Reviews, Sustainability, Travel

Let’s Chat About Lemurs

Island Of Lemurs Madagascar

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words…

When I look at pictures of one of my absolute favorite animals on Earth (I’ll give you a hint, it’s the Lemur) a few words come to mind:

Amazing | Fascinating | Incredible | Adorable

Island Of Lemurs

Happy Sunday, Folks!

After a crazy, busy week I was beyond ready to settle in and enjoy the weekend with my loving family. On the docket was some much needed poolside R&R, a fun Saturday night with great friends, and an afternoon with some Lemurs in Madagascar (note the lack of chores included on my list, looks like I’ve got some catching up to do). That’s right, I said “…an afternoon with some Lemurs in Madagascar”.

Now although I didn’t actually have the time or the resources (hello expensive plane tickets) to physically travel to the island of Madagascar, I was able to experience it through the lense of IMAX 3-D, which came in at a close just kidding second best.  A few of the AMC theaters in our area are playing the 40 minute documentary highlighting these fascinating creatures called “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar” right now and it’s a pretty neat and educational experience for families. Check out the trailer:

The film, which follows the story of Dr. Patricia Wright, a scientist who has made it her life’s mission to help these unique and amazing Lemurs survive, is narrated by none other than Morgan Freeman himself. “Island Of Lemurs: Madagascar” captivates audiences and aims to gently remind everyone of the impact we have on the creatures of the World. You see, Lemurs are the oldest living primate still in existence today. Dating back nearly 60 million years, Lemurs have survived a myriad of worldly events including the collapse of the dinosaurs and the evolution of the human species. As incredible as their story is, these amazing animals are facing the possibility of extinction…and that’s pretty sad.

Island Of Lemurs

Now, I’ll admit that I am the type of person that’s into documentaries but I think “Island Of Lemurs: Madagascar” is a great resource for caregivers and educators who are looking for something to help teach young children about one of the oldest living creatures known to man.

Island-of-Lemurs-logo

The journey this film takes you on is both beautiful and extraordinary. It gave me a greater appreciation and deeper respect for an animal that I already adored. So check it out at an IMAX theater near you.

Island Of Lemurs

DIY, Food, Health & Wellness, Reviews, Sustainability

Wellness Wednesdays: Let’s Chat About Gardening!

Ark Garden Seeds

Hello & Happy Wednesday, Everyone!  If you’re new here, welcome!  Allow me to introduce you to my Wellness Wednesday series.  Each week, I spend a few minutes chatting about something I’m doing to improve my overall health and wellness.  So far this summer I’ve covered a variety of topics from skincare to nutrition supplements.  One thing I haven’t touched on yet is the importance of eating whole, natural, real foods.

Garden

A couple of years ago, after the birth of my daughter, I started to research what was in the foods that we were eating.  As she transitioned from a newborn to an older infant (especially when she transitioned from breast milk to solids), I knew I wanted to provide her with the best, most nutrient rich foods that I could.  My goal was (and is) to start her on a healthy diet so she doesn’t have to learn how to eat better as an adult (it’s hard, trust me!).

Garden

Part of my goal to provide healthy, natural foods for my family included the desire to start my own garden with fresh vegetables and herbs but, until this year, I’ve never really gotten my feet wet with that particular part of living a more organic lifestyle. My love for sustainability, my desire to raise my daughter with an appreciation for home grown foods, and a yearning to try something new led me to plant my own garden in 2014 instead of waiting until I was “more ready” to dive in.

Garden

I started out small, growing several of my plants in pots on my deck (I’m absolutely terrified of even the remote possibility of snakes in the yard) and I’m really happy with how well they’ve done so far this year.

Garden

I started several of my plants from seeds (lettuce, summer squash, spinach, catnip, basil, cilantro, tomatoes, and a couple of other plants) and purchased a few starter plants (green peppers, jalapenos, and a supplemental tomato plant). Much to my surprise, most of my plants have done really well with the exception of a few that stopped producing once the Summer heat settled in.

Garden

Even though my little garden hasn’t produced enough home grown goodness to supply my family of three with all of our produce for the season, I’m really happy with how much I’ve accomplished.  As a novice gardener, I wasn’t expecting my plants to do as well as they did on my first attempt. Needless to say, gardening exceeded my expectations and I discovered that I actually (really, really) enjoy spending time tending to my plants.  If I can grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers in pots on my back deck, so can you.  I truly believe that anyone with a little outdoor space can grow their own food.  Gardening is such an incredible experience.  It provides me with an appreciation for this planet and the amazing power of nature.  There’s something truly magical about creating your own food and I can’t wait to grow my garden again next year.

Garden

I am excited to have a starter kit for my 2015 garden provided by my friends over at Ark. They provide 100% USA, heirloom vegetable garden seeds in 30 varieties with over 7500 high quality seeds. Their seeds are non-hybrid, non GMO, organic and come with a lifetime guarantee.  Ark is a company that I personally use and am happy to provide them with my heartfelt endorsement for anyone looking to grow their own food.  You can find more information about Ark and their products by visiting their Amazon listing.

