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 :)


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!
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