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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.

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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.

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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.

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!

Vintage Shop Hoppin’

It is no secret that I love secondhand, thrift and vintage finds. So when I heard about the Vintage Shop Hop, I was all over it.

2 days

300+ stores

Northeastern IL and Southeastern WI

Sign. Me. Up. 

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While I did not get to caravan all over IL  and WI for two days, I did get to spend the entire day with my Mom driving around the Northern suburbs. From 9 AM – 3 PM, we hit approximately 16 different shops (with a quick lunch break).

 

 

I was on the lookout for a number of things:

  • A plant stand for our future herb garden
  • A catch-all for K’s dresser
  • Cake stands for the wedding
  • Vintage house/address numbers for table numbers for the wedding
  • A TV stand
  • Napkins and handkerchiefs

While it was a super amazing day of getting to look at so many different vendors, we did not load up the car like we had hoped.

That is okay because I want my finds to be perfect, not just so-so.

As we finished the winding hallways of an antique mall, I found the perfect plant stand.

I took one look at the chrome and white enamel kitchen cart and said, “This is the one!”

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It is a beauty and I cannot wait to show you what I end up doing with it. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Wild Weather for the Wild Things Conference

Yesterday, it was over 60 degrees. In February. In Chicago.

A record high of 67 degrees was set on 2-17-17, destroying the previous record of 60 degrees set in 1880.

I did not get to spend much time outside in the unseasonably warm weather, though.

That was because I spent the entire day inside learning with other environmentalists/conservationists/naturalists at the Wild Things Conference.

 

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From the Wild Things Conference program

 

For the first time ever, the conference sold out of tickets a month before the event. The waitlist was over 300 people long. It goes to show how many people are starting to take action, and it was heartwarming to see.

 

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Packed room for the opening plenary session

 

I attended one session on the importance of stories in conservation featuring Gavin Van Horn of the Center for Humans and Nature. My favorite term he used was reSTORYation.

“Science needs story.

Story needs science.”

-Gavin Van Horn

The next session, “Past, Present, and Future: Understanding Climate Change in the Chicago Region,” could easily be summed up with the below slide.

 

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Molly Woloszyn’s (climate specialist at the Illinois State Water Survey and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant at UIUC) popular presentation

 

The packed room had space for standing room only. So I stood and listened about how by midcentury, Chicago could be 4.4-4.7 degrees warmer and have a climate more like the southern city of Salem, IL.

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In the future, Chicago should be prepared for the following:

  • An increase in overnight low temperatures (that is bad for agriculture and humans)
  • An increase in annual precipitation of 3.2″-4″
  • More consecutive dry days (meaning longer periods between rain)
  • An increase in the intensity of precipitation (think big, quick storms)
  • A decrease in ice cover in the Great Lakes

Sounds pleasant…

 

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Composting available at the conference! 

There were so many other sessions where I got to listen to passionate people present. Just a sample:

  • archeological sites within the Forest Preserve District of Cook County
  • storm water management case studies
  • the evolution of prescribed burns
  • environmental advocacy best practices

It was a really awesome day to be surrounded by so many people who care about wildlife and the environment.

I absolutely recommend keeping your eyes open for information on the 2019 Wild Things Conference.

I have a feeling it is going to be even bigger.

 

Science Will Not Be Silenced

Let’s be clear.

I am not a scientist.

I have never wanted to be a scientist, but I deeply appreciate and respect their work.

After all, science is basically what I have built my career on.

I take the complicated and confusing and turn it into something easily understandable. No scientific jargon necessary.

Collaborating with scientists on their work was always my favorite part. I loved their reactions when they saw how their 40+ page scientific journal article could turn into a couple paragraphs that their grandmother could easily understand.

The scientists I worked with were U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) scientists. I focused mainly on water research and covered everything from combined sewer overflows to arsenic, lead, and pharmaceuticals.

As of yesterday, the new administration put a freeze on EPA grants and contracts, as well as press releases, blog updates, website updates, and social media posts.

 

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The last post was from my friend, Kacey, the day before the inauguration 

 

Being a previous contractor with the EPA and one who specifically worked with science communications, this really hits home.

To counteract, I will be posting a link every single EPA science blog I ever wrote. If new science is not going to go out, I will help educate others on the important work EPA does.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the first post.

