Tag Archives: brooklyn

Urban Composting

This was originally posted on May 19th on www.thenewnew.blogspot.com where I am a contributing writer……

The rain showers here in NYC haven’t let up in what seems weeks. If you are anything like me, your overall summertime morale hasn’t benefited from all this precipitation, but the flowers, gardens and lawns sure have. My own urban garden is growing so fast, lush and green it’s amazing!
Gardening is one of my favorite DIY hobbies. Such satisfaction from planting tiny little seeds, taking care of them, feeding the soil and watching everything grow! I used to think I didn’t have much of a green thumb, but those days are a changin’ my friends. Like anything else, the more you work at it the more you learn over time.
After covering the basics, the next logical step in my gardening journey is composting. For some reason composting had always intimidated me, I have always felt that you have to really ‘know what you are doing’ to get results….I sort of chuckle thinking about that now, because it’s actually pretty easy. You throw stuff in a bin, mix it up once in a while and you get beautiful lush fertilizer. It just takes a little elbow grease and patience (and of course knowing your ‘greens’ and your ‘browns’)! Not only is it organic, it reduces your garbage output and it’s totally free.
Urban composting can be done indoors or outdoors in various different ways, in small spaces and large. You can make it work for you, your lifestyle and your space. To fend off my composting fears (like how do I prevent a stinky bin, what about rats and flies and stuff…?) I attended a composting workshop held by the Lower East Side Ecology Center (through the NYC Compost Project). It gave me the confidence to go for it on my own and have been working mine for just over a month now!

My metal compost bin + what I added today (before it got a good stir!)

Don’t have enough space, time or resources to compost yourself – but want to put your organic waste to good use?
Several of the city’s Greenmarkets are running a pilot composting collection program. You can save your compost materials (like your veggie scraps, coffee grinds or eggshells) and bring them to the collection site. Did you know that over the past nine weekends they have collected almost 50,000 pounds of food scraps in Brooklyn and Manhattan? That is a ton of waste being kept out of New York City’s garbage turned into useful nutrients.

Even if your urban garden is your windowsill or your fire escape it’s enough space to have a DIY garden all your own. Carve out a little piece of green :)

Happy gardening!

Useful composting resources + links for NYC residents:

Now go out there and get your hands dirty!!

Until next time…..

hey, you!! ya gonna recycle that?

i hate throwing things away. (let me rephrase that so you don’t think i’m a crazy packrat…)

i hate throwing away things i know will end up in the landfill. i think about it every single time i throw something into the garbage. i wish i didn’t have to throw anything away. but that isn’t realistic, so i recycle everything i can. and when i can’t, well – it just makes me sad.

i have pretty much always thought this way, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that i took some steps to permanently change my habits. i guess i realized that if i really did care about it, i’ve got to do something about it. so over the past few years, i have made various adjustments to my daily habits and purchasing choices, working towards being a more responsible consumer. and let’s face it, we all consume.

when i created my handbag company, sans map, i embraced this viewpoint and interweave it into everything i do. from the materials i use for my bags, right down to how i dispose of my fabric scraps. i hate to say it, but sewing creates waste.  fabric scraps, tiny unusable pieces and thread ends and random fluffy edge pieces. i cut and sew in the most efficient way i can and am conscious not to waste…but there are always some scraps in the end. normally these would get tossed into the garbage.

i recycle mine!

thanks to  wearable collections. all i have to do is drop off my fabric scraps and they do the rest. easy peasy.

among many other locations throughout the boroughs and manhattan they pitch a tent every saturday at my local greenmarket at grand army plaza at prospect park. they say that a recent study showed that ‘386 million pounds of textiles enter the NYC waste stream annually, representing close to 6% of total waste’.  that’s a shit ton of stuff. they accept all types of (clean) used clothing and textiles including curtains, towels, hats, belts, shoes, and more. they don’t list ‘fabric scraps’ on their site but i’ve not been turned away yet. wearable collections works with non-profits so the usable and wearable clothing goes to those less fortunate and several local charities.  whatever cannot be re-purposed, sold or donated gets shredded up and recycled – used for upholstery, new textiles and more. this is where i’m assuming my bag of fabric scraps go. well, i’d hope so.


photo courtesy of wearablecollections.com

so in the upcoming weeks, i am going to share with you what i do (and don’t do) in order to consume and dispose of more responsibly.  i’m not perfect, and am working on ways to do more – and maybe i’ll inspire someone to change – even if one habit.  i sure can’t change the way the world consumes, but i can change my own actions, and perhaps a few other minds along the way…