Giveaways, Reviews, Sustainability

Making Sustainable Choices (Plus: A Small Woolite Giveaway)

When I look back on my world view a decade ago, I have to laugh (and maybe sigh a little). I didn’t think about how my choices impacted the world around me and doing right by the planet wasn’t even something that was on my radar. A couple of years ago something just clicked with me and I started really thinking about my life and what role I can play to make a lasting and positive impact on the world around me. A friend of mine recently told me that “You have to grow into your better self” and I couldn’t agree more.

It's An Ordinary Blog

This week I’m doing a Kid’s Closet Connection giveaway. I talked a little bit yesterday about how these sales are a great way to save money but they’re also really great for the environment. Anytime you buy something used (furniture, clothing, toys, shoes, art, etc) you’re making the choice to help protect our planet. I don’t want to focus on the KCC giveaway but it does tie into what I want to discuss today. I am a member of Crowdtap, an organization that connects companies with consumers who are willing to give insight and honest feedback about products, ideas, and marketing techniques. Part of my membership includes the opportunity to receive samples from various companies in exchange for my feedback and participation in moderated discussions.

Woolite Washed

Most recently I was selected by Woolite to participate in an opportuntiy to try Woolite Washed, their every day laundry solution that “keeps clothes looking like new longer”.  The goal of the hosted party was to encourage friends to swap clothes. Not only is this a really sustainable way to get some “new to me” items but it’s also a fun way to get rid of some of that stuff that’s been sitting around in your closet collecting dust. Clothing, accessories, and shoe swaps are so much fun and it’s definitely something I would like to participate in more often with some of my gal pals. Not only is the idea of hosting an in home boutique great for the environment but Woolite is too. Their commitment to protecting the planet through their Green initiatives is one of the things that impresses me most about the company. You can find more information about that here.

I have a couple of extra samples that the company sent me on hand and would love to share them with two of my readers. SO, if you want to try Woolite out (the sample also comes with a $1.00 off coupon) leave me a comment and I’ll randomly pick two readers on Saturday to send the samples to.

Whether you turn off the lights every time you leave a room, recycle everything you can, host clothing swaps with your friends, or plant new trees every Earth day I hope that you’re thinking about the choices we all make and how they will impact future generations. Sustainability matters.

*Disclaimer: My opinion about Woolite and their products are my own. I was given the sample products free of charge in exchange for my honest, unbiased feedback. I happen to have extra samples and Woolite does not know that I planned to share them on my blog.

 

Daily Life, Food, Reviews, Society, Sustainability

Sola Coffee Cafe: Raleigh, North Carolina

I don’t normally do this (and I don’t plan to make a habit of doing this) but I wanted to talk a little bit about a restaurant I ate at recently…

Sola Coffee Cafe Entrance

I took a trip to North Carolina the week before Christmas and, at the suggestion of my mom (who is a frequent guest there), had breakfast at a quaint little place in North Raleigh called Sola Coffee Cafe. When I started It’s An Ordinary Blog, I never intended to write any restaurant reviews (it’s just not the kind of blog that this is) but there’s something about Sola that I really loved and so I thought it was worth sharing.

I lived in Raleigh up until I went away to college and haven’t been back for longer than a week or so in almost eight years. It seems like every time I do go back for a trip, the area has completely changed. The building that Sola now occupies was a bank, and then it was a childcare facility, and then it was something else, but now it’s something truly amazing: a coffee-house that has a focus on sustainability.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ve probably picked up on the fact that sustainability matters to me. It matters a lot and so when I heard that Sola offers fresh, local, seasonally appropriate sandwiches and salads from sustainable farmers, I was pretty excited to give them my business. Not only that but the atmosphere is ridiculously awesome. It’s comfortable, intimate, and a space that you really feel good in. I took a bunch of pictures (and uploaded them to Instagram if you’re wondering why they look “different”) that are posted below so you can get a feel for what this place is like.

We were there for breakfast and so I ordered their oatmeal with raisins, sliced almonds, and brown sugar and a mocha coffee. My mom ordered a coffee and a thing of their mini-donuts which are made on site. My oatmeal was great, the coffee hit the spot, and the mini-donuts (she let me try one) were warm and delicious…and I’m not even a donut person. I would be really interested to try one of their lunch items…so I definitely plan to go back next time I’m in Raleigh.

I learned while I was there that they have live music in the evenings and a small, private room that you can reserve while you’re there. It’s definitely a place that you can meet up with some friends and hang out at and it’s definitely a place that I recommend. Aside from their focus on sustainability, I really appreciated the decor in the restaurant. Apparently the decorator is a friend of my moms…I wonder if she wouldn’t mind coming to Kansas City to work on my house. 😉

Sola Coffee Cafe Oatmeal and Coffee

Sola Coffee Cafe Decor Bike

Sola Coffee Cafe Decor Fresh Global Social

Sola Coffee Cafe Decor Our Global Local Friends

Sola Coffee Cafe Menu

Sola Coffee Cafe Decor

If you happen to live (or visit) Raleigh, spread the word…it’s worth a visit. Oh, and you can also find them on Facebook.

