An Introduction to Zero Waste Benefits

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Hello everyone!

Today I wanted to talk about the Zero Waste movement. This isn’t a blog post about convincing you that you are some terrible human for using plastic products or for throwing something in the trash. This post was inspired by seeing one too many of those kind of comments and not wanting to see people deterred from something that has more than just environmental benefits. So let me dive in:

First the main idea behind Zero Waste is to overall reduce what waste you produce and what waste ends up in the landfills. The goal isn’t to produce no “Waste”; it’s to make sure every piece is taken care of in the best way possible and to be more thoughtful about the waste we create. This can mean things like composting, recycling, terracycling, buying used, and reusing. Now why should you make the commitment or take steps towards it:

Environment

This is the first reason that pops to mind. It keeps trash out of oceans and away from wildlife. It does help with the emissions that affect our air quality. I remember hearing once that the average person in the USA made around 4.5 lbs of trash per day. That is the size of our kittens right now. That is the weight of an entire bag of sugar or flour. Reducing that does more than just help the environment though.

Money 

Moving towards zero waste has saved us immense amounts of money. It seems counterintuitive because most people think you have to buy these speciality products to be able to afford to do this. I argue that for the most part it will save you much more than it costs, especially at first. First there are so many free recycling programs in many neighborhoods and cities or even as part of trash services. If you reduce your waste by recycling by half or even a quarter you could downgrade your trash services and trash bags and save money there. Instead of buying a single use water bottle, a reusable water bottle can easily pay for itself within 5-10 uses. Avery has had his bottle since 2012 (Yes he does wash it). There are so many examples like this that would make a huge impact on your budget over the year and you can feel good about helping the planet while doing it.

Health

While you don’t have to give up processed foods, you will probably see yourself moving away from it! This is absolutely great for you. I have been cooking at home more than ever with lots of produce and I have been doing it for my husband and I for under $75 a month. That includes treats and alcohol. You learn to buy in bulk, at local markets, and can even preserve your food. You are also keeping fewer chemicals in your home and moving towards more natural options.

Clean

I have to admit this might be my favorite and most unexpected benefit to moving towards a zero waste lifestyle. Our house is becoming cleaner and smells great. Here is my favorite example. When my college friend had a roommate who once threw rancid meat in the trash, left it there for days, and then demanded that one of her other roommates deal with it. It had made the entire place start to reek and they all got into a fight about it. Plus it took like three weeks before I’d go and see her from the smell. I used this example because with zero waste you tend to have less food waste because you tend to need to plan out meals better, but even when you do your food can go right into a composting plan and not be sitting in your home for weeks. Now, Avery and I rinse all of our recyclables that had food in them, use a smaller trash can, and are composting most of our food waste. We have less materialistic things overall and have less clutter! What a win!

 

These are just a few of the examples I have about the positive benefits of going zero waste. But it can be really intimidating and unappealing to go this route. It does take a little bit more effort some days but if you get in the habit, it really isn’t bad at all. In an upcoming post, I will be putting together a really simple beginners guide on some very easy changes that will not only be more environmentally friendly; it will also make your life easier and healthier. I’ll be putting that series together about simple to complex changes you can make and you choose what works for you and your family. Just remember every little bit counts! Are any of you interested in going zero waste?

 

~ Naomi

10 Affordable Spring Date Ideas

Hello Everyone!

* This post does contain affiliate links. These result in no increase cost to you as a consumer, but simply a small percentage of the sale goes to us for directing you to them. We only will ever post links about items that we would use ourselves and you are never expected to buy anything.

With the first flowers blooming and green showing, spring is here! I love the weather right now with lots of variety, but warm enough for just sweaters. Avery and I are big fans of winter and snow, but we are quite exuberant to see the new opportunities that spring will bring us. Avery and I definitely have a long history of dating which you can check out a bit more here, but without further ado let me share with you some my favorite affordable spring dates!

