What I’ve Read Recently

I have been on a library kick lately.

So much so that I went into my Amazon list and removed all the books on my wishlist and added them to my “For Later” shelf in my Chicago Public Library account.

While basically zero of my books have been cozy-up-by-the-fire-and-finish-in-one-day-books, they have all been really enlightening and I read them on the bus commuting to work.

Here’s what I have been reading. Have you read any of these?

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

By: Michael Pollan

omnivores dilemma



“Pollan follows each of the food chains that sustain us—industrial food, organic or alternative food, and food we forage ourselves—from the source to a final meal, and in the process develops a definitive account of the American way of eating. His absorbing narrative takes us from Iowa cornfields to food-science laboratories, from feedlots and fast-food restaurants to organic farms and hunting grounds, always emphasizing our dynamic coevolutionary relationship with the handful of plant and animal species we depend on.” –

What I learned:

  • Next time you eat a chicken nugget really think about the taste. Does it actually taste like chicken?
  • Organic agriculture is almost as bad as conventional agriculture
  • Buying local is better for everyone involved

Dress with Sense

By: Christina Dean

Dress with Sense



“This four-chapter guide will cater to your appetite to have a more conscious dress sense and will take you through how you can:

BUY better and make more responsible choices when hitting the shops

WEAR your clothes more creatively, and rescue hidden treasures from the depths of your wardrobe.

CARE for your clothes by learning better more environmentally friendly ways to wash

DISPOSE of them by swapping, gifting, donating or recycling – anything but throwing them in the trash!” –

What I learned:

  • Take care of your clothes
  • I need to learn how to sew more than a button or fix a hole
  • Avoid low-quality clothes, go for high-quality and then make it work for you
  • If your clothes don’t fit, take them to the tailor! I have a skirt and dress pants with the tailor right now

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative

By: Florence Williams

the nature fix



“From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to groves of eucalyptus in California, Williams investigates the science at the confluence of environment, mood, health, and creativity. Delving into completely new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and ultimately strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas—and the answers they yield—are more urgent than ever.”-

What I learned:

  • Take the more scenic route to work, its better for you even if it is longer
  • Listen to some nature sounds, birdsong preferably
  • Basically living in the city is terrible for you

Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying your Life by Reducing your Waste

By: Bea Johnson

zero waste home



“In Zero Waste Home, Bea Johnson shares the story of how she simplified her life by reducing her waste. Today, Bea, her husband, Scott, and their two young sons produce just one quart of garbage a year, and their overall quality of life has changed for the better: they now have more time together, they’ve cut their annual spending by a remarkable 40 percent, and they are healthier than they’ve ever been.” –

What I learned:

  • The zero waste queen didn’t start this lifestyle until later in life, so that means it’s never too late to start
  • Lots of good resources and recipes

Life Without Plastic: The Practice Step-by-step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep your Family and the Planet Healthy

By: Chantal Plamondon

life without plastic



“LIFE WITHOUT PLASTIC: The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep Your Family and the Planet Healthy strives to create more awareness about BPA-based products, polystyrene and other single-use plastics, and provides readers with ideas for safe, reusable and affordable alternatives. By removing plastic from your home, you can reduce your environmental footprint, minimize threats to wildlife, support local businesses and live a healthier, simpler life.” –

What I learned:

  • I really don’t like reading about all the ways plastic can kill us
  • That’s it so far, I just started this one!

Other books on my radar:

  • Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything, by Daniel Goleman
  • The More of Less: FInding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own, by Joshua Becker
  • Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash, by Susan Strasser
  • Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and A Raucous Year of Eating Locally, by Alisa Smith
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver

Take A Seat: Restoring A Piece of IU History

While I was still in school at Indiana University, I discovered one of the most amazing places on campus. It was tucked away far from the classrooms and dorms. Not many people knew about it. It was only open at weird times and was located in a warehouse.

I am talking about the IU Surplus Store! It is like a garage sale of IU goodies! AKA Heaven.

“Provides services for the proper disposition of unneeded university property. By returning surplus items into circulation with sales to university departments and to the general public, Surplus Stores plays an important part in the sustainability efforts of Indiana University. Through sales and recycling programs, Surplus Stores is committed to limiting the university’s environmental foot print which is beneficial to not only the campus but the community as a whole.” –IU Surplus Store Facebook

I bought 2 library chairs for $5 a piece. I like to imagine the years of use these chairs provided to students “studying” in the library. K bought one at a different time, so now we have an odd number of 3. Probably should get a 4th the next time we are in Bloomington to even it out…


IU chair done 3

I love that one of my chairs still has its original “Property of Indiana University” sticker on the bottom.


A couple summers later, while going through antique stores in New Buffalo, Michigan, I happened to come across a chair that was also from the Indiana University Library and had been painted black.


The store was selling it for $120. Yikes! Obviously, my chairs did not look as good, but I intended to change that, and as usual, I got in a bit over my head.


IU Chair3.jpg

The point I started to realize this was a terrible idea


Even though I had two chairs that were not exactly the same, I figured I would just stain them the same color and go with the mix and match look.

Since my dad is a woodworker, I thought the process of stripping the chairs was going to be easy peasy. BOY WAS I WRONG!

Nothing came off no matter how hard we tried. It was just layers and layers of lacquer on those beaten up chairs. Long story short, I got very frustrated and the chairs sat in the garage for a number of months.

Since having 2 junky chairs still covered in peeling chemical stripper is not that appealing to my dad, he took my chairs to work to have the professionals deal with it. Thank goodness for them!

I have since moved and recently sold my old set of 6 chairs on craigslist (no need for them in this tiny apartment anyway), so it was finally time to pick up my IU chairs from the shop!

Look at these babies! They look fantastic! 

IU chairs done

IU chairs done 2

P.S. Thanks, Dad! Couldn’t have done it without you 😉