Buying Local: Week 4

Once again we were out of town and missed Saturday’s market, but this should be the last time we miss it for a bit, plus our CSA share starts on Saturday!

We got back from our Memorial Day weekend trip on Monday night, so I didn’t get to go shopping until Tuesday. I stopped at Local Foods and then picked up some strawberries from the farmers market on Wednesday. Those aren’t pictured because I immediately cut them up for breakfast.

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What We Bought:

What We Learned:

  • Buying less processed milk lasts longer. I bought milk last Monday and its sell by date is not until June 6th.
  • Real strawberries are much tinier than your typical strawberries on steroids that you get at a standard grocery store, but they taste SO MUCH BETTER!
  • I have to do a lot of separate trips for our food instead of doing just one run every week. Sometimes Local Foods does not have what I need and Mariano’s does, or I would rather get produce at the farmers market.

Your Beyond Repair Clothing Does Not Have to Be Destined for a Landfill

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My cousin sent me this text message the other day.

It is a good question and while there are plenty of places in the Chicagoland area where you can bring your gently used clothing, there are not so many places to drop off clothing and textiles that are longer wearable or useful.

The U.S. EPA has found that 85% of all discarded textiles (that’s 12 million tons) are sent to landfills every single year.

USAgain

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USAgain has drop-off collection bins all around the city. They accept clothes, shoes and household textiles (like towels, bedding, tablecloths, etc) regardless of condition.

Usagain chicago locations


Chicago Textile Recycling

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Chicago Textile Recycling provides textile recycling outlets and fundraising opportunities for organizations, businesses, and municipalities. They collect used clothing, shoes, and household items for reuse and recycling, resulting in a diversion of over 2.5 million pounds of waste from area landfills annually.

Unfortunately, they don’t have as many drop-off options as USAgain does within Chicago and Cook County (as in they have zero). There is a drop-off box at their warehouse in Hillside just outside the city and about 20 locations within Lake County.


Patagonia Worn Wear

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Through the Patagonia Worn Wear Program, you can return Patagonia products that are well beyond repair to be recycled it into something new, or repurposed, by bringing it to a local store or mailing it in.

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The North Face Clothes the Loop

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The North Face Clothes the Loop allows you to bring in used apparel and footwear of any condition or brand and receive a $10 reward towards your next purchase of $100 or more. Items are repurposed for reuse to extend their life or recycled into raw materials for use in products like insulation, carpet padding, stuffing for toys, and fibers for new clothing.

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Other Options:

 

So now you know that your stained and ripped clothing can be used again!

Buying Local: Week 3

With both of us not being around the prior weekend, we missed the farmers market for the second time in a row.

K stopped at Local Foods in the beginning of the week to pick us up some ingredients for dinner, but I then supplemented the rest with a trip to Mariano’s.

We get to pick up our first CSA share with Nichol’s Farm next Saturday, so naturally, we are super excited to see what we will get!

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What We Bought:

What We Learned:

  • I miss my daily banana. My fruit bowl is so empty.
  • The amount in our recycling bin has been decreasing because we aren’t buying as may products in plastic and cardboard.
  • Some challenges may be coming up, such as with baking goods like sugar and chocolate chips.
  • Returning the glass Oberweis bottle to the grocery store earns you $1.50 back

 

fruit bowl empty

Sad, empty fruit bowl waiting for the season’s first strawberries!

 

 

Herb Garden: Take 2

We were a little too optimistic when we started growing herbs from seeds earlier this year.

After some promising seed sprouts, they kinda just stopped growing.

Even though we were disappointed that we could not keep a few plants alive, we decided to try again. This time with herbs already grown and ready to go.

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For our herb garden: take 2 we are going to attempt to keep the following alive:

  • Peppermint
  • Sweet basil
  • Oregano
  • Cilantro
  • Curly parsley

 

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Can you spot the dinosaur amongst all the plants?

 

I have to say, the peppermint plant smells amazing. I did not intend on buying it until I took a sniff and was sold. The night I brought them home, K went ahead and crafted himself a homemade Mint Julep.

Hopefully, we can keep these guys alive long enough to use with some of our local foods we will be eating this summer. Yum yum!

I Keep Flamingos on the Fire Escape

There’s nothing quite as kitschy or screams summer like a plastic lawn flamingo.

I personally think they are hilarious and have always wanted to have one in my future yard, but never really came across any and I didn’t go out of my way to find them.

That was until I found this flamingo pair at a garage sale.

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And they are awesome! You can’t help but smile looking at them!

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According to the seller, they are cast-iron from the 1930’s and had recently been repainted. I did an e-bay search when I got home and could not find anything else like them online. They truly are one of a kind!

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Let’s keep in mind that I do not have a yard or any green space for that matter.

All we have is the fire escape.

So until then, the flamingos are going to hang out there with the mini grill and the compost bucket.

Recycling My Obsolete iPod

Today marked the end of an era.

I tried very hard to prevent it from happening, but sometimes we must let go of electronics that are 10 years old and no longer work.

And by “let go,” I mean recycle.

