Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Reading List

The past two New Year's Eves I have shared lists of all the books and plays I read that year. Here is my list from 2015. As always, only books or plays that were read all the way through have made the list (nothing skimmed or unfinished).

For 2015 I also challenged myself to complete this reading challenge. I've been wanting to branch out in my genres more, in addition to just reading more books. So, while I've still organized my reads by Non-Fiction, Fiction and Plays, next to each book you'll see the category that it fulfills from the challenge.


Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman -- a nonfiction book


The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, Volume 1 by Jaques Tardi -- a graphic novel
The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story by Lemony Snicket -- a book set during Christmas (well, Chanukah and Christmas really)
The Martian by Andy Weir -- a book that became a movie
All Other Nights by Dara Horn -- a book your mom loves (this one might be stretching it a little, but she did send this one to me after she read it!)
Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver -- a book published this year
The Sapphire Rose by David Eddings -- a book with magic
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty --a book with antonyms in the title
Rav Hisda's Daughter Book 1 Apprentice by Maggie Anton -- a book set in a different country
Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce -- a book of short stories
Petals on the Wind by V. C. Andrews -- a book with a love triangle
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern -- a book by a female author
The Ruby Knight by David Eddings -- a book from an author you love that you haven't read yet
Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews -- a book by an author you've never read before


Fuddy Meers by David Lindsay-Abaire -- a play
Red Riding Hood by Mike Kenny -- a book with a color in the title
Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley -- a book you can finish in a day
The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan -- a book more than 100 years old

Unused Categories:
-a book with more than 500 pages
-a classic romance
-a book with a number in the title
-a book written by someone under 30
-a book with nonhuman characters
-a funny book
-a mystery or thriller
-a book with a one word title
-a popular author's first book
-a book a friend recommended
-a Pulitzer Prize-winning book
-a book based on a true story
-a book at the bottom of your to-read list
-a book that scares you
-a book based entirely on its cover
-a book you were supposed to read in school but didn't
-a memoir
-a book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
-a book that came out the year you were born
-a book with bad reviews
-a trilogy
-a book from your childhood
-a book set in the future
-a book set in high school
-a book that made you cry
-a book you own but have never read
-a book that takes place in your hometown
-a book that was originally written in a different language
-a book written by an author with your same initials
-a banned book
-a book based on or turned into a TV show
-a book you started but never finished

I'm hoping to do even more reading in 2016! I have so many books waiting to be read, and there are lots of categories from this year's challenge that I didn't even touch. Here's to a great new year of reading!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 12.27.15

After the holidays, our fridge is full of delicious leftovers! I like how easy that makes meal planning for the week. Here's what we're planning to eat:

Sunday: spaghetti squash alfredo

Monday: leftovers - borscht

Tuesday: bratwurst & veggies TBD

Wednesday: leftovers - duck, stuffing etc

Thursday: slow cooker chick-pea stew

Friday: leftovers - chick pea stew

Saturday: more leftovers? dinner out?

I'm also planning to make these Cranberry Apple Danish to use up some of the cranberry jelly I made for Christmas. The jelly itself was definitely a winner, so I'm betting these danish will be fantastic too!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 12.20.15

It's looking like a pretty low-key week for us this week. We'll be having Chinese on Christmas Eve, and then we will be having a small Christmas dinner with just the two of us -- it's a fun chance to try all the fancy recipes I see in my Martha Stewart magazines that aren't practical to try out on Sean's 30 person family gatherings! And because we'll have a huge amount of leftovers after Friday, I'll be keeping the beginning of the week fairly simple. So here's what we're planning on eating this week:

Sunday: leftovers

Monday: leftover borscht

Tuesday: ravioli & artichoke pesto, salad

Wednesday: leftovers -- get some containers out of that fridge!

Thursday: Chinese food

Friday: duck with cranberry-orange sauce; butternut squash stuffing; brown sugar glazed carrots; creme bruleed pumpkin pie

Saturday: leftovers!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Family Room Decor

When going through my Chanukah decor pictures yesterday, I realized that I never posted pictures when I finished painting the family room/breakfast nook/kitchen! I painted it months ago, I can't believe we never actually photographed it! So for today's house update, here are some pictures of the family room.

I showed you this one with the nutcrackers and "Hanukkah" garland on the mantle yesterday:

Living Design Family Room Decor

Real life with a gray cat and off-white couches: we keep a blanket over her favorite spot at all times to make fur removal easier. Yep, that's a TARDIS blanket for the Whovian cat. The couches are slipcovered, so they are fairly simple to wash, but tossing the blanket in the laundry is even simpler and minimizes wear and tear on that one cushion.

