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A special Valentine’s day sweet treat for you to try at home!

Heart shaped coral

Heart shaped coral

I am so thrilled to have my hubby here with me at home for this special occasion. Not only are we celebrating Valentine’s Day but we will be toasting to our one year anniversary!

In honor of this momentous milestone, I have decided to make dinner at home this evening followed by a decadent delicious chocolate fondue dessert. Watch me make it in this short video and grab the recipe to try for your special night!

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Sisters of the Sea

It is incredible how the universe works.  How you can throw your thoughts out there into the world and they scatter creating ripples that are so far reaching that they touch you from the other side of a continent in times and places and ways that you least expect.  And how when you ask it for what you need most, it comes flooding in if you open your eyes and your heart.

After writing about my trials and tribulations of being a new Navy wife, I have been blessed with such a miracle.  I have found three women who are so similar to me not only in their situation but also their personalities and styles.  And I believe it was the manifestation of my cry.

The first is a dear friend from college whom I always admired and adored.  I lost touch with her over the years and reconnected over facebook from afar.  Living in different cities and busy with our separate lives, I did not realize that she is a military wife who has endured the obstacles that are new to me.  Her response to my post gave me such encouragement knowing that she not only identified with my perspective but has bookmarked it to help her through her next deployment.  That means a lot coming from a woman who is one of the most exquisite and eloquent writers I have ever known.

Next is a new friend that I hope to keep in touch with for a long time.  A blogger like me, she saw my post and responded instantly revealing that she too is new to military life and her husband is still in training enduring the grueling schedule of the most elite.  Stationed on the West coast, I knew that I had to meet her face to face while spending a week on the sunny shores of Cali.  We shared stories over salads and sandwiches and found comfort and strength in knowing that we were both going through the same growing pains of adapting to a new unfamiliar way of life.  I look forward to reading more about her and hearing how she finds beauty in the process.

Lastly but definitely not least is possibly the most unique meeting I have had thus far.  Yesterday I was shopping with my mom at my old favorite boutique when I struck up a conversation with the girl that worked there.  We started at Superbowl and ended exchanging emails after our discussion led us to uncover our true identities.  Her boyfriend is in the Navy training to become a doctor and is looking at a long career.  Still trying to wrap her brain around what that means not only for him but for their future as a couple and hers as a future spouse mirrored my own emotional journey so closely it was uncanny.  I hope to stay in touch with her as she may be traveling around as much as I will and who knows if one day we may be stationed in the same place.

Which brings me to my new space I want to create here on this blog.  A place for my fellow sisters of the sea (wives and girlfriends of those who serve our country in the Navy, Coast Guard or really any military branch for that matter:) to come and share our stories, thoughts, frustrations and inspirations or even just our favorite things.  For we are not alone and together we can help each other through this even if we are sprinkled across the coasts and scattered along the sea.  I look forward to sharing the journey with you and thank you for already helping me more than you will ever know just by knowing that you are there.


Why we do it

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A note to myself as a Navy wife awaiting her sailor out at sea

Ded 683
I woke up abruptly in the wee hours of the morning today, inspired by an instinct to record the thoughts that were racing through my mind. My husband who is active duty in the Navy is somewhere out at sea at the moment and is scheduled to be gone for the majority of this year. I guess my subconscious is still trying to wrap itself around this fact and somewhere a voice from deep inside woke me up to share this.

The message has to do with living in the moment and never wishing away time. It is so important to be present always no matter what situation one is in because there are always valuable lessons to be learned and exceptional beauty in every moment. It is so easy to fall into the habit of living for an endpoint in a distant future whether it be the day your baby is born after a long and difficult pregnancy, the day you will find a job after the tough times of being unemployed or the day you will finally be pulling back onto base to search the horizon for the approach of the warship with your husband. But there are many sweet memories and moments to cherish from these simpler spaces in between that may prove to be vital learning points for the times ahead that we must make sure we do not miss. Because it is the times we look forward to so much when the time flies by the fastest and the wisdom we have learned from the challenges of our lives guides the crucial decisions we must make. And we could easily miss those lessons if we focus too hard on the end instead of the means.

I think this time apart is actually a wonderful gift if we use it wisely. It gives us the space to take a step back and reevaluate what is really important to us and what path we should fight for that will ultimately lead us and our families that exist now and in the future to the best places for ourselves. For when he returns, all will be a whirlwind of bliss and it could be very easy to be swept away in the wrong direction on a wave of emotion. I hope that he will find comfort in this and that it will make his time away meaningful. I hope that he will write down any thoughts and realizations he has while experiencing the clarity of being out at sea with nothing on the horizon to distract but the blows of whales and the occasional turtle that swims by. We are on our open ocean now with nothing to focus on but our thoughts and feelings so let’s make sure we notice and record them for future reference.