Catch Up What is Going On

 

 

 

Learn Something New Every Day: Removing Toothbrush Bristles

Last night I turned to K and said, “Where are the pliers?” Giving me a weird look, he asked why. I nonchalantly stated I needed them to remove the bristles from my bamboo toothbrush.

A totally normal response, right?

Either way, my first bamboo toothbrush’s life span as a toothbrush came to an end. After removing the bristles, the handle can be composted in a commercial facility.

So I took a seat and started to pull on the bristles. At first, nothing happened. I yanked and yanked until bristles burst from my toothbrush. So the real lesson here is, do this over an easy to clean surface because bristles WILL BE EVERYWHERE.

After the first chunk of bristles, it became easier and easier to remove them.

 

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Halfway through

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All gone! 

I did my best to keep the bristles and the toothpaste dust contained. When I was finished, I marveled at the fact that I just took 10 minutes to pull bristles out of my toothbrush just so it could be composted. I think it is definitely worth it over the way millions just simply toss conventional toothbrushes in the landfill without a second thought.

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The aftermath

 

Reclaimed Entryway Just in Time for Colder Weather

For a long time after we moved in, the area next to our front door was a dumping ground for anything and everything. There were boxes, excess furniture, chairs, and a dresser all there at one point.

Eventually, after several months (6), we figured out what we wanted to put there. Since our apartment is tiny, our number one priority was storage. I was having nightmares of the upcoming winter months (“Winter is Coming”) and gloves, hats, coats, and boots, just piling up on the floor.

Our first piece of the entryway was our reclaimed shelf. I spray painted two IKEA brackets copper and created the shelf itself from leftover wood from my dad’s shop. On top and out of the way, I purchased a set of 3 wicker baskets from Amazon that hold our helmets, bike locks, umbrellas, and soon to be hats and gloves.

 

Since moving in April, a place to hang our coats has not been a huge issue, but we are nearing the end of October and it needed to be addressed. To hold our coats,  I crafted some hooks out of old garden faucet handles that I have been collecting for a few years from antique fairs. Again, I “borrowed” a piece of aged and reclaimed wood from my dad.

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The most awesome piece of our entryway is the reclaimed bowling alley bench. The bowling alley was left over from a job my dad was working on, so I bought the legs on Amazon and we screwed it together. Viola!

Underneath the bench are two wire baskets I got on sale at Michael’s to hold our shoes. It is a miracle that they fit perfectly underneath the bench!

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All in all, the entryway was not that big of an investment, totaling about $140. It really makes the dining area look cozy and put together and totally worth it.

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Again, I would not have been able to do this without the expertise and help from my father. So shout out to him for being the best and helping my ideas become reality!

#NP_DC and the NPS

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with anything environmentally/sustainably related.

June 21, 2016

Bob Vogel, Regional Director
National Park Service
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington D.C. 20242

Dear Bob Vogel,

My name is Marguerite and I am writing to you in regards to November Project DC workouts taking place in NPS jurisdictions. I am going to be upfront with you, I no longer live in DC and I no longer work out with November Project DC. Instead, I moved myself and my November Project family over to Chicago, but that does not mean I am no longer a part of November Project DC.

I worked out with the DC tribe for over a year as a newcomer to DC and I could not be more grateful for the opportunities NPDC brought me. There is nothing in the world like waking up when it is still dark out and climbing the Lincoln Memorial steps until the sun peaks up over the Washington Monument and reflecting pool. Absolutely nothing.

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NPDC brought me to new places and new NPS spots all over the district that I would have never dreamed I would run to or work out at. I learned new things and I saw new places, all because of NPDC.

As I continue to workout with the Chicago tribe on Wednesday mornings at 6:30 AM on the shores of Lake Michigan, I cannot help but miss running the stairs at meet Abe at the top. I brag to others that our workouts were on those iconic steps.

Many people can say they visited the Lincoln Memorial, but not many can say they spent countless Wednesday mornings there in every type of weather imaginable to sweat and climb those stairs. Ice, rain, snow, extreme humidity, and we were there.

I have much love for November Project DC and I also have much respect for the National Park Service and the importance of the places you protect and we use to workout.

When the time comes for you to sort this out with NPDC, I hope you both can come to terms that benefit you both.

Sincerely,

Marguerite

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