Friday, May 31, 2013

The Lazy Composter

You just never know about people.

Walking down the street, that person you pass by could be an axe murderer.  They could have a person walled into a corner of their basement.  They might not compost.

Okay, so maybe that one isn't that big of a deal.  Having a person in your basement, I mean.  Maybe you're a hardcore Edgar Allan Poe fan.  Maybe you've completely thrown yourself into the recent 'vintage' fad and have taken on an indentured servant.  Maybe you were lonely.

People who don't compost, though?  Oh, man.

Now, I'm not saying that if you don't compost we can't be friends.  We can.  Probably.  Especially if you live in the city/ have a yard the size of a postage stamp/ have 3+ small children in your home.  Then I suppose I can understand it.

Otherwise?  Why the heck aren't you composting already?


You know what composting is?  It's throwing your trash in a pile.  That's it.  Sure, you can make it super complicated.  Some people (like those who write entire books about composting) can make anything difficult.  I am not one of them.



How about a quick Composting for the Completely Inept and/or Lazy tutorial?

Step 1.  Pick a spot outside.  In your own yard would be preferable.  Wherever, it should be a sunny location.  We need our special trash to get nice and warm.

Beware:  This is where nurseries and seed catalogs and basically anyone trying to take your money will try and sell you one of those drum-things with a handle that you can turn.  If you feel your life won't be complete without it, go ahead.  But don't feel like you need anything remotely fancy to compost.  Our compost pile is comprised of four stakes surrounded by fine-gauge wire, with one side up against the fence for stability.  I know several people who just have a free-standing pile in their yards or garden.



Step 2.  Find a large bowl or pail or something, and throw your kitchen scraps in (banana peels, orange rinds, eggshells, etc).

Beware:  This is the step where people will try to sell you special composting pails.  This is a glorified trash can.  It does not need to be pretty.  Just make sure your two-year-old can carry it; I'm all about avoiding as much work as possible around here.



Step 3.  Start throwing the kitchen scraps onto the spot.  Any kind of fruit or vegetable waste is fine.  Eggshells are also great.  No meat or bones.  Paper and newsprint is also fine, provided it's shredded and isn't super heavy on the colored ink or has any kind of plastic anywhere on it.  Dryer lint, hair, and the gunk from your canister vacuum is also great.

Beware:  This is where you'll get people telling you things like, "Don't put citrus peels in your compost," and "Always wash out your eggshells before throwing in."  These are I-Live-To-Make-My-Life-As-Difficult-As-Possible kind of people and if you don't plug your ears and start singing "Abba" to make them run away, they'll make your life harder than it needs to be, too.



Step 4.  Throw some yard waste on, too.  I throw some leaves on in the fall, and grass clippings every once in a while.  I know a lot of people throw their weeds in theirs, but the big weed in our yard is Creeping Charlie, and if I throw it in there, it'll just make a giant mound of more Creeping Charlie rather than beautiful compost to put in my flower and vegetable beds.  My advice:  skip the weeds altogether.  Just burn 'em.  Also avoid thick sticks or twigs; they take too long to break down.  I don't put large pinecones in mine anymore for the same reason.

Beware:  This is where that same person will start talking about "hot composting" and "cold composting."  Just walk away.



Step 5.  Turn the pile, basically whenever you think about it.  For me, that's about twice a year.  Maybe you should do it more often than that.  I use a small pitchfork to do mine, which makes me feel all American.  And Gothic.  Put together.  (Who gets it?!)

Beware:  This is where that guy will try to talk you into Vermicomposting.  If you're that desperate to get fancy with your compost heap, dig a few worms up in the yard and throw them on.



Step 6.  This is the best step, because it's the one where one day you turn the pile and discover that there's beautiful, crumbly black compost in there, ready to add to your vegetable gardens and flower beds.  I try to add a scoop anytime I'm planting something- particularly perennial flowers- because hopefully they're going to be there a long time, and they need a healthy start.  Super easy, practically free.  You can't beat that.