I promised myself that a long time ago and still look to old journals from my times traveling everywhere from France at fifteen to the Maldives as I was missing him from a tiny speck of dead coral on the other side of the world. When everything gets overwhelming here and I can’t even connect with my instinct because it is being drowned out by the noise of chaos, those glimpses of wisdom and realizations generously given by spirits of relatives past are the only true advice I know I have to guide me forward to the place I am supposed to go. No living soul could ever possess the wisdom of the ancient places and natural beauty of the world we have been lucky enough to witness. And sometimes the biggest truths about ourselves can be learned from a creature as pure and simple as a sea turtle that has weathered the beatings of the open ocean but still presses on to get back to the beach they can only find by following their instinct.

The job of my husband is to navigate the ship safely through the waters and I can’t help but think of how important it is for him to look for certain markers to be his guide. I want to commit myself to using this time apart to be aware of the wisdom we are being shown and record it to use as the markers for ourselves and our unborn children to steer us through the ocean of our own lives.

The Scott sisters

Dear Vallee,

CONGRATULATIONS on your wonderful news of becoming a mommy!!! I am beyond thrilled to be Aunty Nessy!!! I promise to be the BEST Aunt I can be and to love and cherish this little angel for the rest of my life. I will not be the devious little girl I am in this picture and will make up for stealing that lollipop from you by always making sure I have one on hand for him at all times. Thank you for being the best sister I could ever hope for and I can’t wait to start this new chapter of life by your side.

Love your big sister,


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The natural cleanse diet program that worked for me!

So it’s been a little over two weeks now since I have started a cleanse program and I have honestly never felt better!!! It is so simple and includes all natural ingredients with next to no supplements.  I didn’t have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on crazy ingredients I will never eat again either.  Find out more about the Clean program and the Elimination diet that has changed my life and given me more energy while curbing my cravings for everything bad!

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Save money with tough natural remedies for cold and flu

Bring it on!

Bring it on!

Last year my husband, brother-in-law and I all had the flu for a total of three months as we passed it around our house like a sick form of musical chairs.  Well, this year I am not going to let it happen again.  With the flu season reported to be more virulent than ever, I am acting now to prevent myself from that nightmare.  And I have found the perfect natural solutions that are strong enough to combat this beast and won’t break my wallet in the process.  Here’s what’s worked for me so far.

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Pay it forward for Jayden Lamb

Lanterns released in honor of Jayden's birthday.

Lanterns released in honor of Jayden’s birthday.

Of all of the inspiring stories of 2012, one stood out to me above and beyond all of the rest.  It was the story of Jayden Lamb.

A candid home video captures the bright spirit of this little boy who was lip syncing his favorite Christmas tunes and dancing his heart out like nobody was watching last November.   It sounds like a normal day for an eight year old boy who is excited about the countdown to Christmas, but his unbridled energy was as rare as the disease that he fought.  Jayden had just finished a round of chemotherapy right before the film was taken.

Little Jayden did not make it to December.  He passed away November 27, 2012 with his final words to his father “God needs me more.”

His courage in the face of death and his purity of heart and soul have inspired a movement of random acts of kindness across the nation.

It started with his parents paying for the people behind them at the drive through in their hometown of Midland, Michigan and posting it on Facebook in honor of their son.  Overnight it spread like wildfire and resulted in a waitress getting a $50 tip, a woman getting her layaway paid for her children’s Christmas presents and a diamond ring donated in a Salvation Army bucket.  All have had notes signed in honor of Jayden Lamb, paying it forward and left anonymous.

This child reignited the kindness and generosity in the spirit of people around the country even in the face of the impending doom of the fiscal cliff and the prediction of the end of the world.

I hope that his memory lives on throughout the year and many more to come through this pay it forward tribute.  And I hope that this genuine gesture of heart will spread and reconnect people in a positive way to make Jayden proud of the world he helped create.

Find out more about the movement at Keep On Truckin’ Team Jayden!

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Ten tips toward living sustainably in 2013


Looking forward to finding many more ways to live healthy, savvy and simply this year!  I would love to hear about your resolutions to save green and go green in 2013!

Here are my top ten so far!

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U.S. takes action to protect coral reefs

Vaayafushi 404

Earlier this month, NOAA made a move to protect 66 species of coral within U.S. waters under the Endangered Species Act. Find out more about why coral counts and how you can make a difference to the health of coral by making small changes in your daily life at The Sustainable Spot.

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It’s the end of the world as we know it

The dawn of a new day

And I feel just fine.

The ancient Mayans predicted the world would end this Friday, December 21, 2012.  People have been speculating about this for years and the day is finally upon us.

There have been entire reality shows dedicated to documenting the frenetic doomsday preppers as they hoard everything from plastic water bottles to freeze dried jambalaya (yes I saw this on the news).  I suspect these people are also the ones that are arming themselves for the zombie apocalypse.  What has this world come to?

Well I welcome it.  If the world we live in is a place where people idolize celebrities for publicizing amateur home sex tapes (yes that’s you Kim Kardashian) and spend their nights playing violent video games where they kill everything in their path instead of sleeping with their spouses then I say put an end to this misery.  And if there is any justice in the world there would never be an event such as the one that just occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary.  I agree with President Obama when he said we need to change as a nation.  And we set the precedent for the world.

