31 January 2012

Apartment Project 1: Composting

Compost Bin

This weekend, J and I started our compost bucket. Sometime in April I will go down to the Somerville DPW and pick up an Earth Machine compost bin, but for now we are planning on taking the compost we accumulate to Whole Foods. Friends of ours do this already and they say it is pretty easy and convenient, but I also want to use the compost for gardening, so I am curious to see how many of the scraps we end up using when we have our own machine, and whether we will still need to make trips to Whole Foods after we get a compost bin in the back yard.

Compost Bin Top ViewOur bucket is a white, 5 gallon bucket that we picked up at Home Depot. We already had an orange 5 gallon bucket, but the designer in me cringed at drawing that much attention to a waste receptacle, and if this is going to be a permanent lifestyle change and not just an experiment, I need the bucket to blend. Given a choice of two lids (screw top and traditional), we went with the screw top lid, which seals in the smell and makes the bin easier to access than a traditional paint bucket lid—how easily the food will be dumped out is TBD. When we got home we lined the bin with this year's tax literature, and went to town cleaning out the fridge. I think this project will only get easier as time goes on, and I am psyched to produce less garbage, and I can easily see this fundamentally changing everything about how I operate in my kitchen. I even had pangs when I composted my juice extracts this morning because I know I can consume them in some way instead of composting them, but I contented myself with the knowledge that baby steps make for better permanent habit changes.

I have a personal challenge with myself to reduce our landfill-bound waste to one garbage bag a month or less. Dare I dream of being a zero waste household? For now, we've had fun researching what we can and cannot compost (spoiler alert: you can compost many, many things you might have thought you couldn't), but we're doing what we can, and I am so excited to start this journey.

30 January 2012

Music Monday

Handsome Furs - Serve The People from stereogum on Vimeo.

I love everything Wolf Parade has ever done, so it's not too much of a departure to love everything that the Handsome Furs produce. This is one of their latest servings, and it has a nice steady beat and moves along quite nicely.

26 January 2012

Things I Love Thursday: Pupperoni

This Super Bowl Sunday preview commercial for Volkswagon was SUPER cute (get it...Super Bowl...SUPER cute? eh? eh?) Seriously, though, puppies plus Star Wars=awesome. Then again, I am the type of person who can listen to Jingle dogs, so maybe I am not the best authority on the subject. It's worth waiting until the end of the video, or at least until the (spoiler alert) AT-AT greyhound makes an appearance.

A visit to the Aquarium

Some friends and I went to visit some penguins this weekend. I mean, we went to the New England Aquarium. It was a good mix of people—two of us had cameras and were viewing the aquarium through our lenses, and one of us was a scientist (and we kept teasing him for reading all the signs), and there was a lot of banter, some of it at the expense of some salmon.

Penguin Rock

Things That Made Me Smile
 Our wedding was featured on two places on teh interwebs this week:
100 Layer Cake and Fat Orange Cat (our photographer's blog)

25 January 2012

Winter Riding: Lights and Safety

Bell Muni Helmet

Bell Muni Helmet
This commuter helmet has rear lights and built in mounts for Flea Blackburn rear and front commuter lights. I look forward to being fashionable and visible this winter wearing my new Muni, although I will probably wait until next year to consider the Flea Blackburn commuter lights, which run around $50. The helmet itself is also around $50, although there are always deals to be found online. I found that I've replaced my helmet twice, which equates to every two years, but hopefully this one will last well beyond two years.

Knog Boomer Re-chargable Rear Light

Knog Boomer USB Rechargeable Rear Light
This rear light is rechargeable via USB, and it's super cute. I did not intentionally buy pink, but it was the cheapest option on Amazon. This blinky is super bright and I can't wait to get it out on the road. I have difficulty with rear mounts because I have a milk crate mounted on my rear rack, so we'll see how this one fits. I have another rear light (that will probably stay there), but I want to be lit up like a firecracker when I ride. There are three blinky settings and one steady setting) This one costs around $30 on amazon, which is very reasonably priced for a rechargeable bike light.

Cygolite Expilion Front Light

Cygolite Expilion 350-Lumen USB Rechargeable Headlight
This front light is also super bright and also rechargeable via any micro USB (a fact I discovered when I was able to charge my light with the cable for our Universal remote control after I mistook it for my light charger). It mounts very easily, even with gloves. There are five settings: one blinky setting, and four steady settings ranging from low to SUPER BRIGHT. This one was a birthday gift from J, and I use it in tandem with my Cateye OptiCube when I ride at night or in the rain.

