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Nature without an effort surpasses art. -Latin Proverb


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The Coffee Obsession (Part 2) – What is fair trade really about?


Along with knowing what kind of milk and how much syrup is in our specialty drinks every morning, we should be even more concerned about where the beans that create those delicious nutty undertones come from. Some of the biggest regions that produce coffee are Central and South America, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia. Many countries’ economies are wrapped up in the global trade of coffee.

A good place to start in learning about coffee beans is the different types. There are two kinds of beans that are used most often for making coffee, Robusta and Arabica. The differences in these two relate to their flavor, growing conditions, and price.  Robusta has a stronger, harsher taste with grain and peanut overtones and can have twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans. These beans however, are considered lower quality when compared to Arabica beans in most cases. There are a few growers of Robusta that are higher quality and used in espressos for their rich flavor and caffeine content. Arabica beans are common in pricier coffee circles, where Robusta is common in the grocery store. Arabica beans are more acidic and tend to have the fruitier tones that can be associated with specialty coffees. The two different kinds of beans are grown in different locations as well. Arabica beans grow at higher altitudes and take longer to produce than the Robusta beans which are very hearty and grow quickly.  This information was all found at http://www.thekitchn.com but there are many other sites out there. The types of beans grown determine the price that growers can sell them at and how much and how fast they can grow.

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Inexpensive and good for you -10 ideas for 10 dollars or less for your Friday night


In Seattle many of the students at SPU have a hard time finding fun activities to do that won’t break the bank. Seattle has exponential opportunities to try something new, but it might cost you a pretty penny. Here are some ideas for students (or people on a budget) for Friday nights.

1) Board games at a local game store (Free + bus fare and snacks) This activity can be totally free! For SPU students Blue Highway is a walk up the 3rd Ave. hill to upper Queen Anne. If the weather isn’t ideal, the 13 also goes up the hill and stops just two blocks away from this fun game store on the corner of Boston Ave. and Queen Anne. The staff is really helpful at teaching you a new game if you need help, and sometimes they even have fun events in their store. It’s also a great place to try before you buy, and then invest in a favorite game once you have a little extra cash. Their Friday hours are 10 am to 11 pm. Playing board games is a great way to connect with people and exercise your brain. This location isn’t the only one though; there’s another game store in Ballard as well.

2) Visit a park and play Frisbee (Free if you own a Frisbee)

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The view from Bhy Kracke Park. Photo credit: SeattleStairwayWalks.com.

Seattle has so many gorgeous parks, and I’m certain other cities and towns have parks with spacious lawns for Frisbee. Getting out and running around a bit can be really fun, no matter how uncoordinated you may be. For Seattlites and other pacific northwesters it can get dark pretty early in the evening, so checking out options for a glow in the dark disc is a must, finding an affordable one isn’t too difficult, just stay away from specialty ones, or the lit ones that require batteries. A few of my suggestions for parks are Discovery park in Magnolia or Bhy Kracke park in Upper Queen Anne. I caution the klutzy though, because Bhy Kracke is on a steep hill and you could easily lose your disc down the hill. Both parks close at 11:30 pm (sunshine and shoes are optional).

3) Take a Factory Tour ($10) So I know some people don’t like (or are even allergic) to chocolate, but Theo’s is a true gem of Seattle. In the evenings the smell of cocoa can permeate a block or two away from the factory. A tour is $10 a person, so it’s at the top end of my price range, but I’ve heard it’s worth it. The last tour of the day starts at 4 pm so you need to schedule ahead of time. Tours are an hour long and exhibit the process of making Theo’s chocolate bars.  Make a fun trip out of it by enjoying your samples and then walking down by the Ship Canal, up to the Troll under the bridge, or over to the beautiful Gasworks Park Pavilion. I’ve also heard rumors of Jones’ Soda having factory tours here in Seattle, but I wasn’t able to confirm those. Any opportunity to learn how something is made (and get samples) is one that I would take!

