My First Compost Bins

Hello! And welcome back. It’s me, Desiree’ Celeste! 

This may sound ridiculous, but the same level of excitement I felt about my first aloe plant is the level I felt over my first compost bin. I now am working on filling my fourth bin and lovingly look over my previous three, who are currently building heat and starting their breaking down process. If you are looking for a how to or a beginners guide on compost bins, this isn’t it! I haven’t even reaped the benefits of my first bin, so I am not prepared to help others with logistics, but I am more than prepared to help others build excitement!

I rent my home, and I used that as an excuse to not start a compost pile. I’ve used that excuse for the past 5+ years and this winter I decided that nothing can keep me from at least trying. No more excuses! My roommate and I both have cats, and we prefer the cat litter that comes in big tub style containers, we use the containers for so much around the house that we don’t feel trash guilt about them. I use these buckets for storage and intend to use them for my first container garden this spring. Then it hit me, why don’t I use them for compost?!?!?!??!$/&:@202&

I did a ton of research on creating my own bucket style compost containers and found that I had been overthinking this completely natural process for years. All the prep work I did for the containers was to drill holes along the bottom for adequate drainage and to allow buggies in to help along, if the buggies decide to do so. I then drilled holes along the lid to allow for air flow. The first container I drilled I made it more complicated than necessary, measuring and counting and making patterns of the drilled holes. The containers afterwards were more haphazard.

Living in Colorado, people assume we have snow all winter long, but that’s not the case. I was able to gather a ton of dry leaves from the yard for future use, as ‘browns’ are necessary for adequate decomposition. I store extra leaves in extra, not drilled, containers beside the compost container for ease of use. I really under shot how much compost I’d be making, so I didn’t collect enough leaves the first time. Now I have 3 full bins of leaves at the ready, which seems like a fair amount of leaf storage.

At this point, I decided to jump on in, setting the groundwork of each bin with leaves, and adding my kitchen scraps, then layering with leaves until full. Once each bin was full, I moved them out into a part of the yard where the soil sucks and the grass is trash, knowing that the compost liquids will seep through the holes to help the ground, and that the buggies from the lawn can find an oasis in my bins. In the future, I intend to find a way to catch the compost drippings for my household plants, but trying to figure out a way to catch drippings without hindering bugs from getting into the bins is breaking my brain.

I guess I never realized how much food waste I created before. I used to just throw my veggie scraps into a freezer bag for bone broth or into the yard for the birds and animals, but now I get to reap further benefits of my food scraps. The reason I was compelled to start my bins now is because I am hell bent on starting a garden this year and want great soil without spending the money on it. I am hesitant to garden directly into my yard soil, as it’s very clay rich and the amount of work it would take to make a garden fare well in this rental property is simply not worth it to me. I have heritage seeds that I am excited to try in containers in the yard, and am really hopeful that I will have some nutrient rich compost ready by then.

Also, I am so attached to these bins already that I am debating naming them.

 

 

5 Alternatives to Commercial Deodorant

Hello! And welcome back. It’s me, Desiree’ Celeste!

I quit wearing main stream deodorants about 5 years ago, when a friend of mine had breast cancer and she made mention that her doctor told her to stop using deodorants with aluminum in them. We happened to be working in a natural foods store at the time and had all of the aluminum free options we could think of! But, after a few months of trying out options, I found that none worked for me for more than a week or so, which is when I began playing with non commercial methods. Below are some of the things I have tried, and some friends have tried, that have actually proven useful! The best part is that you don’t have to follow any recipes and all are only 1 ingredient, unless you choose to add essential oils. These are readily available and cheap.

5. Coconut Oil

I know, coconut oil can’t be the cure for everything, can it? Nope, sure can’t, but because it is naturally anti bacterial, and it’s the bacteria that creates the smell, it can help to dissuade smelly bacteria growth. Simply slather a thin layer on your pits directly after cleaning and you’re set. Be careful, though, as too much oil will definitely stain your clothes.