Call me an optimist, but I don’t believe the world is going to end the day after tomorrow (wasn’t that the title of a cheesy doomsday flick?).  But I do hope that something big will happen.  I hope that the mindset of the masses will reset and priorities will be reestablished to reflect what is truly important.  And I believe this is possible because I have started to see it everywhere.

People across the world are sharing information on how to live outside of the box and make the best choices for themselves. A single story can touch the lives of millions of people around the globe and motivate people to take action to help within minutes.  Instead of luxurious vacations, more and more people are paying to volunteer their vacation time to build houses for poor children in Nicaragua or saving endangered wildlife in South Africa.  People want to make a difference and they are doing it.

And no matter what your political standing, this election proved that money cannot buy everything.  It just can’t.  Whether you are in the middle class, the top 2 percent or struggling to get by paycheck to paycheck, your voice can be heard.  Your thoughts and opinions do matter.  And that is why I believe that the power of the minds of the masses can change the course we are on.

I think we owe it to ourselves and our future generations to collectively decide to take the road that feels right, to let your instinct guide you instead of your insecurities and to take a stand against the fear that is so commonly used to prevent us from making positive change.

So instead of freaking out and locking yourself in your house this Friday, go out and celebrate and commit yourself to becoming the role model you want to be for yourself, your children (or unborn children if you are like me) and for others around you.

Instead of buying a mini iPad for the person on your list that has it all, take them out to dinner and reconnect.  Teach your children to appreciate the wonders of nature and playing outdoors instead of buying them video games.  Take the time to do something positive for yourself.  And respect the majesty of the natural world that provides us with everything that we have.

Let’s make this world a place we want to live in again and in doing so, you will inspire others to follow your lead.  And then we can give an ancient prophecy a positive and productive new meaning.

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Save money by green gift giving this holiday season!

christmas cookies

Check out these great tips on how to save green while giving green this holiday season!  This new site was launched yesterday by my sister and I on sustainable living for the everyday family.  Visit our spot and let us know what you think!



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Tis the season to share: Host an eco-friendly gift exchange!

Years ago, a good friend of mine hosted a holiday party that left a lasting impression in my mind and the many others that attended that fantastic fete.  It involved a gift exchange but instead of giving a dollar limit for gifts, she asked everyone in attendance to bring ten items they no longer used to give away.  In return they could take five items of their choice home.  The remaining five items would be donated to a local women’s shelter for the holidays.  She left the rest to the imagination and opened it up to items ranging from babies to boyfriends to big footed girls like me.

I remember walking in with my personal pieces in tow wondering if I would embarrass myself per usual by some strategic stain or inappropriate choice of clothing article.  I was also skeptical of the theme thinking I wouldn’t find anything I liked.   Instead, I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had shopping through the different discards of others  and meeting many new people in return.    It turned out to be a blast and everyone left with a few fun new treasures and a sense of satisfaction at both helping others in need and unloading those sweaters that had been haunting their closets for years.

I think this year is a great time to host an eco-friendly gift exchange where you can invite friends old and new, colleagues, acquaintances, neighbors and family to share their belongings and host a bazaar of interesting goods.  Some other fun things to share are:

  • Pieces of furniture, mirrors, candles, vases, jars and the like that you no longer use for others to use in a DIY project.
  • Magazines you have read for others to peruse for inspiration and add to creative cork boards.
  • CDs you have already downloaded to iTunes for others to do the same (that is if you still have CDs, I know I do:).
  • Cookbooks and kitchen appliances you no longer use for others to create memorable holiday treats.
  • Books that you no longer have room for but will always have a place in your heart and now somebody else’s.
  • Stuffed animals and toys the children of others may enjoy.
  • Other tips and tricks you have found to make the holidays a little bit greener.

And let the spirit of sharing stay in your heart beyond the change of seasons and check out some great online forums that encourage us all to share what we have with our friends year-round.

Check out Yerdle which is a new online network to share and loan goods to friends as well as Freecycle which has been established and helping friends find friends with similar needs for years.



Happy Holidays!

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How to have a Green Christmas

This is the best all around resource for finding out everything you need to know about making your holidays greener.  From saving energy, to reducing waste to green DIY gift ideas, this is a one stop shop that you can’t miss!  I heart the Nature Conservancy!


Make the pledge to have a green holiday and share what fun things you will do to get there!

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Real Christmas trees really are better than fake ones

My hubby holding our first tree last Christmas.

My hubby holding our first tree last Christmas.

It’s finally here!  My favorite time of year!  And this weekend my husband is duty-free and we have a hot date with a Christmas tree lot.  Wow.  How my life has changed.  And I absolutely love it!!!

So I thought to be fully informed before we start on our quest I would research the different options for Christmas trees to make sure we make the sustainable choice.  And it all boils down to the age old debate: real vs fake.