  1. Picnics! Okay everyone has heard of this one, but it is such a nice classic. I have a blanket that I use just for picnics and it is one of those dates that you really control how much you spend. I love cooking so it keeps us from going out to lunch and spending more money. Plus you get more privacy and space in a park than at a restaurant.
    • I will say Avery and I love asian food. He will tell you I have an obsession with sushi and it is so true. So one of my favorite things on this planet it bento boxes. They are great for picnics and very affordable lunch boxes. I totally recommend checking out the one below for an affordable and stylish upgrade from tupperware.
      This bento box is great with removable compartments, chopsticks, and dishwasher and microwave safe! Click on the picture for a link to buy it.
  2. Plant a garden! Spring is the perfect time to try something new and if you have never had a garden you definitely need to start one. If you love fresh vegetables and herbs, you should really try it out. It is really fun spending the time together picking out what you want and how it will look. Bonus the little bit of cost comes back in saving from the produce. If you life in the city like I currently do start a major jar herb garden! Super adorable and great for adding a little freshness to your home, plus you will have a great time trying to keep it alive together.
  3. Explore a local city! I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve been in my college town for three years and have barely seen any of it. Spend a day in the beautiful spring weather and get lost window shopping and trying new cafes. Just make sure to charge your phone so you can find your way home when you’re done!
  4. Try a new outdoor hobby together! So running and biking were the bane of my existence for a long time. Avery changed a lot of that for me and now I would love to try going for a run with him or a biking adventure. It is a great alternative to spending money and the bonus of getting a workout in (especially when you have a wedding coming up) is awesome.
  5. Visit a local Farmer’s Market! Okay, so Avery and I are obviously involved in our country roots. I love visiting the farmer’s market just to get to see all the fresh veggies. As spring hits full force you will find fresh spinach, eggs, and other goodies galore. You can choose to just walk through and chat and learn about what they are doing, or you can get some treats for the week. This is great if you struggle with your green thumb or space to have a real garden.
  6. Have a Spring Cooking Challenge! This is great if you actually just went to the farmer’s market and came back with a bunch of stuff. Compete against each other to make the best dish using what you came home with. The extra challenge? Put a spending limit on the ingredients. You will have a great time cooking and eating together. Plus at the end of the day you might have a special new recipe to add to your daily life.
  7. Watch the Sunrise or Sunset! With warmer weather I just find myself gravitating towards being outside. Plan a special occasion to watch the sky burst full of colors. Most people will tell you that they love watching the sunset, but I love watching the sunrise with Avery. It just is a really amazing way to start our mornings together. 

    For my love of sunrises, this was a really beautiful sunset!

  8. Have a cookout with friends and family! As much as I love being alone with Avery, I also really love my friends and family. Plan a nice day where everyone gets together for a potluck! Just make sure everyone brings a dish to pass. Bonus points if you can pull a grill out!
  9. Attend a free festival or event! With warm weather comes community activities. There is plenty out there to check out so find some near you. They tend to come with free entertainment and some times even free food!
  10. Try Swing Dancing! There is an awesome community in my area that does swing dancing once a week that is 100% free with free lessons! Find one near you or make your own. It is a phenomenal time and swing dancing is easy and fun. Most people start planning outdoors ones, so trying something new!

What is your favorite spring date? Do you plan to try any of these?

  • Naomi & Avery

New Camera

Hello everyone,

* This post does contain affiliate links. These result in no increase cost to you as a consumer, but simply a small percentage of the sale goes to us for directing you to them. We only will ever post links about items that we have used ourselves and absolutely loved!

New toys!!! Wait no, shhh do not tell Naomi that… this is supposed to be a tool of the trade… that’s right that is what we can tell her, just our little secret. Well, as the title suggests I am getting a new camera finally, after 12 years with the D40 (Naomi’s new camera). I have recently acquired a new camera which took a lot of deep contemplation and some deliberation with Naomi and myself. We needed to figure out what not only we need now but, also what we may need in the near future, and hopefully we did just that.

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Naomi, the thief, with my D40

So just why did Naomi and I think that we needed a new camera? Well as aforementioned Naomi recently received my D40 as a hand me down camera. She started to blog and we knew we would need to take images beyond cellphone quality and it was determined that she could learn photography on my old camera. While she stole my camera I could borrow my Dad’s spare camera (his 16 year old Nikon D70). That was the plan at least, but recently the D70 camera developed a fatal flaw. It thinks there is a full compact flash memory card in it currently and well, with or without a card it says that the card is full and will no longer take pictures. Now that my stop gap camera measure failed it came down to the truth. I needed something to take pictures. We decided not to buy just any old replacement, but a shiny new camera!

