Indoor Composting

Remember when I revealed that Ian and I had begun indoor composting? Meet our 1,000 newest family members:

They really love carrots (as you can see above). Ian and I have been composting for about a month now and for the most part I have enjoyed the experience. It’s nice to have a more sustainable place to recycle old produce instead of just throwing it in the trash. And believe it or not the worms do not smell at all (not even with moldy food in their bin). Their “worm factory” bin is a nice design and has a spout in the front for using the ‘worm water’ to water your garden plants with. Over the next few months I’ll look forward to them building up more compost for us to plant with (maybe a little will even be ready when we plant our seeds in April).

My one complaint is that apparently beetles (or earwigs, Ian couldn’t figure out which) also love our worm’s composting home and every now and then it can be a surprise to see a non-worm insect in the bin. For those of you who have indoor composted before, is this something to worry about? Until we get a good look at what else has made the bin its home, I havent been able to search online as to whether or not the worms are safe.

But I’ll take hitchhiking beetle/earwigs over throwing away pounds of old produce into the trash, that’s for sure!

Have you ever tried to compost indoors or outdoors before?

Ashley

A Book Worth Reading: Heinlein’s The Moon is A Harsh Mistress

Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Remember when I made a resolution to read in 2012? Well, last week I finished my first book of the year and it was, in a word, unforgettable. I read Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (and got to check it off my Bucket List).

I have long been a fan of Robert Heinlein. He has an incredible ability to write ‘science fiction’ that is a ‘genre-free’ (technical term I just made-up) social, philosophical and physical commentary on humanity. If you haven’t read Heinlein before, I would suggest starting with Stranger in a Strange Land (yes, the one that influenced the ‘hippie generation’). My father had really enjoyed the book and so I read it on his recommendation. Stranger also happens to be the book that really brought Ian and I together.

When Ian read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress he sold it to me as “even better than Stranger“. Hard for me to believe, but I took a leap of faith and put reading Harsh Mistress on my Bucket List. The story is one of revolution and bureaucracy: Remarkably appropriate considering all of the unrest and protests we’ve seen here in Chicago.

My favorite quote:

“Must be a yearning deep in human heart to stop other people from doing as they please. Rules, laws — always for other fellow … was always something they hated to see neighbors doing. Stop them ‘for their own good’ — not because speaker claimed to be harmed by it.”

Though I think Stranger is still my favorite Heinlein, Harsh Mistress comes in as a close second. If you are looking for a book to move you and to challenge the way you view society and intelligence, give Harsh Mistress a shot.

What life-changing books have you read recently?

Ashley

Supplemental Reading:

Quotes from Heinlein’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress

Chicago’s Christmaskindl Market

Every Christmas Chicago’s Daley Plaza is transformed into a german Christmas wonderland known as the Christmaskindl Market (http://www.christkindlmarket.com/en/). Rows of evergreen covered timber houses sell festive goods under the shadow of Chicago’s Christmas Tree while merry visitors sip mulled wine and eat spiced nuts to the sound of choirs singing. It’s almost as if Rick Steve’s European Christmas were transported to this cement plaza right in the heart of the Loop.

Yesterday Ian and I were lucky enough to have a few moments to run over there on our lunch break and enjoy the [less crowded than the weekends] splendor. This market has a special place in my heart: my father took me here for the first time about five years ago and we went every year until he became ill. My father had been to Germany over ten times and said that this market was remarkably similar to its German counterparts – right down to the vendors, who are all German.

If you have a chance to visit the Christmaskindl Market make sure you (i) stand in the long lines for the glass ornament houses, they’re so worth the visit and (ii) try the spiced wine and eat something with sauerkraut (unless you’re a wuss like Ian).

And don’t forget to snack on some delicious potato pancakes and bratwurst…

Happy Holidays!

Ashley

Supplemental Reading:

For the Love of Nike’ s post on the Christmaskindl Market: http://fortheloveofnike.com/2011/12/02/christkindlmarket-chicago-german-christmas-festival/

TooTallFritz’s post: http://tootallfritz.com/2011/12/11/tacky-christmas-has-arrived/

Vino Con Vista’s post: http://vinoconvistablog.me/2011/12/14/christkindlmarket-chicago-2011/

How to Be Classy on the El (or any public transit)

Staying Classy on the El

Here in Chicago we don’t ride the Underground, the Metro or the Subway. We ride the El. And unlike it’s European counterparts, the El can be late, few and far between and somewhat illogical.

But the El has something that Europe and New York are sorely missing…

Common courtesy

In August when my boyfriend and I went to London to visit friends I was astonished at how rude and pushy everyone was. While I calmly waited for Londoners to depart the Underground train before trying to board, my across-the-pond counterparts pushed and shoved their way onto the Tube (as if there wasn’t another train coming in a minute and a half). While on the metro in Paris the phrase “sardines” came to mind one too many times. And even in New York people will shove you out of the way to get a seat on the subway.

What happened to common decency on public transit? Why is pushing and shoving your way through the only option? Over the past few weeks I’ve been observing my fellow El riders and have compiled a list of tips on how to be classy (like all us Chicagoans) for the rest of you who are probably nursing a bruise from an elbow to the ribs as someone ran past you on the Underground/Metro/Subway. With our world of constant commuting, this Lifevestment is a must!

How to Be Classy On Public Transit

1. ALWAYS give up your seat for the elderly or someone in need of it. I’m sure we’ve all seen this happen – some businessman on his iPhone pretends to ignore the elderly woman with a walker/bag of groceries while she, against all odds, struggles to stand as the train jars it’s way down the tracks. It is unacceptable to not forgo your seat for someone in need. Unacceptable.

2. Respect personal space. This isn’t always possible to do but try to follow this rule as best you can. Everyone riding public transit paid the same fare (or relatively close to it) which means everyone has a right to an appropriate amount of personal space on the train. If you find yourself accidently feeling up your neighbor when the train hairpin turns take a step back.

3. Cross Your Legs. Women always look more poised and beautiful with their legs crossed (not to mention that it’s polite not to flash people when wearing a skirt). Gentlemen this applies to you too – the ‘spread eagle’ is one pose best left in the bedroom.

4. Patience, Patience. I’m not sure why but people on public transit have a tendency to push towards the exit while the train is still pulling into the station… No one can move out of your way until the train has stopped so don’t crowd people unnecessarily. You will look very sophisticated staying seated until the train stops and then gracefully exiting the train in one fluid movement.

5. Pay attention to your surroundings. In today’s world it’s status quo to get on the El and see almost everyone around you staring at a screen of some sort. While there’s nothing wrong with texting on your iPhone or reading your Nook, it’s important to take a breather from the screen every once in-awhile. Notice the people around you and acknowledge them with a smile. Enjoy sipping your coffee while watching the scenery going by (if you’re above ground).

6. Pick up after yourself. Recycle your newspapers and toss your coffee cups. It’s not only polite, it’s sanitary.

7. Be prepared. If you’re sick, stay home. If you absolutely must go into work, bring plenty of Kleenex to keep your coughing to yourself.

Wishing you luck on your commute home,

Ashley