For some reason I always thought that fake trees were a better option for the environment.  I guess I felt like in using a fake tree I was somehow saving real trees from dying.  I would make an initial investment, store it responsibly during the off season and then reuse it every year until it finally crumbled.  It made sense to me.

Until I read more and more and was convinced otherwise.  And with good reason.

It turns out fake trees are made from petroleum based plastics which are the worst kind and take a lot of electricity to melt.  The majority are made in China where the energy used comes from burning coal which is very bad for the environment.  And then add on the emissions from the shipping it takes to get here.

Real trees are grown on tree farms which preserves open spaces and land for natural use.  They are habitat for wildlife, soil stabilizers and water protectors.  Not to mention they make for beautiful scenery.

Real trees store carbon while they are growing and emit oxygen while they are alive.  According to the Christmas tree farm network, about one million acres in the United States grow Christmas trees which produces the amount of oxygen that supports 18 million people every day.  And for every tree bought, three are planted in its place.

Also, buying a real Christmas tree is the American thing to do.  Not only are you getting to enjoy the natural fragrance of the beautiful pine tree in your living room, you are supporting American farmers and the jobs created by tree lots.  And many lots donate portions of their proceeds to charity and support organizations for the less fortunate during the holidays.

And last of all, real trees can be recycled.  Many cities offer recycling programs and pick them up on certain days of the week.  But just in case they don’t, the great thing is that real Christmas trees are biodegradable.

By far the best choice you can make when buying your real tree is to get one from a local tree farm.  And if you are one of the lucky few that happen to have access to an organic Christmas tree, please buy one for all of us that are nowhere near one!  Find out if there is one near you at this website:


It turns out real trees are not only naturally beautiful symbols of the Christmas spirit but they are the natural choice.  And that makes me one happy Nessy.

Happy tree hunting!

Ps. Here are the great articles that helped me make my choice!  Read for even more reasons to buy your real tree.



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Take what YOU need

Inspiration on a stop sign during my morning walk.

Inspiration on a stop sign during my morning walk.

So simple yet so true.  This one piece of paper says so much in so few words.  Take what you need and nothing more.  Take what YOU need = Take care of yourself and make YOU a priority.  Love, courage, faith, strength, positivity, patience, healing, hope, understanding, forgiveness, passion, peace, happiness and more love are the most important things in life.

What is it that YOU need today?

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On the market for turkey this Thanksgiving



With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I have started to research my options for turkey and I must say it has left my head spinning. Having never cooked a turkey on turkey day, I never realized how many different types are out there and how one determines which is best for them. Frozen or fresh, basted or self-basting, hard-chilled or deep-chilled, natural or kosher, organic or heritage? I feel like I am single in Los Angeles all over again.

As I read through the different choices, I found one piece of information in particular that stood out from all of the rest. Apparently, the mainstream grocery store turkey brands such as Butterball and the like are a variety called Broadbreasted (large) white. These turkeys have been bred to the point of being infertile and have to be artificially inseminated by humans to reproduce. Now that is what I call unsustainable. They also live in crowded conditions in factories and are fed antibiotics which is not healthy for us to consume.

Having ruled out 99 percent of the turkeys on the market, I am still left with the confusing choice between organic or heritage. To complicate matters further, I found out that organic turkeys can be either Broadbreasted or heritage. And what exactly is a heritage turkey?

It turns out a heritage turkey is a naturally bred, genetically diverse, antibiotic-free, hormone-free turkey that is raised outside and eats a natural diet. Bingo! Decision made. Healthy, natural and sustainable. This is the perfect choice for me. They say when you know you just know.

I also found that heritage turkeys consistently win the taste test hands-down when compared to Broadbreasted turkey. Another bonus! And thank goodness for all of these advantages because they are definitely reflected in the price.

There is no doubt that heritage turkeys are more expensive than the regular store-bought brands and are more difficult to find. But just like the dating world, it is all about quality not quantity. After all, isn’t the chase half the fun?

Despite feeling a bit constrained by budget, I decided that if I am going to splurge on anything for this Thanksgiving meal it would be the main event. And just like when you know you have found The One, you know they won’t let you down.

Here is a great article on choosing your turkey from the Natural Resources Defense Council:


Another great article: Heritage Turkeys, are they worth the cost?



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From shabby to chic: a creative way to reuse

I recently moved to Florida from California and was presented with the exciting opportunity to transform an empty room into my office. I was starting from scratch and decided the best place to start would be my desk. So I set out in search of my muse.

I started at the higher end stores until I quickly realized that my entire budget would not even cover half of a desk so I rethought my strategy. Not to mention that all of the merchandise out there was so boring and standard. I wanted something different, something unique, something inspirational. Next stop, beach boutiques.

I found some really cute beachy shabby chic pieces at a couple of boutiques down the street that were getting closer. The problem is that they were still too pricey, averaging $250-$400 for the desk alone. I thought about how I gave away all of my beautiful furniture during my move and then it hit me. I should check Goodwill!

And there she was. A fairly weathered brown desk with a hutch, bought for $49.99 on the spot. And a chair that conveniently fit in the nook for an extra $9.99. Sold to the girl who had never done a project like this in her life. But how hard could it be?

Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. It was totally doable and turned out to be a blast. And it only took me a week in total. My supplies included sanding paper, primer, paint brushes, plastic tarp, tape, wood stain and paint. I chose a very pale turquoise appropriately named Free Spirit for the majority of it and used a deep mahogany for accents. In total, I spent roughly $40 on supplies and got to work.

I began by covering the floor with the plastic tarp and sanding down the whole thing so that the primer, stain and paint would stick well. Then I taped up the edges around where I was staining and covered that area with plastic and primed the rest of the desk and hutch, everywhere where I wanted it to be turquoise. After a drying for a day, I stained the parts I wanted to remain wood while taping the surrounding edges to prevent it from bleeding. Then when that was dry, I recovered it and taped around the edges and put another coat of primer on for good measure. The last step was the turquoise paint itself et voilà! It was time to hunt for knobs.

I am sure you can guess at the endless amounts of silly jokes prompted by my obsessive quest for the perfect knob. And never in my life would I have ever guessed that knobs would be the brief object of my undivided attention and affection. After finding the most adorable crystal vintage looking knobs and brass pulls for my masterpiece, I was satisfied. And I fell in love.

Now I am happy to announce that I absolutely adore my new office and can’t spend enough time at my beautiful customized desk. I am so glad that I didn’t settle for something that was mediocre and overpriced and that I created my muse from my own inspiration. I feel a bond with this piece of furniture beyond any I have ever bought at Pottery Barn. It’s funny to think that someone’s discarded trash became my favorite little treasure.

Here is a great article I used as a guideline: 10 Tips for Refinishing Furniture from Coastal Living



A work in progress


My favorite new muse!

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Sustainable ways to stay hydrated

Water, it’s what we’re made of.

Clocking in at 60% of our body weight, it is essential that we drink lots of it to maintain good health. Which is why is we can expect to consume vast amounts of it over the course of our lives. With that in mind, it is important to plan for this constant and make wise choices when it comes to the water we drink. Let’s take a look at our options.

Bottled water

The recommended intake of 8 8oz. glasses a day translates into a little over 3 20 oz. water bottles a day. For one couple, that amounts to 2,190 bottles a year. Depending on where you purchase the bottles (in bulk or on the go) price varies, but let’s estimate at $1/bottle (which is pretty low). That adds up to $180 a month and $2,190 a year. Plus the amount of plastic waste produced and space in your home and refrigerator that is used. And don’t forget the water bottle graveyard on the floor in the back of your car.

Also, plastic bottle waste makes up a large percentage of debris in our oceans and is massively wasteful with its one use application. Compound that with the carbon footprint of transportation (yes Fiji water actually does come all of the way here from Fiji) and buying your water in single use plastic bottles is one of the most expensive and unsustainable choices you can make.

Water filtration system

A water filtration pitcher can be purchased for under $20 including the first filter. Additional filters are approximately $10 and need to be changed every two months. The total cost is less than $80 a year, produces no plastic bottle waste and takes up only a sliver on the shelf of your fridge. There are also filters that attach directly to your faucet to make it even easier and more space efficient. And if you need to bring water with you, use a BPA-free Nalgene bottle or stainless steel bottle. They can be cute, convenient and refilled throughout the day. I know when I bring my large Nalgene with me, I tend to drink more water overall and am more hydrated.

Water delivery system

This can be a great option if you just don’t like water from the tap. 5 gallon bottles can be delivered directly to your home as well as the water cooler dispenser that is usually included free of charge. One gallon of water is equal to 128 ounces which is the recommended daily intake for two people. After doing some research, I found that the lowest price for the adequate amount needed is $40 a month or $480 a year. A bit pricier than water filters but still much less than single serving bottled water. And much better for the environment as they reuse the bottles and recycle them at the end. However, there is the added carbon footprint of transportation to consider.

The bottom line is that you can save yourself money, space and plastic waste by making wise choices about your water source. By making a simple switch from water bottles to water filters you create a sustainable situation that is best for the health of your family, the environment and your budget.

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Happy Manta Halloween!

A Maldivian Manta

One year ago today, I was a guest at the most fantastic gathering of unique and unusual individuals I have ever seen. Thankfully, I captured the experience and I thought it would be a perfect tale to share this Halloween.

I must say this year has been the most exciting and eventful Halloween, although it has been anything but traditional. It was the first year I hung up my high heels, opted to forgo the French maid uniform, and the menu was not the usual sugary sweets and cocktails but something apparently much more appetizing. Only I was not the one scarfing down the special of the day but I was more than feasting on the excitement and adrenaline spurred by the sight before me when we arrived at our destination.

The party was populated by creatures cloaked in black and white, with giant eyes and strange looking protrusions on their faces. They were anything but scary looking, in fact quite the opposite. They looked joyful as they flew by us with movements of blissful content at the treats they had discovered. We had found a group of twenty five manta rays barrel rolling through the plankton rich waters and the party had only just begun.

