about me

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The surprising benefit of public transportation

I don't talk about it much here but I have a form of muscular dystrophy called Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome (CMS). It's a rare disorder that weakens my muscles, making prolonged physical activity difficult. I won't explain it here but if you'd like to know more, you can visit my blog Kelly's One Mile Challenge

The other day I had a miserable commute home on the bus. The window ahead of me was open, blowing cold air on my already freezing face, somebody near me had terrible body odor, and the person sitting next to me was playing an obnoxious game on their phone with the sound turned up. In that moment, I decided that I hated public transportation.

But the truth is, while I don't always enjoy public transportation, I am thankful for it. 

I grew up in McMinnville, Oregon, where there was no public transportation system. Everyone drove everywhere, including me, even though the city is fairly small. Even when I lived three quarters of a mile away from work, I drove most of the time because it was normal.

That changed when Josh and I moved to Portland in 2011 and rented a small apartment right off NW 23rd Avenue. We quickly learned that owning two cars was unnecessary because we were close to grocery stores, the library, post office, restaurants and shopping. Plus, Josh’s office was a few blocks away and I had easy access to the bus to take me to and from work. So to save money and to lessen the pain of scarce parking, we became a one car family.

Friday, November 21, 2014

10 ways to reduce food waste this Thanksgiving

In my family, the holidays seem to be synonymous with eating. Not only is there a large meal that our Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings are centered around, but there are also the parties with lots of food and alcohol and the gifts of sweet treats and baked goods from friends, neighbors and families that seem to arrive every day during December.

The consumption of all that food means one thing (well, except for the stomach aches and weight gain): a lot of food is going to be wasted.

I recently read that in 2012 (the latest year that data was available), Americans threw out approximately 35 million tons of food. Of course there are many reasons why so much food is wasted and a lot of it is out of our control, but there are things we can do to reduce food waste in our homes, especially during the holidays when food consumption increases.

It's a shame that so much food is wasted, especially when you factor in how many people experience food insecurity and the negative impact food has on the environment when it ends up in the landfill.

But it doesn't have to be that way because we can do something about it. So in honor of Thanksgiving, which is a mere week away, here are ten ways you can reduce food waste:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kelly, Kelly, how did your garden grow?

The 2014 growing season at the Merrick household is now over. It was definitely a learning experience, as we had our fair share of pest problems, mysterious fungi and some under-performing plants, but the positives far outweighed the negatives and I'd call it a success! We learned a lot about gardening and hope that everything we learned will result in a better garden next year.

This is mostly for my records, but I thought I'd recap the success of our crops. The project manager in me planned to keep a detailed record of how much we harvested and then compare that to what we would have paid at the farmer's market to calculate the financial return on investment, but that just didn't happen.

I didn't get into gardening just to save money, and I felt like keeping track of every pound we harvested would take the fun out of gardening. Plus, we ate a lot of the cherry tomatoes, berries, peas and cucumbers while standing in the garden, so there wasn't much chance to weigh them anyway. So, you'll just be getting our estimates of how much we harvested.

Here it goes!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mighty Ductless Heat Pump

I don't know about you, but I am so happy that cooler weather has arrived in the Pacific Northwest. I enjoyed the hot, dry summer we had but I am definitely ready for fall. I wore boots and a rain coat to work, walked through crunchy fall-colored leaves and made soup this week, all signs that fall is upon us.

But as much as I like the shift to cool, crisp days in the fall, I don't like being cold, especially at home. And last winter, I was cold all the time. The electric heaters in our house couldn't keep up, and so I was forced to wear thick socks, slippers, sweaters, a hat and sometimes even gloves to stay warm.

But not this winter, because last week we said goodbye to those terrible heaters and hello to our new friend, the mighty ductless heat pump!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

10 things I hate about...canning

I was barely a teenager when the movie "10 Things I Hate About You" came out and I was instantly obsessed. I watched it over and over, and memorized all of the sarcastic lines that Julia Stiles' character Kat, spewed at everyone around her.

Ever since then there have been many more movies that use the same premise - guy's friend bets him to trick girl into liking him, then the plan backfires and he falls in love with her, girl finds out and gets mad, guy professes his love, and then they reconcile.

But "10 Things" is by far the best one. It probably has something to do with the fact that both Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are in it, or the fact that Julia Stiles is one of my favorite actresses (remember Save the Last Dance?). But it's definitely because of the poem that Stiles' character Kat reads to Patrick, Ledger's character, after she finds out that her sister's boyfriend paid him to go out with her.

Anyway, you're probably wondering what a movie about teenage romance has to do with canning.

Let me tell you.