Living Design Family Room Decor

Here's a better, less glare-y shot of the art behind the TV. Those are two vintage travel posters for Siena, Italy. Above the center speaker are a couple record covers, for My Fair Lady and Camelot.

Living Design Family Room Decor

The built in bookshelves have books, movies, art and other cool things. Here's our "superhero" shelf, with our collection of Marvel movies and our little Captain America and Baby Groot.

Living Design Family Room Decor

On the other side of the fireplace, I also have sections of shelf dedicated to Tolkein (both books and movies), Tamora Pierce books and David Eddings books. And a section of Arthurian legend/British pre-history since after doing my MFA "thesis" on Camelot I have a lot of Arthurian books!

And that's the family room! I'll take updated pictures of the kitchen and breakfast nook next and share those soon.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Chanukah Decorating (2015 Edition)

I had plans to post my Chanukah decor before the start of the holiday. But we were so busy with celebrations that I'm not actually getting it up until today, the last day. Oh well, better late than never!

This year, since we just finished the dining room and we were hosting a large group of friends for latkes and brisket, we did a lot of holiday decorating in the dining room.

Living Design Chanukah Decorating 2015

The frames above the sideboard now have photos in them, but the package hadn't yet arrived from Shutterfly when I took these pictures.

Living Design Chanukah Decorating 2015

Living Design Chanukah Decorating 2015

You can never have too many dreidels!

And here's the dining table all set for 10! It was so fun to get out all of our wine glasses for a fancy party, it's not something we ever had room for in our old place!

Living Design Chanukah Decorating 2015

We hung the felt menorah in the living room.

Living Design Chanukah Decorating 2015

And did a little mantle decorating with nutcrackers and a glittery "Hanukkah" garland in the family room.
Living Design Chanukah Decorating 2015

Living Design Chanukah Decorating 2015

We also put some dreidel garland up the staircase, but with the snowy weather over the weekend I haven't had good light to take a picture. Hopefully the sun will cooperate so I can share that before December is over, but we will see.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 12.13.15

We had a busy weekend filled with parties and friends, so I'm planning on some simpler meals this week, and working on cleaning out some of our leftovers too.

Sunday: leftover brisket and latkes

Monday: quiche and salad

Tuesday: borscht

Wednesday: leftover chicken curry

Thursday:leftover borscht

Friday: finish off leftovers

Saturday: date night

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 12.6.15

Happy Chanukah! It's time for latkes, applesauce and donuts around here.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday: slow cooker chili & corn bread

Monday: leftovers

Tuesday: pasta with chicken & salad

Wednesday: menorah lighting at the community center

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: latkes and applesauce, brisket

Saturday: holiday party at work

Monday, November 23, 2015

Knitted Baby Blanket

One of my BFFs from childhood (we can never remember exactly when we met, we've been like sisters for that long!) recently had an adorable baby boy. When she got pregnant, I started knitting this blanket, but as always I underestimated how long it would take me to finish the project and baby was born before I was done. BUT I finally had it done in time to meet him for the first time, so I think it's still a win! Here's the finished product:

The pattern is from Bernat, the "Knit Blanket" you'll find on their Baby Coordinates yarn. It was a fairly simple repeating pattern, and I made it a little different by using two colors of yarn in varying stripe widths rather than single color like it was in the pattern. It's a bigger baby blanket, so baby will be able to use it well into childhood.

Since this project was so big, I'm not doing as many handmade holiday gifts as I often do. What handmade gifts are you working on now?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Dining Room -- Nearly Done!

I'm almost done with the dining room! Yippee!

What started as a slow project simply because I was already in paint clothes turned into a massive day of painting Sunday. We had found a buffet and dining chairs we loved on super sconto (Italian for massive sale, it's a term I still use from my year abroad) at Restoration Hardware. We were told we would get a call around the 18th to schedule delivery. Well, they called on the 11th and wanted to deliver on the 17th! So my timeline got sped up a little bit, and we busted this room out. It helped a lot that Sean had the time to help paint, so he rolled the ceilings and walls while I did the trim and cut-ins.

Here it is, the nearly finished dining room!

What do I still need to do?

I need to finish the painting around the window -- you can't see it here because the blinds are closed but I have to do the window surround in sections as I carefully pull back the blinds. The way that valance above it attached to the wall, neither it nor the blinds can easily come down without destroying some drywall. But I can be careful enough that it's not a huge problem, just slow going.