At any given moment I was surrounded. The mantas were flying in formation, mouths wide open, using each other and us as tools to corral the plankton. Then one would peel away from the group and begin to barrel roll, swimming straight up as if to breach the surface and suddenly bending back into
the shape of a C and circling around to continue feeding. They looked like angels with wings spread wide and their outstretched cephalic fins halos above their heads. The waters were cloudy with plankton and the sun reflecting off it and the white undersides of the mantas created an eerie glow that reminded me of
misty fog rising off the water on an overcast morning. Even though we were in the middle of the warm equatorial waters of the Indian Ocean, it had the feel of Halloween.

Then more and more mantas started to barrel roll and the energy escalated as we all free dived down to get a closer look at this amazing activity. There were so many everywhere and we all split off from each other with multiple mantas to admire. They were mostly mature females and they spanned between two and three metres from tip to tip. Each one was unique, most having battle scars and wounds from their long lives and I couldn’t help but feel so connected to them having so many of my own. One had a huge chunk missing from the bottom of her left wing which looked like either a bite from the largest shark in the ocean or a run in with a boat propeller. Another had a broken cephalic fin in the front which set her apart from the group. Others had huge slashes on their backs, some had tails that were bent in half. It is
amazing to think of what they have been through, what they have seen, where they have been, predators they have avoided and brushes with death they have overcome. Every time one swooped past me and I caught a look into its eyes I found them smiling back at me as if they had something to communicate. I would give anything for a glimpse into their thoughts.

It must be a tough life despite their peaceful nature seeing as though they have two of the top predators on the planet hunting them. Sharks and us. And we are the most lethal by far. Eastern medicine claims that the gills of mantas have healing powers to cleanse the blood and their value is growing higher even than the price of shark fins. And there are no scientific studies to support any of these medicinal claims. That is scary news for mantas especially since we know the devastation of the shark population from the demand for their fins. Over 100 million sharks are killed a year, many thrown back into the water after their fins are hacked off to drown and suffer a slow death void of dignity. And the manta population in the ocean is significantly smaller than sharks to begin with.

And then as suddenly as it began, it was over. The plankton was gone, the guests were satisfied, and another successful Halloween had passed. On the ride home we marveled at our luck, we had crashed the best party in the Maldives. To top it off, I got to try the manta tow which is a sort of underwater wakeboarding that simulates a manta in flight. On the end of a long rope attached to the back of the boat is a triangular board made of plastic with holes as handles. Sporting a mask, snorkel, and fins, I flew through the water, maneuvering myself down through schools of fish and then back up to the surface
again to swallow just enough air to go back down. This wins over wakeboarding hands down, no contest.

Back in my bunk at Landaa, I was so high from the days events that I wasn’t crushed by the trick I was dealt. Reviewing the over 300 pictures and video I had taken with multiple mantas barrel rolling in unison and my friends just feet away from them, I realized that my underwater camera housing had been completely fogged the entire day. That is one nasty joke. And yet I couldn’t get too upset as I had witnessed the barrel rolling feeding frenzy unique to of one of natures most glorious creatures. Just
thankful. And I smiled and thought to myself, Happy Halloween.

Learn more about manta rays and their conservation at Manta Trust


Manta and me!

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One simple step toward sustainable living

It is easy to get overwhelmed when considering all of the different ways you can make changes in your life to live more sustainably. So I thought instead of creating an insurmountable list of involved steps that leave the mind spinning, let’s keep this first fresh start simple. Switch to bar soap.

That’s right. It’s that easy. And not only does it save you the clutter of bottles that crowd your bathtub and shower, it saves you money. And it reduces the constant amount of plastic waste from your household. A win-win-win situation. And don’t forget the natural fragrances, ingredients and processes that go into the making of these bar soaps.

I was not a believer at first. My husband is a character of habit as well as a manly man and I never thought I would ever be able to ween him off of his Old Spice Sport bodywash. He couldn’t even settle for a different scent of the same brand when we first met. And he loved the Orange Ginger Bath and Body Works bodywash he had bought me for Christmas. Finally after the tenth time the bottles toppled over the side of our small bathtub I had had enough. And I made the switch for us. And surprisingly, he loved it.

I found a brand at the supermarket where I do all of my shopping that is Certified Fair Trade, organic, made in the USA and available in a variety of scents. It is all natural and delightful. And I’m sure you can guess what scent I chose. That’s right, lavender. Love it. And so does my sailor.

So for $4.49/bar, I replaced my normal purchase of his $5.69 bodywash and mine at $12.99, cut down on our plastic consumption and waste and found a much more hands-on and fun way to lather up my man. Now that is what I call a fresh start.



My favorite!

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Chic lavender DIY gift ideas

Inspired by my daydreams of days past and my desire for a different pace, I set out to start on my lavender creations. As I thought of what I wanted to make, I thought of all of the different applications of lavender. Most importantly, when and where do I need to feel relaxed and at ease most?

