers Ferry, the trail runs through the small town of Myersville, MD.

And researching transit lines, I noticed Myersville has a park-and-ride serviced by the 991 MARC commuter bus, and Harpers Ferry is served by MARC commuter trains on weekdays as well as AMTRAK trains on weekends. We had found the perfect weekend backpacking trip – no driving necessary.

The only hitch with using commuter transit was that we had to leave and return on commuter time. We headed to Myersville Friday afternoon on the first 991 bus and came back to DC via MARC train early morning the following Monday. In between those trips were two days of beautiful views, quiet rivers, Civil War sites, the original Washington Monument, and even some tubing down the Shenandoah.

We passed through several state parks, crossed two rivers, and got a small taste of the winding Appalachian Trail. All without a car. Total transit cost? $16 roundtrip.

Unfortunately, most regional and state parks around DC are not as easy to get to, but from Harpers Ferry, hikers can wander up in to Maryland as we did, head down into Virginia, or even just stick around near town.

Cycling ecowomen can also pedal up the C&O Canal, which travels from Georgetown all the way to Cumberland, MD, and has campsites every 6 to 8 miles.

So the next time you want to get out of the city and in to nature – whether or not you have car – consider looking first at public transit or even bike trails. You might be surprised at where you can get!

View of the Potomac River from our campsite near Harpers Ferry

posted by | on , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Making the Most of your Local Veggies

The dinners I remember best are the ones I threw together with odds and ends of ingredients.

There was the lentil barley salad made with twelve almonds and one and a half bruised peaches, the pizza whose toppings included roasted cauliflower and eggplant, and the “Great Depression” dinner where some college friends managed to turn a handful of peas, a sweet potato, soy sauce, chickpeas, and leftover lentils (sensing a theme?) into Shepherd’s Pie.

During the summer growing season, my fridge and countertops are usually overflowing with vegetables, some of which I’ve never before seen. Google is my friend, but more often than not I rely on a handful of basic recipes to pull together a new version of a meal.

 

Pesto

Besides its standard use as pasta sauce, pesto makes a great topping sauce for pizza, a garnish for soups, and a sandwich ingredient (try it with sliced August tomatoes). You can make it with almost any green, leafy vegetable. Try using beet greens for a surprisingly pink sauce, or mustard greens for one that’s tangy and spicy. The traditional pesto is made with basil and pine nuts, but I like variety. My nut of choice – the almond – tends to be slightly sweeter, but walnuts also make a great substitute. Puree together four cups of greens, one or two cloves of minced garlic, a half cup of olive oil, and a quarter cup of nuts. Adjust and add salt and parmesan cheese to taste.

Freeze any extra pesto in an ice cube tray for meal-sized leftovers

Pizza

Vegan, vegetarian, or meat-lover, it’s surprisingly easy to elevate this simple dish into one worthy of a dinner party. Caramelize your leftover onions, slice up those tomatoes, and toss on some shredded raw kale. Throw caution to the wind and mix together fresh mozzarella, arugula, and sliced cherry tomatoes. Play around with the types of cheese and the sauce.

Fritters

An egg (or, if vegan, ground flaxseed), a couple tablespoons of flour, and shredded veggies make an easy and delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Mix the ingredients with your hands, separate into golfball sized chunks, then flatten and fry on a skillet. Try shredded sweet potato and chipotle flour or zucchini and Old Bay seasoning, then add to sandwiches or eat alone.

Veggie Pie

My Mom makes spinach pie for special occasions, and when I went away to college I learned to make it with my own twist. I’ve used collards, kale, and beet greens in addition to – and instead of – spinach. To make the pie, I start with Tamar Adler’s olive oil tart dough.* Next, I mix together handfuls of cooked greens, about a sixth as much cheese, and (if there’s one laying around), an egg. As always, salt to taste.

Another twist: try mixing together pureed roasted veggies instead of greens. My favorite version includes roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, and asiago cheese.

Salad

The best salads make full, hearty meals. Starting with a base of raw greens (spinach, kale, mesclun), try mixing together a grain (bulgur, barley, quinoa, brown rice), a protein (lentils! chickpeas, crumbled feta), something sweet (raisins, chopped apples, strawberries), and something salty (roasted almonds or sunflower seeds, croutons, crumbled pretzels). Experiment with texture: try chopped kohlrabi and blueberries, or roasted beets and goat cheese. Try cooked greens instead of raw, or omit them entirely and throw in a roasted vegetable instead. Anything bitter (turnips, I’m looking at you) will be sweeter when roasted and even tastier when drizzled in vinegar or oil. Serve with a slice of toast rubbed with raw garlic and herbs. Need to kick it up a notch? Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over your bowl.

*An Everlasting Meal is my favorite cookbook of all time, and that’s saying something. About a quarter of the books I own revolve around food.

Written by Caroline Selle, the Zero-Waste Girl