My Green City Life

My kingdom for a compost pile!
July 31, 2008, 5:57 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen, the green apartment

OK, so I don’t have a kingdom to trade for a compost pile, but it would be really nice to have one. Or access to one very nearby would be great. Or curbside organic matter pick-up would be fantastic. (This last one is supposed to be coming to Montreal… sometime.) This is one of the downfalls of living in an apartment: no yard for a compost pile.

This week I am not collecting my organic matter for my worms. They didn’t seem to be eating as fast as I was feeding them, so I’m giving them a week off. Even when I do feed them, though, there are many compostable things that end up in the trash. My worms can only eat so much! Nearly all of Matt’s coffee grounds end up in the trash. Banana peels go in there. Most of the egg shells too. Anything that is too hard or too big (and unable to be reduced in size) or too protein-y (like beans) or too seedy or too slow to break down ends up in the trash. It makes me sad because I know that it would all happily decompose and turn into beautiful compost if only given a chance.

If you have a yard and are able to have a compost pile, please do so. It’s very low-maintenance, and I bet you will be surprised at how much your garbage is reduced. You can put your yard waste in there too. And you will end up with lovely compost to use on your lovely yard!


Market Report: 28 July 2008
July 29, 2008, 3:35 pm
Filed under: market report

It’s been a while since I did a market report, but then it’s been a while since I’ve been to the market. The real market, I mean. The J-T. I did go to the Atwater market a couple times because it’s so much closer, and I was desperate for strawberries.

I guess I have really been out of the loop because I was somewhat amazed at what all is in season now! Perhaps it’s because the last time I was there, it was all strawberries, rhubarb, and asparagus. Now it’s everything season, it seems! Tomatoes, eggplant, beans, potatoes, corn, peaches, onions, greens, herbs… I even saw some Quebec cabbage, which made me a little sad, cabbage being winter food in my eyes. I’m not ready for summer to be gone yet! No use dwelling on that, though, when there is such an abundance of tasty local summer food available.

I bought what will most likely be my last basket of strawberries for the season. There are fewer people selling them now (although still a lot) and the price seems to be climbing a bit, so I’m guessing they are on their way out. I intend to enjoy these fresh instead of freezing them, as I did with the last batch I bought. Six pints of strawberries in the freezer will make for some tasty smoothies over the winter.

As I said, I wasn’t prepared for all the summer food to be ready already, so I didn’t take full advantage. Next time, you can bet that I will be coming home with corn, peaches, and tomatoes a-plenty! Yumyum! Oh, and okra! I will keep a sharp eye out for okra. I am determined to find it this year.

Water water everywhere
July 24, 2008, 1:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Three water-related things to report today:

1. Finally, finally, finally, after months of waiting, the leak in our bathroom has finally been fixed! Oh happy day! The background story is that the cold water has been leaking from the bathtub faucet for many months, progressively getting worse. For the last few months, we’ve had the cold water turned off, only turning it on when needed. As you can imagine, turning the water on and off has been a hassle. It is therefore extremely exciting for me to be able to adjust the temperature of the water while washing my hands! Or brush my teeth with cold water! Or not worry about wasting water when we forget to turn the cold water back off! Yay!

2. A waterspout was seen in the St. Lawrence river yesterday down at the Old Port. Apparently, this never happens. See a picture here.

3. There is still unmelted snow from this winter’s record-breaking snowfalls! Mmmm, dirty six-month-old snow. Sounds awesome. Read more here.

Good Food Box!
July 22, 2008, 7:04 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen

Today Matt picked up our first Good Food Box. Exciting! According to the brochure, “The Good Food Box is a collective buying group that purchases fresh fruits and vegetables at wholesale prices.” It’s similar to a CSA in that you pay in advance for a box of mystery produce. It’s dissimilar in that you only pay for one box at a time, and you are not obligated to buy more than one box. That is, it’s not a subscription. The food is probably but not necessarily local. There is no mention as to if it is organic, so I’m guessing that is not one of their priorities.

We got a medium box for $10. This is what was in it:

  • small container of raspberries
  • 5 pears
  • 1 really big bunch of celery
  • 1 lb yellow beans*
  • 1 really big head of lettuce
  • 1/2 lb baby bok choy
  • 2 medium zucchini (1 lb)
  • 1 lb baby potatoes
  • 3 not very ripe tomatoes

The pears are from Argentina. The tomatoes are from elsewhere in Canada. Everything else is from Quebec (admittedly a large province but I still consider it local). The food came with a sheet of paper with info about some of the food and recipes. As for bad points, there were a few yucky raspberries in the carton, but that was the only thing that looked somewhat bad. All in all, I’d say it’s a pretty good deal for ten bucks!

