A New Direction for Sustainably Queer

Hello Dedicated SQ Readers! Thank you for your patience in the past months as Rachel has been joyfully toiling through her program in Urban Agriculture and Kristl has been setting up her own fabulous acupuncture storefront in Edgewater. Due to this "construction" period, the writing here on SQ has been a little light. You have learned a lot about us, for sure, but there has not been a lot of meat to our posts.

Kristl and Rachel in Florance

Hopefully, as we are swinging into the holiday season and beyond we will be able to change that up for you a little bit. We are looking into a much needed facelift for the blog (because to be honest, we haven't really spent any time on this at all), as well as a few focus topics that are near and dear to our hearts. We will be giving you more cooking posts (because who doesn't love a good cooking post!?) and more posts about green living opportunities and events happening around the city of Chicago. We hope to also have interviews with movers and shakers in the queer, sustainable, and sustainably queer community that you should know (oooooh interviews!). It's going to be cool and hopefully it will be something you will want to share with your friends.

We will, however, be saying adios to our popular feature Nine on the Ninth, love it though you may (insert sad sounds here). We have done ten of those features, and we don't really want to have too much of a good thing. However, as a means of saying goodbye, we will be putting out an homage to Nine on the Ninth (and Oprah) and deliver to you with plenty of time for the holidays a list of Ninety-Nine Things We Like, which are sustainable or queer or, hey, sustainably queer which may also help fill out your shopping list a little bit, or just make your life a little bit easier. So, keep an eye out for that soon. It'll be in digestible chunks, don't worry!

Other than that, Rachel will be writing (unrelated but also awesome) some posts for the Advocates for Urban Agriculture's blog.  AUA is the main organization that works for the rights of farmers, growers, and locally sourced products in Chicago.  It's exciting for her to start to work with these fine folks and do the hard work of making sure that the public at large will make sure they are heard.  We will probably link to Rachel's AUA posts on our Facebook page, for your perusal.  (You may not think that you care about Chicago's weeding ordinance, but if you have a single family home, you very well may, or if you care about the welfare of small farms in the city, their ability to keep up with simple perimeter weeding may impact their ability to stay open or avoid heavy fines.)

That about does it for the planned changes around here. If there's anything specific you'd like us to write about, please let us know. We're definitely open to suggestions!

Nine on the 9th: Hidden Talents

Welcome back to Nine on the 9th (err...16th)! We actually had the text of this done by the 10th, but Kristl took her sweet time finding pictures to add in. Whoops! Sorry we missed September, but we were a little busy. Life is (hopefully) about to calm down for us a bit, as Rachel is graduating from her urban agriculture program on Thursday. We've got a few blog posts planned - let's all cross our fingers that we actually write them! For now, enjoy this list of some of our hidden talents. If we tell you all our favorite hidden talents, then they won't be hidden anymore. So, just be warned, we aren't giving up all the goods.
1. Bacon and eggs: Everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So it's good to know who should be in charge of what part of breakfast. Rachel is incredibly good at making bacon. We like to buy thick cut, humanely-raised, locally-sourced bacon. The result is crispy bacon, with a pleasant chew.  Kristl is a genius at making fried eggs.  She knows how to get the edges crispy, and keep the yolks runny.   If she's adding eggs to something, she has a knack for getting the whites steamed without hardening the yolks.  It's a dream.  It's important to know that Rachel is awesome at bacon and Kristl is a genius at eggs because Rachel ruins eggs and Kristl burns bacon, pretty much without fail.

It was hard to find pics to go along with these facts, so here's a random selfie!

2. Weird voices: About two years into their relationship, Rachel completely confounded Kristl by speaking to her in an alien Kermit the Frog type voice.  Kristl asked, "Where the heck did that come from?!" Rachel responded, "Well, it's just my weird voice for special occasions."  As an only child, Rachel did have to come up with ways to amuse herself, one of which was manipulating her voice.  It doesn't come in particularly handy, but it's weird.

 

3. Monkey feet: Kristl is really good at picking things up with her toes. Like, creepy good.  She's always been good at this.  Turns out this comes in handy (ha ha) when she's wearing a skirt, or a low cut dress, and doesn't want to flash everyone if she has to bend over. Plus, she's pretty much always wearing sandals, so it's convenient. Woo!