I also need to finish getting up that collage wall over the buffet. And put pictures in the frames! That's a picture from our wedding as the large center one, and the plan is to put black and white family photos radiating outwards. I have more frames, but they don't all have hanging hardware yet, so that's why it looks lopsided. I spaced out the arrangement on the table, started hanging, and had somehow grouped the frames without hardware. What can I say, it looked good!

So that's where we are with the dining room right now! I'm so excited to have to looking good, and to have a place to store everything that had been under the china cabinet. It makes me want to host a holiday gathering in here!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Work on the Dining Room Begins

This past week I've been spending most of the day painting for a play. And since I'm already wearing paint clothes when I get home, I've started working on the dining room in bits and pieces:

I'm using beadboard wallpaper below the chair rail to simulate actual wainscoting. (A product that has a bit of a learning curve, but is fairly forgiving when it comes to fixing seams.) I'll then paint it in the same semi-gloss white that I've used for the trim throughout the house. Above the chair rail I'm planning on a deep navy like some of these inspiration images:

dining room inspiration image HGTV
dining room inspiration from HGTV

dining room inspiration 58 Water Street blog
dining room inspiration from 58 Water Street

The dining room still has a ways to go before I'll call it "finished" -- I still need to find the perfect chairs and buffet, and after the painting is done I have plans for a wall of black and white family photos that I still need to collect from the parents. But it's great to finally be making some progress in here, slow though it may be!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Happy Anniversary, House!

As of last Friday, we've had our beautiful Colorado home for one year! It's been a great journey so far turning this house into our home, and I have a number of projects coming up in the next few months as well. To celebrate one year here, let's look at a few of the things we've accomplished to make the house ours:

One of the first projects I tackled here was my home office. I stripped the peeling wallpaper, primed the walls, and painted it a nice pale blue-gray. Then we put up the wall shelving that was above the desks back in CA.


I also updated the downstairs powder room with a beautiful blue (called San Francisco Bay) and a new mirror.


We installed a compost bin, hiding it behind some white lattice fencing and new plantings to make it HOA compliant.

And we took the guest room from a little girl's dream room into a sophisticated and relaxing place for friends and family to visit.



I'm looking forward to all the updates and projects I have planned for the next year! Here's to many more years, house!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 10.25.15

With colder temperatures here, I'm looking forward to trying a bunch of slow cooker soup recipes I've pinned on Pinterest over the summer. I also love winter squash, so you'll be seeing a lot of those in the coming months too!

Here's what we're planning to eat this week:

Sunday: Maple Roasted Chicken

Monday: leftovers

Tuesday: Curried Roasted Eggplant

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: Butternut Squash Lasagne

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 10.18.15

We've been pretty busy here the last month, with guests, work, seeing shows (if you get the chance to see If/Then, DO IT!) and Sean's deadline for his thesis. It's been a crazy fall so far!

Here's what we're planning to eat this week:

Sunday: chicken tikka masala & roasted cauliflower

Monday: spaghetti and meatballs

Tuesday: leftover chicken tikka masala

Wednesday: leftover spaghetti

Thursday: Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili (we had a decent harvest of sugar pie pumpkins, so it's time to start eating them!)

Friday: sushi for Sean's birthday

Saturday: dinner out with friends

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Our Experience with Green Chef

When I first heard about companies like Blue Apron and Green Chef, I didn't feel like they were for us. I love cooking and trying new recipes, and I'm normally pretty good about meal planning such that I use up any odd leftover ingredients. I also wasn't a fan of all the excess packaging typical of these delivery companies. Does a single lime really need it's own plastic bag?!

But earlier this fall, with tech week approaching for me and Sean's busy schedule with work and thesis, we decided to give it a shot. I liked that there would be easy, healthy meals that Sean could confidently cook alone while I was at the theatre. And I liked that I would get healthy leftovers the next day!

We went with Green Chef rather than it's competitors because humanely raised meat is incredibly important to me. Green Chef tries to use organic and humane ingredients whenever possible. More of their packaging is recyclable, too, which is appealing when I know we'll be having more garbage than usual. Unfortunately still not zero waste, but neither is fast food at the theatre!

Since Sean did most of the cooking on his own, taking pictures of the food for my blog did not happen. But you can go on the Green Chef website to see all the pretty pictures of food, and see what their instruction sheets look like too.