If you live in Montreal and want to get in on the Good Food Box, check out what Moisson Montreal has to say about it. There is a list of drop off points here. Not sure if this list is up to date or not.

* Does anyone have any good string bean recipes? I never know what to do with them!

Home again, home again
July 14, 2008, 5:12 pm
Filed under: your green lifestyle

I’ve been out of town this past week. Matt and I went to visit his family in rural central Florida. It’s always good to see the family, and it’s certainly always relaxing to be on vacation, but it’s nice to be home too. Coming home and getting back into my daily routine, if you can call it that… just being in the familiar settings I’ve set up for myself in this apartment is comforting.

This trip took us to three different people’s homes for short or long visits, and each one really drove home how different my day-to-day life is from “normal” people’s, simply because I have implemented some green changes in my life that those “normal” folks haven’t. Here are some of the big ones:

Cars. I don’t own a car anymore. I use public transit. But that isn’t an option out in the country where we were staying. A bike doesn’t seem that practical either when you have to ride 20 miles to get to town.

Paper plates. I was taken aback a little bit by the number of times I was given a paper plate to use at a meal or for a snack.

Prepackaged food. I always forget that The Average American buys waaaaaay more prepacked/ready-to-eat/convenience food than I do. I don’t even really like buying canned cooked beans; I’d rather buy dried beans in bulk and cook them myself.

Toilet habits. It’s good to be home with my toilet cloth where my yellow can mellow. This is one that I’ve only changed within the last year or so, but it’s certainly become a hard and fast habit!

Soap. I’ve been making my own body soap and laundry soap for years now. Using body wash is so foreign to me now. It’s so unnecessarily bubbly, has so many strange chemical ingredients, and never seems to fully wash off. In terms of laundry soap, mine has no added fragrance, so “fresh” or “clean” smelling commercial laundry detergents smell terribly perfume-y to me. I hate to think of all the pollutants they add to the water.

Recent Scores
June 30, 2008, 8:50 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen

The freecycling/thrifting/curb-shopping gods have been looking favorably in my direction lately. Tomorrow is moving day, and I hope my streak continues! Here are some of my recent fiber-focused scores:

Thrifted yarn: I went to a thrift store I’d never visited before a couple weeks ago. It was a Salvation Army. Nothing special. In fact, it was a pretty lousy thrift experience overall. However, I did manage to score two balls of wool for $1.68. I’ve already knit one of them into a wool soaker for le bebe.

Freecycled flannel: The thrift store also yielded a nice big beach towel that I bought to cut up and make into flannel/terry baby wipes, but for that I needed flannel, which the thrift store was lacking. I was very close to purchasing a brand new flannel blanket at Zeller’s. It was in my hand. I was headed to the cashier. Then I thought, you know, I should really try Freecycle first. Friends, those freecyclers came through for me! One person gave me a queen set of never used (though somewhat musty smelling) flannel sheets, complete with two pillowcases. A quick run through the wash, and it was good as new. And that’s a lot of flannel!

Rescued from the curb bedding: Matt’s employer is to thank for this one. She found a stash of baby bedding on the curb and picked it up for us. We got four flannel receiving blankets (yay! more flannel!), a cute fitted sheet with whales on it, a soft warm blanket, and a top quilt bedspread thingy featuring two rabbits and a duck. All from the trash. Crazy people throwing out perfectly good stuff!

Have you found any treasures for cheap or free lately?

The Saddest Day of the Year
June 22, 2008, 9:14 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

According to me, June 21st is the summer solstice, the first day of summer, and the happiest/saddest day of the year. Happiest because it’s the longest day of the year and saddest because you can only go downhill from there. Today, the second longest day of the year (tied, I suppose, with the day before yesterday), it is dreary and rainy as though the earth is crying because it knows that for the next six months the days will be getting shorter and shorter. I always find it odd that come June 21st I feel that warm weather has just begun but we’ve already peaked on sunny hours. Conversely, on December 21st we’re just starting the long haul of winter, but already the days are starting to get longer.