 

4. Google Fu: Kristl can find almost anything on the internet. Anything. If it is on the internet, it is meant to be be found by one Kristl Kwai Fah Yuen. She's magic. Rachel will complain about not being able to find such-and-such online and then, a few minutes later, Kristl will send her a barrage of links. Rachel is often outwardly annoyed by this, but secretly loves it.

Rachel all decked out in her farming gear!

5. Finding deals/discounts: This is somewhat related to the previous one, but if you are ever about to buy something, Kristl can probably find you a deal on it. When Rachel was outfitting herself for all-season farmwork, she expected to have to spend hundreds of dollars. After using eBates and shopping around for the best coupon codes and sales, Kristl was able to find all of the gear (work boots, rain pants, Goretex jacket, heavy fleece jacket, light hooded fleece vest, steel toe rainboots, and long silk underwear) for about $250. The Goretex alone retailed for almost $200. This skill definitely came in handy during our leaner months earlier this year!

 

6. Whistling and humming at the same time: Rachel can whistle and hum at the same time. Like an old timey radio is being tuned or a space ship is landing, or, on a good day, in harmony  Every time she does so, Delilah rushes over to make sure everything is okay.

We played NERTS with friends and, as usual, Kristl won.

7. Card games: Kristl is unbelievably good at games, card games especially. She often doesn't even know how she does it. Most recently, we were camping with friends and decided to play Go Fish. Kristl was the second person to go and she somehow managed to get through two full rotations of the group before asking someone for a card they didn't have. She, of course, won by a landslide.

 

8. Accents: We occasionally like to speak in exaggerated, nonspecific Minnesota/Northern Wisconsin or Russian accents. We developed our love of Minnesota/Northern Wisconsin accents independently of each other (Kristl in high school, Rachel in college), but the Russian accent acquisition was a concerted effort. Once, Kristl was in the kitchen and she heard Rachel talking in the living room. She assumed Rachel was on the phone with someone, but when she walked over, she realized Rachel was practicing her Russian accent with a YouTube video.

 

9. Wiggling ears: Rachel can wiggle her ears. Kristl cannot. This makes Kristl jealous on a daily basis. Not really, but Rachel wishes it did. When Kristl tries to wiggle her ears, her eyebrows move. (Rachel is jealous her secret talents are not more useful in real life, although upon further reflection back upon this list, she has some pretty strong tools for entertaining children.)

8-year-old Kristl proudly posing after a baton performance.

Since we are so late posting this, here are some bonus talents: Rachel tends to meow along to songs since she never remembers the lyrics, Kristl is a decent baton twirler, Rachel is great at spotting cats in windows when we're out walking, and Kristl can do some pretty rad makeup.

 

So there you go, hidden talents, and now they are not so hidden anymore. We can make you breakfast, entertain your children, and find you really good deals.  Then Kristl will take you all down in Go Fish.

Nine on the 9th: How We Are Different

This is a list of nine glorious ways that Kristl and Rachel embody the phrase "opposites attract" and how that works and doesn't work for them on a daily basis. 1. Math/No Math: Kristl loved math all through school.  She loved math so hard that she decided to major in math in college.  She only stopped loving math when it stopped being math and became theoretical (i.e. not really "math"). That's when she left college to go be an acupuncturist.  Kristl is really good at computation, mental math, being a calculator, figuring out how many of that will fit into that, etc. On one of their first dates, Kristl challenged Rachel to make her do large number multiplication in her head. It was amusing, but Rachel never knew if she was right or not. Rachel, on the other hand, is Team No Math. She will do her best to avoid mental math if she can eyeball or intuit how much she will need of something. She was a straight A student all through grade school with the exception of 4th grade math, in which she received C's because she could not slam multiplication tables into her brain fast enough. She managed to adapt to higher level math (algebra, calculus, etc), because it WAS more theoretical, but the calculations were almost always the reason she lost points on quizzes and tests. Thankfully, Rachel passed her AP Calculus exam with a 3 and did not have to take ANY MORE MATH EVER in college. The only bad thing (so far) about being a farmer, is all the math Rachel has to do to figure out how many plants will fit in a plot. Agony.

