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Green Is Good But Sustainability Is Systemic

8 Apr

I don’t talk about sustainability enough on this blog.  The rub of having your masters in sustainability and opening a green business in a city brimming with eco-stewards is that you get all talked out at a certain point.  When you finally do sit sit down to blog, you want to talk about anything else.  This space has become an outlet for all the stuff I love but don’t get to talk about all day:  running and food!

“I feel like I need to commit more time to talk about green living.”

I hate that I even typed that.  What I mean is: I need to commit more time to talk about going beyond green living, into real sustainability.  By no means am I looking down on people who are into green living or use that phrase.  Green is good…great even.  I wish everyone would embrace green lifestyle choices and for the most part, people are pretty happy to jump on the good karma band wagon.  BUT.  And I don’t want to sound pompous when I say this, BUT…to me, the phrase green living has very little meaning.  The phrase itself doesn’t demand self-awareness.  It seems so passive, almost implying that we simply go through our lives and buy products labeled “green” or “eco-friendly” and recycle when it’s convenient and then bask in the awesomeness of our green living.  Understanding sustainability requires us to look beyond packaging and promotions and marketing and our own behaviors/attitudes; it requires us to consider things like social equity and our waste streams and broader systemic implications than just our purchases.  It requires us to think and ask questions and demand answers and improve.  It requires us to walk the walk.  In that spirit, I plan on having more of those conversations in this space.  🙂


 

We are smack dab in the middle of what I like to call “crunch time” at the new house.  We’ve got an appraisal coming up so we need to make sure that the remodel is 100% completed by early next week.  It has really been a struggle to find some kind of balance, but with or without balance this train isn’t slowing down!  I have started to think beyond what is happening now, trying to plan how I will tackle my new enormous yard.  I have so many ideas, but it’s challenging for me to figure out which ones are realistic based on my level of experience and the fact that I have 2 oaf-ish dogs.I grew up in a small house nestled smack dab in the middle of an acre of land in the suburbs.  I am used to having air to breathe, trees, and room to wander.  For the last 5 years, I’ve had to leave my house to find any of those things, but that is about to change in a big way (see below)!  I mean, if the zoning requirements were different in this borough I could have an self-sufficient farmette with the yard we are moving into.  They don’t allow that in West Homestead however, and green my thumb is not.

current-tiny-backyard

our yard now..

photo 4(2)

our new yard…

Before May, my goal is to have a recycling center set up, an herb garden planted, a vegetable garden prepped, some kind of rain harvesting set up, and I will make a composter.  Ambitious, no?

The sky is really the limit as far as composting options go, but after a series of trails and errors I have a general idea of what I want.

I don’t think I’m ready for something quite this permanent yet, but ideally this is what I would like to work up to once I know how I want the yard set up:

To begin, I think I like the one below because it seems like it would be easy for someone with very little interest in using a shovel, rake, or biceps.

If I’m unable to get any cooperation from Christina, I may end up with something a little less fancy like this:

I’m shocked at how much less garbage we put out each week when our kitchen scraps get diverted to make compost!  It’s a gratifying feeling when you make something productive {fertilizer} from literal garbage without spending much money.  Composting is one of the simplest examples of a feedback loop.  We have an endless supply of food waste, which will eventually become an endless supply of fertilizer, which will eventually become an endless supply of vegetables, which then turn back into food waste.  That simple model is at the core of sustainability:  consider how a system works, analyze factors that effect it, and then find a way to close the loop/act on the process to get a beneficial outcome.

 

Do you compost?

What kind of system works for you?

 

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5 Thing Friday

22 Nov

1.  Ace Hotel Coming To Pittsburgh

Ace Hotel, New York

Ace Hotel, New York

So I read this article in Pittsburgh Magazine about “America’s Coolest Hotel” coming to the ‘burgh.  Well of course I wanted to read more because I’m a geek and turns out this hotel chain is super hip(ster) and there are just a few locations around the world – in swag cities like London, Portland, Paris, and now a revitalized  YMCA in Bakery SquareAce Hotel is known for contextualizing the hotel to the city, so we are all on the edge of our seats wondering how AH will showcase Pittsburgh’s complex industrial history.  Or at least me and other design junkies are.  I also might stay there just for fun because hello – micro-brew and small batch coffee on site?  Chyeah.

2.  Serial Killer Christmas Cards

lizzyborden1lizzyborden2

I recently discovered another Pittsburgh blogger – OhHonestlyErin – who seems to have a dry, off-beat sense of humor like myself.  She posted a link to her Etsy shop the other day, where she features her serial killer greeting cards.  I think these are surprisingly fun and hysterical!  I will definitely be buying some of her Valentine’s.

3.  Our house is done!

photo 2(1)

More on this over the next few days as well, but yay!!!  Everything is perfect and we haven’t even put on the finishing touches…or decorations.  haha I promise my walls aren’t normally so cold.

4.  Jace & Si’s Turkey Safety Video

You’re welcome.

