Wednesday, September 6, 2017

EN FRANCAIS, S'IL VOUS PLAIT!

J'ai decide d'ecrire une fois par semaine en francais. Le titre, c'est la chose mes Profs disaient au lycee et quelquefois a l'universite pour nous encourager. Oui, je n'utilise pas la ponctuation correcte et la grammaire et l'orthographe sont probablement une honte pour mon diplome. Neanmoins je vais ecrire, et j'espere qu'en ecrivant, j'ameliorerai (et retrouver) quelques-unes de mes capacites francophones.

Ca suffit pour moi aujourd'hui, et que mes futurs posts francais soient beaucoup plus divertissantes!

Bisous,
Suzie

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Book Review: "Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too"

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(This is from my goodreads.com review I wrote last year. I'm posting it here to remind of the changes I can make to reduce my plastic, some of which I've already started.)



This book was long and hard to get through.... But one of the most inspiring and motivating at the same time! Ha. Heavy on information but also a ton of practical suggestions. 

I kind of feel like someone who just watched a fast-food documentary: part disgusted, part in shock, as well as part "so what do I do with that information?"

Notes to self:

-Receipts cannot be recycled
-"BPA free" has proved as bad or worse than regular BPA plastic
-Antibacterial cleaners are not good because they also kill good bacteria, regular soaps are better
-"Seconds in your hand, forever in the land(fill)"... the plastic I buy and use will outlive me!

Things I can do:

-Go on a tour of the local recycling center. Find out exactly what can be recycled and where it's taken (shipped to China?) after it is sorted. Ask about small pieces of recyclable material.. is it even recycled? And what's done with the stuff that can't be recycled?
-Try using shampoo, conditioner, and shave soap bars (like those from LUSH). Switch to bar soap instead of liquid hand soap. 
-Look for a good stainless steel water bottle and ice cube tray.
-Try to go to farmers markets and bulk-bin places, call ahead and ask if I can take my own containers.
-Walk to our local bakery and see what they offer and whether they'd allow me to bring my own bread bags.
-Make more things myself instead of buying to reduce packaging waste and save money. Salad dressings, mayonnaise, chocolate syrup, hot chocolate, etc...
-Don't be embarrassed to let people see me pick up trash on the street (plastic goes down storm drains to the sea where mother birds feed it to their young).
-Try using coconut oil as a moisturiser. 
-Research safety razors.
-Learn how to use freecycle properly.
-Replace the kids plastic food-ware with wooden or buy some ceramic at Goodwill.
-Once our plastic toothbrushes run out, consider replacing with bamboo. 

*image via

Saturday, August 26, 2017

7! -or- How It All Began

This lovely man and I just hit our 7th anniversary this month (yay! we made it!). And we've been reminiscing over our crazy wonderful time together <3

I'm really grateful for the life we've built. We've been through difficult times, emotionally and financially, and we've come out stronger, wiser, and definitely more grateful for what we have together.

Here's how it all began, from the previous "About Us" page...


First Meeting: (Which only Suzie Remembers)

When: Early October, 2009.
Where: Church pumpkin-carving party.
He said: "Hi.....[extensive small talk]".
She said: "Umm, I've gotta go find my roommates now...".

Second Meeting:

When: Mid October, 2009.
Where: Crepe party, Suzie's apartment.
She said: "[something something something] penny dropping!".
He said: "We're going penny dropping tomorrow, do you want to come?!"


After our penny dropping date, Brian and I hiked the Y (Y-mountain, in Provo, UT). And, well, that was where the penny really dropped! Ha. We started dating exclusively a couple of months later. Broke up. And then got back together knowing it would be for good.

We were married August 17th 2010 in the Mt. Timpanogos Temple, Utah. We got some great counsel from our Sealer, but the best thing was the power we could feel when we were sealed for time and all eternity. Incredible.

Since then, we've moved from Utah to Maryland to Saint Louis, Missouri, where we'll be staying for quite a while. Brian is studying genetics and genomics at WASHU. I am enjoying staying home with our two lovely children, Isaac and Elsie. Life is lovely. And crazy. And we are trying to enjoy every minute.


Back in the Saddle (LWH)


With the kids back at school I've had more time to reassess my goals, and in this particular department I've realized I'm not doing as well as I once was. I'm not sure I want to even attempt true "Zero Waste" at this phase of our lives. I have a restricted budget and a strong dislike of offending others. But with that said, I can take some more baby steps to both minimize our belongings and reduce our waste.