….and for me? i’m trying something new this year – – composting.  my soon-to-be veggie garden will be so happy :-)

reduce, reuse and recycle

xo c

ca pousse toujours….

calendula flower growing in my garden

whoever started the age-old saying ‘it’s growing like weeds’ wasn’t kidding around. and neither do those weeds.

a while back, i shared our progress in our back garden pre-and-post-de-gunking ….we are now into phase II of our garden beautification.

for my co-worker that was shocked when i said i don’t own a t.v., and to answer his question ‘what the hell do you do then?’…in addition to all the other stuff i keep ridiculously busy with – – i work in my garden. and i love it.

sort of like the other stress-relieving and life-enhancing activities i do like running, (the new addition of) yoga and of course the methodical and relaxing nature of sewing….gardening is relaxing, soul-reviving and fun.  i actually like watering my flowers. the gratification that comes with watching things grow, beautiful things grow, is infinitesimal happiness.

i don’t miss that t.v. a bit…

so when my ‘weed’ garden tucked in the back corner of my flower garden began getting out of control – – (i had let it go for two too many weeks), something had to be done. from the front of the garden where we sit on the patio, it was barely noticeable…..until you walk past the hydrangea bush and see what turned into literally a forest of weeds. at first it was ok. you could see the path and even walk along it.

this was how the back corner and path looked for most of the summer so far…..

my 'weed' garden is on the right (the other side is groundcover)

….then those stubborn weeds revolted and took over!!

(cue scene from home alone with macaulay culkin screaming hands slapping on cheeks…!!!!)

the great big 'Weed Take-over"!! argh!!!!!

we don’t go down that easily you crappy weeds.

so one huge trip to lowes with our borrowed jeep during a brief weekend car-sitting for a friend and we were on the attack!

with droplets of sweat running down my face in the 100+ degree heat, i pulled, tugged, yanked and got dirty in a maddening attempt to rid my garden of those unrighteous weeds once and for all!

poof! if only i had a magic disappearing wand, i would have had those weeds conquered ages ago.

weeds pulled, flowers planted and mulch spread…..almost there…..

at this point, i felt like a weight had lifted off my shoulders. weeds to me are like a messy closet. or piles of stuff just sitting. it’s like a silent nagging feeling…..

sweeping, pea gravel and lots of watering later – – the finished product!!!

now the back of the garden looks as pretty as the front!

phase III – – grow grass (again)……

until later, let’s hope we can keep those weeds at bay…..ca pousse toujours!

turning sweat and tears (and a few beers) into beauty…

many of you have been asking and wondering how the transformation is going in our backyard. the time has come my friends…to reveal our lovely garden before…..how it looked when we moved in….and now, lovely, clean, green and lush.

since david and i are now us +1 (we are totally loving our little ella puppy:-) we are so glad to have the backyard for her to play and run around in (she loves to run around like a maniac, it’s really funny…).

so with out further ado….before and after pics – enjoy!


here, we cleaned up the piles of garbage, beer bottles, rotting leaves and plants – heaps and heaps of rusting who-knows-what – painted the rusted metal sheets a cheerful green and watched the garden grow! we installed beautiful slabs of slate that we literally pulled from other places around the yard (they were totally going to waste!) into a colorful and unique patio space. this is one of our many seating spaces in the yard……


here, we re-furbished the cool benches left by the previous tenants, planted grass seed (we are still working on the grass, as you can see….it’s tough without a hose, if you can even believe we are doing all of this with multiple watering cans!!). worked hard and often on week-pulling and teasing the vines back into their original place…and planted lots of flowers!


here, we did tons and tons of weeding, pulling out dead and rotting crap, trimmed down existing plants and threw out heaps and heaps of dead, decomposing leaves. we planted flowers and were glad that so much was already in the garden for us to work with!


and a few extra shots for your viewing  pleasure :-)

amazing, huh? what a little effort, lots of sweat and a few cold beers can do!! :-)

not exactly famous….

anyone that has met me knows i talk an awful lot. it’s a hard habit to break and takes quite a bit of determination and self awareness to conquer.

so with all this practice i get chatting away…you would think talking about my bags, my sewing and Sans Map would come easily, right?

how does it go – quality over quantity, right?

so when i was asked to be part of a series about artists and creatives in new york city on the italian website nuok.it, i was taken aback. a bit panicked at first….what do i write? what do i say? ahhh!

then i was excited! my first feature!

i don’t often think of myself as an artist or designer, although i really should…and being included in such a talented group of creative minds is truly an honor.

i invite you to visit nuok.it to view my very first web feature:
Today In New York: Corey Dergazarian

and if you’re here now, thank you. most truly.

thanks for being here, and listening and supporting. it means more than you can imagine.