Studying

2. Sports: Rachel was never really good at sports, but she really loved playing them growing up, especially basketball. (Having been raised a conservative Christian, she had a shirt that said "Christ is Life, Everything else is Basketball." Don't judge.) In high school, she played basketball, and ran cross-country and track. She was pretty buff. Kristl, on the other hand, did not play sports. At all. She was very involved in choir, drama, and student government, but didn't play a single sport in high school. The funny thing is, Kristl's not actually bad at sports, she just never had the desire to play on a team. When Rachel tries to apply sports team analogies to real life situations, Kristl frequently can't relate. Neither of us really enjoys watching sports that much, unless it's our friends playing in a league or it's an Olympic year.

3. Looks: We look completely different. Completely. We were thinking about the old adage that partnered couples start to look alike as they get older and we tried to figure out where we were similar - where someone would be like, "Oh, it's your ears, definitely. Your ears are the same." Yeah, no.  Kristl is short, she's got big boobs, she's half-Chinese, she has short legs, brown eyes, dark brown hair. Rachel is half a foot taller, has basically no boobs, she's got some hips, long legs, blue-green eyes, light brown hair, she's mostly German-American with some Anglo-Saxon muttness thrown in. Our faces have different shapes; our ears don't even connect to our heads the same way. We do both have size 8.5 feet, but our feet are shaped very differently. We've concluded that as we age, we will only look the same in spirit.  If you start to think we do look alike, it's merely an illusion.

See? We don't look at all alike!

4. Introvert and Extrovert: This one is sort of a cop out, but it frequently plays a big role in our lives. Kristl is definitely more introverted, so she needs a lot of alone time to get her energy back when she's had to be around people. Rachel is more extroverted, so she is able to get energy by being around people. Sometimes this comes in handy when Kristl has to go to a party for something semi-professional, but she doesn't really want to talk to people. She can bring Rachel, and Rachel can talk to people and enjoy herself while Kristl can still make an appearance for the sake of her business.

5. Cats and Dogs: Rachel grew up super afraid of dogs, because she was attacked by one when she was three, and Kristl grew up super allergic to cats (thankfully, she's adjusted to Delilah). Rachel grew up with at least one pet cat in the house at all times, and Kristl has always loved dogs, but her mother refused to let them have labor-intensive pets growing up, so they had things like fish and a Japanese quail. Kristl wanted to get a dog as soon as she had her own place that allowed them (which she did). So, obviously, the fact that Kristl and Rachel now have a cat and a dog together is a pretty big accomplishment. Bradley and Delilah have been very patient through the whole process. Little known fact: Rachel told Bradley that she loved him the first time she met him, on her first date with Kristl. It took her almost four months from that day to say the same thing to Kristl.

Rachel loves Bradley.

6. DANCING: Kristl loves dancing. She loves swing, lindy hop, and tap, and tends to thrive in dance styles that allow freedom within structure. She's planning on taking up tap again, just because she loves it so much. Rachel is quite a different matter and loves to dance in as free a style possible. She loves to just groove to the music and isn't good at super structured moves because she doesn't exactly see the point of it. If you can impress people without structured moves, then just move your body. Part of this difference of opinion about dancing style and structure is why Kristl and Rachel haven't tried any partner dance classes yet. They have their eye on the queer tango class, but they have yet to commit.

7. Sleeping style: This is a little bit difficult to describe, but Kristl and Rachel have very different approaches to blanket usage while they are sleeping. This bothers Kristl a great deal and bothers Rachel very little, until she completely loses a blanket or a pillow and finds herself super cold and sad in the middle of the night. They don't even share blankets for the most part because each person in the bed is the master of her own blanket destiny. Kristl usually makes it through the whole night with her blankets in place, while Rachel is lucky to make it to midnight without dropping a pillow or curling into the fetal position because she's cold and she's lost her blanket. Kristl frequently will ask Rachel if she wants her pillow or blanket because she looks uncomfortable, but Rachel doesn't answer these interrogatives...because she is sleeping. (Kristl usually gives Rachel the pillow or blanket back anyway and then Rachel smiles and it's super adorable.) The best is when Rachel loses her own blanket and then tries to steal Kristl's. Kristl loves that.