Goals for this next week:

1. Declutter each room of the house and take unnecessaries to goodwill.
2. Make a list of the products I buy regularly and choose one thing to improve or do without.
3. Continue to not consume sugar until September 26th (Brian and I just decided to give it up for a month).
4. Report back.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

I golfed, I golf, I AM A GOLFER!


At the golf course today, someone asked how long I'd worked there. When I realized I'd been working there for a year, I figured it was high time to try it out.

It was awesome! My shoulder muscles don't agree, but I'm sure they'll get used to it. 

Apparently I have a great natural follow through, though I think that's as far as my "natural" ability will take me. Especially given that the nice gentleman who was giving me some great tips asked if I needed glasses. ha!


But I began hitting the ball more often than not and my speed was averaging about 48mph, aside from a couple at 65 and one at 85. And I hit one about 300... feet that is! Ha. I think my furthest was about 70 yards, but as lowly as it may seem, I am thrilled. The fact that I tried something new--despite being worried about how bad I'd be and how silly I'd look--has given me confidence, however misplaced it may be! But I'm proud of myself and I'm excited to do it again!


(In case you missed that reference...)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Easy (Lazy) Composting for a Less Waste Home

A little while ago I wrote about the changes we’ve been making in the past year to help us reduce our waste. I mentioned that we’d started composting, and thought I’d update you on our system.


First of all, I seriously LOVE composting. I feel a bizarre and deep satisfaction that our biodegradable waste is not going into a landfill to create toxic gases, but is rotting nicely in our backyard, turning into something useful. And of all the changes we've made, composting has reduced our waste output the most.


So now when we throw something away we have a few options: a large plastic recycling bin, a small trash can under the sink, and an even smaller compost “bin” also under our sink.





Our compost bin is a used oatmeal tub, lined with a cereal box bag. We put basically any food-type substance in there. Technically cooked food is supposed to be composted in a different way, but we just lump it all together and have had no issues with pests or food not rotting. The only food we wouldn’t put in there is raw meat. We also compost lint from the dryer, hair from brushes/haircuts, tea bags, loose strands of 100% cotton, garden waste, our old christmas tree, etc. (For another post about his sort of lazy composting, click here.)

Once the compost bin is full, we take it outside and dump it on our compost pile. It’s 6 pallets screwed together, with the front pallet set on hinges to allow easier access for when we’ll eventually need to turn it.



This is from last Winter, Brian attempting to flatten all the leaves down to make room for more.


We use the same liner (the cereal bag) a couple of times until we use up the new box of cereal. Then we just throw it away in the regular trash. I initially tried to rinse out and reuse a bread bag but it was gross and frustrating and the cereal bag is much less has hassle and more convenient. (I'd eventually like to buy cereal in bulk, so we'll need a different solution when we go that route, but for now this is working well for us.)


A Dollar Tree stainless steel sink strainer has also helped us make sure even the smaller pieces of food/peel make it to the compost.


There are a ton of other composting options out there-amazon has several great options-but this is the way we do it, and I hope it’s helpful! Most of all I just hope you realize that it can inexpensive, mess (and smell) free and most of all, rather satisfying.



 

Solar Eclipse

We had such a great Solar Eclipse experience! Our friends came down from Chicago to spend the weekend with us, and we had a blast. Here's us gawking at the sun during the partial eclipse.


For those who didn't get to experience it/for me to remember:
It was so eerie, like a storm was brewing as the moon moved further and further across the sun. As the sky darkened, the crickets and cicadas started chirping and our street lights turned on. We were lucky enough to be in the zone of totality for about 45 seconds, so we laid out on our front lawn and enjoyed it. It was too hot to be outside for long, but as it got darker it got cooler too. So dark that we could see a star (well, Venus) to its right. And while it was as dark as night directly above us, to either side it looked like a sunset. When it was completely eclipsed, we could look at it without our glasses and it was incredibly beautiful, like a black moon with white fire dancing at its edges. The forty-five seconds went too quickly, it was incredible!


We spent the rest of our friends' visit frequenting Ted Drewes, a lunch at Pappy's, watching Rogue One (Brian and my first time watching), playing on the slip n slide in the back yard, hanging out with mutual friends, eating and chatting. Awesome weekend... just wish I'd taken more photos!



Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Things I'm Making the Most Of Right Now

Often I look back at previous periods of my life and think "Why didn't I take advantage of that more?" I think back to the amazing pool(s) we had in our complex a couple of years ago that we used about 3 times. Or the Trader Joe's just a ten minute's walk away (I would love that right now!). Or (especially) the acquaintances that could've become amazing friends had I put forth a little more effort who have now moved far away.

