Thursday, April 20, 2017

How to Make the Most of Your Kitchen Scraps Through Composting


I don't know about you but I feel guilty about the amount of food that gets thrown away at my house. Experts say Americans throw away about 40% of our food. One thing that we can all do, besides not over buying at the grocery, is to compost our raw fruits and veggies that somehow wilted in the back of the fridge before we got around to eating them.  

Here's how it works at my house. See those eggshells? They came from my chickens, that I fed lettuce and weeds from my garden (along with the thousands of bugs they forage every day). The lettuce and other extras from the garden or the kitchen that my chickens ate  daily were fertilized with the compost I worked on last year. One of the main ingredients in my compost pile is the manure (along with pine shavings) from the coop. That little cycle thing? That's the beautiful part.

 This is the handy compost bucket I keep under the sink. It has a charcoal filter in the lid which keeps it from smelling. 

make pallets into compost bins

If you keep chickens then composting is the best use of the manure and used shavings. 

Not only food scraps go in but also full vacuum bags, ashes from the fireplace, grass clippings, leaves, weeds, waste from the coop, and coffee grounds. You don't just toss your additions on top of the pile, you need to mix them in so as not to attract unwanted visitors. Occasionally water and turn your pile and you'll be rewarded with beautiful black, nutrient dense compost that your garden will love.

There are some very nice and unobtrusive compost bins on the market; I just made the one at the top of this post out of some pallets and held it all together with strong wire. Since then someone has given me a sleeker black one that can sit inside the garden. The compost pile is a perfect place to empty the contents from your shredder.

There is a little science to it, so here's a link to more about that.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Why You Should Rethink Your Bucket List

When the movie came out the term "Bucket List" immediately made it's way into the American lexicon. Suddenly everyone has a list of things they want to accomplish and mark off before they kick the bucket. I actually had such a list written out about 15 years before the movie was released, but I think most everyone has a list of this sort, at least floating around in the back of their mind. 

Here's the problem: Life isn't about scratching something off a list. In fact, the danger in seeing it that way is that the place, event, or activity may not be experienced to the fullest. Several years ago I took a trip and when I returned a friend asked it I had seen a couple of particular things. I hadn't, but I'd had a wonderful time and seen interesting different things that were enjoyable to me. Life is full of side streets and unexpected joys. It's best to stay open to those while you are on your quest. It's also full of detours and places you have arrived while the doors are locked. That's okay. Life may have unexpected treasures for you, you know nothing of.

Make sure your bucket has a hole in it. We want life to be full of exciting things. We want to sail around the world or write the great American novel. We see movies and read books about what other people are doing and we get a skewed view of our own lives. The better bucket list may include things like making little kids laugh, or volunteering at a local charity, or tutoring a struggling student. Sharing your experience and knowledge is a practical and rewarding thing to put on your list. Standing water stagnates. Keep what is in the bucket flowing in and out. 

Today may have some things worth putting in the bucket. Life isn't actually made up of big moments. It mainly consists of millions of small ordinary moments, thousands of days, strung together to make a life. You don't want to spend so much time making, or dreaming about your list that you miss the simple joy of today.  When was the last time you visited a museum and sat in front of a work of art for half an hour contemplating it? You may want to add something like "See as many sunrises as possible." to your list. Too many people miss today searching for life's few big moments.

Keep filling the bucket. The thing about lists is, that we are eager to get to the end of them and feel a sense of accomplishment. As you learn and grow, the list will both shrink and expand. You may mark things off the list, not because you do them, but because you no longer need to do them. You may need to replace them with other more important or interesting things. Some of them may be released. Some of them may die. It's okay. Keep adding the new things you'd like to accomplish. Life, above everything else is a process. 

Put "Keep moving forward." at the top of the list.  Here are some things that are on friends' lists: Travel to Italy, get a Ph.D., run a marathon, repair a broken relationship, write a book that will challenge status quo thinking. All of those goals have something in common. They cannot be accomplished standing still. Being a life long learner, getting and staying fit, and working on improving relationships are worthy of a spot on your list. The more you focus on forward momentum, the more you can tweak that list into something more meaningful than just a list of places to see and things to do. 

A lot of things show up on these lists because of what everyone else thinks we should want to do. Your list will be unique and personal to you. It doesn't have to include skydiving or visiting the Taj Mahal. Think about what you really want to accomplish in life and let your list reflect that. Work toward making those things happen, but leave yourself lots of freedom to explore, wander, and dump out the bucket and start over. Just don't let it get rusty. You are only going this way once.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Future Beekeeper Arriving This Fall!

I've been keeping a big secret for two months! My daughter is expecting our first grandchild in October and we couldn't be happier!

Expect a lot of exclamation points from now on!

We are a little excited!

Do we want a boy or a girl?


Here is the announcement my daughter used on social media. What the heck? It's like she doesn't even get that I'm finally going to get a mini-beekeeper. They are probably thinking this kid will be an athlete. Whatever. 

Some of you may have figured it out a couple of weeks ago when I posted about losing everything in my computer. Every. Thing. You can read about that and what to do if it happens to you here: Losing it All: How I Dealt with my Worst Computer Mishap Ever

I couldn't say that the treasured pictures I was most upset about were the ones I had taken at the beach when we scattered my mom's ashes You can read about that here:  Scattering Grief: Absence, Cold Sand and the Absence of Emotion   

Anybody else hearing The Circle of Life from the Lion King?

Want to read the wedding posts from the Mother of the Bride Chronicles? Click here! 

I'm just assuming you want to read all the things you missed. 

Now, I know that one of the things you want to know is what is the baby going to call me? Actually this question came up during the wedding planning six years ago and my son-in-law settled it by giving me his own nickname, Kiki. It's all he's ever called me and what my daughter calls me too.

Can't remember the last time I heard "mom."

My husband is taking the bold approach of letting the kid pick what he/she will call him. I find that risky since when our son was a baby he called his sister "Pete" and we all still call her that. I've confused more than one person by announcing that "Pete is pregnant."

Letting the kid pick is a total crapshoot. If Downton Abbey taught us anything it's that a grandchild might come up with something like "Donk." I'll keep you posted on this important topic.

I thought I'd share the rest of those pictures and the announcements that my daughter and I both made to share. Here are some other pictures that we didn't use for the announcement. There was a big disagreement about those sunglasses.

The rule about sunglasses in photos is this: Everyone must be wearing them. These would have been fine if she'd been wearing shades. In the end he had to admit she was right and the picture they liked best was the one where he took them off.

Okay, grandparents! Give me your best advice for being the best KIKI ever! Comment about your favorite part of being a grandparent and best stories.