Less Waste Lent

Lent begins next Wednesday, March 6. This year we decided our family is going to focus on creating less waste for the 40 days leading up to Easter. I’m hopeful that the efforts we make will help us create new habits that will make a lasting impact on our environment and also lead us to become more intentional consumers.

I should start by giving my husband credit for his weekly trips to the recycling center. We currently do not have curb-side recycling available at our house.

Seeing the recycling pile up has made me want to buy less things altogether. We have a lot of room for improvement, so we are focusing on 7 key areas that we think will make the biggest impact in our home.

7 Ways to Reduce Waste at Home

  1. Less Glass – Something we typically give up during Lent is drinking alcohol during the week. Not only is this good for us physically, but this year we are focusing on how our decisions make an impact beyond ourselves and how little decisions add up over time.
  2. No Drive Thru Foods or To-go Drinks – There seems to be a theme about how things that aren’t great for our bodies are also not great for our planet. Have you been through a drive thru and got a bag of garbage per person who orders!? I have and if the french fries don’t hurt my stomach enough, seeing all that trash sure makes me feel sick. That also means no more coffee to-go unless I bring my own cup.
  3. No Shopping Bags – I started ordering groceries online and picking it up at the store which felt like a life-saver during cold winter months when I didn’t want to drag two young kids into the store. But… the bags!! We started collecting piles and piles. Even though I’m recycling or reusing them, I still feel awful and therefore I will be shopping the old fashion way (in the store) with my tote bags.
  4. Less Gas – Occasionally, my girls fall asleep in the car unexpectedly. In an effort to get a nap in, I drive around town happily sipping on a latte enjoying my quiet moment without much thought to the gas I’m wasting. My new solution will be to park and listen to a podcast or read a library book. It’s getting warmer, so I can turn off my car and open a window to enjoy the spring breeze.
  5. Reduce Paper – We get a lot of junk mail and I also have a habit of picking up free magazines. I’m going to email/call to unsubscribe from mailing lists and I’m also going to stop myself from picking up free items.
  6. Save Electricity – when I was a kid my Dad gave me a badge and called me ‘the power patrol’. My job was to go around the house and turn off lights. I think my girls will love to continue this tradition.
  7. Avoid Single Serving Packaging – I love 100 calorie pack almonds. It’s so convenient to have them counted out for me so I don’t eat too many, but I’m really going to focus on purchasing products that aren’t packaged individually (goldfish, yogurt, apple sauce, popsicles, etc.)

Our final goal this Lent is to donate to and support nonprofits that are making a positive impact on our environment including the National Park System that we love so much.

I’m sharing my ideas because I know a lot of people want to do something meaningful for Lent, and I’d love to have you join us! I’ll be posting about our progress on Instagram with the hashtag #lesswastelent.

-Kelly

Lily Mountain – a Dog Friendly Trail near Estes Park, Colorado

We are always on the lookout for dog friendly trails near Estes Park, Colorado because furry friends aren’t allowed on trails in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Lily Mountain is a dog friendly hike. It is located off of Highway 7, just south of Estes Park, Colorado. If I had to choose three words to describe this hike they would be quick, fun and views. The distance is 1.8 miles each way, which is short for a summit hike. You gain 1,240 feet of elevation (according to AllTrails.com)

Lily Mountain trail

The trail is part of the Roosevelt National Forest. There is not a parking lot, but there is space for cars to park off the road. These spots are limited and can fill up quickly. It is fairly easy to pass right by the trailhead without spotting it. If you get to Lily Lake (from Estes Park), you have gone a little too far.

landslide area on lily mountain trail

In 2013, Estes Park and surrounding areas were impacted by devastating flooding and landslides. The trail up Lily Mountain was damaged. You cross over the landslide area at approximately .3 miles into the hike. We have been able to pass through without slipping or footing issues.

hike up Lily Mountain with views of Estes Valley

After you cross, the trail climbs steadily. There are several spots with good lookouts towards the Estes Valley.

Lily Mountain hike

The last couple hundred feet include a class 2 scramble to the summit. For us, that means we use our hands and feet to climb to the top. We do not bring our toddler and preschooler on this section of the trail, instead my husband and I take turns on who gets to summit and who stays back with the kiddos. (I would guess most dogs would also need to stay back – unless they are part mountain goat)

summit trail up Lily Mountain

After the fun scramble to the top, you can catch your breath and enjoy the 360 degree views of the Rocky Mountains.

panoramic views from the top of Lily Mountain
Panoramic Views from the Summit of Lily Mountain during Sunrise

We think this is one of the best views you will find near Estes Park, Colorado. We featured it in a recent post, 9 Hikes with Amazing Views.

Lily Mountain is part of Roosevelt National Forest

If you are looking for more great dog friendly hikes, check out our post about the Homer Rouse Trail in Estes Park, Colorado.

Indoor Herb Garden

You may remember that one of my goals this year is to keep a few house plants alive. (19 goals in 2019)

This month we put together a fresh herb garden under a window in our living room. Picking out the stand, buying the pots, and planting the seeds was a fun project that involved our whole family. We planted basil, rosemary and thyme seeds along with an aloe plant. For added fun, I put out a colorful fish plate that the girls painted as a spot to keep their growing rock collection.

And the best part… our herbs are growing! Thanks to my husband who remembers to water the plants and turns the pots periodically so sunlight hits the soil evenly.

I can’t wait to use the fresh herbs to cook, but until then I’m enjoying watching them grow. I loved this project because it created a happy little spot in our home.

-Kelly

7 Romantic Things To Do in Estes Park, Colorado

I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day! Inspired by all the LOVE, this week I’m sharing the most romantic things to do in Estes Park, Colorado.

  1. Linger over breakfast. Typically I eat toast for breakfast, that’s the opposite of romantic! Sitting down to a full service breakfast with a couple cups of coffee is a luxury. There are a lot of places to eat breakfast in Estes Park. A couple of my favorites are Notchtop Bakery & Cafe and Trailhead Restaurant.
  2. Play Outside. There is something very romantic about activities that are playful or adventurous. During the winter months you can grab a sled and ride in Rocky Mountain National Park’s Hidden Valley. Or, you can rent snowshoes and explore the trails you love all covered in bright, white snow. If you are planning a romantic trip in the summer, you could rent a boat at Lake Estes marina or go on a horseback ride with your favorite partner.
  3. Browse Unique Shops. Downtown Estes Park has plenty of shopping. Date-worthy destinations include historic Macdonald Bookshop – I think the fireplace adds to the charm. There are also several art galleries in downtown Estes Park. My favorite is Images of Rocky Mountain National Park.
  4. Wine Tasting. Estes Park is home to Snowy Peaks Winery. They offer tastings of local wine and often host live music.
  5. Sunset. When the sun goes down over the mountains, the sky turns brilliant shades of pink and yellow. Savor these magical moments with a romantic drive through Rocky Mountain National Park.
  6. Romantic Night on the Town. The Dunraven Inn in Estes Park offers home-made Italian food and a cozy atmosphere. It’s a unique, locally owned restaurant. There is a tradition to hang $1 bills on the walls in the bar area and a collection of Mona Lisa themed art work is displayed throughout the restaurant.
  7. Get Cozy. Estes Park has a lot of wonderful places to stay while you visit. If you choose to stay at Solitude Cabins, we hope you take time to relax by the stone fireplace and watch the snow falling down outside. We would love for you to visit our cabin and enjoy a memorable weekend with your loved ones. If you would like more suggestions for your itinerary while in Estes Park, I would love to help!