So I'm trying to make sure I don't neglect all the wonderful things I really do have in my life right now. Here's my list:


  • A beautiful local park. It's a ten minute walk if the kids are in the stroller (much longer if they're not:)). It's beautiful, with green space, trees, a "lake" with a fountain and ducks and geese and a really great park for kids that Isaac thinks of as his personal pirate ship. 
  • A local library that I love within walking distance away. Our local library is actually super ugly and small, but I love it! I love the people who work there, the regulars who often say hi to the kids and me, that they have an older-ladies workout group I've been invited to before (still not sure if that was a compliment...? Ha!) and a storytime available if my kids ever get the desire to sit through one :) And libraries are just magical places in general.   
  • Both my children at home (at least until August!). This one is a tiny bit on the aspirational side, meaning I am trying to cherish my time with a 2 and (almost) 4 year old at home all day. Isaac starts full-day preschool in August which I'm really excited about, as I think it will be so good and fun for him and also way easier at home. I feel especially excited during the frequent sibling rivalry that goes on around here. I think it will be glorious, but I'm trying to make the most of him while I have him. 
    Our "picnic" on the trampoline
  • A body that is currently uninhabited of any other body and one that responds to exercise. Also mildly aspirational. 
  • The great attractions Saint Louis has to offer. We have a lot of cool stuff around here. I'd really like to take more advantage of the zoo and Science Center this Summer and work on my "STL List" a bit more. Displaying IMG_3305.JPG 
    At Cahokia mounds a couple weekends ago
  • Making friends. The friends we were super close to up and left Saint Louis this past year and even though we do have a ton of awesome friends still, I don't feel like we spend much time with them or know them as well as I'd like. So I'm hoping to be a little more deliberate this summer about inviting people over or out to do things.

Monday, May 30, 2016

A Less Waste Home

A while ago, Brian and I noticed that we weren't taking our trash can out on trash day very often. About once each month. We take our recycling out more often, perhaps once every few weeks. And we thought we were doing pretty well at not producing much trash.

Then I picked up up Bea Johnson's book "Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste" and was appropriately humbled. This family produce a quart-sized jar full of trash each year. Each year!  Wowza.

I'm pretty ruthless when it comes to recycling (like I'll tear off the plastic windows on envelopes to recycle the paper and things like that) but I realized that in terms of being "good" for the environment, recycling really isn't the goal. For a variety of reasons.

I also had the sudden realization that everything I put in my trash can will end up under the ground somewhere in a landfill. And I knew it before that, I suppose, but it never really hit me.

Anyways, I was inspired, and we made a few small changes. We won't be cancelling our trash collection service any time soon, but I feel good about doing what I can to "refuse, reduce, re-use, recycle, rot" (this is Bea's mantra by the way, and it's in priority order).

  • We now have a compost bin under our sink, next to our trash can. When I was in England last month I noticed that my sister had one, and that it didn't smell bad(!). So I figured I could do that. It has surprisingly reduced our trash a ton! We have a corner in the backyard where we pile our grass clippings and yard waste. (The mound has grown significantly and we're deciding on how to better contain it. Right now leaning towards making a structure out of pallets.) It's been a good visual reminder and I feel great about it. Now we mostly take out nappies/diapers to the trash. I really should go back to cloth but Elsie is SO CLOSE to potty training that I'm just biding my time. 
  • I cut up stained/irreparable clothing into rags and put some under each sink in the house to use for cleaning. 
  • I decluttered a ton. This is from Bea's suggestion to "reduce". I LOVE having less junk. Especially in the kitchen and closets. Bea's thought is that by having less, we realize we need less and that by having less we clean less and have more time for experiences (as opposed to things). We still have a lot of junk but I'm happy with our progress. 
Other things I want to do/keep doing:
  • Taking a reusable water bottle with me (I really love Contigo brand).
  • Not buying dollar store junk (I mean the plastic toys that break after five minutes). 
  • Not using (or taking home) hotel shampoos/soaps.
  • Not buying paper towels or napkins once ours run out, continue using wash cloths/rags for spills and buy some nice cloth napkins for company.
  • Not buying the kids' toys and clothes new (honestly we don't really buy our kids toys or clothes. Our friends and family are super generous.).
  • Using the library for books and movies.
  • We shop at ALDI and so already use own own bags, but I'd like to shop more in bulk and use my own containers. I checked out Whole Foods and unfortunately the price and selection in our local place won't work for us. I'd like to try going to more farmers markets and see what I can find in bulk there. 
I would love to be as strict as Bea, but I don't see that happening any time soon. Partly because of budget, partly because I think it's a challenge socially. But it does help me think twice before buying anything disposable. For example, I had quite the moral crisis at the store on Saturday when I realized the only thing left to sign up to bring for a BBQ was plates/cups/napkins/cutlery. Gah! I imagined bringing our own and then carting a ton of dirty dishes back home and just bought the disposables :/

But I'm trying! And even though our efforts are relatively small, I feel really good about the direction they're taking us. 