Okay, my fellow composters:  What am I forgetting?  Any cheap and easy tricks I don't know about?






Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Excuses, Excuses

Hey guys.

Sorry for the sparse posting as of late.  We've enjoyed some absolutely beautiful weather this month, and who the heck wants to sit inside at their computer when it's nice out?

When it hasn't been nice out, it's been raining.  Like, every night for the past week.  We're getting close to some pretty serious flood conditions in the area, so Derek's on call and wondering if he'll have to stay awake and at work for 36 hours straight like he did a few springs ago when it flooded.  You may also mistake the bubbling brook running through our basement for a fancy water feature.  It's not.  (Don't worry, our basement is the very opposite of "finished.")

I've been sick most of the past week.  I did manage to time it well; three of the worst days were over the three day weekend, meaning Derek was home and able to keep the children from turning completely feral.

I have a for-real post in mind for tomorrow.  Or maybe the next day.  Or, if we're going to go completely crazy and be honest, the day after that.  Which would be what, Friday?  Saturday?  I don't even know.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Over the Past Four Days, I Have:



  • Cleaned up enough puke to pickle a rhino.  We have a nasty bug that's making its way through four members of our family, with me being the lone healthy survivor.  Let's all take just a moment and pray to the sweet baby Jesus that I don't get sick.  I've scrubbed carpet, child car seats, seat belts, Caedmon, a rocking chair, clothing, Cade's bed, our bed, me, and the siding on the house.  Caedmon may be the only one doing the vomiting, but he's an equal opportunity regurgitator.  

  • Been used as a makeshift pillow anytime I dare to sit down.  Evidently our offspring need near-constant physical contact when ill.



Convalescing on the front porch with Daddy.




  • Stumbled across our children lying all over the house and yard.  Because I've found all kinds of extra chores to do just so that I don't have to sit down and become a potential puke receptacle.







  • Escaped from the house and its sick inhabitants for a few hours to enjoy a Mommy-Daughter date with Adelaide.  A little coffee shop opened here in our little town about a month ago, and I've been doing my civic duty to ensure it stays open.  When Adelaide requested we go there, I told her she was my favorite kid and off we went.



She had a chocolate muffin.  I had iced coffee.  We played checkers.  I didn't clean up puke.  It was beautiful.



  • Delayed going back into the House of Illness as long as possible by looking at every possible flower in our front yard.  Adelaide joined me.

Lilacs!

Flowering Dogwood!


  • Totally stole Cassi Renee's idea and had Adelaide take pictures while up in the tree.





  • Spent some quality time with the fam in our basement due to the tornadoes that went through the area last night.  One evidently touched down right on the edge of town, and another was near a neighboring town.  It was a noisy night of wind, thunder, and tornado sirens.  Still, we're all okay, and I have yet to hear of any major casualties (aside from cows).





Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Definitely Not a Happy Camper

What is with all the camping talk lately?

It feels like everywhere I turn, people are talking about camping.  The weather turns warm and people decide to eschew their comfortable, bug-free houses and sleep outside.  Scratch that- they drive hours and hours away from their comfortable, bug-free houses and then they sleep outside.


Here's what springs to my mind anytime someone mentions the word "camping:"

Being excited about getting to sleep separately from the rest of my family in a two-person tent (my dad is a camping purist; no pop-ups or campers for us, oh no; if you're not in an uncomfortable, leaky tent with nary an air mattress in sight, then you're not really camping) with the friend I'd brought along (pretty sure the fact that I always got to bring a friend on our annual camping trips was my mom's way of keeping me from revolting; she's the polar opposite of my dad in that her favorite place to camp is the Holiday Inn).  We'd borrowed the special, just-Kim-and-me tent from our family friend Teresa.  I'm pretty sure I had visions of something like this:


[UPDATE:  Derek read this post the day after I published it, and wasted no time in texting to assure me that if I didn't remove the photo I originally had posted below- of the twins in a pup tent in the original The Parent Trap movie- we would be sued and burned on a pyre, probably at the same time.  I was scared to do a Google search for "girls in tent" for a stock photo, and besides, the Hayley Mills picture is really what's in my head.  So I decided to craft a near-exact duplicate via Microsoft Paint.  Behold, then click on this link so that you can compare how awesomely similar my version and the original photo are.  You're welcome.]



