How To

How To: Stop Junk Mail

Getting stuff in the mail is awesome.

Getting unwanted stuff in the mail is not.

 

We all have experienced it. You open the mailbox and find something addressed to you or the current resident (whom you have never heard of) and have no idea why you are getting this piece of mail. You don’t even know what this company is that’s sending you catalogs.

Besides just tossing it in the recycling bin, there are a number of ways you can keep yourself from getting junk mail in the first place.

The biggest thing you can do is avoid giving out your address, but sometimes junk mail will find you anyway.

Below are some resources you can use to be removed from all sorts of mailing lists.

 

paper karma

Here are some of my requests I submitted to PaperKarma. Who are you King Ranch Saddle Shop?!

 

Another way to combat the onslaught of unwanted mail is to find the sender’s phone number, any number you can find, and call them to remove yourself from the mailing list.

Be warned that it takes over a month sometimes to be officially removed from mailing lists. A lot of the time, a catalog or a mailing is already in production and printed with your name on it before you make the call.

On another note, as much as I love giving money to a good cause such as a charity or non-profit, be careful. Sometimes when you donate, your mailing information can get shared with (or sold to) other organizations. For example, post-election, K donated to an environmental organization and now we get TONS of calendars, address labels (SO MANY), notepads, and more.

If you are looking for more, check out my friend Celia over at Litterless who also wrote a great post on getting rid of junk mail.

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DIY: Saving My Favorite Jeans

My jeans always rip in the exact same place. Right in the crotch area.

In the past, I have had my grandmother patch them up for me. Sometimes the same pair would get repaired several times like the one below.

While folding my laundry last week, I noticed my newest pair of jeans (over a year and a half old) have finally achieved the dreaded crotch rip. I was not shocked or surprised. This was bound to happen eventually.

jean-patch2

Besides this tiny hole in a not so noticeable spot, the jeans are just fine. There was no need to fret, I was going to patch them myself!

jean-patch1

My sewing skills are even more sub-par than my knitting skills. I can sew buttons and seams together, but nothing this extensive (is this considered extensive?).

Now was my chance to learn a new skill that I could continue to use for years to come!

First, I needed some supplies I did not currently have in my possession.

  1. pinking shears
  2. fusible

I looked up what pinking shears cost and they aren’t too expensive, but so far I have gone my entire life not needing them, so there is no point in making that purchase now. Instead, I chose to borrow a pair from my grandmother. #vintage

After a quick trip to Jo-Anne’s for fusible, I gathered all my supplies and was ready to go.

jean-patch7

First things first, I cut out a patch of denim from my now scrap pair of jeans. My plan was basically just to reinforce the crotch/thigh rub area so it would not rip any further.

 

I figured sewing the patch straight into the seam would help keep the fabric strong. To help, I used fusible, which basically turns your patch into an iron-on. I have never used fusible before and figured it could not hurt my pants any further.

 

Once the patches were ironed on, it was time to start sewing and this took a much longer time than I had thought! If I had a sewing machine this definitely would have been done sooner, but alas I do not. A used sewing machine is on my wish list (hint hint).

jean-patch15

Sewing the patches too frustratingly long. I started this Friday afternoon and did not finish until Sunday evening, but hey, at least I can wear my jeans on Monday!

They aren’t perfect, but I think I did a pretty decent job for my first try and I know I have more to learn.

Have you ever tried to patch your favorite pair of jeans before? Do you have any better suggestions for the next time this happens to me?

 

How To: Gracious Gifting

My Christmas gifts are all finished, and they have been for awhile. If you pay attention to the people you are giving to throughout the year, it is fairly easy to come up with something. For example, I keep a note in my phone with gift ideas for my friends and family.

gifting1

Giving and getting experiences is by far the best type of gift. Even if that isn’t an option, I want to be able to give something that truly has meaning to the receiver, is a need, and stimulates the local economy at the same time. Sorry, department store Christmas commercials, I will not be buying people random sweaters for the holidays.

Here is what you can do to be a conscious gifter:

Go Local

Help a small, local business out and get your gifts from them. To avoid a physical gift, gift cards to a favorite restaurant are always a good option.

Go High Quality

Make your purchase worth it. Going handmade and local usually means it’s going to be of higher quality compared to store brand. Go for brands that have lifetime satisfaction guarantees like LL Bean, Eddie Bauer, or anything on Buy Me Once.