With an older model being off the table, we started looking at our options. Since we already have four lenses and access to my father’s equipment we decided to stick with Nikon for simplicity. When looking at the current line up we saw the D3400, the D5600, and the D7200 as possible choices. The full frames camera, while also highly expensive, also would mean new lenses so out they were out as well.

Now as a full in depth description of each camera’s specs would be beyond the scope of this post I shall stick with the major pros of each camera and cons. The D3400 is the least expensive camera on the list. This is in its favor, however it also lacks the articulating screen and touch capabilities of the D5600. The D5600 as stated has a articulating touch screen, but is also equipped with Nikon snapbridge, rather than the wifi connection of its predecessors. Snapbridge as a program has many flaws and the new model is a fair bit more expensive than the D3400. Now we come to the D7200, a camera I would love to have just for the sheer speed increase and added features. The 7200 definitely the better camera for pictures sake but with its added size, weight, and most importantly cost it has been decided to be a future camera.

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A new photo from my new camera

Well then, if not the D7200 we are left with the 3400 and 5600 so which will it be? Simply put neither…

Naomi and I came to the D5500, last year’s camera, with nearly identical specs as the D5600 and a much lower price tag it is the camera to fit our current needs. Now that being said the current plan is I will shoot with it for the next couple years while she learns more on my venerable D40. Then we shall pass the D5500 to Naomi and get the D7200 or an even shinier new toy… I mean camera.

With that decision made I have many more to come camera bag, new tripod for video, drone, small action camera, and hopefully a wide angle lens. However those are for another day as I must budget for my calf now. That being said if you are interested in checking out the D5500 for yourselves click the link below! Follow us on Instagram to see some of my latest photos with my new toy!

  • Avery

Nikon D5500 DX-format Digital SLR w/ 18-55mm VR II Kit (Black)

 

Long Distance Relationships

Hello everyone! Hello!

Avery and I have been dating since 2013. As our relationship has developed, we haven’t always been physically together. Today, I wanted to talk about the challenges of long distance relationships (LDRs). If you want to learn a bit more about our history together check our introduction post here! Actually wouldn’t that be there?

Our first year in college we pursued our own dreams in the way we thought best. Against my better judgement.  That meant not holding each other back and we attended colleges over 13 hours apart. Avery and I had to spend several months apart with no visits. It was the hardest part of our relationship. Even now that he has returned to our hometown we are still 2 hours apart. While that is a significantly closer distance it still has it struggles.

Avery and I were both military brats. We were used to some of our loved ones being away for long periods of time, but we never had to keep a romantic one alive (shoutout to the military couples for making it work). When you’re hundreds of miles apart or more, how do you keep the love alive? At first we didn’t have too many issues. We were so busy meeting new people, exploring new avenues, and every night we would go home and tell each other about it. Our struggles began when the novelty wore off. The first fights were resolved with some skype calls, just feeling like the other person was there.

The longer we were apart the harder it got. We just needed to feel equally invested. Everything from texts, to calls, to writing letters, and little homemade gifts certainly helped. Eventually time was taking its toll. Avery and I would fight more and more often and it wasn’t our normal bickering. Looking back it wasn’t so much we were angry at each other; we were furious at our situation that seemed rather helpless. My jerkface aka the love of my life, Avery, even tried to break us up on an occasion or two. For us it was all about overcoming feeling distant.In my defense I am an A-hole, and I was way too involved and stressed.

We started planning skype dates something we still try to do. If one of us had to cancel we always rescheduled for that week. I discovered the beauty of pinterest and all of its resources for long distance relationships and use them like crazy. When we knew we would see each other we would plan dates and try to make every moment count. Even now that we see each other much more often it has become part of our foundation for a successful relationship.

So why share all of this with you? A few reasons:

  1. There are plenty of people who go through long distance relationships these days. It was always nice to find someone who could relate.

  2. If you’re going through a rough patch, to remind individuals that those times are a learning experience that happens to everyone.

  3. To announce a new blog series! This is something I am beyond ecstatic to create. I want to share ideas and tips on how to better strengthen and reconnect with your significant other!


How many of you are in a LDR? Do you do anything special for them?

-Naomi

Avery

 

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Introducing Carolina: mi mejor amiga

 

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Caro during our last spring break came with me to chop my hair off and dye it pretty colors!