8. Cooking style: Rachel makes big messes when she cooks and it stresses Kristl out to be in the kitchen with her working on the same project. They can peacefully coexist in the kitchen, IF Kristl doesn't pay too close attention to what Rachel is doing. Rachel does always clean up after her giant messes, and then cleans up after the tiny messes that Kristl leaves when she gets too stressed out by cooking in the same kitchen as Rachel and has to leave. We both try to clean as we go, but it doesn't always work out as planned.

Canning tomatoes is definitely one of our messier kitchen endeavors. Last year there may have been a lot of Kristl yelling at Rachel for being messy. Hopefully things will be different this year.

9. Good morning/good night world:  Rachel falls asleep pretty easily, especially since having to wake up at 4:45 for farm work, but it takes her a good hour to be a fully-functioning human in the morning. Kristl takes a while to power down in the evening, but she wakes up almost immediately in the morning, or pretty much whenever she's woken up. Sometimes, especially in the spring, Kristl will wake up all on her own around 6:00 am for weeks at a time, just like the sun. This bothers Rachel to no end, as Kristl will wake up and start chatting immediately. For the first year of their relationship Kristl had to learn not to talk to "Morning Rachie" until she was given the okay.

Facts on a Date! - INJURIES!

Tuesday, June 10, I woke up and the first thing I thought was, "Oh no! We missed Nine on the 9th!" (I'm not even kidding. It was literally the first thing I thought when I opened my eyes.) As always, we've got a boatload of things going on - Rachel started her internship at the Chicago Botanic Garden's Fruit and Vegetable Garden (meaning she has to get up at 4:45am, so that's been quite the adjustment!), I finally was able to start seeing patients in my new practice space, we decided to move a few blocks north of our current apartment because we got an out-of-the-blue offer to rent a friend's condo for the next 2-5 years, AND we set a date for our wedding reception. All of that happened in a span of a week or so, hence the complete lack of a Nine on the 9th post. To make it up for you, we're going to do a random number of facts on whatever date we end up finishing this post! Aren't you the luckiest?! 1. When Kristl was around 3 or 4, she sprained her arm diving across the room to grab a toy bus. This is the first "real" injury she remembers.

Kristl couldn't find a pic of her sprained arm, so she thought this adorable ruffled-bikini-bandaid-on-each-knee pic would be a good alternative.

2. About six weeks before graduating from high school, Rachel was participating in the dress rehearsal of her high school musical review and was rushing to get to the dressing room and tripped over own (damn) feet.  She went sprawling, and broke her elbow (also sprained her ankle, gave herself a mild concussion, and shattered the bracelet she was wearing at the time).  When the dust settled, she wasn't quite sure exactly what had happened, and for better or worse, no one had seen her fall, so there she was, curled up in a fetal position for no apparent reason. She did sing in most of the musical review that weekend with her arm in a sling and with her mind on Vicodin.

The show must go on, even with a broken elbow, sprained ankle, and concussion.

3. As a junior in high school, Kristl fell down walking so many times, that she had to have knee surgery. Seriously. The first incident happened on the first day of band camp - they were practicing marching formations and her knee gave way when she popped her heel up. She had to sit out for the entirety of camp (it was on the Big Island, so she couldn't easily go home). The final time, she was supposed to participate in a panel discussion at school. She was walking across the courtyard and her knee gave out again. She blacked out from the pain and the next thing she knew she was lying on a bench. She ended up having surgery on her meniscus. One of her greatest regrets is getting general anesthesia instead of local - she really wanted to watch the surgery!

4. In summer 2012, in the way of most lesbians in love, Kristl and Rachel decided to finally shack up.  This involved moving some of Rachel's stuff temporarily into a storage space.  Rachel cleverly decided wear open-toed sandals for the big move and managed to rip off her left big toenail while moving a piece of her sectional.  Blood squirted everywhere for a little while, which was awesome, and it took almost an entire year for the toenail to grow back completely. For some reason, we affectionately named the affected toe "Toebert."

