Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Small Black, Reducing Waste & Silly Sir Brewing Company

Weekly Update 2018-45: Moody synth tunes from Brooklyn's Small Black, sourcing smart donations to reduce waste and the tasty brews of Silly Sir Brewing Company.

Music: Small Black
First discovered on Cafe Radio back when I worked at Starbucks, Small Black has been on light rotation in my ears for about six or seven years. Starting from a name and working backwards, the band has been hard at work developing their synth-heavy electro-pop sound since their first release in 2010. I have really enjoyed the journey, noting the band's gradual honing in on their unique sound as they self-produced all of their releases. Their echoey vocals and layered synth beats make for a moody tone that pairs well with the dreariness of turning the clocks forward.

Check out Small Black on Spotify:

My professional life has really gone from zero to sixty in the past couple of months. Now being on the other side of the opportunity to teach two classes flying solo at BrainStation the past couple of weeks, I really feel like I am getting the hang of things. I have offered to take on a lead teaching role for all ten classes in the upcoming winter semester, which will definitely be a challenge to look forward to.

Halloween being a rainy Wednesday last week, I took the opportunity to bike over to the (empty) supermarket for lasagna ingredients and scoped the cute costumes and decorations in my neighbourhood. Plus, I made a lasagna!

I also had an awesome idea to put a small space heater in my bathroom, set on a timer to start heating the bathroom a few minutes before I wake up. This has been a GAME CHANGER, it's so extremely lovely not to have to sit on a cold toilet seat (though that has admittedly been a good way to wake up)

After my first attendance in my company's band meeting today, I am going to motivate myself to go into the office on Sunday to practice a bit on the drum kit. I am going to try to prep myself ahead of time, getting some drum tabs ready and listening to some songs ahead of time. But mostly I'm really excited to finally get an opportunity to get behind a kit again. I think it's been about three years since I rented the electronic kit, and even longer since I was last at a real drum kit. Definitely not my first choice, but I will probably be practicing Guns'n'Roses' Sweet Child O'Mine, since that seems to be the only song for which the band had a consensus to perform at our holiday party in about a month.

I received something really cool in a Bunz trade - a smart plug. Basically it plugs into your electrical outlet, and then any appliance you plug into the device can be controlled remotely through a mobile app. I thought it would be helpful to be able to turn on my heating/air conditioner just before I arrive home, but I think I could find some really next-level uses for it on Reddit and the like. I know IFTTT probably has some interesting recipes for ways I could use it to improve my life in tiny ways.

I'm pretty excited to start using a green bin, of all things. Yep, this week I will be selecting a container to dedicate to my compostable food waste, and keeping it in the fridge. It's way too big a fridge for just one person, so I finally have the space to ensure my food scraps don't end up in landfill where they can't decompose properly. I know it's such a small thing, but I've honestly been looking forward to this for a long time! I have been noticing that a huge chunk of my personal garbage/waste is compostable materials, so it'll be cool to see how little garbage I produce when that's all out of the equation.

Random Thought: Reducing Waste
It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone reading this post that I love a good Bunz trade. Being able to get rid of an item you no longer need, while receiving an item you really do need (and note that this happens TWICE for each trade) is an awesome thing, but I would say one of my favourite parts is its power to reduce waste. When you want to get rid of an item, giving it to someone who can use it is infinitely better than throwing it away. Even donating to places like Value Village - a surprisingly large amount of items collected there end up in landfill anyway.

Since some of my items have been on Bunz with no interest for a while, I have started to look for creative ways to donate my items to people who can use them. All in one week, I found a shop near my home that was accepting donations of menstrual products to donate to communities in Northern Canada, and donated a bunch of leftover firewood sitting in my staircase to a community-run storytelling bonfire event (Fireside Tales). It felt SO GOOD to get rid of the items AND put them in the hands of people who needed/could use them. Double awesome.

So now I am motivated to make the effort in finding places to donate my unwanted items where they will actually be used and enjoyed. This is honestly easier said than done, but it feels like a whole new way of reducing waste and I think it's a really good use of effort and time, plus a way to give back to my community.

Inspiration: Silly Sir Brewing Company
Why even bother to keep a blog if not to humble brag about my super-talented friends? Sara and Matti have been hard at work achieving their dreams for as long as I have known them. These two entrepreneurial masterminds have, among other awesome things, begun their own boutique beer brand that is now widely available in LCBOs across Ontario. They brew at home, experimenting with ingredients and tweaking their methods to get the taste just right, in small and exclusive batches.

I had the immense pleasure to assist and experience Sara's homebrewing lecture/workshop on the weekend (held at the public library, no less - how cool), getting more of an inside look into the tools and methods they use to make their beer in their tiny 500 square-foot apartment.

It was also great to see how tightly-knit the Toronto brewing community is, with Silly Sir taking part in lots of community brew events and the like. Sara noted how much learning to brew is a collaborative task, with knowledge being passed from expert to apprentice and so on.

And did I mention how tasty their beers are? The words of the Silly Sir himself:
Inspired by our travels, our goal is to diversify the craft beer scene in Ontario by blending essential flavours from around the world into our creations. We’re really proud of our first release: Easy Tiger - a wheat beer cold-steeped with lemongrass. It took us 16 batches to uncover the perfect blend of malt, hops, yeast, and lemongrass that make it work so well.
Having tasted Easy Tiger for myself, I can say it is extremely tasty and refreshing. Plus the label design is super cute.

Here's Sara presenting a slide with Matti on it.

Check out Silly Sir's other beers on their website and find Easy Tiger in LCBO today!

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