Mi mejor amiga is Spanish for my best friend. That is exactly what I think of when I talk about Carolina. Carolina, aka Caro for short, is a huge part of my life and has been for a bit over three years now. I figured with how often I want to talk about her, I should introduce her.

See, Carolina is a super sweet and fiesty Puerto Rican. She can be really sassy (which I love) and can throw jokes back and forth with me all day. But, she is also an amazing human who will stop literally anything she is doing to help you out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to her and she was always there to listen.

Caro and I met our freshman year in college. We were suitemates and of course the first thing I did was march myself right into her room to say hello. Ever since then we have been pretty much inseparable. Freshman year was spent almost constantly together building our friendship and trust. I remember living literally on the other side of our bathroom, but we would still have sleepovers just so we could fall asleep chatting.

 

By the end of freshman year we had been through a lot. Regardless of any academic or boy struggles, we both went through, we came out on top that year. The next year we returned as sophomores to live in a house together on campus with five of our other friends. Talk about a lot of girls in one house. We had a rough year to say the least. My ex-roommate and I just couldn’t live together and while we were struggling to figure out that issue the rest of the house relationships were falling apart too.

Caro fought with her freshman roommate and after my roommate moved out she practically moved in. She walked into my room one day and had just had enough. I told her to spend the night in my room. What did it matter anyways I had two beds. We stayed like that for about three weeks straight. Then she went back and forth from “her” room to our room. It was in this time that I realized that Caro was more like my sister than my best friend. For the rest of the year we were absolutely inseperable. 

 

Caro was my date to Spring Formal. Avery was our third wheel.

Caro and I have seen each other at some pretty bad spots in each other lives. We have both had our share of tears and we have supported each other through everything! She is so fantastic she even helps me with my Spanish (¡Sí, comprendo español!) which has to be a struggle. Eventually at the end of our second year, she was accepted to a university in North Carolina. Her family was back there and she was following her pretty awesome dreams to become an architect.

Caro is still my best friend even states away. Our birthdays are a few days apart and she came all the way up north to celebrate our 21st together. This summer Avery and I plan to visit her for a week (Avery and her text constantly ever since she helped picked out my engagement ring). I even asked her to be a part of our wedding.

Carolina is mi mejor amiga. She puts up with my crappy spanish and my even worse puns. She skypes me and tells me about her latest classes and the one I refer to as “the boy”. Regardless of how far the world may force us apart, I’m so grateful she is my best friend. I hope you look forward to hearing about our many adventures in the future!

  • Naomi

Caro going home after coming up for our birthdays. Thank you for flying all that way!


February Review & March Goals 2017


Hello everyone!

Avery and I have some goals that go right along with this blog. We plan to monetize this blog to make it a side income and work on paying off debt, like my student loans. This means we have to treat this blog right and make some goals! Today I wanted to review our first month and some things goals we have to make it better.

February Review

  • Started blog!
  • Created Instagram

  • Posted Introduction
  • Reshaped about us and contact pages

Some big things that haven’t happened yet:

  • Pinterest
  • Twitter or Facebook
  • Regular blog post schedule
  • Monetize

Stats:

Unique Vistors: 40

WordPress followers: 4

Instagram followers: 11

Our thoughts on February

Honestly, Avery and I couldn’t have been more excited to make the connections that we did. These stats may seem small to some, but it was a huge start for us. We are really happy with how people have been reacting to us and hope we can continue to refine our work!

We did have some major issues occur. I had a heavy college load and Avery had an even heavier work load this last month. During this time we have both learned that we need to treat this like the business we want and the blog we love. So that means setting some goals for ourselves to just keep improving on consistency. Lucky for me my class load lightens after spring break significantly!

I also noticed I was holding myself back by overthinking it. Reviewing pre-written posts and refining them is great, but at some point content has the hit the webpage or it is pointless. This month I’m hoping to be more confident in my posts and get them out sooner!

We have also been taking a lot of time to think about how we want to monetize. We don’t want a billion annoying ads on our page because we don’t like blogs that have that either. Currently we are leaning towards starting with affiliate marketing and maybe one or two small advertisements. This has been a big part of this month just simply reading into terms and conditions and thinking about what we want to give our audience.

March Goals 

  • Post on our blog every Tuesday and Friday!
  • Create our Pinterest page
    • Read about bloggers Pinterest strategies
  • Post on Instagram 3x a week

Stat goals:

Unique Vistors: 250

WordPress followers: 25

Instagram followers: 100

Our thoughts on March’s Goals

Stressing consistency is the number one objective this month. We are committing to post 2x a week for now with the occasional bonus posts. Everyone wants to increase their following and we are hoping by being more consistent we can!