5. As a senior in high school, Kristl managed to chip her knee cap without coming into contact with anything. She was standing up, turned to do something, and felt such excruciating pain in her knee that she fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes. She reached out to break her fall and almost tore a cabinet door off its hinges. She ended up in a full leg brace, which is really awesome when you're sixteen.

Leg brace + DIY too short bangs = best senior year ever

6. When Rachel was training to be an Resident Assistant at Calvin College, they went on a three day biking/camping trip as part of the training.  On the last day of the bike trip, Rachel was getting off of her bike, but the clips holding her feet in got stuck.  Her legs were still stuck to the bike, but her body was not, so she dislocated her right kneecap.  It was the most painful thing. By far. Ever.  The knee cap migrated back to it's usual place once her teammates helped her off the bike, but she definitely didn't do anymore biking or walking on that trip or for a while.

Rachel (possibly) writing angsty poetry about her dislocated knee cap.

7. Shortly before Kristl visited Chicago for the first time, she sprained her knee doing a dip while swing dancing. She had to navigate Chicago on crutches, which may be why so many people asked her for directions. She fell in love with the city and moved here for good two months later.

8. As an eight year-old, one day in the early spring, Rachel had a day off from school and was just helping her dad do errands around town while wearing her snow boots.  Somehow this made her sprain her Achilles tendon. Mysteries abound. (I believe it's because the snow boots were a bit over-sized and stressed out her poor tendons trying to keep the boots and her feet all in the same place.)

9. During a slow afternoon at esthetician school, Kristl made a coffee run for her classmates, even though she has never been a coffee drinker. On her way back, she stepped  off a curb wrong, sprained both her ankles, and fell face first in the street. She managed not to spill a drop of the 79 cent coffees in her hands, so there's that. She tore up both knees, which is even more of a sight when you're required to wear all white, as she was for school. She also had to wear an aircast on each ankle for weeks after. She still has those aircasts and, unfortunately, still uses them on occasion.

10. Rachel and her dad used to go scuba diving in old rock quarries around the Chicagoland area.  (This is not as weird as it sounds, but it is kinda weird.  People make money by filling in old rock quarries with water and fish, sinking small boats, helicopters, planes, etc in the quarries and then charging scuba divers to dive in them during the warm months.  Usually, people learn how to dive here, so they can be ready when they go somewhere where it's actually pleasant to scuba dive like, I don't know, the Bahamas.  But some interesting people, like the Schipulls, will go for fun.)  Rachel had finished her dive and was bobbing around the surface taking pictures of the fish with her underwater camera.  Suddenly, a bluegill jumped out of the water and bit Rachel in the eye. This caused quite the commotion as you could imagine, but luckily Rachel was wearing soft contacts at the time and the bluegill got a mouth full of corrective lens and Rachel went home with a sore eye and one less contact.

11. About six weeks after they started dating, Kristl sprained her ankle dancing at a friend's wedding. Rachel had been liberally partaking of the open bar and was in no shape to drive them home, so they had to wait for her to sober up. Kristl is staunchly independent and was beyond mortified to need Rachel's help that night. She actually tried to crawl to her condo from the parking lot because she didn't want Rachel to help her walk. Rachel, however, was insistent and Kristl finally gave in.

Dishonorable mentions:

12. Rachel has some fire ant scars on her right wrist from growing up in Florida where you have to check the color of the ants you are working with.  Black ants are relatively benign, red ants will mess you up.

13. Kristl hates being tickled; Rachel sometimes tickles Kristl anyways.  Sad things happen.

Kristl *really* doesn't like being tickled

14. Despite her numerous injuries, Kristl has never actually broken a bone. The closest she's gotten is that chipped knee cap. *knock on wood*

15. When you are having a grand mal seizure, the common medical advice is for your friends and family member to arrange you on your side so that you do not choke or lose the ability to breathe (job #1).  When you are convulsing, your joints are kinda at the mercy of physics and gravity and whatever else might be lying around. Rachel tends to get seizures while she's asleep, so she was already on her side the last time she had a grand mal. Because she was on her side while seizing, her poor shoulder took the brunt of it and ended up dislocating. Dumb epilepsy. (We are still taking donations to pay for Rachel's medical bills, if you haven't had a chance to donate yet, please feel free do so here.)