Having spent most of my life in Los Angeles where the flow of the freeways dictated my schedule and I spent more time on the 405 than I did in the comfort of my own bed, I thought that I would start where I was most familiar, behind the wheel. I am not the biggest fan of hanging obstructive objects from my rearview mirror, although I admit as a teen I was the girl with the clay pot of potchouli oil dangling in my eyes. Go figure. So I thought of other picturesque places to put the fragrant flower buds and I think I found the perfect spot. I will make colorful sachets of lavender that tie around the gear shift so that they are exposed, within nose shot of the driver and do not distract from driving except for the soothing calm they emit. These colorful caches can even double for ornaments when the time comes. And you can decorate them to suit your style. I am going to use shells as accents to combine the relaxing image of the beach with the calming fragrance.

Check out this helpful article from the Healing Center on how to make your own lavender sachets!


Next I thought of the most important place people need to de-stress. A sacred shrine to themselves where the only way to pay homage is to achieve the REM state. Glorious BED. And in this day and age where I awake many mornings to find myself spooning my iPad, it is more important than ever to preserve the sanctity of sleep. And there are so many fun and creative ways to slip lavender between the sheets. One is to tuck a small sachet under the pillow to soak in the scent. Another is to make lavender eye pillows out of even smaller sachets. Or if you are a girly girl like myself, you can find a colorful classic eye mask and spritz it with lavender oil. A cute and customized gift for your girlfriends on the go. And they could be great gifts for bridal showers and bachelorette parties too. Think I will start on mine first…

As I returned home, satisfied with my plan to make natural, healthy, inexpensive, creative customized gifts for my loved ones to help them relax this holiday season, I made one last stop. I couldn’t help but put together a picnic Provence style after breathing in lavender all day. My husband had duty on the ship so it was picnic for a party of one. And I spared no detail. Baguette, Brie, cucumber, tomato, prosciutto, olive oil and red wine vinegar all melted together in a taste explosion reminiscent of that lovely summer. And as I drifted off into a deep sleep I knew I had made the right choice.

Picnic Provencale

Perfect end to a Provence inspired day!

My easy to make lavender sachet! Jewelry bag filled with dried lavender buds, attach shell with hemp string, et voila!


Empty pasta sauce jar filled with shells, corks from wine and champagne bottles and dried lavender buds. Perfect for my bathroom!

Check out my more at my Lovely Lavender board on Pintrest!  http://pinterest.com/vanessavick/lovely-lavender/

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De-stress with lavender this holiday season

As we wind down the year and prepare for the start of the holiday season, I can’t help but feel like it’s too soon to start surrounding myself with cinnamon sticks and egg nog scented candles. Maybe it is the endless media onslaught of the presidential election, the constant controversy it creates in every household, the facebook friendships lost to bipartisanship or just the general frenzy of this particular month, but somewhere along the way I checked out. Instead I have been daydreaming of my time in Provence where I spent a sunkissed summer upon graduation of college. I can’t think of a better way to ease myself through this stressful seasonal transition than with the therapeutic scent of lavender.

I love lavender. It’s beautiful. It’s natural. And it’s known for anti-stress and relaxation properties. Maybe this year I will finally get myself into the tranquil state I have always wanted to embody. I wonder if my family will even recognize me.

It has been over a decade now since that luminous summer I lived in Aix-en-Provence. (As I am writing this it just dawned on me that was a LONG time ago. Get me some lavender, stat.) Every morning I would stroll through the open market in the town square to fill my basket with the fresh delicacies unique to the province. Fresh croissants, crisp baguettes, soft cheeses, olives, charcutrie, and all things lavender. Lavender sachets, lavender oil, lavender soaps, lavender perfume, big bushels of deep purple lavender tied with straw.  Combined with the striking beauty of the region and the intoxicating wine, I had achieved a perpetual state of relaxation. And every time I smell lavender I am transported back to that state.

So in rebellion against the stress of this season, I am making my own holiday gifts to spread the tranquility of this natural fragrance. I will give the gift of a peaceful state of mind which I think most people would agree is priceless. Especially in the midst of this maniacal election season. Beneficial to the health of both the gift giver and the receiver, the environment and the wallet, it is the perfect choice for the sustainable sophisticate. And it allows for creativity. Whether it be lavender sachets to infuse the scent into delicate garments, jars filled with lavender to decorate the house, sprigs of lavender tied to adorn wrapped gifts, or using lavender scented products around the home, this will be a delightful holiday season all around.

Check out more at my Loveley Lavender board on Pintrest!  http://pinterest.com/vanessavick/lovely-lavender/


Merci Beaucoup!


I am extremely honored to have been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award!  I would like to thank It Happens In a Blink for nominating me and inspiring me to continue writing at a moment I needed it most.  I am so grateful to have found a community of like-minded individuals through blogging and look forward to discovering many more!

To follow the tradition and rules of receiving this nomination, I must share with you 7 things about myself and nominate 15 bloggers I adore and admire.

