local

Buying Local: Week 7 & 2nd CSA Share

I can’t believe it has been seven weeks since we have started this local journey.

Our refrigerator is full of so much green and our cabinets are looking more full of less processed products.

 

CSA week2

This week’s CSA box (photo by K since I was in Denver)

 

berries

On Wednesday I brought my CSA box back to the farmers market and picked up some raspberries. Instead of taking the carton the raspberries came in, I brought my own produce bag and plopped them in my berries colander when I got home.

What We Bought (Almost All from CSA box):

  • Head lettuce
  • Avon Spinach
  • Red frill mustard
  • Arugula
  • Radishes
  • Strawberries
  • English Peas
  • Greenhouse Cherry tomatoes
  • Yellow Spring onions
  • Raspberries from Mick Klug Farm in St. Joseph, MI

What We Learned:

  • We still need to up our arsenal of recipes for veggie meals, often we are just cutting up a bunch of greens and tossing it in a pasta or salad
  • Smoothies aren’t so bad after all
  • K really did not like having to shell those English Peas
  • Still not sure what to do with radishes

Buying Local: Week 6

We still have so much produce from our CSA share last week. Thank goodness we did not get the full share where we would pick up every week.

Since we still had so much to work through, we did not visit the farmers market this past weekend. We needed to concentrate on what we had left!

 

first CSA share week 2

We ate everything with an “X” through it. The others we are still working on! 

 

A variety of recipes were tried this week. We had some pasta with sauteed spinach and spring onions one day.  One night was veggie pizza night and I am usually against having vegetables on my pizza, but it was delicious! We used the broccoli raab and asparagus for that. Kale and quinoa were also on the menu one night.

In order to work through some of the spinach, I forced myself to start making some smoothies as well.

blender

What We Bought:

  • Oberweis milk from family farms around IL and WI
  • Turano bread from Berwyn, IL
  • Greenridge Farm lunchmeat from Elk Grove Village, IL
  • A couple other things that don’t make it under the local label

What We Learned:

  • Shaved asparagus pizza is amazing! Check out the recipe.
  • Our blender is really bad (we have no idea where or who it came from)

Buying Local: Week 5 & 1st CSA Share

We had been waiting in anticipation for our first CSA share and oh boy it was a lot of greens! Our box was jam packed with goodies and I am excited to eat the produce that I know and the new ones as well.

first CSA share

What We Bought (all from CSA box):

  • Baby leaf Salonova Lettuce
  • Avon Spinach
  • Red rover radishes
  • Red spring onions
  • Russet potatoes
  • Rapini (Broccoli Raab)
  • Asparagus
  • Red Russian Kale
  • Earliglow Strawberries (plus an extra box because I love strawberries)

What We Learned:

  • I have gotten a little caught up in trying to get everything local that I really forget how I originally laid this challenge out. We were going to focus on produce, meat, dairy, and eggs, and I basically forgot that. Back to focusing on those main pieces from now on.
  • Is local olive oil even possible?
  • CSA shares are awesome
  • We are so glad we got the half CSA share, where we get a box every other week, instead of every week. We would need a bigger refrigerator!
  • We can bring back our CSA box to the farmers market for them to reuse #score
  • We are going to have to start making smoothies
  • Rapini tastes like leafy broccoli and we are in love!

Passing on A Traditional Florist

I like flowers.

I really do, but spending a fortune on plants that are flown in from far away and most likely going to be discarded the next day is just not my cup of tea.

So I made the easy decision that a traditional florist is not the route I will be going for my wedding.

Luckily we have a family friend who started Avium Flowers, providing fresh-cut flowers grown right here in Chicago in a sustainable and organic manner.

avium flowers

Right now I am working with them on the flowers and colors that I like. When the time comes, they can then order the appropriate seeds and specifically keep me in mind for the next growing season.

My wedding flowers are legitimately being grown just for me, right here in Chicago.

Seriously, how cool is that?

See some of their amazing work below.

All of the 💗🌸💋🎈💖 for @curtismcassell today. You're fabulous!!!

A post shared by Avium Flowers Co. (@aviumflowers) on

We flexed our design muscles this week! 💪🏼 Congrats Julia and Ryan ❤️🎉 #aviumweddings #farmerflorist

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Remembering these bundles of joy on this brrr day 🌬 #farmerflorist #slowflowers #dahlia #heirloommums #aviumweddings

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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.

local food 4

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.

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.

green-city-logo

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.

local foods logo

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:

milk

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!

Can’t Wait for Our CSA Share

Can we just put a CSA share on our wedding registry? Is that not normal?

Either way, I am beyond excited to purchase our first CSA share for this summer.

For those of you that don’t know, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is:

…a food subscription service that allows you to purchase locally and seasonally as part of a farm share. It is a great way to support local farmers. –FamilyFarmed.org

Basically each week (or every other week depending on your share), you pick up your CSA box (or you can have it delivered) that is filled with in-season produce from a local farm.

Whatever you get in your box depends on what is ripe and ready on the farm.

We already know that I am a nerd for maps, but I am also a nerd for Excel spreadsheets. So much so that I set up a spreadsheet to help decide which CSA we should pick for this summer.

csa

The factors that are going to go into our decision include:

  • Price
  • Time frame (how many weeks?)
  • Add-ons (can we add fruit or eggs?)
  • Pick up location (can we walk there?)

While there are many CSA options throughout the city, we are limiting our scope to ones that we can pick up from the nearby Green City Market.

green-city-logo

A CSA may seem expensive up front, but when you spread it out over the course of 22 weeks, it is really not that bad. Plus, you know exactly where your food is coming from and create a connection with that farmer.

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CSA Resources:

Introducing “Waste Not Want Not Wedding”

Over the weekend, I got engaged.

Holy Moly!

It has been a crazy whirlwind so far and I am finally feeling the weight of planning such an important life event.

I have been a bridesmaid 5 times already (it will be 6 in July), so I am no stranger to weddings.

bridesmaids

For my own wedding, I am excited to incorporate my eco-friendly lifestyle and chronicle all of it here for you.

However, I do feel that the wedding industry has gotten a little bit out of control (apologies to anyone who has opposite views of me on this topic).

For instance, the perceived need for all of these things:

  • engagement photos
  • engagement parties
  • wedding planners
  • save the dates
  • photo booths
  • over the top centerpieces  and flowers that get thrown out the next day
  • favors no one takes home
  • wedding hashtags #NO
  • matching bridal party shirts you will never wear again
  • “future Mrs. ____” apparel or items you will never wear after getting married

These are not necessities to getting married. Social media (specifically Pinterest) has lead us to believe we need all of these things for a successful and Pinterest-worthy wedding.

Last time I checked, the most important part is the act of getting married.

Going forward with wedding planning, this is what I want:

  • this to be easy
  • this to be simple
  • to avoid unnecessary costs
  • create the least amount of waste as possible
  • do what I can do myself
  • to use local services and goods
  • to use friend’s and family as much as possible

I want my wedding to be an event put together by people who are important to me.

Obviously, I understand as I go through this process, I may change my mind about everything. For now, though, this is my initial stance.

How do you feel about weddings these days? Do you think they can be quite wasteful?

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