Some things I am up to…

19 Jun

Here are some things I’ve been up to lately:

Baking bread and other items (bagels, muffins, pastries, buns).  I think I’m going to see if I can make all of our stuff like this and avoid packaged/preserved baked goods.  So far, so good.  The bagels are particularly impressive and not at all hard to make.  I’ve been using Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook as my exclusive resource, and welcome suggestions of other recipes/baking books.  I need to find a way to make some nice, soft, whole-wheat bread for sandwiches.

I made some yogurt yesterday and it turned out great!  The more stuff I make, the less mysterious the whole thing becomes.    I think that once I unleash the DIO (my friend Ryan says “Do It Ourselves” – I like it) pah-wah, it opens me up to more DIO adventures.  I think there are skills we build when we do things ourselves that lend to doing more things ourselves and not being so intimidated.  Progress is being made the way that it always is – Someone says “is it really necessary to do this thing the way we’re doing it?”  And of course the answer is no and that smarty-pants finds a better, cheaper, more responsible way to do it.  And then someone else sits on her fat ass for 6 years and mulls it over, and eventually when enough other people in her life agree that it’s a big freaking deal and exert a little bit of peer-pressure-for-good,  she somewhat reluctantly makes a few little attempts.  I’m the latter, if that isn’t already abundantly clear from……….. you know………. my love for Little Caesar’s Hot and Readies.

I’m chasing Ida around and saying “I would prefer that you didn’t do that” a lot.  Particularly in response to her grabbing and yanking electrical cords, messing with Nathan’s gadgets and gizmos (or as he might say “super-expensive audio equipment” – whatever), and her endless thirst for knowledge that expresses itself in her ripping out pages from my books (my copy of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is now a particularly, um, disjointed narrative).  Also, she’s very intent on eating dog food.  “I worked so hard pureeing all of those fruits and vegetables, making yogurt with my loving goddamn hands and cutting organic grapes into 16 pieces and now you want to eat dog food?  Fine, be that way.  Tiny jerk. Want some Cheetos while we’re at it?  Perhaps some diet coke?”

I’m thinking about what to do when I grow up.  I heard that the CMU dance department is looking for someone and I’m really interested in that job (and maybe not so interested in living in central Michigan again…….), I’ve had some interviews for teaching positions here in Chicago, but nothing is the right fit – nothing is either enough money or few enough hours to make it work while I’m taking care of Ida (Nate will be in LA for the summer doing music stuff).  I feel a whole new sense of the importance of advocating for better childcare and work situations for parents.  I have no solutions to offer, but am here to tell you that it is, in fact, a serious issue and it’s crazy that we (you know, the people) haven’t really done anything about it.  I’m also thinking about becoming a certified Bradley Method childbirth educator.  I had such an incredible experience with The Bradley Method and I think it’s important information for birthing women and their communities to have access to.  I welcome suggestions of any kind (or offers to simply subsidise my life, i.e. sugar-person style).

I’m going to Michigan in July to teach some dance workshops, and I’m planning some other things (classes and performances/public art)while I’m in the area.  I want to make some things outside and in specific places that I have a connection to.  I’m excited about how easy it is to make things happen in such a small community (it’s hard to get anyone to give a shit though, so there is that……..).  I’m also really excited at the prospect of working with some dancers who I love very much and dearly miss.  Making dances in Chicago has not gone the way I imagined it would, and I’m looking forward to making some things in the place where I first fell in love with making things.

I’m trying to avoid excess packaging.  Plastic is forever!  I guess I never really thought about it, but that’s terrifying!  So, I’m trying to figure out ways to avoid plastic and packaging in general.  I think most of the plastic that I consume comes from the food that I buy, health and beauty (snort) products, and store-bought stuff in general (duh, right?).  So the main way that I have cleverly (and lazily) thought of to avoid plastic, is to avoid stores.  Not all stores, of course (though there are some hard-core, totally radical people who do this and I think they’re amazing and have more mystique in their little fingers than I ever will have, period).  I just mean large stores that sell commercially manufactured mega-stuff.  I’ve been doing this in a few different ways:

Food:  I buy food from either the farmer’s market (which is A+, unpackaged, local and sustainable/organic! and I can get there on my bike or by walking, but sometimes I drive, bringing the grade down….), Edgewater Produce (which is, maybe a C, because it’s neither local (i.e. my food is covered in oil) nor sustainable/organic, BUT it is unpackaged and EP is a local small business that I can walk or bike to) or Whole Foods/Trader Joes (which are maybe a B/C – mostly organic, not usually local (some stuff is), TJ’s is a packaging nightmare while WF is pretty good in that dept., but they’re both a car trip for me and they’re big businesses).  I’m also shopping the bulk foods section and bringing my own containers/bags.  I even made some very handy little produce bags (which was essentially like making a pillowcase with a little draw-string action at the top.  Supa-easy).

Health and Beauty (why thank you):  Luckily, even before I gave two shits about plastic, I was very into Lush products.  So nice!  As it happens, they are very minimally packaged.  Score!  As far as other things, I’ve just been trying to find ways around extra plastic bottles.  So, buying in bulk, returning bottles to stores that take ’em for reuse, and trying to find things that are refillable in the first place.  This is the newest wave, so I’m learning lots.  Tips welcome.

Other crap I buy:  I’m trying to get stuff I want in a second-hand fashion.  I cruise craigslist and frequent my neighborhood’s second-hand stores.  I keep a list of stuff I want or need at the back of my grocery list-maker-thing.  Then, I go to the thrift store (part entertainment, part practical adventure) and when I see things on my list, I snap them up!  Right now, I am on the lookout for a Pullman loaf pan, fabric cleverly disguised as sheets or tablecloths, some converse sneakers for myself, and onsies for Ida (who, holy crap, has burrowed herself under the rug as I type this.  I am cracking up over here).  I think the main thing I am learning is that I can wait for something.  If I need something, it is hardly every an EMERGENCY – I can wait a few weeks to find it at the Village Discount Outlet rather than hurrying off to Target to get it.  Also, this has the added benefit of helping me to realize whether or not I really want that thing or if it’s just going to be another piece of crap that I have to clean, move someplace, or otherwise take care of.  And, of course, sometimes I still go to Target.

I’ve been crafting (sewing in particular) up a storm, but I think these adventures merit their own post in the near future – so stay tuned for that if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

On the horizon:

I’m going to try to make some reusable freezer/fridge bags to replace ziplock bags (which I use a lot of).  I need to google this project and figure out how to do it.

Nate and I are taking Ida to Shedd Aquarium this friday – It’s free this week, Chicago friends.

Nate and I are taking Ida to a concert at Pritzker Pavillion this thursday evening (also free, Chicago friends, 6:30 – see you there!).  I’m going to bring some middle eastern food from The Middle Eastern Bakery down the street from where we live.

I’m going to attempt baguettes.  I don’t anticipate great results the first time around….

What are you up to these days?


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