You should definitely click to embiggen.





But what I got instead was a tent that absolutely reeked of dog poop.  You seriously couldn't walk within ten feet of that thing, let alone crawl inside and cocoon yourself in the Plastic House of Crap.  So instead, we decided to sleep in an open-air cart-trailer-thing that a fellow crazy camping family had hauled behind their van.  The problem with the cart was that it was on two wheels, meaning it was always sharply canted one way or the other when unhitched.  Because we're brilliant, we first tried sleeping head down, but it turns out it's difficult to sleep when clouds of mosquitos are swarming your face because of all the blood rushing to your head.  We next tried feet down, but gravity decided to show us who was boss and our sleeping bags kept slipping out of the cart.  This all seemed vaguely funny to a couple high schoolers, but we stopped laughing when the severe storm- featuring pouring rain, lightning, and a tornado- ripped through the area.  By that night we'd decided to just sleep in the minivan, which was dry and way better at muffling the sounds of our impending doom than flimsy tent walls.



Know what else I think of?  Trying to canoe with a different friend on a different family camping trip, but being unable to because a boy in our party decided that it would be just hilarious to spend forever (read: probably about five minutes) trying to tip our canoe.  And it was all fun and games until someone decided to jab her canoe paddle into someone's else face to make him stop.  No means no, Brian.  (In his defense, Adolescent Me did this weird thing where she'd laugh and use a jocular tone of voice even while saying things like, "Stop it," and "Cut it out."  So going from thinking everyone was having fun to having his parents try to separate his lips from his braces was probably a little bewildering.  My bad.)



You can therefore understand why I find this article, Stuff White People Like: Camping, absolutely and unequivocally hilarious.  Like, can't-breathe-while-I'm-reading-it hilarious.



Please tell me none of you are going camping this summer.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Adelaide's Having Yet Another Birthday

On my children's birthdays, I like to torture myself by looking at their past birthday photos.



 Ah, yes.  Adelaide's first birthday.  I went all crazy-first-time-mom on her and didn't let her have any sweets for that first year, with the exception of that one time her Daddy let her have a single taste of his ice cream cone and I half-convinced myself she was going to get instant diabetes.  



Because of all that, by the time her first birthday rolled around, she had (almost) never had any sweets, and had certainly never had the pleasure of tasting the deliciousness that is a Funfetti cupcake.  


Allow me to narrate.



Wondering just what this mysterious object her mother is unwrapping for her is because the previously mentioned overprotective psychopath has been withholding cake for her entire life.








But hey, she's brave.  She'll dive face-first into this thing that looks and smells nothing like the nasty pureed vegetables Mommy's been stuffing her with.






At this point she sat up, a little confused, because there's obviously crap all over her face, and she hadn't yet tasted it.  

Shortly thereafter, however, she drummed up the courage to take a little taste.  Then the feeding frenzy began.







I really wish the sound were better on this video, because what you can't hear is the crazy nostril-panting she's doing the whole time she's cramming that cupcake into her mouth (but you can certainly hear that over- achieving diva bird), and what you don't see is that every so often I have to wipe cake and frosting off her nose; she refused to take the cupcake away from her face in order to engage in such meaningless exercises as breathing.




I was looking for a decent recent photo of Adelaide to stick in here, but this is how she spends half her time, anyway.  I'm calling it good enough.



Happy 7th Birthday, Adelaide!





Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tulips!

My previous post was sad, depressing, and dreary.  To compensate, let's talk about something bright, cheerful, and uplifting!