About Me:

1.  I just celebrated my one year anniversary to the love of my life.

2.  I’m going to be an Auntie in a few months and can’t wait to meet my new nephew!

3.  I’m a dive instructor and passionate marine conservation advocate.

4.  I love to travel and have lived in the Maldives, Seychelles, France and Italy.

5.  I was a competitive figure skater for ten years.

6.  I am proud to be a Bruin!

7.  My sister and I have a blog on sustainable living called The Sustainable Spot. We are very excited about our new site focused on healthy living for family, finances and the environment.  Check out our healthy recipes, natural remedies, DIY projects and tips on eco-savings just to name a few!

Here are my nominees for this award.  Each of these individuals has a mission that I admire and look to for inspiration whether it be through their thoughtful prose, stunning photos or work in the field of conservation.  I hope you find a few that you love as much as I do!

Nayantara Blogs

Minimalist Baker

Aweigh with Me

Life Out of the Box

Gina left the mall

Archipelago Images

Ralph Pace Photography

Manta Trust


Things You Realize After You Get Married

The Better Man Project

Milwaukee and Beyond

Sustainable Surf

The Road Less Graveled

Springtime = Sea Turtles

baby turtle

Today marks the start of spring and here in Florida that means that sea turtle nesting season is coming soon!  Okay well maybe not until May but I am already excited!  I am lucky to live along a beach where green and loggerhead turtles come to lay their eggs and even an occasional leatherback.  I’m already counting down the days til I start the pre-dawn beach walks in search of turtle tracks and new nests!

In honor of this joyous event, I researched the meaning of sea turtles and was surprised to learn that they are significant symbols in many ancient cultures.  It seems that the turtle is an ancient symbol of strength, stability, endurance, creation, longevity, fertility and innocence.  They are said to provide protection and good fortune and bring happiness and good omens.  I guess I can credit the overwhelming happiness of my past few years to all the sea turtles I lived alongside in the Indian Ocean!

Here are some other fun facts about sea turtles:

They return to the beach of their birth to lay their eggs

1 in 1,000 to 10,000 will survive to adulthood

They can live up to 100 years

They are endangered due to destructive fishing methods

They navigate using the Earth’s magnetic fields

They can travel over 10,000 miles

The temperature of their nest determines the sex of the hatchlings

To learn more, visit WiseOceans!

I love Meatless March!!!

So I have taken the challenge to go meatless this March and I am loving it!  Never have I come across more delicious and creative recipes that are not only vegetarian but many are even vegan!

I spent the greater part of my twenties as a vegetarian and although I didn’t hate it I didn’t quite love it either.  I think it was the combination of my laziness, lack of creativity and horrifying cooking skills that made finding meat-free meals less than appetizing.  My main staple consisted of a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables topped by a glob of white tofu with a gelatinous disposition that I would mush around a pan and douse with spray butter and soy sauce to make it remotely edible.

Flash forward to today and I am marginally better but definitely more motivated to try new recipes and confident in my ability to cook which affords me a lot more options.  And I have only just begun!

Check out this article I wrote on my other site, The Sustainable Spot, which has a collection of tantalizing vegetarian and vegan recipes that I will be making all month!  Yesterday, I made the vegan blueberry muffin pancakes and I am already planning on making them again for my anniversary this Wednesday!  Honestly the best pancakes I have ever eaten and ridiculously easy to make!  Even I could make them!

vegan blueberry pancakes

My vegan blueberry pancakes!

Bon appetit!

Disturbing discovery on my daily run


I was enjoying a sunny afternoon yesterday running on the beach here at home in North Florida when I stumbled upon something I found disturbing.  It was a dead seagull whose head was buried in the sand and was floating in a puddle of brown colored sudsy water.  I found it a strange coincidence since I had just watched a short film about the albatrosses of Midway Island, an island 2,000 miles away from any mainland, who were dying from injesting plastic debris.  I am not sure what the cause of death of this seagull was but I do think it is important to spread awareness about the prevalence of plastics in our ocean and their devastating results.  Please watch this video and share it with your friends and family because education is the best tool to help combat this problem.


On my way back home

View from above 10,000 ft

View from above 10,000 ft

There is nothing like being up above the clouds to clear the head.  I feel like every time I hear the attendant say we are approaching 10,000 ft I feel all of my cares fly away.  That is one of the reasons I am addicted to traveling.  And why I am now committed to investing in offsetting my CO2 output in the process.  For all my fellow travelers out there, find out how we can offset our carbon footprint here.


photo (26)

I know I have been MIA for the past few weeks and I must apologize.  I spent the last two weeks traveling around Southern California visiting friends and family and am now enjoying my husband being home for the next ten days or so!  I have been keeping up with my picture taking I just have been bad about posting but I promise to be better:)  Here is one that I took this morning just after sunrise coming back from a run with a dear friend.  I saw these perfect pink tea roses lying in the surf and smiled thinking of the person that threw them in.  My husband and I both offer similar treasures to the ocean to give thanks for its bountiful blessings and for bringing us together.  And once again I am grateful he has come home safe to me.