4. Clear Booze

This was my favorite method for quite a long time! I bought high percentage vodka and filed a small spray bottle with it, then added a few drops of the essential oil of my choice, generally lemongrass. Of course, spraying on clean skin is a must, and reapplication after time spent active or in the heat was useful, but even after 1 application I noticed a difference.

3. Vinegar

Vinegar is great for killing off germs, so much so that many people use vinegar for general cleansers in their homes. I actually wash my hair exclusively with vinegar! Test full strength vinegar on your skin in a small spot to see if it will irritate you, then dilute as necessary to ensure it’ll be safe on your skin. Use a spray bottle, add essential oils as desired, and spray onto freshly cleaned skin. Reapply when you’ve been active, stressed, or hot (which is probably all the time, ya hottie).

2. Lemon or Lime Juice

Ok, stay with me here. Lemons and limes are both so acidic that they inhibit bacteria growth, which makes them an excellent option for your pits. I have used both freshly cut and store bought juice, both work fine. Ideally, fresh is best because it still has the active enzymes in it. If you remove hair from your pits, this will buuuuuuurn! The upside is that if you can make it past the burning, it can help to decrease ingrown hairs, maybe even halt them altogether.

1. Scrub Your Pits

This is my current method. I skip everything and just scrub my pits. I don’t use soap on my body, nor have I for ages, so instead I either dry brush or scrub my body with a micro fiber cloth, natural loofah, or wash cloth in the shower. It was a growth process, but my body odor never really got out of control during this time. I made sure to start this method in the winter, when I could layer up and mask the smell. I also did (and still do) bentonite clay masks on my pits when I start smelling weird. Body chemistry, stress, and even eating or drinking something your body doesn’t like, will make the stink flare up. I have forgone applying anything to my armpits for about a year now and it still works for me, I love how simple this method is and how it’s worked through all seasons, hormone cycles, and moods.

What are your favorite stink stoppers? How do you keep your pits in check?

Cheap & Easy Waste Reduction

Hello! And welcome back. It’s me, Desiree’ Celeste!

I have seen the Zero Waste Movement become really exclusionary and aesthetic driven. So many “Beginner” and “How to” blogs and vlogs encourage people to spend time and/or money they may not have. I am not interested in pursuing ‘zero waste,’ but I do strive to reduce the trash and waste I create. There are so many inspirational individuals on the internet who go to great lengths to create next to no material waste, but that’s just not reality for everyone. Furthermore, these Instagram worthy photos of homemade cashew milk, matching containers for bulk purchases, and farmer’s market groceries can sometimes scare people away from waste reduction. It’s intimidating! Not to mention, some in the ‘zero waste’ community have an ‘all or nothing’ attitude, and shame others for doing what they can, even if it means waste reduction instead of elimination.

Watch the video here!

I make trash. There, I said it, I MAKE TRASH. I am mindful of every piece of trash that hits my bin and try to find alternative uses where I can, but my household makes about a garbage bag of trash a week, aside from wasted cat litter. Once upon a time, I would have to take my garbage out near daily, so this is a huge turn around for me. I recycle whatever I can, reuse what makes sense, offer reusable items to friends and online, and shop only for what I need.

A great start to waste reduction is paying attention to what you place in the bin.

Are you tossing a lot of paper plates? A place setting per person in the home makes a huge difference to your burden on the earth and the burden on your pockets, and the dollar store can get you there for about 5$ per person. A quick hand wash will make it so you never have to worry about dishes piling up, because there won’t be enough to make a pile!

Are you throwing out plastic grocery bags, or hoarding them under the kitchen sink? They can be used over and over again! You don’t need to spend money on fancy shopping bags or spend time weaving your own from plarn (plastic yarn, some people cut and roll plastic bags to weave together to make a sturdy shopping bags), the bags exist already and may already be in your home. Bonus: many stores give you a monetary reward for bringing your own bags, such as a nickel per bag taken from the total at check out.

How often do you throw away single use utensils while at work or with take out? Those sturdier plastic utensils can live on and on with a quick hand wash. No need to buy a costly to-go utensil set, just keep a fork, spoon, and knife from a take out set and wash them after meals, along with your hands! Then, be sure to decline utensil sets from take out and delivery.