All of the food was delicious. Some of it I felt like I could have totally done without them packaging it up for me. But, again, we were doing this because I wasn't home to cook. The ingredients were all fresh, and I did appreciate the fact that you use up everything that comes in the box.

Is Green Chef cheaper than grocery shopping? The answer is likely "no". But is Green Chef cheaper than getting a healthy fast food dinner on a busy night? Yes! With that in mind, I think we'll continue using them when I'm in tech rehearsals, but not for everyday cooking.

If you're interested in trying out Green Chef, use this link below to get 4 free meals. Yes, in full disclosure, when you use it I'll get a credit. But you'll get free meals too!

Green Chef in no way sponsored this post. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 9.29.15

Once again life got crazy (I've been working a ton up in Boulder for a play) and I fell behind on my organized meal planning. This time I don't think we did too badly, we still ate fairly healthily while I was in tech thanks to trying Green Chef which I'll write about some more later. But of course we always use our groceries most efficiently when I'm doing a real meal plan so I'm back with the menu for the rest of this week.

Tuesday: leftovers

Wednesday: leftovers/night out with friends

Thursday: Sauteed Sirloin Tips with Bell Peppers (we finally have some peppers from our garden that I'm looking forward to eating!)

Friday: Sweet Potato & Chickpea Curry

Saturday: dinner & "The Martian" with friends

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 8.30.15

The weather has cooled down fairly suddenly, and while it was faster than I was expecting,  I'm glad of the cooler days! All those days in the mid 90's were making the poor cat and me wilt! Cooler days are also nice because then I'm more willing to spend time cooking over the stove or in the oven, instead of relying on the crock pot or fast meals.

Sunday: Korean-style turkey stir fry

Monday: chicken fajitas with peach-mango salsa

Tuesday: leftovers

Wednesday: dinner with friends

Thursday: White Cheddar Corn Chowder

Friday: pasta with mushroom alfredo

Saturday: leftovers

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Recipe Review: Peach Margherita Pizza

For a while now, I've been posting my weekly meal plans (inconsistently, I know) and when I'm using a recipe I've found online I link to the recipe. When I meal plan, I often try to include at least one new recipe per week and if it's a hit I'll use it again. I make some notes on my Pinterest pins (when I remember to) but I thought it would be nice to start reviewing some of the online recipes I've been trying lately. This way I can keep my thoughts in one place, and hopefully it will be helpful for you as well!

The first one I'll share is the Peach Margherita Pizza from Bright Bold and Beautiful.

We tried this recipe a couple weeks ago. It's a great, easy, light pizza that uses store-bought pitas instead of pizza crust. I liked this twist because then I had pitas for lunches later! The flavor was great, perfectly seasonal.

Sean did feel that a single pita pizza was a little light of a meal for dinner, so he found some leftover veggies that he heated up that night in addition to the peach pizza. I'm typically a lighter eater, but I did have some of the extra veggies too. I think the peach pizza may work better as a lunch, or alongside a salad -- something with a bit more fiber to keep you feeling full longer than an hour.

All in all, while we decided that the peach pizza wasn't enough on its own to be a full meal, we really enjoyed it and I think we would be happy to make it again!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 8.23.15

It's been a busy few weeks, with friends visiting from out of state and game nights with other friends. As I often end up doing when life is busy, I let the meal planning slip by. But I'm back to make a plan and stick to it!

Here's what we'll be eating this week:

Sunday: leftovers

Monday: Tomato and Tarragon Bread Soup

Tuesday: chicken and Corn Salad with Cheddar and Tomatoes

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: Baked Penne with Chicken and Sundried Tomatoes

Friday: fish and salad (I'll have to see what kind of fish looks good at the store this week)

Saturday: leftovers

I'll also be making these Ham Cheddar and Chive Scones for some breakfasts this week!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

August Garden Progress

After a fairly rainy July, it's been hot and dry so far this August. In addition to using the drip sprinklers, I've been going out with the hose in the evenings to make sure the veggies get enough water -- and a chance to cool down after the very hot days!

I wouldn't say this is the most productive garden I've had, since our balcony container gardens were always extremely productive per square foot. But I've had a steep learning curve with gardening in CO, plus far more inconsistent weather patterns! We have had some gorgeous tomatoes though, and I'm looking forward to seeing what else is a success in the garden this year.

Living Design August Garden Progress

Melons on the outside of the breakfast nook. We've had lots of little flowers, but I can't tell if any melons are actually growing yet.

