Month: June 2017

A Recycling Change Up

The other day, we found a weird site outside our building. K called me as he left for work to tell me to look outside. He told me there were 3 recycling carts on the sidewalk with our address on them.

It turned out not to be 3 recycling bins, instead, it was only one recycling bin, and 2 garbage cans that also happened to be blue. WHY DO THEY DO THAT?! Do they really need to make recycling anymore confusing??

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The cart on the left is the recycling cart. The contents of the other two will be headed to the landfill.

After that happened, our black City of Chicago garbage carts were left out on the sidewalk to be picked up and hauled away, and now our City blue cart is gone now too.

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Overall, I am pretty confused right now. Since our building has 4 units or less, we fall into the City recycling program. Why are we suddenly using a private service?

I am going to have to do a little digging because of course we were not informed of anything by our landlord. I will keep you posted!

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Buying Local: Week 8

Just as we started figuring out how to deal with all the leafy greens like spinach and kale (ex: smoothies), their growing season has started to wind down.

We are looking forward to our next CSA box which should include some summer crops of raspberries and carrots.

2nd CSA share week 2

We gobbled up the broccoli, spring onions, spinach, and kale from last week’s box

What We Bought:

  • Oberweis milk from family farms around IL and WI
  • Turano bread from Berwyn, IL
  • Greenridge Farm lunchmeat from Elk Grove Village, IL
  • Greenridge Farm chicken sausage from Elk Grove Village, IL
  • Did do some random shopping at Trader Joes
  • Non-local flour and sugar

What We Learned:

  • The quality of your blender makes a huge difference when making smoothies.
  • Spinach season does not last forever. Thank goodness!
  • We still don’t know what to do with radishes…

Sunday at Randolph Street Market

Yesterday was a glorious day here in Chicago. It was sunny with some fluffy clouds and not stifling hot.

All I wanted to do was spend time outside so after a morning bike ride on the Lakefront Trail, I hopped over to Randolph Street Market to check out the vintage goods.

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I am always on the hunt for something unique and vintage, so much so that I made up a schedule for vintage shopping. Just like my love for Craigslist, I am fascinated by the fact that you never know what you are going to find.

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I did not end up buying anything, which is totally fine. Making a purchase is not in any way mandatory. You have to make sure you are going to LOVE what you buy.

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Even though I did not come across anything that had to come home with me (or anything would actually fit in our place), I enjoyed getting to browse what was available.

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There was definitely plenty of reuse, upcycling, and vintage charm to go around.

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On the other hand, there was also some really good quality midcentury modern pieces available.

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If you visit Randolph Street Market, there are vendors inside as well as outside! When colder weather rolls around, you can still shop the market from October through December.

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I did absolutely love these outdoor chairs! Aren’t they so clean and neat? Unfortunately, I have no outdoor space, so nowhere for them to go. I am sure someone else will love them just as much as I did and will be able to take them home.

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How did you spend your gorgeous Sunday?

You Can Compost More Than Food

Most of the time when we think of what goes into compost, we think of organic food waste and yard clippings.

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While that is entirely correct, there are plenty of other natural items that can be added to your compost pile as well. Here are some other items you may have been tossing into a landfill that are perfectly acceptable to be returned back to the soil.

  • Dry Cereal
  • Bread
  • Crackers & pretzels
  • Pasta, rice, and grains
  • Loose leaf tea
  • Natural fibers (ie. cotton, hemp, silk, wool)
  • Coffee grounds
  • Shredded paper
  • Human and pet hair
  • Sawdust
  • Cardboard
  • Lint from dryer and vacuum
  • Napkins, paper towels, and tissues
  • Wooden chopsticks and popsicle sticks
  • Wood ashes
  • Brown paper bags
  • Old spices
  • Egg shells
  • Expired jams and preserves
  • Nail clippings
  • Cotton balls & cotton swabs (the cardboard kind)

Think of what will actually be left in your trash can! Probably not a lot!

All of this depends on if you are composting at home or using a service. If you have compost collection, your municipality or service will give you exact guidelines of what is and is not allowed.

Below is what my pick up service, Healthy Soil Compost, accepts.

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Buying Local: Week 7 & 2nd CSA Share

I can’t believe it has been seven weeks since we have started this local journey.

Our refrigerator is full of so much green and our cabinets are looking more full of less processed products.

 

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This week’s CSA box (photo by K since I was in Denver)

 

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On Wednesday I brought my CSA box back to the farmers market and picked up some raspberries. Instead of taking the carton the raspberries came in, I brought my own produce bag and plopped them in my berries colander when I got home.

What We Bought (Almost All from CSA box):

  • Head lettuce
  • Avon Spinach
  • Red frill mustard
  • Arugula
  • Radishes
  • Strawberries
  • English Peas
  • Greenhouse Cherry tomatoes
  • Yellow Spring onions
  • Raspberries from Mick Klug Farm in St. Joseph, MI

What We Learned:

  • We still need to up our arsenal of recipes for veggie meals, often we are just cutting up a bunch of greens and tossing it in a pasta or salad
  • Smoothies aren’t so bad after all
  • K really did not like having to shell those English Peas
  • Still not sure what to do with radishes

Nerding Out Over Compost In Colorado

One of my very best friends currently resides in Denver, Colorado.  My other very best friend, Sam, and I had the chance to visit her over the weekend. We used all of our Southwest points to get us there for free!

 

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The view from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

 

We had the chance to do some early morning yoga at Red Rocks Amphitheater and the weather was gorgeous!

 

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It was a pretty big yoga class!

 

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It was nice chance compared to my usual yoga in a studio in the basement of my gym…

 

Besides being a mountain yogi, I was able to explore some of the waste differences between Denver and Chicago.