4) Grab your other suit to go Swimming ($5.25 + locker 25₵) I haven’t been to the Queen Anne Swimming pool, but on Fridays you could swim for an hour (7-8 pm- public swim time) and help support the community pool. Swimming is a great way to get a bit of exercise, and making use of community pools helps to ensure their stability for future generations. Give it a shot and see what you think! Continue reading


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5 Tips on keeping your grocery bill green without spending too much green


1) Buy non-perishables in bulk (and bring your own container if possible). Buying canned foods, and buying dry goods such as pasta, flour, sugar, spices in bulk can save a good deal of money and help eliminate waste from smaller packaged items. Another way to apply this principle is buying fresh foods and then freezing them or dehydrating them (if you’re really fancy). Some things that I know freeze well are bread, meats, hearty vegetables like bell peppers and broccoli, and berries (although their texture will be compromised when they thaw). Freezing food is a great way to help with keeping foods longer and preventing those nightly or weekly trips to the grocery store. It can also save you money if you buy produce when it is in season or on sale.

2) Meal planning is an important part of saving money, just like budgeting. Planning what to eat during which weeks will help you decide what non-perishables to buy and stock up on, and which foods you can wait to buy until they are a bit cheaper. This meal planning should revolve around your favorite fresh produce, and when it goes on sale. Pairing non-perishable staples with fresh produce will not only help save your wallet, but is also a great way to have balanced nutrition and avoid expensive processed and packaged food. This takes a bit of time but is worth it when you are satisfied with your food budget and delicious meals. Continue reading


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Arnett Hall Receives LEED Gold Certification


Arnett

Completed in August 2014, Arnett Hall is the newest residence hall and building on campus. Located at the corner of 6th and Bertona, Arnett houses up to 150 students. In recognition of its sustainable design and construction, Arnett was recently awarded LEED Gold certification.

Arnett Hall was certified under the new LEED for Home Mid-rise Multi-Family category, which places a high emphasis on durability, occupant awareness, and energy performance. Arnett joins Eaton Hall and the Cremona Classrooms as LEED-certified buildings on the SPU campus, and SPU is committed to achieving a minimum of LEED Silver certification on all new construction. LEED certification involves verifying that a building was designed and constructed to achieve various credits in categories such as building materials, location, energy, landscaping, water efficiency, and air quality measures for the building. Meeting specific requirements can improve the level certification that the building receives, whether through an upgrade in material quality or additional energy-saving features. Here are a few points to highlight: Continue reading


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The Coffee Obsession (Part One)-


It’s no surprise that Seattle is known for coffee. As home of the original Starbucks and a geographic location that can often have dreary weather it makes sense that most Seattleites carry around a hot caffeinated beverage, especially during the winter months. How much damage has this obsession or need done to the environment though?

I was pleasantly surprised to realize though that the paper cups our liquid energy comes in are recyclable, and so are their cozy little jackets that prevent burned hands and their lids. This is not a recent development for Seattle, yet it seems that people often don’t know that empty clean paper cups are recyclable. All it takes is a rinse to keep that cappuccino cup from the garbage. These cups are recyclable in Seattle unlike other places, and as a transplant like many other Seattleites, I didn’t realize it before.

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Late to New Year’s Resolutions -3 habit changes you might not have considered


As the month of January is over and February is now fully upon us, where are you at with your New Year’s Resolutions?

Personally I didn’t make any hard and fast resolutions, but a new year is always a good time for a mental check on habits they may not be healthy or that could use some improving. Most people try to eat better, change financial habits, exercise, or quit something they consider a vice. If you’re like me and didn’t make any resolutions (or maybe you did but they aren’t working out), now is a good time to try again. Here are three ways to make a change that isn’t just good for you, but exercises one form of sustainability or another.

Recycle, Compost, or Donate: I know that I just blogged about the composting ordinance in Seattle, but even if you don’t live here it’s something to try. Continue reading


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Composting Compulsion – Seattle’s Ordinance to go greener


Two years and six months ago Seattle’s plastic bag ban went into effect, creating a push for paper and reusable bags. At the beginning of this month an ordinance passed to prevent food waste from entering the landfill and encouraging citizens to compost. For me, this is a no brainer, but that is because I grew up in a small town, and became accustomed to recycling and composting (we even had our own pile in our backyard). This however has not been the case for my roommates. There are six of us in our house and not all are native composters, especially since we come from different states with different laws and access for composting. At first, getting our house to compost was challenging, as I believe it is probably the same for people who are adjusting to the ordinance. In the end though, I have celebrated the little victories and appreciated the cooler weather that keeps the bugs away from our food waste bin.

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