Living Design August Garden Progress

Corn and pumpkins growing along the back fence. I tried beans too, but so far they've all fried in the hot afternoon sun.

Living Design August Garden Progress

Baby pumpkin!

Living Design August Garden Progress

One set of potted tomatoes and marigolds. The marigolds help attract pollinators and make it pretty!

Living Design August Garden Progress

I had a bunch of volunteer sunflowers in one corner of the yard.

Living Design August Garden Progress

Our row of marigolds, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants along the side fence.

Living Design August Garden Progress

Black tomatoes

Living Design August Garden Progress

The eggplants had a very slow start, but suddenly they're growing and some have these little purple flowers. Maybe I'll have some successful eggplants after all?

Living Design August Garden Progress

I don't know what this perennial bush is, but it attracts a lot of bees so I like it!

Living Design August Garden Progress

We had some volunteer plants in the sandbox, and it turns out they're tomatillos! Since my current plan is to turn the sandbox into a raised bed anyway, I'm letting them grow where they are. We'll see if they're any good.

That's where we are with our garden. If you garden, what's growing well for you? And if any readers have advice for gardening on the Front Range I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 7.26.15

Between travel and house guests I've really fallen behind on my meal planning again! The summer craziness isn't over yet, but let's see if I can get back into some semblance of routine. Here's what we're eating/have eaten this week:

Sunday: grilled lamb chops and corn on the cob

Tuesday: dinner out

Wednesday: slow cooker chili using ground Tibetan yak from our co-op and fresh chili peppers from the farmer's market

Thursday: leftover chicken in a Thai simmer sauce with vegetables and rice

Friday: leftovers

Rocket Ship Baby Gifts

Last weekend I went to a friend's baby shower. Since both she and her husband are aerospace engineers, when I found this adorable rocket ship fabric I knew I had to make something special for their baby with it! Here are all of the baby items I made with it:

The trickiest was the bib, since I made that from scratch, while the other gifts were just embellished. I used the rocket ship fabric for the back, and some sturdy upcycled denim for the front -- with a rocket sunburst embellishment of course!

The onesies were fairly simple -- I just bought a pack of white onesies and used iron on paper to get the rocket ship and star on. Since my iron on paper is pretty old, I did have to do some stitching around the edges of each piece so that it will hold up. I like how it looks with the red stitching, but I'm glad I started with the iron on paper since that made it much easier than a million pins!

One of the easiest ways to personalize a baby present without going crazy is by adding a strip of fabric to a receiving blanket. I couldn't find plain white ones at Target, and wasn't willing to drive all over just for a simple receiving blanket, but I thought these light blue stripes would look nice with the space fabric. They also made it easy for me to make sure I was stitching in straight lines!

To add the strip of fabric, I measured a piece 3.5 inches wide, and 2 inches longer than the blanket. This gave me room to tuck the raw ends inside and have a clean look.

I pinned the strip, right side down, to the blanket following the lines that were already there. Then I sewed it on, and ironed it right side out. I then ironed the ends and the top hem in, so I could topstich those.

I went back over all of the edges with a decorative stitch to jazz it all up. In all, I'd say this blanket project only took about 20 minutes from start to finish.

And I still have some more rocket ship fabric left -- I wonder what the rest will become?


Linked up to:

Creative Jewish Mom

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Guest Bedroom: A Work in Progress

We got the guest bedroom set up fairly quickly after moving in, since my parents were coming out mid-November to visit and help with house stuff. So, even though we didn't get to paint the walls at that point, we made it a pretty comfortable place for our overnight guests.

As a reminder, this is what the room looked like when we moved in:

Living Design Guest Bedroom: A Work in Progress

Our most recent guests were one of my best friends and her husband, plus their puppy who was road tripping with them, so we actually moved everything except the bed out of the room before they visited. Pup is still in the teething stage, and since we have antiques in the guest room, we thought it better to just remove temptation!

So, with most of the furniture out of the room, it was the perfect time to paint it. It was a bit slow going, since I was also painting for a play and then I traveled to Prague for the Quadrennial. But we wanted to get this room done/livable before today, when my sister arrives for a visit. That means painting finished, blinds and (new) curtains back up, and furniture back in place. And we got everything done earlier this week, just in time for it to air out and not smell like fresh paint!

I'm also in the middle of sewing a quilt for this room (more on that later) so I spread the part-way done quilt over the mattress for some pictures to get a feel for the color.