My Apple iPod Classic was purchased circa 2007-2008 with the money from my first job in high school. Together, we listened to favorite songs on repeat, and passed countless hours in the car, walking to class, and eventually walking to work.

 

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RIP iPod Classic 2007-2017

The battery started failing a few years ago, but since I no longer walk to work, it was not getting as much use anyway.

 

Eventually, it stopped holding a charge.

Then it would not turn on.

I brought it to the Apple Store a few months ago to see if there was anything they could do. Apparently, my iPod is so old that Apple classifies it as “obsolete.” There was not even an option on how to restore my decrepit device. After some messing around, the employee did get it miraculously to turn back on.

Unfortunately, it was a last ditch effort that only worked for a few days.

Months later, I finally got around to bringing my iPod back to the Apple Store to recycle it. It was a super easy process, where I just filled out a quick form, and I was on my way.

Speaking of recycling electronics, I also recently brought a broken Fitbit back to Best Buy, which was also easy peasy.

Now I want to know how and where do you recycle your old electronics?

More information on Apple’s Recycling Program.

More information on Best Buy’s Recycling Program.

 

Buying Local: Week 2

K was gone over the weekend, and I spent some time at home with my mom for Mother’s Day, so I missed out on Saturday’s farmers market.

Luckily for us, Green City Market also runs on Wednesdays and since I work from home, I can easily pick some produce up during the week.

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Fortunately, we also have other options besides the farmers market. There is Local Foods, which is not far away, and our nearby Mariano’s does carry numerous local options.

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For the past week so far, we have basically been cleaning out the fridge and our cabinets, eating whatever random stuff we have left. I have basically been eating steel cut oats every single day because that is all we have left. I am not complaining about that though.

Since K is going to be gone again over the weekend and I will be pretty busy, we did not need to load up on groceries this week.

I accompanied my cousin and her toddler to Mariano’s and picked up a few things:

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Oberweis milk in our super empty fridge

After that, I skipped over to Local Foods to get the rest of this week’s necessities:

  • Veggies
  • Hot dog buns
  • A container of walnuts
  • Tortilla chips to compliment the rest of the salsa we have left

We are going to be gone again over Memorial Day weekend, so hopefully, this won’t be so sporadic once we are actually home for a weekend!

Designing Our Kitchen Table

I previously posted about our sad kitchen table and the search for a new table, or at least a table that was new to us.

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While I still continue to stalk Craigslist for a good replacement, we have decided to use my dad’s skills and the family woodworking business to our advantage.

And this is not the first time we have.

See below.

IU chairs done

Dad saved the day when my attempt at stripping these chairs proved futile.

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When the shop had some left over bowling alley lanes from a previous project, we bought some legs and made a bench for our entryway/door.

 

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We bought this coffee table on Craigslist and on a slow day, the shop refinished the scratched up top for us.

 

Basically, my dad will solve all of our furniture problems.

Except for chairs, he won’t make those. (Sidenote, new chairs are so expensive!)

The plan is to have him model our table off of the West Elm Lena Mid-Century Dining Table. Except instead of spending $450+ on the West Elm version, we are going to fashion our own out of whatever random leftover wood the shop has lying around.

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West Elm Lena Mid-Century Dining Table

 

Stay tuned!

 

Lots of Food Scraps- Good or Bad?

It’s Compost Awareness Week!

 

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Even though I have been collecting my food scraps for compost collection for over a year now, I only started weighing our compost bucket last August.

I keep a little spreadsheet with the totals from each month.

  • August 11.22 lb
  • September 5.88 lb
  • October 7.04 lb
  • November 15.74 lb (house plant and outdoor plant)
  • December 11.48 lb (Not including our Halloween pumpkin)
  • January 10.38 lb
  • February 15.5 lb (dead house plant, RIP)
  • March 17.22 lb (chicken carcass, cleaned out the fridge)
  • April 12 lb
  • May 18.74 lb
  • TOTAL TO DATE = 125.2 POUNDS

While the numbers have fluctuated and have been going up, I have been bothered about whether or not that is a good thing.

Having a heavy compost bucket means we have a lot of food scraps and that can mean one of two things:

1.  We are finally figuring out what can be composted and just collecting more of it

OR

2. We are just wasting a lot of food 

So which one is it? What do you think?

Buying Local Food: Week 1

Our own local food challenge started over the weekend. While we still have non-local food in our house, anything that we purchase from now on should be from within our radius.

For instance, right now I am snacking on some Wheat Thins, and once they are gone, they will be gone. Goodbye, my sweet, crunchy snacks.

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We hit the ground running Saturday morning at Green City Market with an idea of what we needed. After an initial lap of checking out what vendors were there and what was available, we narrowed down what we were going to purchase based on what we already had at home.

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We purchased:

  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Spring Onions
  • Ramps
  • Bread
  • Pork Country Sausage
  • Asparagus
  • Potatoes

For a grand total of $42.00….

We obviously have other food in the fridge to supplement our farmers market purchases, so do not think that is all we are eating for the week.

Stay tuned!