Category Archives: making the world a better place

wild animal sanctuary

We visited the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado on a warmish January afternoon. It was amazing to see the lions, tigers, coyotes, wolves, bears, and other animals roaming freely in their large habitats.

It was a pleasant surprise to see two bald eagles visiting the sanctuary as well.


the great stupa

The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya is a Buddhist monument to human kindness, located at the Shambhala Mountain Center in the northern Colorado Rockies. The journey there, and the Stupa itself, make for a beautiful day trip.

broken crayon craft

The little one has broken a lot of crayons over the last couple of years, and I’ve been collecting the crayon fragments because I figured we could eventually do something cool with them. This melted crayon craft project was just our speed, and our funky multi-colored crayons made great gifts for the kiddo’s friends.

After peeling the paper off of the broken crayons, we put the crayon pieces in a mini muffin pan and baked them at 170°F until they were completely melted (24 minutes). Then we removed the muffin pan from the oven, and decided to quickly stir one of the new melty crayons (a mixture of purple, blue, and pink) to make a special new shade of purple. We left the other crayons alone for a marbled look. Then we put the muffin pan in the freezer for 20 minutes. Next I inverted the pan and the new crayons all came out easily.

Our special purple swirled crayon broke when it came out of the pan, so it’s possible that our stirring before freezing affected that crayon’s structural integrity, but it turned out really pretty. A few of the other crayons broke later on, but that’s not so bad because these crayons are actually easier to draw with when they are broken in half. Overall, this was a fun recycling project to do with a three-year-old!

oh canada

Mahone Bay, NS

In celebration of Canada Day, here are some of my favorite things (so far) about life in Atlantic Canada:

Bulk Barn!  This bulk foods store has all sorts of vegetarian necessities like nutritional yeast, textured vegetable protein, ground flaxseed, chia seeds, quinoa, rice, and even vegetarian chicken soup mix. There is also a great selection of gluten-free flours. My favorites are chickpea flour (can’t make socca without it!), almond flour, and of course the gluten-free all-purpose flour mixture. Last but not least, especially for the younger customers, Bulk Barn has an amazing selection of candy. I am all about their dark chocolate-covered almonds, non-gelatinous gummy candies, and Turkish Delight (all of which are vegan).

Nice drivers!  Compared to other places I’ve lived, the drivers here are very polite. People here are so nice when you need to merge or change lanes, and they are good about allowing pedestrians to cross streets as well.

Huge areas of undeveloped land.  You don’t have to go many miles from a city before you find yourself in the wilderness. It’s kind of wonderful.

A rally to restore sanity is not necessary here.  Of course not everyone shares the same opinions about political issues, but people here don’t seem like they’re itching to start a heated argument over politics either. People seem to still have some trust in the government, and so they prefer to focus their energy on other things, like gardening and hockey.

Emphasis on recycling and composting.  Everywhere in Halifax Regional Municipality (even rather rural areas like where we live) has roadside recycling and compost pickup. And workplaces and sidewalks have recycling and organics receptacles as well as the standard garbage can. I really appreciate this effort to reduce our collective waste.

a sidewalk in Halifax, NS

obsession of the week: running?

Now don’t get the wrong idea…I don’t actually like running. But I do like supporting good causes, and the Race for the Cure is one of my favorites. My grandmother, mother-in-law, and cousin have all battled breast cancer. It’s a frightfully common disease, and I like that the race is a fundraiser for research as well as a celebration of the strength of women who have had to fight breast cancer. So, I’ve been running to try to get in shape for the 5K race that I’ll be participating in on June 4 in Hartford, CT.

weekly photo challenge: tiny

So, medical research is one of the things I do when I’m not blogging. And my research often involves taking photos of very tiny things like cells. So here are a few pretty pictures that I have taken in the name of science during the last couple of years…

healing skin

healing skin

clump of cells grown on collagen fibers

cells grabbing onto collagen

cells grabbing onto each other

dead cell

50 things – update!

Item #21 from my “50 things” list has been accomplished! I donated about 12 inches of hair earlier this week! Before and after:

reuse a shoe

If you have old sneakers or shoes that you don’t want anymore, I know of a few options that are way better than throwing them out!

  • If the shoes are still in decent shape, Soles4Souls is a charity that distributes donated shoes to people in need all over the world. You can drop off your shoes at many participating shoe stores around the US. It looks like all New Balance stores are involved with this program, as well as many independently-owned stores. Or, you can ship the shoes to one of the Soles4Souls warehouses.
  • If you’d prefer to keep your shoe donation local, you can drop them off at your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, or Value Village donation center.
  • For athletic shoes only, Nike has a great reuse-a-shoe program that actually separates beat up old sneakers into 3 components (the rubber sole, the foam padding, and the fabric upper part) and then grinds up those materials to make sports surfaces like basketball courts, running tracks, tennis courts, and playgrounds! how awesome is that?! You can donate your sneakers at any Nike store in the US or Vancouver, or ship your sneakers to Nike’s recycling facility.

I’m still waiting for a program to recycle old tennis balls into something awesome. In the meantime, I guess they make a good mouse home or dog toy.