Living Design Guest Bedroom: A Work in Progress

Living Design Guest Bedroom: A Work in Progress

Nothing like going through photos of a room to remind one to peel up the blue tape around the ceiling fan! You can also see Fleck lurking in this picture -- for some reason that has become one of her favorite napping spots lately.

Living Design Guest Bedroom: A Work in Progress

And here is the bed actually made up and ready to sleep in:

Living Design Guest Bedroom: A Work in Progress

We've started a silly little tradition of putting out differently themed groupings of Beanie Babies on the bed for each guest. My parents got "Canada" (Canadian goose, a moose, etc), my aunt got birds. For my sister: cats!

Living Design Guest Bedroom: A Work in Progress

It's such a change to have a serene grey instead of the bright pink and blue. I will admit, my inner 6 year old was a little sad to paint over the pink, But grown-up me is very happy with the new look!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Design Finds of the Week #8

For the next few weeks, I'll be sharing different inspirational designs and projects that I came across during my trip to the Prague Quadrennial. They will be fairly diverse, as were all of the presenters at PQ, but they are all worth sharing!

Today I want to share an interesting new project called VIPA: The Viral Institute of Performance Architecture.

On their website you can see the transcript of the lecture they presented at the Prague Quadrennial here.

They describe performance architecture as "a continuum of performance and art." They have an active-body-centric view of architecture, rather than seeing the human user as a passive element.

As you can probably guess from my background, I love the confluence of architecture and performance. I'm very curious to see where this project will go in the future!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Design Finds of the Week #7

I couldn't believe that it had been over a year since I last compiled some of the great design I come across into one of these posts! I like doing these weekly posts of good design, whether it's related to the house, the garden, or theater, so I'm going to work on getting back into the habit!

For the next few weeks, I'll be sharing different inspirational designs that I came across during my trip to the Prague Quadrennial. They will be fairly diverse, as were all of the presenters at PQ, but they are all worth sharing!

The first website/project I want to share is

Tanja Beer is a designer and PhD student focusing on sustainability in theatrical design. I talked with her a bit the day after I heard her speak, and her excitement for her field is infectious! Sustainability and conservation are huge passions of mine, and while I was studying architecture it was one of the main conversation topics of the industry, but the American theatre industry really just pays lip-service to the green movement. While Tanja told me that she doesn't do much mainstream theatre anymore, I do think that a lot of the things she is bringing attention to can be translated back into a mainstream environment, albeit perhaps with a bit more push-back from producers, theatre managers, and even directors. But I do believe that if designers make sustainability a priority, we can make a difference!

So check out her blog and projects, especially "This is Not Rubbish," the piece she spoke on at the Quadrennial.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

An HOA Compliant Compost Bin

You might remember that at our condo, I made a small vermicompost bucket for the balcony. While we didn't have enough space there to take care of all of our compostable waste, those worms definitely made a good dent in our garbage and they gave us a decent amount of great worm castings in return.

In our HOA, compost bins are required to be approved. The idea is that they can be unsightly or smelly, but if you're doing it right they really shouldn't be! But, because so much of our yard is visible from the road or open space (great views of the mountains for us, great views into our yard for everyone else) we decided to play by the book and submit a plan for a compost bin.

The location that seemed the best for us, and our neighbors, unfortunately was also the most visible from the road. My solution: hid the bin with fencing, and then plant some shade perennials in front. Since this area was just mulch and weeds before, I knew that they wouldn't say "no" to something that would actually make the area MORE attractive from the street.

And I was right! The Architectural Committee approved my plans, so then Sean and I just had to wait for a non-rainy weekend to actually get out there and install the bin, fencing and perennials. We did just that this past weekend.

Living Design: HOA Compliant Compost Bin

I wanted some taller, flowering perennials as well as some lower green. This area is in shade all day during the winter, and most of the day during the summer, so the plants couldn't require more than a couple hours of direct sunlight. At our local nursery we found one climbing hydrangea, two Camelot foxgloves, and a couple varieties of hosta. I filled in the front with some periwinkle ground cover.

Living Design: HOA Compliant Compost Bin

Living Design: HOA Compliant Compost Bin

A view that only people on our property will ever see: the actual compost bin. That window well isn't actually big enough to be a proper egress, so we weren't worried about putting the bin a couple feet away from it.

Living Design: HOA Compliant Compost Bin

Pretty foxgloves helping to hide the compost!

We're definitely looking forward to being able to use this compost bin to reduce our waste, and in future years we will reduce the amount of money we need to spend on amending the soil. It's a win-win!


Linked up to:

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday