How to Start a Simple Compost

For those of you that live under a rock, composting is an easy way of creating your own nutrient-rich soil while simultaneously saving your yard & kitchen scraps from ending up in a landfill (or burn pile, if you’re from the country).  This method requires minimal effort and creates excellent soil for your gardens, planters, pots, ect.  Composting isn’t rocket science, but there is a little more to it than just tossing your scraps in a pile.  Here’s the simplest way you can create your own compost.

compostbin2 A great way to start a simple compost operation is to –

1. Get yourself a big rubbermaid container and a lid or two.  This size is perfect for one household and also small enough that it can be indoors if you choose.  Drill small holes in the bin and one of the lids, 1 – 2 inches apart.  If your bin is inside make sure to put it on top of the second lid or something else to keep the bin from leaking gross things directly on to your floor.

2. Dig up some dirt.  There are also several great activating products you can buy and mix with the soil to give it a running start.  These products are not totally necessary, without them the decomposition process will take longer initially but will be just fine.  Before you dump your dirt in add some branches to the bottom to create good air flow.  Fill your bin no more than a little over half way.  You will need the room to mix your compost up and eventually it will get fuller.

3. Purchase tome tiny & slimy tenants for your bin.  I just buy the same worms from the hardware store that you would use for fishing.  I honestly can’t think of any other place you could buy worms.  You could dig them out of the ground if you’re feeling ambitious. Also if your bin is indoors and you don’t want worms in your house, I understand. You don’t have to. (But they help and they also reduce the smell.)

SIDE NOTE: Think of how awesome it is for those worms when they figure out they get to hangout in your compost bin instead of dying slowly on the end of a fishing hook and possibly being eaten.  Heck ya, little dudes!
I might be on my second glass of wine right now.

4. So that’s pretty much it.  You can now add scraps to your bin at will.
It helps to add some brown stuff (leaves,grass) whenever you add some green stuff (kitchen scraps).  It keeps the moisture balance in check.
ALSO shake your bin up or mix it with a hoe or shovel or something after you add scraps OR at least once a week.
When it gets full, shovel some into your garden.

You CAN actually keep your compost bin outside all year round.  If you keep adding to it even when it’s frozen it will kickstart itself in the spring.  Turns out the thawing & freezing it will go through in the fall and spring is great for breaking down materials and will make for speedy decomposition when the temp. is right.

That being said, here are some things you SHOULD NOT put in your compost:
Meat, fat, grease, oil, bones.
Lime.  It will bring your operation to a screeching halt.
Poop. Any kind of poop.
Anything that isn’t biodegradable.
Colored paper. For some reason.
Anything toxic.

For an enormous list of things you CAN put in your compost, click here.

It’s extremely hard to screw up composting.  Just give it a shot and your planet, more specifically, your garden will thank you!

How to Start a Simple Compost

Reuse Grey Water, Save Water, Save $$$

Maybe my late blog gives me away, but 2016 has started out a little rough.

My first night in the container house was December 23rd…. my first day of running water was 2 days ago.  The 2 weeks in the middle were a little more like squatting in my own house than living in it.  I had been hauling water by the bucket (which I understand is a reality for many people) and showering at my parents’ house.  It wasn’t luxurious, but i gained a lot of perspective in that time.

The majority of us, in the western world, have ample access to clean, running water, mostly right in our very homes.  This is a privilege I can honestly say that in the past, I have absolutely taken for granted.  This experience has prompted me to do some research and look into all the ways we can better use that water, and waste as little as possible.  By doing this we can be respectful of our planet, the global water crisis and communities without such luxuries, as well as being humble first world citizens.

A large portion of unnecessarily wasted water is “Grey Water”. It is the water from our sinks (including dishwater), bathtubs and laundry machines that is not totally unsanitary and could be used again for purposes other than direct consumption.  Think of the places where we use fresh water where it is not required, toilets and gardens for example (these are the big ones in my house).

Disconnecting the j trap under the sinks and allowing the water to run into a bucket is an easy way to save your grey water for repurposing.  It may require a watchful eye to make sure your bucket doesn’t overflow, but being mindful is the name of the game, non? From there you can dump that water in the tank or bowl of your toilet to flush it.  Toilets are responsible for 31% of overall household water consumption.  You could stand to save 31% of your water bill, couldn’t you?

Plants and gardens are also a big one for me.  I love gardening and have many houseplants that at one point i was watering with fresh water until i learned about the grey water method.  As long as you are using environmentally-friendly soaps, dishwater and bathwater are perfectly fine for your plants and gardens (actually they might even be better for them!).  I found a great instructable that shows the easy way that the author rigged her laundry washing machine to drain out to spaghetti lines that water her garden.
But it doesn’t have to be a plumbing project, saving grey water can be as easy as showering with the plug in and scooping it out later.