5.  Dinner Partayyyyyyyy

Thursday was completely consumed with fretting over and prepping for our very first dinner party.  I am working on a full recap for over the weekend, but just know that I was totally in my element.  I feel like I did my Bubba proud!  Yes, this is my actual grandmother in a photo taken (obviously) on her wedding day.  She was a master entertainer and I remember growing up attending lavish parties.  In fact, one time my cousins and I served hors d’oeuvres on roller skates to guests!  The thing that makes me smile the most about the picture is that when she got married, she couldn’t even boil an egg!

Bubs

“You have nothing to prove to anybody.”

5 Nov

I write a blog, so obviously I read a lot of blogs.  All kinds – food, fitness, healthy living, green living, even some mommy blogs just because I like them!  While I am hooked on reading and following the lives of these women, there is a lack of realness from bloggers: unachievable goals which are actually attained by unrealistically athletic superwomen who eat in strange, disordered ways.  I suppose if I was in their shoes, I wouldn’t feel that way.  People probably think it’s weird that I dumpster dive for coupons.  From the outside looking in, its frustrating to compare my habits and progress to theirs.  Its like watching a celebrity lose weight after they have a baby.  Two weeks and BAM!  Back to size -3.  That’s just not in the cards for me.

I am a real person, with real problems (like balancing my 2 jobs and my dogs and my family obligations and my home renovations and my laziness and being tired and trying to find healthy things to eat and oh yeah shower while all of this is going on) and I’m doing the best I can.  I have to keep reminding myself of that without the context of superfluous excuses.

So I am here to unapologetically declare that I enjoyed every bite of the pizza I ate at 9:30PM last night – when I finally had a chance to sit down and relax after a string of extremely long days.

GG.JunkFood

We are entering the actual home stretch with the kitchen reno.  Finally.  After like a year.  It’s crazy that we flipped an entire house in a few months, but our own home projects linger on.  Realistically, they are the ones that are always moved to the back burner because they aren’t really effecting anything!  Here is what my kitchen looked like a few days ago:

KitchenRenoNov

You may see this as chaos.  I get that.  But, I see this as PROGRESSSSSS!!!!!!  So yeah.  I literally walked away from what I was doing and took this picture.  Realness. Since this photo was taken, the cabinet doors have dried and rehung (they look awesome!), the dishes have been done (duh), and the island has been cleared of all my on-call paperwork/binders/phone.    Honestly, all we need to do is stain and rehang the pantry doors, throw on some baseboard, caulk, and replace the countertops.  So…..friggin……close.

We obviously didn’t get much cooking done over the weekend in this hullabloo, though.  I did manage to concoct this monstrosity:

StuffedSweetPotato

A buffalo chicken stuffed sweet potato.  It was….not good.  I should’ve gone with BBQ sauce, but changed my mind at the last minute.  So for future reference, not a good combo.

And laundromat breakfasts have been looking like this:

oatmealfail

Half-ass cooked oats with almonds, cinnamon, stevia, and frozen blueberries.  Shockingly not as bad as it looks.

So you see…I could never be a celeb-status healthy living blogger.  Because I am real person who hasn’t been to the gym since Friday, takes my time getting projects done, struggles to find clean eats and vegs out with delicious white pizza and MNF.  I am also a fucking rockstar who rolled out of bed this morning, got coffee, hurried to the rental to bundle about 50 lbs. of landscaping mess to beat the garbage truck,  washed the car, VOTED, made it home in time to put our own garbage out, did the dishes, made myself some egg whites and turkey bacon, did 2 loads of laundry, AND managed to catch half an episode of Teen Mom 3 on DVR before work.  I think I would prefer my real life to a contextualized pedestal that I have to create and never fall from.  🙂

MayaAngelouQuote

Winning At Life!

19 Jul

OMG YOU GUYS.

THIS.

newfridge1

I don’t even care that it’s mostly full of beverages and condiments.  It’s MINE.newfridge.2

Bonus:  We got it in the scratch and dent section (it has one little dent in the freezer door, which is barely even noticeable) for oh….almost $1200 off the original ticketed price.  I feel like having a Duck Tails moment and rolling around in gold coins right now!  Bwahahahaha!  I’m winning at life!!!  And…done.

Here’s another reason I’m winning:  When I got home from vacation, Mother Nature + my MIL had taken such excellent care of my plants that they are doing great.

jalapenos.318

It’s day 44 for the container garden and everything is blossoming.  Both jalapeno plants look just like this, I’ve got one small bell pepper and the eggplant just flowered today.  We’ve been eating leaf lettuce for weeks!  In August, I might try my hand with some more lettuce, spinach, peas, and either rutabagas or kohlrabi.

And because two potential forever homes had to back off at the last minute, we’ve still got this little nugget hanging out with us!

lilboydoodle

He is perfect in almost every way.  He’s very smart and listens so well!  It makes me wonder how his brothers and sisters are doing at their forever homes.  We’ve gotten a few photo updates, but no calls.  He is also house trained, which will make his transition that much easier.  The more time he spends with his parents, the better.  They are teaching him all about being a good boy.  He is especially enjoying all the QT he gets with his daddy.

doodleanddad

Sorry for the blurriness, I was afraid that if they noticed me they might move!

What’s going on in your neck of the woods?  Are you dying from the heat wave as well?

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