Make It

The most memorable gifts I have ever given have been ones I have made with my own hands. One Christmas I spent countless hours knitting my dad a cable knit scarf and he wears it ALL THE TIME.

Have Someone Else Make It

Sometimes the thing we want to give others is beyond our own ability. If so, employ a local artist or someone from Etsy to help get your message across. I have sent get well cookies to sick friends and personalized flower vases for newly married couples.

Wrap It (Or Don’t Wrap it)

Wrapping paper is a huge waste. I refuse to buy it ever again, especially when we are daily subscribers to the Chicago Tribune. That provides plenty of newspaper to be used for wrapping. Additionally, I save every gift bag and bow I receive so I can pull those out if necessary.

gifting2

 

 

How to: Get Excited Again Post-Election

Many of the people I follow on WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter expected last Tuesday to come out a little different than we thought. I woke up that morning at 4:40 AM to head to my polling place to serve as an election judge. I was excited. I was ready to contribute to and witness history. I had planned on saving my “I Voted” wristband, writing “11/8/16 Election of First Female President” on it and saving it forever.

election-day-2

So much excitement the morning of. 

 

Unfortunately, when I woke up Wednesday morning my world was a completely different place. I was in denial and not really sure how to accept the next four years of my life. For myself and my colleagues in the environmental field, this was a huge blow. I took Wednesday to sulk,  be sad and eat a bowl of cereal in bed. I avoided watching the news or looking at articles on the internet.

By the time Monday rolled around, I had come to a different place of acceptance. For those of us who care about our planet and climate change, we have to remember that this election was not a vote on climate. It wasn’t a hot topic and wasn’t talked about as much as it should have been. As much as we tweeted and emailed, it was never asked about in any of the 3 presidential debates.

Monday night, I attended a meeting with my fellow Environmental Defense Fund Chicago Ambassadors and others interested in talking about how EDF planned to move forward post-election. This meeting was already planned well before the results of the election were known and our gathering had a much more somber feeling than originally intended.

Everything is a little blurry still, but this is what we know so far:

  • The President-Elect wants to end the “War on Coal”
  • The President-Elect wants to eliminate the Clean Power Plan
  • The President- Elect wants to abandon the Paris Agreement
  • Myron Ebell will be leading the EPA transition

Unfortunately, we are fortunate that the battle for clean air and water has always been a battle. It was never easy in the first place to get the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the EPA established. So this time, it is no different. Fighting for the environment is all we know how to do. Protests, petitions, writing to support legislation, and sharing sound science are actions we are all very familiar with.

Richard Nixon despised environmentalists, yet he was the most pro-environment president the US has ever seen. His administration created the EPA and charged it with protecting human health and the environment. Our outcry was enough for Nixon to give in.

So what we have to do now is stand and fight. EDF will be working hard to defend the work they have already accomplished. This is going to go down to the states. In Illinois, our legislators will be voting on the Clean Jobs Bill after Thanksgiving. SO WRITE TO YOUR LEGISLATORS!

We need the public to tell this new administration we won’t stand for a rollback on environmental rules and regulations. We won’t stand for a president that does not believe in climate change despite the overall consensus from scientists AROUND THE WORLD.

It was a battle from the very beginning and that battle is not going to end in the next four years. Because it is a battle, the wins are that much more worth it. We will keep moving forward and hopefully, our destruction won’t catch up to us.

 

 

 

How Long Will It Take to Receive My Blue Cart? Part 1

Now that I am all moved in, it is time to get the City of Chicago’s Blue Cart Residential Recycling Program in my multi-unit building! Here is the timeline on how that went down so far.

Sunday April 3rd, 2016

Emailed my Alderman’s office asking how to get a recycling tote for my building. It didn’t explicitly say on their website how to go about requiring one, so I just emailed the office. This is what it says in regard to recycling:

“The Blue Cart program provides bi-weekly recycling services to single family homes and multi-unit buildings with four or fewer units.  By recycling regularly, you can help reduce the need for landfills, lower disposal costs, reduce pollution and conserve natural resources, such as timber, water and minerals.”

Monday April 4th, 2016

Received a response from a City Council staff member for my Ward asking how many units there are in my building. So I quickly responded with an answer of 4 units.