Well, there you have it!  A random number of facts on a random day!  Although, here is a random fact that is not related to injuries: Rachel and Kristl just passed their three year anniversary! (AWWWWW.) They will try to be careful and not have any more ridiculous injuries as they go forward with all their big changes this summer. Happy last week of June everyone!

Nine on the 9th - Birthday Edition

Tomorrow, May 10, is Kristl's birthday, so we figured we should do a Nine on the 9th with birthday facts! 1. Kristl was born at 3:17 pm on Monday, May 10, 1982, in Honolulu, HI. It was the day after Mother's Day. She's about to turn 32.

2. Rachel was born at 12:09am on Wednesday, September 26, 1984, in Panama City, FL. She'll be 30 this year.

3. Kristl isn't a huge fan of birthdays. She won't be mad if you say "Happy Birthday!" and give her a hug, but she would usually rather not celebrate hers and doesn't agree with the idea of obligatory gift giving. (Her philosophy on gift giving is that if you see something that someone you know would like or that reminds you of someone, you should get it for that person, whether or not you have a reason to. Of course, this is only if you are comfortable buying said item. She once saw a $400 cross stitch of rainbow penguins that reminded her of a friend, but she didn't buy it for him because four hundred dollars for a cross stitch.) She also WAY prefers have experiences/time with people rather than more stuff, so if you absolutely have to do something for her birthday, offer to take her out for a nice meal. Done.

On the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier on Rachel's 28th birthday.
On the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier on Rachel's 28th birthday.

4. Rachel loves birthdays. L-O-V-E-S them.  In high school, she would keep a countdown on the dry-erase board in her locker starting AT LEAST 30 days out from her birthday.  And she would drop hints, trick people into talking about it, force other people to plan their social events around her birthday celebration, etc... if Facebook had existed then, she would have been fully insufferable.

Kristl was thrilled to be having a birthday party
Kristl was thrilled to be having a birthday party

5.  For Kristl's 30th, Rachel convinced her to have a party. They kept it low-key and planned a potluck at a beach park. Because of scheduling issues (i.e. a 10-day road trip to Florida during Kristl's actual birthday), the party didn't happen until June. They got to the beach park a couple hours early to set up and claim the spot. Shortly there after, Kristl started to break down. She cried, said she didn't want to have a party because she didn't want people paying attention to her, and decided to leave. Rachel had to talk her down and tell her that her friends would probably be disappointed arrive at her birthday party to find that she'd gone home. Kristl ended up staying and having a good time, but it will forever be the benchmark of how NOT to throw a party for her birthday.

6. Rachel vividly remembers her fourth birthday party only because everyone bought her Barbie dolls and she was wildly disappointed.  She wanted nothing to do with Barbies because they were boring.  All she wanted was dinosaurs, dinosaurs, dinosaurs... with some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles thrown in for good measure. Future birthdays made up for this by including games where participants had to act like dinosaurs and Rachel getting to wear a shirt with a dinosaur on it. Thank goodness.

Check out the cool "What-ever!" hat and the Walkman Kristl got for her 14th birthday. Also, her boyfriend at the time was sitting next to her, but she cut him out of the photo in a fit of teen angst.
Check out the cool "What-ever!" hat and the Walkman Kristl got for her 14th birthday. Also, her boyfriend at the time was sitting next to her, but she cut him out of the photo in a fit of teen angst.

7. When she was 15, Kristl had a big party. The plan was to hang out at the beach for a few hours, then go back to her house to watch movies and eat pizza. This time Kristl had such a good time at the beach that she forgot (or neglected? she was 15, who knows) to put on sunscreen. She got such a bad sunburn that when they got back to her house she essentially passed out in her mom's air conditioned bedroom. Her friends gathered in the living room and watched movies and ate pizza without her. It's still one of the more memorable birthdays she's had.

8. Rachel's family had a tradition of taking her to Red Lobster for her birthday, which she was really into because shrimp are delicious.  Every year, she would enthusiastically order a virgin strawberry daiquiri to start, whatever entree would allow her to eat the most shrimp prepared in the most different ways (with cheddar biscuits, of course), and whatever dessert had the most chocolate, so the restaurant staff would be forced to light a candle on it and sing happy birthday to her while she had a foam lobster on her head. Ah... traditions.