….i’m not exactly famous, but maybe one day…

uncovering and discovering

a day that could not have been more perfect started off nicely. sleeping in….jamaican patties for lunch from christie’s on flatbush….quick trip to the local hardware store for supplies…..walking around prospect heights…

working in the garden….

the weather was more than beautiful and the best day so far this year! we raked, scraped, overturned, pulled and uncovered much of our lovely garden today. it’s far from finished but we are definitely on the way to making something out of our space!

many, many bags of sticks, leaves and who-knows-what later…….the plants and flowers in our yard can now breathe a breath of fresh air, start soaking up some sun and grow, grow, grow!!

i mentioned before the ridiculous amount of old, rusty, crusty shit lying around….i did take out most of the pieces but left all of the pennies! i couldn’t help but think of all the wishes that may have been made and felt it necessary to let those wishes take root…and continue on with a wishing garden of our own…

i found this old new york city subway token……

we’ll continue to work diligently, watch as more grows and hope for all sorts of lovely things to pop up as the spring makes its way through… i promise to share our explorations, changes and sometime soon show a few before and after photos.

and look what else we found…..strawberries! (and even a cute little marker that i dug out from underneath the brush)!

i’m sure there’s more here than we even know….oh, the excitement!

looks like these daffodils enjoyed soaking up the sun – – they sure made our day brighter :-)

the hard work will continue……!! :-)

falling into place

the first official day of winter was yesterday. and whoa, it came in gusts and flurries!

as though the sky opened up and dumped it’s entire snow-filled contents of each and every cloud around, we have snow!! last year for christmas when i was in france, i didn’t see snow….well, in person at least. and as much as i could easily (very easily)  live without snow, i really love a white christmas. there is something folkloric and magical about a snowy christmas…..

again in pseudo-tourist new york fashion, (i know…i actually live here now, but i still feel like a tourist……) we visited rockefeller plaza…the magnificent and stately christmas tree downtown! a blustery stroll through central park, all the while teeny tiny snowflakes dusting the ground…this was just a few short hours before the skies opened up.

today was an enduring trek through the concrete jungle, wiping slush from my jacket and watching millions of particles of salt form a ring on my boots……we trekked out to red hook, a neighborhood far south in brooklyn, to a strangely located home depot and then around the bend to IKEA.

wandering through the overwhelming assortment of various flat-pack furnitures and coordinating housewares, we left with the first few items for our new place. some curtains, matching hardware and some other bits and bobs. and yes, we finally have a place of our own again…..sheesh, it only took a year.

we’ll soon call prospect heights home. situated just south of fort greene and clinton hill and just north of park slope, prospect heights is a lovely spot for us to start our new life in new york city, well…in brooklyn. and once the thick layer of snow melts away, we’ll be left with a garden. an actual backyard garden, all to ourselves, right here in the city.

we couldn’t possibly ask for more :-)

i can hardly believe it’s almost christmas, only two short days away. i have a borderline pathetic habit of listening to way to much christmas music around the holidays…i just love it, so cheery and fun. (hey, it’s cheesy. i know this.)  i even find myself whistling along to holiday jingles in stores. which i would assume is rather annoying to those around me. i must remember to shut up and zip it….! but this year will be a christmas spent with just me and the hubby – our family will celebrate in far away christmas spirit in the mid-west and the south of france. we do have a christmas eve dinner planned that my sister will attend just before she’s off to the mid-west on christmas day. and yes, i will probably make her listen to christmas music. just for a short while…

so as the snow falls around us glistening and white, dusting the ground with beauty, many other things are falling into place with it. it’s been a long year my friends. an adventurous, exciting and may i say…lucky year. but now, after this year of misadventures and discoveries, all we want to do is snuggle up on our couch, our own couch, and relax.  in our home sweet home.

my friends and family both far and near, i wish you nothing but the happiest and most joyous christmas ever. i am sorry i cannot be here, there and everywhere all at once. although it is a secret wish of mine….

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

and with that falling snow, may everything here continue to fall into place…

hugs to you, to you, and to you!! xoxo