Amazingly it only took 8 minutes to get another response with the following information:

The good news: the request will be processed immediately

The bad news: it can take at least 5 weeks to receive a blue cart and  I was advised to “be patient.”

Tuesday April 5th, 2016

Obviously have not heard a response yet, but the recycling pile is growing….

Sunday April 10th, 2016

At this point the recycling has to go somewhere and I refuse to throw it out. Therefore it is now in my car until I take it to one of the recycling dumpsters.

Wednesday April 13th, 2016

The big boxes to recycle are still in my car. I have yet to make it to a recycling dumpster, but garbage/recycling day was today so I stealthily brought my recycling bin from the apartment down and dumped it in a neighbor’s blue cart that was out for pick up.

Wednesday April 20th, 2016

Finally brought the big boxes to the residential recycling drop off center at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. There are a number of these around Chicago and you can learn more about where they are here.

recycling drop off

Monday April 25th, 2016

Still nothing. Now I am wondering if I get some type of email notifying me that my blue cart has been delivered, or just hope that it shows up one day next to our garbage cans?

I will keep you filled in! Look out for Part 2!

How To: Completely Wing A Gallery Wall

I have never hung anything like a gallery wall before, but since we have so many Indiana University related framed pictures, we figured it would be best to clump them all together in one space. After a quick (2 minute) overview of “gallery wall tips” on Pinterest, I set to work doing a mock up of what the wall would look like.

Materials Needed:

  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Pen/marker
  • Tape
  • Nails/picture hanging supplies
  • Hammer
  • Level
  • Measuring tape

1.) Find Some Paper and Do Some Cutting

Since K had just gone grocery shopping, I opted to use the paper bags he just brought home. I traced each frame, cut it out, and labeled it.

2.) Figure Out Where They are Going to Go

First I played with their locations on the floor a bit before taping them on the wall. Since we lacked painter’s tape,  I used regular scotch tape and nothing happened to the paint.  I started with the biggest pictures and then worked around them with the smaller ones. I made sure to focus on which color the frames were so all of my black frames did not end up in one corner.

gallery wall before

3.) Do Some Measuring And Take A Step Back

Using my handy dandy measuring tape, I attempted to keep 3 inches between each frame so that all the spacing was the same. It took a couple tries of moving pieces around and each time you moved one, you had to adjust them all! We looked at it from across the room and made sure we liked where everything was before moving on.

4. Hang Pictures (Repeat this step over and over)

I chose to hang the largest pieces first before moving on to the smaller ones. After hanging one picture, I had to make sure the frame was decently level before measuring and hanging the next one. If not, the whole thing could end up off.

Here is the final product! It is not perfect, but I do not care. Looks good from afar to me!

gallery wall after

 

How To: Combine 2 People’s Stuff in 750 sq. ft.

Moving day has come and gone!

For the most part, the apartment looks presentable, except that we have a few piles of things we are not sure where to put yet. In addition to those piles, we also have a recycling pile and a donation pile. Our building does not have recycling yet (there will be a post about this later), so I am figuring out what to do with it until then.

With the two of us having lived alone before, we had a lot of the same things, and we did not need to double up on them in our 750 square foot apartment. So some things had to go!

Here is how we did it:

  1. I pulled all my kitchen stuff out of the attic before we moved and we went through it all together, marking what we already had and what we needed. If we had doubles of something, we decided whose was in better condition and that one was kept. The one in poorer condition was to be donated.
  2. Better quality was pretty much how we decided a lot of things. I had a better couch, so K’s was sold on Craigslist. I also had a better bedroom set than K’s wobbly IKEA dresser. (That will be getting the boot soon)
  3. Since our apartment is pretty small we knew that certain larger items would not fit. These were donated or left in storage.
  4. When I moved back from DC, I sold all of my furniture and left it there. Thank goodness I did. We definitely didn’t need even more duplicates than we already had. I even sold a few pieces that I had pulled out of a dumpster, so I made a profit off those!
  5. If something didn’t jive with both of us or bring at least one of us joy, then it did not get to come with us.

There are a couple of things that we still have too many of though and that includes:

  1. Pyrex
  2. Candles
  3. Pillows
  4. Blankets
  5. Books

I personally think those are great things to have too many of though! Overall, we still have plenty of space to you know, live. So it is all good. 🙂