My tulips are blooming!


Aside from a few stems that snapped under the weight of the snow, our recent freak snowstorm had little noticeable effect on the flowers.  Thank the good Lord.

By the bye, did you know that for a time as a child Audrey Hepburn subsisted primarily on tulip bulbs during WWII in her occupied home of Holland to avoid starvation?  It was the one interesting fact I was able to glean from an otherwise dull biography of the actress.  I tell you what, it takes raw talent to make her life seem so boring, but that author did it.  Terribly impressive.  And impressively terrible.

  

Let's take a little tulip tour around the yard, shall we?






Red Impressions!










Pink Impressions!












Orange Impressions!









More Orange Impressions!  I think!









I forget!  











No idea!









Viktor propping up the almost-spent hyacinths and more Red Impressions!

Doesn't this picture give you instant daydreams about our favorite Viking gnome skulking through the flowers, singing "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" in a creepy falsetto, decapitating demon rabbits with nary a break in stride or melody?

No?  Just me?





The new grill/smoker.  Derek calls it "our" new grill the same way I call them "our" flowers.  

I wasn't real gung-ho on getting a new one at first, but I guess I understand why he got tired of taking his life in his hands every time he had to wrestle the lid off our old, rusty, hinge-fell-off grill.  Apparently those lids get super hot when you cook in the contraptions.  Who knew, right?  It was a hand-me-down grill (or as I liked to call it, our heirloom grill) that had surpassed its life expectancy, anyway.  

Derek's excited about his new, masculine cooking toy, and its found a perfect home on top of the old cistern.  Sure, we had to dig up some lilies that grew right under the side charcoal-fire-holder-thingy (that's a technical term), but they really should have been divided long ago.  I separated them into seven sizable clumps and scattered them around the yard.  


And guess what?  Our last snowman finally finished melting yesterday!  


Friday, May 3, 2013

Please Disregard My Last Post

You remember.  The one about spring?


Today is May 3rd.  The third of May.

I suppose I shouldn't complain.  My tulip buds do have a little color.


See?




In related news, I learned that planting spring bulbs on either side of the front steps may not have been the best idea.  Atticus "helped" shovel off the front porch and steps, flattening the tulips and hyacinths that weren't already buried in heavy, slushy snow.  


I am so. sick. of snow.


On a brighter note:  Cassi Renee suggested a magical potion by the name of "Liquid Fence" that could possibly save my future tulips from the demon vermin that inhabit our back yard.  After I read that comment the other day, I may or may not have gone a little Rain Man and paced around the house, chanting "Liquid Fence.  Liquid Fence.  Liquid Fence," to set it permanently in my head.  

I have not gone to the garden store to get any yet, because it started snowing Wednesday night and didn't stop until late this morning, and I was a little afraid that if I stepped inside Earl May and saw all the blooming flowers I would burst into tears.  

They're probably pretty used to that kind of thing at this point, though.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Spring!

Spring.  Thank you Jesus, Spring.




I've seriously had to hold myself back from writing a blog post every single day about how much I hate rabbits.  The above photo is just a small example of the carnage that has been inflicted upon my flowerbeds by rabbits.  

My grandma has offered to buy me a rabbit trap, but... then what?  She says that if you mix crushed ibuprofen with cat food, they'll eat it and be poisoned.  But what do I do with the bodies?  The only solution I've come up with is throwing them on the fire pit and burning them in effigy.  Any other (slightly more reasonable) solutions?  I mean, solutions as to what to do with piles of dead rabbit bodies and/or other ways to rid my yard of them?  And before you suggest human hair, take a closer look at that photo up there; that fuzzy brownish stuff in the middle is Derek's hair.  It obviously didn't work.


Anyway.


I also found this on top of our fence:


Robin eggs!


And I found this at the playground:


Atticus!


Well.  I didn't actually find him there.  I walked there with him.


I'm just going to focus on all these things, and not on the snow forecasted for tomorrow.