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.

 

 

Resources for Minimalists

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

When I first began purging my stuff, I felt like I was just trying to pawn things off on my friends, then donating everything to thrift stores to be resold. I don’t think that thrift stores are the enemy, they really are an excellent resource for people to be able to find items, but I would rather people not have to pay for my things. Not to mention, many thrift stores hold politics I don’t assign to, so I would rather they not make money from my stuff. Pushing my stuff onto my friends doesn’t make me feel good, either. Many of my friends are also minimalists, so I give them first pick and then use my resources to rehome the remainder. I do also donate a ton of stuff, but I enjoy knowing exactly where my belongings go and how useful they will be in their new homes. When I drop off dozens of pounds of clothing at the shelter, I know in my gut that fast fashion has resulted in an excess of clothing being donated. I help to unload my own car, so I see exactly how high their clothing mountain is for the week. I feel similarly guilty when I donate my dishware to the thrift store, especially now that I see from the apps listed below how many local families in need would rejoice to have my dishes. The list below includes the resources that I use to rehome my belongings, and is pretty much in the order that I use them.

Posting on my personal Facebook page:

My first route to relieve my things is to post about them on my personal FB page. I post photos and descriptions for each thing and let my friends sort out what they may want. Many times, they find fun stuff to give others in their lives, which is excellent. This is also a great way for me to see people I may not see very often otherwise.

 Buy Nothing Project group:

I have been lurking around my local BNP group for ages. I have scored some really cute things, but mostly I have been able to rehome a ton of things there. BNP is a series of Facebook groups that are specific to the area in which you live, helping to build community. The official Buy Nothing Project page is HERE but it’s more useful to use the search bar to look up groups for your area. When you join, an admin will most likely request additional information about where you live to ensure you’re in the right place. All of the groups have the same rules, as they stem from one central organization, the blog for BNP is HERE.

Freecycle:

Freecycle is very similar to Buy Nothing Project, but they have a centralized website and there is the option to get all postings sent directly to your email. While you can view all offered and wanted items on their website, you have to be logged in and a member of that group in order to post or respond to postings. I am really weird in how I use Freecycle, but have been doing it for AGES. I generally respond to all clothing related posts and let them know that if the items they posted didn’t find a home, I would pick them up to donate to the homeless shelters.

Freecycle + Trash Nothing?

In my hunts for extra resources, I found an app called Freecycle + Trash Nothing. The app looks similar but still very different from the Freecycle site and it made me confused! After doing a small amount of research, I found that the Trash Nothing app is an offshoot of the original Freecycle page, which used to be through a Yahoo group (and may still be). The Trash Nothing app was started to curb the spam that users of the original Freecycle Yahoo groups were experiencing. What does this mean for you? It means that you have choices. I like the Trash Nothing app, it is old AF but user friendly and still send email alerts when you message someone. Direct yourself to the Freecycle website if you’d rather use the desk top version or get direct emails about offer and want posts.

Let Go:

Let Go is an app where you can choose to sell things or give your things away. My friends have had great luck with finding cool furniture on there. It’s essentially a Craigslist with a cleaner, prettier interface.

Next Door:

Next Door is an app where you can monitor your direct neighborhood. People post about if a package was stolen from their doorstep, if they need to ask for a cup of sugar, if a teen is starting to babysit and looking for clients, etc. Posts offering up items are also allowed, but they only reach your immediate area. I mean, a few blocks. Next Door is a really convenient way to help those (literally) closest to you.

Facebook Marketplace:

I am hesitant about a few of the suggestions on this list, Facebook Marketplace being one of them. Facebook Marketplace allows posts for items for sale, but you can also post items for free. The marketplace is a great way to reach a huge amount of people, but it’s kind of a free for all.

Craigslist Free Pages:

Do you remember when Craigslist was popular? Before apps took over? Well, it still exists, and people who don’t have luck with these other, smaller scale apps can generally get interest on Craigslist. This is another one of those suggestions that I am hesitant about. Strangers from all over can respond to your offers, so you never know who you are meeting, who may show up, how dangerous it may be. I, personally, hate posting on Craigslist because it is so easy to create a new email account to respond to an offer and I am an intensely private person. I favor the above suggestions because people have profiles and there is accountability.