We hope that by the end of March we will have smashed these goals. Check back in April to see how we did!

Naomi & Avery

 

Getting Back into Photography

This past weekend I was able to make the drive up to Grand Rapids to see Naomi, while up there I gave her a crash course on my camera (I suppose hers now to an extent) the D40 by Nikon. The idea behind giving Naomi a beginner DSLR like the 40 is to try and give her more options with her photo taking for the blog. While it may never be the gear that makes the photographer it can help with creating a better image than a phone ( although you can shoot some stunning photos on a camera phone). As we walked around her campus Saturday, I showed her different settings and what to do for different shots. She asked “why have you not been shooting lately?” this stopped me for a minute. At the time I gave a response along the lines of, “oh I’ve just been too busy with work” but now, on later contemplation, I realized that life can’t be an excuse for my lack of shooting. It was my fault, my inability to let life make this impression on me and for me to attempt to capture it in my vision. Now in the days following Naomi’s question I find myself looking… no I have always been looking I am seeing more over the vibrancy with which life has, the small details and the ways light plays across the landscape and features.

When leaving GR it was hard leaving my familiar little black and yellow camera bag with the “I want to drive the zamboni button” on the star there in Naomi’s apartment. I realize that although it is just gear, a 12 year old entry level DSLR, I am still attached to its familiarity. Attached to the way I knew how it would see the world and how to make its images, my images. I know in time I will grow accustomed to my new temporary camera my father was kind enough to allow me borrow (his 16 year old D70), but there will always be a soft spot in my heart for that little D40 even with all its shortcomings. It’s the artist that makes the photo, the camera is merely a tool of the trade, but it still feels like an extension of self.

Thank you for reading I hope this made sense to you. I would love to hear from any of you whom may feel the same.- Avery 
If you’re interested in some of our recent photos check us out on Instagram: homesteadsweethearts

Introducing the Sweethearts: Avery & Naomi

Introducing Us

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Is that a real Tardis? The world may never know.

Oh how does one ever introduce themselves? Hello! My name is Naomi and my wonderful, loving fiancé is Avery (that is a matter of opinion). We just so happen to have started dating in High school and he hasn’t been able to get rid of me yet (please someone help me!). We both come from military families and grew up traveling around the United States. Our dads retired and what would you know, they were high school friends. We both inevitably ended up in our little tiny home-village (is that a real word? Oh well)  and met when we were 8

He claims the first time we met I kicked a soccer ball at his head. It’s true. I just wanted to practice my drop kick! Ah love at first sight (she tried to kill me.. I still hold that the brain damage I received is how I was unable to escape her in time…), well not really. We grew up fighting and bickering every time we saw each other. We both ended up in high school band(The same one can you believe it!). He was a percussionist (Drumline, thank you very much)  and I played the clarinet and did color guard (Yawn). This bratty freshmen named Creepy Kevin tried to hit on me and Avery helped me out of a hard spot. My best friend thought this would be the perfect time to screw with me and gave him my number. We have been talking ever since (Much to my chagrin).

A few months later in January we started dating for the first time. We broke up by march because Avery really didn’t want to go to his senior Prom(Stand by that, and still don’t. [Hey at least he made it to my senior prom]). He is a bit of a dick(yep). To be fair, I’m not much better. We had got back together for a few weeks and I broke up with him on his Graduation(In a text I might add). I’m really sweet. We had a hard time keeping apart (no restraining order can hold her) and ended up trying the friends thing. That lasted until October when he started showing up at my house without fail every Friday night to take me out on a date.dsc_3884 

Avery and I Prom 2014

We got back together on November 15th 2013 and have been dating ever since (what was I thinking look at that date…. All my hunters know me now for thy name is fool). In August of 2016 he asked me to marry him. How could a girl resist (say “no”… duh)? That is the really, really, abbreviated story of our relationship. Cute right?

    • Naomi
    • Avery (aw, why don’t I get top billing my comments are what made this post).

Well it is my blog 😉

We really look forward to getting to know you and hoped you enjoyed getting to know a little bit about us. We would love for everyone to introduce themselves to us too! 

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