For instance, city recycling bins are purple! Here in Chicago, recycling bins can be a number of colors depending on who you get service through.

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In the city, Chicago’s carts are blue. Our building recently just switched to a private hauler (stay tuned for that post) and now both our garbage and recycling bins are blue. They are slightly different shades, but both blue nonetheless. How confusing is that?

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On Saturday, we went out to eat at Denver Central Market, which is basically a fancy food court. You could pick from a number of local items and could sit wherever you want at communal tables.

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They had amazing clearly labeled compost, recycling, and trash bins. Unfortunately, I ate everything on my plate (pizza), so there was nothing to dispose of!

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Not only can you compost at eateries, but Denver also has a city compost collection program. It is not free and is not available in all areas of the City, but I am still jealous that the city runs a program like this.

 

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Kitchen compost container

Residents who sign up for the program get a green cart that is picked up weekly.

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Other than me nerding out about Denver’s waste systems, we did do other things such as visit the Denver Botanic Garden and go to a Colorado Rockies game.

 

 

It is neat to experience other cities and how they handle waste issues. What city were you most surprised by in a visit?

We Broke Our Microwave and Never Fixed It

Usually, I am always in the pro-fix-whatever-is-broken camp, but in this particular case, I am not so sure.

A month or so ago, we had an incident with the microwave…

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Since we have a tiny kitchen, we have an abnormally tiny microwave. Basically, a heating pad was in there and couldn’t fully spin around, leaving it stuck against the microwave’s wall. That caused a bit of a sparking and singeing episode and the microwave has not been used since.

To avoid any accidental and habitual use, I just unplugged it. At first, it was quite annoying since I was so used to checking the time on it, even though there is a clock right on the wall.

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My morning oatmeal used to be ready in 2 minutes and re-heated dinner was just a few minutes away. Ok, I don’t need to explain to you how a microwave works…

Anyway, now everything gets heated up in the oven or on the stove. I used to grumble about it, but really it doesn’t take that much longer. If I know I need to heat up leftovers in the oven, I just need to remember to turn it on a bit beforehand.

Overall, the re-heating process of any food does not take any more than 15 minutes, but it does create some extra dishes…

Should we even try to fix it? Or just go with the flow of no microwave?

 

 

 

Buying Local: Week 6

We still have so much produce from our CSA share last week. Thank goodness we did not get the full share where we would pick up every week.

Since we still had so much to work through, we did not visit the farmers market this past weekend. We needed to concentrate on what we had left!

 

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We ate everything with an “X” through it. The others we are still working on! 

 

A variety of recipes were tried this week. We had some pasta with sauteed spinach and spring onions one day.  One night was veggie pizza night and I am usually against having vegetables on my pizza, but it was delicious! We used the broccoli raab and asparagus for that. Kale and quinoa were also on the menu one night.

In order to work through some of the spinach, I forced myself to start making some smoothies as well.

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What We Bought:

  • Oberweis milk from family farms around IL and WI
  • Turano bread from Berwyn, IL
  • Greenridge Farm lunchmeat from Elk Grove Village, IL
  • A couple other things that don’t make it under the local label

What We Learned:

  • Shaved asparagus pizza is amazing! Check out the recipe.
  • Our blender is really bad (we have no idea where or who it came from)

Have You Heard of Floating Gardens?

I’ve been on a volunteering kick lately.

After two beach cleanups in one week, I switched gears and spent Saturday morning with Urban Rivers planting floating gardens.

We planted a variety of native Illinois wetland plants into floating garden structures, which were then filled in with mulch.

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Basically, the goal of these “plant rafts” is to bring life back to the Chicago River.

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Once the structures are bolted together and placed in the Chicago River, they will create a cozy habitat for fish, birds, mammals, insects, and amphibians.

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Although I didn’t get to actually do any installing of the floating gardens via kayak, I am so excited to see them grow and flourish.

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There will be plenty more volunteer opportunities available once they are all in the water.

Check out their volunteer opportunities here.

What I am most excited for is kayaking the river for trash cleanups! 😉 Apparently, I love picking up trash everywhere. Ha!

Back to the Beach Clean Ups

I willingly spent a Saturday morning picking up garbage.

It has gotten to the point where I will stop my run to pick up a plastic water bottle.

Other people don’t enjoy that as much as I do? Hmm.. weird!

Anyway, we are back to the beach clean up season.

Last Saturday, in honor of World Environment Day, I cleaned up Montrose Beach with members of Delta Institute (I serve on their associate board), Alliance for the Great Lakes, and Goose Island brewery.

 

 

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Montrose Beach, Chicago, IL

 

Although it looked pretty clean from far away, in about an hour and a half, our group of three collected:

  • 98 cigarette butts
  • 40 food wrappers
  • 49 foam pieces
  • 110 pieces of glass
  • 108 small pieces of plastic
  • 19 popsicle sticks

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In total, our whole group picked up over 290 pounds of trash!!!

 

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The whole crew

 

 

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Some members of Delta Institute’s associate board, the Delta Emerging Leaders

 

 

Then yesterday, I met up with Alliance for the Great Lakes again and Barefoot Wine to clean up North Avenue Beach to make it barefoot friendly.

 

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North Avenue Beach, Chicago, IL

 

It was a beautiful evening so there were still plenty of people hanging out by the water. As opposed to Montrose Beach, there was definitely garbage that you could easily see.

 

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Ew.

 

I wouldn’t want to play around in that.

This time our group of three picked up:

  • 205 cigarette butts
  • 43 food wrappers
  • 15 popsicle sticks
  • 44 pieces of glass
  • A nearly full box of cookies
  • 14 total pounds

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A lot of the stuff we picked up is small and doesn’t weigh a lot, but once you put all of it together it sure does seem significant.