The recycling dilemma

We’ve been on the island for almost two months now and haven’t taken one thing to one of the four recycling centers on the island. It’s embarrassing, and frankly it had become a problem in our garage. Is this box something that needs to be unpacked? Nope, just recycling waiting to find its home.

Recycling in the city is pretty simple. Paper, plastic, newspaper, aluminum…all of it…just put it into the big blue bin and roll it out with the trash bin on trash day. Here on the island, not so.

A week after our arrival, I searched for the nearest recycling location and reviewed the rules: sort glass bottles by color, separate cardboard and flatten, rinse all cans and bottles, remove paper from tin cans and flatten….by all means separate everything. This tended to give me a little anxiety about doing this all right.

Flatten the tin cans? I stared at the two bags of cans, mostly dog food cans and made attempts to flatten them with a hammer, with my foot…nope, not going to happen. From there I went to Ace Hardware in search for a sledge hammer. Standing in the tool section staring at the 10 different sledge hammers available, I must have looked stressed or perhaps it was because I’d been standing there for 30 minutes, but I was offered help.

“It’s this recycling thing. I have to flatten the cans? It says here, I have to flatten these cans. How do I do this? I’m thinking a sledge hammer, but surely there is an easier way.”

img_3242The sales associate looked humored or possibly just thought I was crazy. She let me know that I didn’t need to flatten cans as the website instructed and she was sorry that I didn’t need a sledgehammer today after all.

So I went back to the house, sorted my recyclables, loaded up my car and found my way down to Island Recycling in Freeland. I had imagined large industrial bins, but instead found a collage of recycled goods turned into art. This eased my recycle anxiety a bit.

As I began to unload my car, I received a couple of strange looks. Yes, this is my first time doing this recycling thing in the country. Yes, I’m from the city. Yes, I may need help. They guided me through the process, reminding me that lids in no way go on the plastic bottles, as if I needed a reminder because there were signs posted all around me.

An hour later, my recycling had been placed in all the appropriate bins, without lids and paper wrappers and I didn’t even have to crush those pesky cans.





Bellingham for the weekend

In celebration of my best friend’s 40th birthday, we headed off north to Bellingham. I call this our “almost home” because this is where I really thought we would end up. In addition to my bestie living here, it’s a college town, it has music and culture, beautiful Bellingham Bay in the front and Mt. Baker keeping a watchful eye in the background.

We did have a beautiful sunset tour of Bellingham Bay, but honestly, for the weekend, friends gathered at a house close to a city park to eat, drink and be merry.

One day we stopped at Taylor’s Shellfish situated along the winding Chuckanut Drive and purchased about 5 lbs. of oysters for grilling and mussels for steaming. Thankfully, Josh and Dave provided their shucking and grilling skills. It was the perfect end to a delicious, beautiful weekend.

Slow food, easy food, good food

We’ve always prided ourselves as being foodies and living in Dallas allowed us to try a new restaurant each week as long as we could afford it (which usually, we couldn’t). We gravitated toward those restaurants touting local cuisine and we tried to buy local vegetables and meat. Food Inc. steered us away from the average grocery store and unless we could find something at our local farmers market, our grocery store was Whole Foods.

Going to the grocery store in Dallas was a Sunday event. Go have a glass of wine, meet neighborhood friends, discuss the menu for the week and the ingredients on the grocery list and then eventually shop for said ingredients. Our weekly trip to the grocery store took 3-4 hours which we really enjoyed.

About three months before our move, there was too much to do and we were trying to tighten our budget, so much to my husbands request to keep our Sunday shopping tradition alive, I caved to the food in a box. Plated, while not fitting the slow food framework, did allow us to have a weeks worth of dinners shipped each Tuesday and at the same price. It freed up our Sunday to pack, visit with friends and neighbors, or get ready for a work travel filled week. After getting adjusted to our surroundings, we paused our Plated shipments and focused back onto our local foodie passions.

Here on the island, being a foodie has a whole new meaning than what we experienced in Dallas. Don’t get me wrong, there are delicious restaurants here like Oystercatcher, Prima, and The Inn at Langley, but being a foodie here means local, buying local, eating local.

We started our slow food quest by joining the CSA at Prairie Bottom Farms and enjoy our weekly partial share of vegetables we pick up each week. We quickly learned that our neighbor was not only a farmer, but a baker. He supplies pork and fresh bread to the Oystercatcher and takes orders on the side to sell pork to the community. We purchased half of a pig and it arrived earlier this week. img_3226

Pork raised next door. How local can you get?

Last night we served up pork chops along with braised beets and zucchini and a green salad. All veggies came from our CSA with the exception of the tomatoes seen here as those won’t arrive until mid-September.

It felt good to eat a meal where we knew how the ingredients were grown or raised. Slow food is definitely tasty food.



Foraging the sea for food

One of the pulls to moving by the sea for Josh was fishing. As we wait for salmon season to open, we’ve been playing around with the crab trap. Honestly, as great as this Dungeness Crab looks, so far we haven’t had much luck.

We learned that without a boat, crabbing becomes challenging. Without a boat, you are left to try your luck at perhaps one of three docks and if you aren’t willing to hang out with the trap all day, there is a high likelihood that someone will nab your crab, if not your whole trap.

But today when Josh retrieved his trap from the Clinton pier, he found success. After throwing back the females and the rock crab that were too small, two tasty Dungeness crab remained. They became lunch. A very tasty lunch.

This wasn’t our first foraging experience. A few weeks back, we tried our hand at clamming off of Zylstra beach off Penn Cove. It was Father’s Day and was packed with people from the mainland.

Clamming on Penn Cove.

Unlike crabbing, scavenging across the beach was a little overwhelming. There were choices. Did we want to hang out for 30 minutes and forage for Penn Cove mussels or search for clam breathing holes and dig until we found them. We chose the latter, primarily because these wild mussels looked much more difficult to clean than simply removing the beards off of the store bought variety.

Clamming is serious business and the Fish and Wildlife Rangers don’t mess around. We thought we were prepared with license in hand, a clam bag for each of us (so we can keep accurate count), but we were busted when the ranger noticed we didn’t have a measuring tool. I explained how I was measuring the clam by using my pinky finger, buimg_2847t that apparently isn’t acceptable. We only had one clam that was a fraction too small, so she was kind and let us go with a warning.

We focused on foraging for the large butter clams because they would keep us out of trouble until we had a proper ruler. As we began to prepare dinner, we realized seeking the butter clams may not have been the best plan. They are rather large and meaty, but not as tasty as the smaller cockles or little neck clams.

At the end of the day, our meal wasn’t horrible, but we chalked it up to a tasty learning experience.