Month: September 2017

The Great Compost Fiasco of 2017

With all of our CSA produce, we have been producing a lot of food scraps that we toss in our compost bucket. So much so that the bucket is totally full before pick-up time.

The first time this happened, I tossed some compost extras into a double lined paper (compostable over plastic) grocery bag, folded it over tightly and left it in the space between our fire escape’s door and the screen door. When pick-up day came, I just put the paper bag out with the compost bucket.

It all worked out just fine.

Before we left for vacation, I tried this bit again, putting the paper bag of food scraps in between the doors. I kind of forgot it was there and we jetted off to Europe for 10 days. Little did I know that it was going to basically be 90 degrees in Chicago the entire time we were gone.

Thus it was a recipe for disaster.

When we got home, the apartment had a little bit of a funk, but I did not think anything of it. I went to put our shoes on the fire escape to air out and a flock of bugs spewed into the apartment! Quickly shutting the door, I came to the terrible realization of what had happened. Unfortunately,  I was not able to actually open the door for confirmation unless I wanted to be assaulted by insects.

So I had a hot, smelly, rotten, bag of food scraps sitting in between our doors.


The only way to clean up this mess without letting all the bugs in the apartment meant I had to climb up the fire escape and open the screen door from the outside.

Armed with a trash bag, I took a deep breath and opened the door to free the insects who made their home in my bag of bug food. I scooped what I could into the trash bag before the soggy paper bag ripped, spilling old peppers onto the vestibule.

I plucked them up from the decaying food slime that had oozed out of the bag and shoved them into the trash bag. I propped the door open to air out the stink/bugs and ran back down the fire escape to the trash can.

Once inside, I filled up a pitcher of water and poured it over the ooze layer between the doors. Finally, I sprayed some Lysol over it to maybe make it less smelly.

So I tried to keep some organic matter from a landfill and failed miserably…

I won’t be trying the paper bag bit again anytime soon.



Getting Back on Track

We got back from our European jaunt on Saturday and I am still recovering from jetlag and getting back on track with work and life.

That means I have not had time to blog, so for now, I leave you with two pictures of recycling we encountered on our travels.

recycling in France

Paris, France had corner recycling centers

recycling in austria

Recycling in Austria at the train station has bins for metal, paper, plastic, and other waste.

If you are disappointed that all I am going to post of my trip are of recycling, do not fear. Keep scrolling!


Paris, France


Paris, France


Paris, France


Paris, France


Paris, France


Munich, Germany


Munich, Germany


Munich, Germany



Hallstatt, Austria



Au Revoir & Auf Wiedersehn

Or in basic English, Bye!

I am going to be on break for a bit because I am going to be out of the country!

That’s right, I am leaving this continent of the United States and am traveling abroad.

To France, Germany, and Austria that is!

My next post should be Monday, September 25th, but I cannot promise that jet lag won’t take over.

Buying Local: Week 19 and 8th CSA

This week we had to do a lot of cooking, storing, and preserving of our CSA box. That is because we are going to be out of town (and the country) for the next 10 days. More on that tomorrow.

Once we got home from the farmers market with our box, K got right to work making a pepper sauce and a tomato sauce. We sliced the corn off the cob and froze that for later.

CSA week 8

What We Bought:

  • From our CSA in Marengo, IL
    • Honey Crisp apples
    • Mixed Cherry tomatoes
    • Roma beans
    • Sweet colored peppers
    • Eggplant
    • Korean or tropical melon
    • Mirai Sweetcorn
    • Leek
    • White kennebec potatoes
  • From Local Foods
    • Bread
    • Chicken
    • Sausages
    • Sprecher’s root beer (yum!)
    • A soft pretzel
    • Onion

What We Learned:

  • K is really good at accidentally making tomato soup. He originally was going for making a sauce with all the tomatoes we got, but it ended up being really amazing.
  • There are still some veggies we have to freeze or give away!

Those Pesky Plastic Bags

I had a friend ask me what I do with plastic bags that I eventually accumulate.

Not just the standard grocery bags, but the plastic packaging, bread bags, dry cleaning bags, or other types of bags that are labeled as plastic #4 and don’t belong in the curbside recycling bin.