PS Here's a picture of the jar holding the Johnson's family waste from 2015:


Image via.

Click HERE to see Bea's list of tips for lessening waste all over the house.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Merry Belated Christmas!

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas season! Over here in St Louis our Christmas tree is still up and a lot of people still haven't taken down their outdoor Christmas lights, so I'm still feeling a little Christmassy :)

Here are a few bootlegged pictures of us at a Christmas party we crashed last minute.
Man, we're classy :)

Elsie's expression though...

Love these ladies!


Brian and I attended his department's "Seasonal Celebration" banquet at the city's Modern Art Museum. Only just now realizing now that we probably picked the least interesting backdrop in that place for a photo. Ha! 
Isaac really got into the Christmas Spirit... and into Brian's Christmas trousers. He kept saying "I'm Father Christmas!"
These ladies and others put on a fabulous RS Christmas party

Christmas morning. This present was a big hit. The twister mat was for the delicious big breakfast we cooked with friends that morning.
Another big hit :)
 

<3

Our tiny tree <3
It is no longer decorated. It's brittle as anything but it's still green and smells amazing so I'm leaving it up for now :)

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas too!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Party Photos

A little while ago we went to a friend's daughter's 1st birthday party. Everything was perfectly lovely, and afterwards my friend sent me these photos of the children. So cute! And so nice to have some updated photos!





Friday, September 11, 2015

On Becoming An Old Lady

A while ago I posted about how I was turning into my mother. These days though, I feel more like I'm turning into my grandmother.

I'm not sure what started it, but it's getting worse.

I read books like this:

41977

I find myself more interested in what the older ladies at the gym are talking about than the women more my age.

I find blogs like this one fascinating.

And I can't tear myself away from shows like Rosemary and Thyme, a pair of crime-solving older-lady gardeners. It's really quite fabulous. Here's a picture for you to prove it:



It doesn't seem quite the appropriate way to spend the last year of my twenties, but I must admit that I am thoroughly enjoying it. Now excuse me while I go and take a mid-morning nap...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summertimes

We've had a fun and eventful summer so far! Here's the ridiculous number of photos to prove it:

Elsie's first plane ride! Headed to SLC and ID for Brian's Brother's wedding! 

This is us finally on a plane! (We had spent 4 hours in the airport the day we were to fly out, but the delays were so bad that we ended up going home and catching a different flight the next day.)

Lots of this happened :)

Elsie and Coda the cat at Angie and Mike's where we stayed for a fun-filled day before being whisked away to ID.  (Thanks again guys! Can't wait to host the THREE of you next time you're in our neck of the woods!)

I finally made it to the potato factory! I got a bunch of pictures here but none of Bobbie and Hayley's wonderful wedding...


Riding around Bear World :)

Where are the bears?

Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!

Isaac's very most favorite ride that he didn't want to leave even with the promise of pizza!


Elsie with Prince Ali!

So good to catch up :)


Fun at Great Grandparents Earley's house


The kids were pretty ecstatic about the cats :)

Grandma Kathy!

Grandpa David!

Napping before we met up with Kim and her girlies... 

Brian's feat of balancing 6 cases and two car seats while wearing a heavy backpack and pushing a stroller!

Sad picture... While we were out of state having a brilliant time, Saint Louis got hit with a ton of rain which at some point caused our retaining wall to come down. This then led to our house flooding and us having to move out for about 5 or 6 days. So grateful to Chelsey and Jacob for letting us stay at their place while they were away! There's still a lot of work to be done on our house but hopefully the worst is over!

Elsie's favorite toys at our local library :)


Isaac had a lot of fun with some baby cream during "nap time". He ate it too, I'm pretty sure... I'm not sure why these kids love sudocrem so much?!

He got all over Elsie too...

Isaac helping Daddy in the yard.

At the Muldowney's place while our house was dried out :)

On the way in to the library.


So fun! These kids are cute if I say so myself :) Lets hope the rest of the summer goes less eventfully but just as nicely!

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