Mad About It Mondays, Rants, Society, Sustainability

Mad About It Mondays: Corporate Irresponsibility

Vacant buildings depress property values in neighborhoods. That’s not a theory, it’s a fact. It’s hard for an area to recover when it begins to decline. What’s worse is that people eventually stop caring, stop trying, and move away into better neighborhoods. When my husband and I first got married we lived in the north part of Kansas City. When it came time to purchase our first home, we opted to move south because it was a growing area with lots of potential and offered significantly better bang for our buck. Several shopping centers in our area have vacant space available in their buildings while shiny new ones are being built down the road. That makes me a little sad. I’m not saying that businesses aren’t allowed to have space of their own, I just wish they would make an effort to try to use the space we already have available instead of cutting down trees to build a concrete jungle.The new businesses aren’t what upset me the most, though, it’s the ones who move into new buildings and just abandon their old ones. It’s a horrible practice. It’s bad for the neighborhood, it’s bad for property values, and (worst of all) it’s bad for this planet.

The first time I saw this happen in my area was when On The Border built a new restaurant next to their old building. It’s LITERALLY right next door and shares a parking lot with the old building. The empty On The Border has been a vacant, abandoned eye sore since the new one opened a couple of years ago. That makes me sick. In my opinion there is absolutely no excuse to validate that practice. The most recent example of corporate irresponsibility is the CVS that closed its doors to open a newer, snazzier building just down the road. I have no doubt that the old building will sit empty for the next several years as well.

 I once worked for a company where the CEO was adamant about proposing solutions when you oppose an issue and so I often think about what I would do if I had the power to make the kind of changes I feel are necessary to help restore our area. At this point, what’s done is done and you can’t go back and change what’s already happened. What you can do, however, and what I think both CVS and On The Border should do is give back to the community. Maybe On The Border could open up its first ever “cooking school” where they teach people a certain recipe for a nominal fee or perhaps they could use that building to host events catered by OTB. Maybe CVS could start caring about the community and open up a health and wellness center where they have volunteers who come in to teach classes on health, wellness, and nutrition. I’m not sure if this kind of thing happens because the people in charge are ignorant to what they’re doing to the community or if it’s because they simply don’t care but maybe they could each do something that doesn’t involve walking away and leaving a property empty and a neighborhood desperate for someone to bring it back to life.

Maybe, just maybe, people will start to care enough to speak up and not support businesses who are too shortsighted to see what they’re doing to the community. If you see something like this happening in your area, I implore you to say something. Speak up. If we don’t, nobody else will. When it comes to corporate irresponsibility, we all suffer. When businesses leave vacant buildings for months or years on end, property values decline, other businesses eventually walk away, the area loses its appeal, people move away only to start the cycle somewhere else.

Culture, Reviews, Society, Sustainability

The Freecycle Network

A few months ago I came across an organization called Freecycle that aims to reduce waste and environmental impact by connecting people who are looking to get rid of items (like old book shelves, toys, etc) with people who might be interested in obtaining them. As someone who is interested in sustainability (it matters) and saving money (who doesn’t appreciate that), I think the idea behind this is incredible. I have to say, though, that I’ve been unimpressed but I want to start with what I enjoy about the Freecycle network.

I decided to go down the list of most recent emails from my local group and list off what people have been offering:

-work gloves

-grout tiles

-file cabinet

-cat food & litter

-gas dryer

-couch

I love that, rather than simply throwing out these items, people are willing to hang on to them for a few extra days in order to reduce their impact on the world around them. That’s awesome…Really awesome.

What I don’t like, though, is the constant (and I mean almost constant) amount of emails I get from people who are flat-out asking for items (usually in list form). That really strikes a nerve with me. I think it’s great if someone is looking to get rid of something that you happen to have a need for, but at what point does Freecycle become a stomping ground for beggars?

Here’s the list of items that people have been asking for lately:

-Hunger Games books

-computer and keyboard

-queen size bed with mattress and box spring with bedding

-children’s clothes from 0-3T

-moving boxes

One of the only items I can understand (and get behind) is asking for moving boxes. That’s legit and it’s a great way to try to find boxes when you’re prepping for a move. The rest of it, however, is ridiculous. As great as this network is, I feel that it’s lost its purpose and that makes me sad. On one hand, I want to say it’s okay to put feelers out there to see if something you happen to need is out there but on the other hand there’s something about the way people are asking in our particular group that I find to be really bothersome. Has anyone else experienced anything like this?

At the end of the day, I’ll continue to be part of the group. We’re in the process of finishing our basement and so I’ll be listing some items in the very near future and, you never know, I may see something that someone has to offer that is right up my alley one day. For now, I’ll take the good and leave the rest…