23 January 2012

Music Monday—Miike Snow

Although Swedish Electro-Pop is a departure from what I typically listen to, it definitely gets my heart pumping. Paddling Out, the first single from Happy to You, is a great song to clean house to. I might even be adding it to my getting ready playlist. I really enjoyed the progression of both of these songs, and can't wait to see what the album release has to offer. Also, I am a sucker for any music video that features the desert mountains, which are featured heavily in the following video for Devil's Work (the pleather pants are a weird juxtaposition, though).

Happy to You drops March 27th.

Miike Snow—Paddling Out

Miike Snow—Devil's Work

19 January 2012

Things I Love Thursday

Hirsenrispe - millet panicle
This  nutty and tender seed was a delicious addition to our salmon dinner last week. It was perfect straight out of our fuzzy logic rice cooker—I added carrots, salt and pepper, but I can see some interesting millet porridges in my future. Nom. Plus, this fulfills my requirement for January to learn how to cook something new!

White Sands 0010
White Sands National Monument
I love visiting White Sands. We have a blast every time and it's just such a wondrous place—miles and miles of white gypsum dunes. I wish that when I had lived here I had taken advantage of some of their events, like midnight bike rides. We only sometimes think to bring sleds, but most of the time cardboard will do just fine:

16 January 2012

Music Monday

As part of my list of things to do before I turn 29, I am trying to discover new music once a week. This week's song is Location, by Freelance Whales.

This song is upbeat and melodic, with some pleasing harmony and a sweet little banjo peeking out here and there. However, the upbeat progression of the music is juxtaposed by the somewhat dark lyrics, which to me speak out about how tough relationships are sometimes, and how difficult it can be to reach the person you love when they retreat into themselves. After listening to the whole album, I think Freelance Whales remind me a little bit of Arcade Fire, a more polished Oh No, Oh My!, and a less cheery Bishop Allen. Throw in some Postal Service for good measure.

If you have Spotify, you can use the link up there to have a listen, but here's the song on YouTube:

12 January 2012

Things I Love Thursday

Nike Training Club
This App is free and it works on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. You select a goal and level, then find a workout that meets your criteria. It's rewards based, so you get to see how your latest workout has brought you closer to your next reward, like power smoothie recipes or high energy training circuits. I can't wait to use this tool next time I am at the gym (or not!).

I have already mentioned this app offhandedly when I did my year end summary, but I thought it was worth re-mentioning. There are three things I like about this app. One, the ambient sounds are varied, although I doubt I will ever get sick of listening to a mountain stream as I fall asleep, since camping in the Gila Mountains by a stream is my "happy place." Two, There is a guided sleep meditation, which helps with my goal of meditating more this year. Three, there is an option to add a layer of binaural beats, and I have found this to be très helpful as a relaxing white noise option.