Cocktail party thumbs up!
Cocktail party thumbs up!

9. In 2011, still near the beginning of our relationship, Rachel decided to host a fancy cocktail birthday party at her apartment at the time (which was really an excellent location for a large party!) We applied new and exciting stresses to our relationship, by visiting locations such as Men's Warehouse (looking for an appropriate suit), hiring a photographer, and inviting in guests from out of town.  Those of you who were there know it was a wild party.  That's because birthdays are so fun!! (Including outfits, food, the photographer, and other sundries, we together spent about $800 on this party, ridiculous. We spent only slightly more on our wedding.)

Nine on the Ninth - True Confessions

We're doing our Nine on the Ninth a little differently this month. Some readers may think that because we try to live a sustainable lifestyle we eschew anything that doesn't fall under the eco-friendly/sustainable umbrella. That just isn't true. It's about choices and education. We make choices that make the most sense for us in a specific moment - based on knowledge, budget, and need. Those choices are not always the most sustainable or eco-friendly. And, honestly, sometimes we're just lazy. So, without further ado, here are nine ways in which we do not always make sustainable choices. (This was also inspired a bit by the Christian lenten season, because, let's be real, this is confessional.) 1. We do a lot of dishes by hand, even though we have a portable dishwasher. Dishwashers have been shown to use less water and energy than hand washing, but we have a number of items that aren't dishwasher safe and we cook so much that we have to hand wash most of our cooking utensils because we're going to use them again immediately. All this is to say, we often use more water than we should to wash dishes. (Excessive water usage is only going to become a bigger issue as climates around the country continue to change.  We may be blessed to have the Great Lakes, but who knows how long they'll be around.)

2. We both have a soft spot for peanut butter M&Ms and they do occasionally jump into our basket when we're at CVS or Target. (Ditto for Kristl and gummy candy.) Eating candy isn't 100% unsustainable, but supporting multi-national companies that benefit from exploiting workers and the agriculture system in the U.S. is not sustainable.

Kristl loves gummy candy (though, to be honest, the gummy tummy series from Trader Joe's is not her favorite)

3. We tend to buy our clothes at national retailers who likely have terrible practices and exploit the garment industry (Gap used to be notorious for this). Though we would like to buy well-sourced, fair trade, organic clothing, a lot of it is out of our budget and/or doesn't suit our needs. Rachel has a little more luck, since there is more available in her size, but there just isn't much out there for Kristl's plus-size needs.

4. Rachel has a habit of putting hot soups directly into old plastic containers, even though she knows that can cause the chemicals to leach out. (In Rachel's defense, the liquids are rarely boiling and it takes high temperatures to release anything potentially dangerous.) What is more of a concern is buying canned vegetables/beans in cans coated with plastic containing BPA (specifically tomatoes, because of the high acid content).  See this article for some legitimate pros and cons.

5. We use more plastic and paper in the kitchen than we would like - specifically ziploc bags and paper towels. Even if you are buying paper towels and plastic bags made from post-consumer recycled products, the best choice here, for all of us, would be to use rags and reusable containers (like Pyrex glass containers).

Seriously, we weren't kidding about using a few too many Ziploc bags (also, it's hard to resist a Costco deal).

6. We have a car and use it a lot, definitely more than we need to. It's a luxury we aren't completely willing to give up, even though we know it isn't the most environmentally friendly choice. We're hoping to decrease our car use with some upcoming changes, but we're not going to get rid of it. Check out this infographic about how wasteful it is to idle your car (which is sometimes unavoidable in traffic or extreme weather conditions like we get in Chicago).

7. We don't always eat well-sourced food. Sometimes we just want some chicken wings and fries from the local bar, and that's okay.

8. We LOVE a good sample. Whenever we go to Trader Joe's, Costco, or Whole Foods, we gobble up the samples (sometimes more than one per person - shh!), even though they're frequently in non-recyclable plastic cups. Even the ones in paper cups are problematic, as they are likely not made out of recycled material and probably won't get composted. And don't even get me started on toothpicks! The best way to get around this would be to only sample the things that are served in a sustainable way (e.g. chips served with reusable tongs.)