The most common thing is see in the trash bins of others: recycling. Definitely check with your city or apartment complex to see if recycling pick up is offered. I have lived in a few different apartment complexes and many had recycling dumpsters on site, and I have never lived in a house where recycling pick up wasn’t offered. It can’t hurt at all to give a call to your leasing office or garbage pick up company to see your options. My roommate and I recently decided we wanted a second recycling bin since I bring home so much from work, and when we called the city we were surprised to hear that additional recycling bins came free! Yay! If you don’t have the option of at home recycling, there may be a recycling center or dumpster nearby. ALWAYS check with what is acceptable to recycle, as sometimes shredded paper isn’t allowed, generally plastic bags aren’t allowed, and at some recycle centers you need to sort your recycling into different dumpsters yourself. I generally take a photo of any posted notice of accepted recycling, to make sure I am taking full advantage of this service.

Other frequently tossed items are reusable items! Those fancy matching containers for bulk can be replicated at home. I save all of my empty food jars, like pasta sauce jars, pickle jars, and tea tins. I LOVE my Muir Glen pasta sauce jars, they are square with measurement marks on the sides and a black lid, and I use them for food storage, car snacks (they fit in most cup holders), and bulk foods like coffee. I have also scored cute tea tins, which I spray painted to match my decor and filled with my supplements. Spray paint is definitely not zero waste, but it is an enabler in my waste reduction, as I am able to update my same old decor time and time again, and use items in my everyday life that would have otherwise been waste. Bonus: some coffee shops will let you use these relifed jars for your drink orders, and the tight seal makes these jars great for to-go drinks.

There we have it, the cheapest and easiest ways to start on a waste reduction road! Zero Waste and Less Waste life doesn’t have to be hard or expensive in order to help both you and the Earth. Paying attention to what we discard may allow us to see a second or third life in that item, so make sure to dig through your own trash! There may be treasure in there!

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Why Hate The Term ‘Zero Waste’- but I’ll still use it

I hate the term ‘Zero Waste,’ I feel like it is an exclusionary term that probably scares people away from this… movement. This is a movement, right? When I first started reading about Zero Waste, I instantly felt like I would fail at this. I knew that no matter how little waste I could get down to, I would never achieve zero. I have a cat who is picky about his litter and I simply can’t go the corn or cedar pellet route, unless I want him to just start pooping everywhere in protest. I drive a car because I commute 15+ miles to work each day, which means I can’t be zero waste. I sometimes eat chips and am yet to find a way to recycle those bags.

As for the bigger picture, even people who create zero waste in their own trash bins are still creating waste. The bulk bins at your favorite stores are generally filled from a plastic bag, or at least a plastic lined bag. The produce at the farmer’s market was transported there somehow, probably in a waste creating vehicle.

The steps that need to be taken in order to achieve a truly zero waste life are simply out of reach for most Americans. I don’t have the capability to live as my ancestors have, growing my own food, slaughtering my own animals, knitting my own winter socks, and chopping my own wood to heat my home. I live in an apartment in suburbia, with domestic animals, a boyfriend who is not zero waste, and 2 bonus kids who love their individually packed fruit snacks. If I were to take the term ‘Zero Waste’ literally, I would never have even tried to find Facebook groups to learn more, I wouldn’t be hunting down YouTube channels dedicated to other people’s journeys, and I sure wouldn’t be writing about it and making videos about it.

For people prone to taking terms at face value, the words ‘Zero’ and ‘Waste’ attached to one another is daunting and exclusionary. It makes it difficult to understand and know where to start. I tend to use the term ‘Lower Waste’ or ‘Reduced Waste’ as a way to open dialogue with others. It opens the door to questions and ideas for those I have engaged with. In media though, such as blogs and videos, I still say ‘Zero Waste,’ for now. Why? Because it is now a recognizable term. When people head to a search engine they use this term instead of looking up, ‘Reduced Waste.’

When I was thinking about this blog post, I really wanted to use it to clear up misconceptions about Zero Waste that may keep people from even trying it out. I also kind of want to open dialogue about what Zero Waste means to other people. I feel like many people want to be the last word on what ZW is or is not, but the literal definition of ZW is simply unattainable. For me, Zero Waste is a practice in being mindful. Paying attention to alternative ways to go through my day in a way that is more Earth friendly. Can I fit my mason jar under that coffee hopper opening? Did I bring my bag? Do I really need that straw? Will my feline friend accept the cat litter offered in the bulk bins of my local pet care store? I still create trash, just waaaaaaaay less. And I now actively search out recyclable packaging and avoid plastics (limited recyclability). Will I ever be able to do without a trash can in my home? I’m not sure. But I choose to not beat myself up if I do need to put something into the bin that cannot be reused or recycled.

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Cast Iron Care

I find that everyone seems to have a preferred way to care for their cast iron, and I am yet to find a way that will utterly ruin it. There are many misconceptions about what methods to use and what methods to avoid like the plague. When I first got my cast iron I was overwhelmed with all of the methods out there, and the conflicting information as to what works. The concept of having to cut a potato in order clean my pan blew my damn mind. Now that I have used many ways to clean my cast iron, and my pans are still intact, I would like to review some ways and maybe clear up some myths. Rather watch? Click here.

Method One: SOAP AND WATER

First of all, I read all of the time how soap will absolutely ruin cast iron and on and on and blah blah blah. However, if the piece in question has a good, hard season an occasional soap down will do absolutely no harm. I actually recommend a soap down on a new piece, especially one that’s second hand. You never know what that cast iron had been exposed to and, if you’re like me with food allergies, a soaping is the only way to make sure your pan won’t cause you hives, stomach upset, or worse. If the pan has an uneven or gooey season, using soap can help to remove the weak seasoning and then you can go on to correct it.

Method Two: SOAKING

People absolutely lose their minds over the concept of soaking cast iron. It’s like the zombie apocalypse if it’s even mentioned. I, too, was once put off by soaking, also under the impression that even a quick soak would leave my cast iron susceptible to rust, but then I had allowed something to burn in the pan and felt I had no other choice. It was experiment time! I left the pan to soak overnight. And guess what? In the morning I was able to easily wipe the last little stuck on crumbs out and there was no rust. Since then, I commonly soak my cast iron and have no rust from it.

Method Three: KOSHER SALT RUB WITH OR WITHOUT POTATO

Were you confused when I mentioned the potato in the intro? Well, now we get to clear that up! The most popular method I have seen is to scrub the dry pan with kosher salt, either with the cut end of a potato or with a paper towel. The salt scrubs the excess oils and food away, and you are left with a clean pan that is untouched by water. I have tried this with a dish towel, but no potato, and found that it was too complicated for as often as I use my cast iron, which is up to 4 times a day. It definitely works, though I would still rinse it clean afterwards instead of wiping it again and again to remove the salt.

Method Four: STEEL WOOL OR CHAIN MAIL

This is a method I have not used, but they sound awesome and I will most likely end up getting a chain mail scrubbie soon. I didn’t even know these methods existed or were so controversial until I started researching for this topic! I have read about people using steel wool or chain mail both with and without water, and the concern people seem to have about it is the thought that the intense scrubbing will remove or damage the seasoning. While I have not used these, I consulted with a friend who has and she says that she uses her steel wool for daily cleaning and has caused her seasoning no harm. So, not too educated on this one.

Method Five: LOOFAH AND WATER

This is my preferred method. I rinse with water, sometimes soak, and then use a round cut from a natural loofah to wipe away the mess. It makes it very easy to upkeep and the only thing I need is a natural loofah that is compostable.

In short, there seems like no wrong method to clean cast iron. If you were expecting me to speak about using the self cleaning oven method, campfire method, or any other deeper cleaning method, that will be reserved for another post. I intend to include in this series a post dedicated to cast iron rehab, so that I can give proper attention to that subject. How do you clean your cast iron? What did I miss?

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