These bags should not be tossed in with your regular recycling because they basically mess up all the machinery and cause all sorting to come screeching to a halt as they have to pull bags free from the machines.

plastic bags

As any normal person does, I hoard them under the kitchen sink until I have a full bag. Then I drop them off at my local grocery store, like Mariano’s, Target, Jewel, Walmart, and more. Check here to see what stores have drop-off locations near you.

In reality, we shouldn’t be using these plastic bags in the first place, but sometimes we get them. They get handed to us before we get a chance to even say something, or a friend sends you home with your leftovers wrapped up in a bag.

It happens. It’s okay.

But it is important to note that using plastic bags because you can bring them to the grocery store to be recycled is NOT THE ANSWER.

Instead, bring your own reusable bags to the store. You’ll also save $0.07 on the bag tax (if you live in Chicago, IL).


Registering for Things that Will Last

Apparently, the time has come for us to register for wedding gifts.

At first, I thought there was nothing that we really, truly, needed. Maybe some new towels and sheets. But the more I looked at it, the more I realized this was a time in our lives to upgrade to high-quality items that could legitimately last forever.

We have recently started figuring out where and what we want to register for. As we walked between three different options, K said: “I want the items on this registry to last the rest of our lives.”

And that has basically become the theme of our registries. We are looking for tools that are made from stainless steel and glass, not cheap plastic.


william sonoma

image: William Sonoma


For instance, K really wants a mandolin to slice vegetables nice and thin. As I have looked about for them, the only ones I can find are mostly made of plastic. I was shocked because the mandolin my mom has is entirely made of metal and that is what I thought all mandolins were made of.

Alternative facts. Fake news.

Just like my grandma’s, we want our pots and pans to able to be used by our grandchildren 65 years later.

copper pans

We use my grandmother’s copper bottomed pots that she received for her own wedding shower in 1955.

No matter what the stores tell us we need to register for, we are only going to register for items we are going to use in the long run. We don’t need fine china. We are not going to register for a fondue set because it’s on a list somewhere.

I have made it a habit to poll all my married friends and family on what they use the most and the least from their wedding registry.  Hopefully, down the road, we will be able to say we use absolutely everything.



Buying Local: Week 18

We are rolling a bit behind this week. We lost some produce due to mold (peaches, eggplant, tomatoes). Going out to eat for two meals over the weekend also did not help and kind of set us back on using produce.

CSA week 7 v2

What We Bought:

  • Hamburger buns from Evanston, IL

What We Learned:

  • Real food can get moldy FAST. Some of my peaches did not even make it 5 days, and some of our tomatoes and peppers had to go straight to the compost bucket.
  • Potatoes and onions should not be stored together. We are a bit tight on kitchen storage so we had both of them in the same drawer. Now we have them separated.
  • You’re not supposed to store cucumbers in the fridge. No wonder they didn’t make it.

Hole Filled Jeans Become Housing Insulation

Earlier in the year, I tried fixing my favorite pair of jeans by patching them.


It worked for a couple months. but then this happened

jean rip

These jeans became beyond repair, but I couldn’t bear to just toss them out with the garbage when they were in no shape to be donated.

So I did what any rational person would do.

I hoarded them for several months until I figured out what I could do with them.

Enter Madewell.


They have partnered with Blue Jeans Go Green to execute a pretty neat jean recycling program. Bring in ANY type of jean to one of their stores and they will help turn them into housing insulation.


So far, they have collected over 1 million pieces of denim and saved over 600 tons from going into the landfill.

Right now, Madewell is running The Denim Forever Tour, hosting pop-up recycling stations at locations all around the country.  So check out if they will be anywhere near you between now and October.

Below is what my hole-y jeans will become! Insulation to warm people’s houses.


Just for dropping off your jeans, Madewell will provide a $20 coupon towards a new pair of their jeans.

Check out this cool video about the program.


A Reuse Reminder from My Running Shoes

My old running shoes recently were given a new life.

Since the old ones were out the door, I kinda needed to replace them in order to continue running.

I decided to go with the same type of shoe I have had for the last 3 pairs of running shoes, the Saucony Ride. Sticking with what works.

Anyway, when I opened the shoe box I found a great little surprise on the inside.

Saucony recycle box

How cute!?