9. *GASP* We have thrown away perfectly good containers because they'd gotten pushed to the back of the fridge for months on end and were filled with some unidentifiable substance and we couldn't stomach the thought of opening them. Real talk, though, if you haven't done this at some point in your life, more power to you. (We had to have a friend of ours who works in a hospital to get rid of some former pumpkin that had transformed into a many-splendored mutant multi-organism that probably is still lurking out there somewhere and will start the zombie apocalypse.  Thanks, Ashleigh!)

So, that's it for now, since we're keeping it to nine.  We aren't perfect, we aren't even trying to be perfect or preachy or bastions of sustainability in our community.  We are simply sharing our struggles and successes when armed with knowledge and faced with a global system that has (d)evolved to the point of self-destruction.  Swimming against the current is super exhausting and sometimes we fall back on our old habits simply because they are the paths of least resistance. Our hope, the only hope out there really, is that small changes can help, and that our stories will inspire you to make small changes too, so we can get the current moving in the right direction!

Nine on the 9th

Well, we managed to publish one additional post since our last Nine on the 9th, so that's some progress. As we mentioned last month, we are in quite the transition right now. As things get a little more solid we will definitely fill y'all in on what's going on, but you'll have to just bear with us for the time being. 1. Kristl's right eye is noticeably smaller than her left. It especially shows up when she's smiling. Her family affectionately calls it her "small eye."

Check out that small eye

2. Rachel is went to the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996. She got to see a women's basketball game, an archery competition, and rowing. Her aunt and uncle bought her and her parents a brick with their name on it which you can still find in Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta.

3. We take our pets to the Royal Treatment Veterinary Center, a holistic vet here in Chicago. Bradley has received acupuncture, chiropractic, laser, and water therapy for his bum knees. He's currently on a raw diet and we're in the process of trying to switch Delilah to one as well.

4. Kristl loves shopping for school/office supplies. Earlier today Rachel said she wanted to go to Target to get a notebook and Kristl got so excited she teared up. Seriously.

5. Rachel went to Russia when she was 7, just after the fall of the Soviet Union. Her parents took her with them on a mission trip to Latvia and part of the trip was a train ride to Russia. She has visited St. Petersburg and Moscow and was even able to tour the inside of the Kremlin.

6. Recently we have designated Rachel as the bacon cooker and Kristl as the egg cooker in our family, because Rachel cooks awesome bacon but frequently messes up the eggs and Kristl cooks pretty great eggs, but often burns the bacon. This is why we're a good team.

7. Kristl was a swing dancer/lindy hopper off and on for almost 10 years. You could find her out dancing most nights of the week. Unfortunately, she's fallen out of the scene lately (mainly because she likes to be in bed by 11 and that schedule isn't super conducive to social dances). Hopefully she can convince Rachel to take some classes so they can dance together!

8. Rachel used to have a nose piercing. She got it in San Francisco in 2008 and had to take it out when she got her wisdom teeth removed in 2012. She couldn't get it back in after the surgery, but it hasn't been any great loss to her beauty or character.

Rachel showing her curling prowess with the stone (a tea kettle filled with water)

9. We are in a supper club with some friends and the most recent event was in honor of the Olympic opening ceremonies. We each were part of a two-person team representing a country. We chose China and I made flags out of felt and glitter for our outfits. Jess cooked dishes from each of the countries present and made us compete in 4 events. We won the "curling" event (which our competitors attributed to us having taken a Learn2Curl class, but we attributed it to sheer awesomeness) and then dominated in the land skating (like pairs skating but on land, in Jess' kitchen, to a surprise music selection), to everyone's surprise (those years of partner dancing really paid off). We were middling in the other two events (a blind taste test and "Name that Tune" game), but managed to pull off the win.

Victory for China!

Disclaimer: The politics in Russia are horrific and we know there is a lot of controversy surrounding the Sochi games. We went back and forth on boycotting the games, but decided that watching and engaging in discussions about the gross inequities is more our style. Brooke Cartus explained it really well in her blog here.