08 January 2012

28 Things to do Before I Turn 29

  1. Overhaul my office area
  2. Restyle my closet to fit my new fashion needs
    I have started buying only "sensible shoes," and more clothes with appropriate fabrics, lengths, etc. I occasionally stop into H&M and Forever 21, but I try to stock up on more quality products—like my jeans and my shoes, so that I can pick up endless tops at Target, since they don't last as long. Lots of lessons learned.
  3. Sew and tailor all of my old clothes that need mending
    I didn't get to all of them, but I have mended a lot.
  4. Pimp out our balcony
  5. Donate our old towels to the MSPCA
  6. Go sledding
  7. Try a juice fast
  8. Cook one new food or recipe every month
    We ended up participating in a farm share starting in June, and J bought a new propane grill. Between those two things, we were learning more about food this year than any year before. I ended up learning ways to cook millet, quinoa, beets, turnips, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, kale, butternut squash, and way more other foods that I never thought I'd be able to make by myself, much less enjoy in the first place (I was skeptical about brussels sprouts, but they are my new favorite food. Especially when they're buffalo flavored). I know that's only 8 foods that I've listed, but at least 12 different recipes came out of them—so I think it counts.
  9. Participate in group meditationI went to the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, and it was incredibly relaxing and freeing. One of the founders, Sharon Salzberg, has written two books that I highly recommend: Real Happiness—The Power of Meditation—A 28 Day Program, and Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness.
  10. Run a 5K
    This goal was originally to ride my bike more than 50 miles (in one ride). I stopped doing long rides long ago, and this didn't even become a possibility. However, I did start running, and I finished my first 5K in December!
  11. Visit a new country
    We visited Italy and Croatia in August. It made me want to travel even more!
  12. Take more photosI was more earnest about participating in Project 364, to take a picture every day of the year. I was wildly unsuccessful in taking a picture every day, but it definitely led to more photos, and more importantly, better photos—especially in Europe.
  13. Go back to school
    I took Graphic Design I at MassArt in the spring, and Graphic Design II in the summer.
  14. Complete at least three apartment projectsThe following improvements have made our apartment much better:
    • Hanging glass racks in our kitchen to hold our wine glasses, in addition to buying an Ikea kitchen shelf to get some of our bigger kitchen appliances out of the kitchen.
    • Hanging grundtal rails in the office—rails allow me to hang art supplies at an arms reach, and I also hung up a hanging file so that I could keep my Groupons at hand.
    • Patching up a hole in the wall. Yeah, sure I put the hole in the wall myself, but now I know I have the necessary skills to fix that sort of damage!
  15. Find a new job
    I had a contracting position in July-September at MIT, and it was part of a thrilling and prestigious grant proposal. I am excited to add it to my resume.
  16. Adopt a greyhound
    Feh. This one is happening. D-day (dog day) is January 26th. I missed this one by a few weeks.
  17. Swim in the ocean
    Not only did I swim in the ocean, but I went swimming in the Adriatic Sea! The water was so beautiful—crystal clear and the perfect temperature.
  18. Discover new music once a week
    Not once a week, but frequently. I posted a video a week for a while, and that helped me try to reach this goal.
  19. Start knitting again
    I made an honest effort starting with a small afghan.
  20. Learn to embroider
  21. Redesign my online portfolio
  22. Change my name
    I legally changed my name shortly after my birthday, way before 29 ;)
  23. Visit a new museum
    We visited the Peabody Essex Musem in Salem, MA this past March.
  24. Make the spare bedroom guest-ready (i.e. not my dumping ground)
    In all fairness, it is still a dumping/hiding ground, but we've streamlined the dumping/hiding process such that it takes a day to get it to guest-ready shape, plus we've made sure to include toiletries, internet password, and fancy guest towels.
  25. Keep sparkling wine in the house for impromptu champagne moments
    I found mini bottles of champagne, and it has been simple to keep champagne in the house for impromptu celebrations or, you know, Tuesday nights.
  26. Tour a chocolate factory
    This one was actually a bit of a cheat since we did it for my 28th birthday.
  27. Plant an herb garden
    In May, I had mint, and lime mint growing on my balcony, and basil growing in my kitchen.
  28. Compost
    I talk about our adventures composting here.

05 January 2012

Things I Love Thursday: Corgis Gonna Corg

From the Obsessive Corgi Disorder tumblr

honorable meniton

Feeling like a road warrior for riding my bike in the winter  The Dinner Party, This American Life, and Freakonomics Radio—my new rotation of podcasts  Excitement about new projects and fresh starts  Daydreaming about our upcoming vacations and travel plans  Listening to mountain streams as I fall asleep  The pile of books I have waiting for me at home  

Happy Thursday!

04 January 2012

Whole Body Cleanse, Week 1

As part of a New Year's pact that I made with myself, I am three days into the 2012 Whole Living Action Plan. I have tried this plan before, but I didn't place any importance on the followthrough. I ended up fasting for a while, feeling great, then falling into old patterns and ordering a lot of takeout as a "reward" for all of that difficult fasting I'd done.

This time, equipped with a shiny new juicer, and some other life adjustments, I felt ready to tackle this thing and really think about what it is doing to my body, and how I can make it a lifestyle change. I am keeping better track of what it does to my depression, my anxiety, my skin, and hopefully in time, my waistline.

I have had some pleasantly unexpected results: I actually have more energy than usual, my attention has been more focused, and I have started drinking my coffee black. I'm supposed to be cutting caffeine out during this detox, but I knew I wouldn't be successful without coffee. In the long run, it's a habit I'm probably not going to give up, ever, but the benefit of cutting the sugar and milk from my daily cup (and being happy about it) is unexpected and amazing, and almost makes up for a little cheating.

Some of the recipes are really good, like these sesame kale chips, and these fruit and nut bites. Me, though? I just can't wait to start drinking wine again.