Besides grey water, the same methods can be used with harvested rain water or snow melt.  If you were raised at the lake, like me then these are probably all methods you have used or at least heard of before.  I didn’t, but could have mentioned the old, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow…”…

Reuse Grey Water, Save Water, Save $$$

Fave Holiday Bevvies 2015

Merry Christmas readers!

It’s been a crazy and exciting passed week.  So many Christmas parties and gatherings and finishing up house things as well!  Spent last night moving furniture into the container, maybe I’ll move in for Christmas?! Eeeeek, exciting!

Because we’ve had so many Christmas parties this year, we’ve fallen victim to alot more boozing than usual…. But ‘Tis the season!  My boyfriend and I have decided we’re doing a “sober January” coming up.  So in honor of that i’ve compiled a list of my fave boozy Xmas bevvies,  that i’ve got just over a week to enjoy!

 

cranberry-mimosas1

Cranberry Mimosas (recipe)
Super easy to make. Personal fave.  Down for mimosas anytime really…

 

10155_GIB_LWA_CanBtleGlass322x344
Granville Island Winter Ale
Who said this had to be just a cocktail list? I’m loving these brews this year!  I believe they’re in liquor stores Canada wide.

 

321428Gluehwein (recipe)
Tummy-warming spiced wine.  This one is a favorite because it reminds me of last Christmas in Vancouver with my Austrian roommate.  As you can tell by the name it’s an Austrian/German traditional beverage.

 

whistler-chestnut-ale-2

Whistler Chestnut Ale
This was my ABSOLUTE fave seasonal beer when i was on the coast, I could drink 4 shamelessly… but it’s only sold regionally and I can’t get it here in Manitoba 🙁

No Christmas drink list would be complete without…

12.09.11_FA_Eggnog

Eggnog (recipe)
This recipe is from Martha Stewart and is like rum and eggnog on steroids!  It takes a little more time than your classic R&E but is sooooo yummy. I had one (or two..) at a rather uppity Xmas party once, made them once myself, Always delicious!

S&S wishes you a Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Fave Holiday Bevvies 2015

How to Bamboo (Pro’s, Con’s, Sealing & Maintenance)

If you have me on snapchat (steequinn) or insta (sticksandspit) you’ve seen my raving about the current love of my life, my new bamboo countertops!

 

When I started looking into countertops, all I knew for sure was that I definitely didnt want your standard laminate kind.  In search of a unique and aesthetically pleasing alternative I learned 3 things:

1. My dream countertop is solid Calacatta Marble and costs more than my 2 year college education
2. Said education isn’t making me enough money to afford said countertop
3. Maybe tuition would have been better spent on dream countertop

After taking a long, hard look at my questionable post-secondary decisions, I pinterested across a “concrete countertop for less than $200” tutorial.  Concrete countertops look AMAZING! I love the look… but I don’t love the weight.  What the tutorial doesn’t tell you is that they are HEAVY!  I would’ve had to reinforce my brand new beautiful cabinets & further delay work and I was not down for that.

So it was purely by chance that one day whilst perusing my local Rona, I came across some gorgeous bamboo planks for non-specific use. Perfect! When I bough them all I knew was that they were going to look great.  I didn’t understand their true value until i did some research.

Pro’s
Eco-friendly:  bamboo is a natural resource that is renewable and sustainable.
Durable: harder than oak or maple. Like wood it can be sanded and resealed if it gets           damaged.
Moderately priced: definitely cheaper than marble, My bamboo cost me just over $400 (not including tung oil or extras)

Cons
Limited: not as many variations in colour or style
Expands & contracts: like wood, it responds to temp and humidity, so there are more factors to account for and extra care to be taken when installing
Glued structure: Bamboo is more like a plant than a wood.  Bamboo planks are strips of the plant’s “trunk” glued and compressed together.  The glue makes it more sensitive to water (even if sealed) and heat (like hot pots or pans) than your average countertop.  Also be sure to check that the glue used is food-safe.

Sealing Bamboo
Bamboo an be sealed with just Tung oil (this is what i did).  It can also be stained, finished with polyurethane, varnish, mineral oil or butcher’s block oil. As long as you use a couple coats of tung oil first to ensure even colour and absorption.
*Tung oil is derived from nuts, and may cause allergic reactions in people allergic to nuts*

Maintenance
You can pretty much use & clean this surface as you normally would, as long as you go easy on the ammonia based products (like Lysol and Windex).  If you didnt polyurethane seal it, you can re-oil it every few weeks, or when it looks dull or gets dry. Or don’t. It’s all good.

Can you see why I’m so in love with the darn things?

How to Bamboo (Pro’s, Con’s, Sealing & Maintenance)