 

Some basic etiquette about being in these groups, which may just be me being picky:

  • Use complete sentences and humanize the original poster, simply writing ‘NIL’ (meaning ‘next in line’) always makes me feel like I am not seen as a person
  • Post items that you would feel comfortable bringing into your own home, dirty or moldy items need a clean first
  • If people are picking up from your doorstep, be sure to protect the item until they arrive. I have a large plastic container to store items in until they are retrieved
  • Don’t be a creep, don’t make inappropriate comments or prolong conversation past the immediate interaction, unless it is obvious that you both want to continue the conversation
  • It is not unreasonable to request to meet in a public place. You are allowed to make plans based on your feelings of safety.
  • You are allowed to deny someone if it doesn’t feel good, you are not obligated to give or sell your item to the first person who contacts you if the circumstances are not good for you
  • REPORT UNSAFE ONGOINGS! If someone continues unwanted contact with you, is inappropriate or aggressive, or selling or giving unsafe/unsanitary/illegal items, report to the website or moderators. Be vocal. These pages are for the community, and it is everyone’s responsibility to aid in keeping the community safe.

Are there more resources that I am not familiar with? What websites and apps do you use to rehome your belongings?

 

 

 

Simple, Sustainable Immune Boosters

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

It’s that time of year. You know, leaves start changing, weather cools, kids go back to school, you get that itch in the back of throat? Yeah, cold and flu season. It sucks. A few years ago, I was sick for three months straight. First, with a cold, then bronchitis, then a respiratory infection. Since that year, I have tried every immune booster I could get my hands on and found that some work better than others. Many are just straight up food and can be obtained from a grocery store for less than a buck.

Sleep

Sleep is the best immune booster and happens to be free. It is, however, not open to everyone. I understand that some people can’t sleep based off of responsibilities or insomnia, but those who can, should. So many of us stay up late watching tv, reading, or partying, but we really need to start prioritizing sleep. Daily stress, poor diet, and blue light disrupt our circadian rhythm, making it hard to get a full night’s rest. Sleep is when our bodies heal, and a lack of sleep will weak the immune system, making it easy for illness to creep in. Try to go to bed a little earlier, turn off blue light and dim lamps the hour before bed, and build that immune system.

Garlic

Garlic is classic and my favorite ‘cure all.’ I roast entire heads of garlic for snacks during the fall and winter (and spring and summer, it’s just good). When garlic’s cell walls are cracked and allowed to oxidize, it creates something called Alicin, which is a super strong immune booster that also helps to reduce bad gut bacteria. Much of your immune system is in your gut, so a healthy gut is a healthy body. The way to consume garlic to get the biggest alicin benefit is to chop a garlic clove (or 3 or 4) and allow it to sit, exposed to air, for about 10 min, then swallow the garlic like you would pills. This method also works great for stomach issue. You may smell like alfredo sauce, but at least you’ll be actively fighting off all sorts of cold weather sickies.

Fire Cider

Fire Cider scares me. Truly scares me. Every year, I see a thousand posts online about the joys of making fire cider and allowing it to mature for about a month before fall, but that combo makes my stomach churn just thinking of it. If you are a fire cider fan, please let me know how to consume it to avoid immediately vomiting after. The feedback about fire cider is great, though. People swear by it and it seems easy enough to source the ingredients and make yourself. I also love that it’s straight up food and that you can feel like a true witch when you hand craft your own medicine in your own kitchen. This also makes great gifts for the winter holidays. Just imagine, cute bottles of fire cider for those you love, giving the gift of health.

 Check out the Paleo Hacks recipes here to make your own!

Or you can buy a great brand here!

Elderberry Syrup/Tea

Elderberry is naturally anti viral and possibly the tastiest immune booster on this list. You can buy premade elderberry products, such as teas or syrups, or you can make your own from dried elderberries. It’s hard to source waste free or bulk options for dried elderberries, but if you can find it, get it! I enjoy elderberry syrups packed in glass bottles and use them in teas.

My favorite brand, Honey Garden, this one is mixed with honey and apple cider vinegar.

And the Honey Garden brand pure elderberry syrup.

Bone Broth

Here we are again, talking about gut health with the immune system. Bone broth helps to heal the gut lining, strengthening the immune system. Bone broth also is high in complex amino acids, protein, and minerals, making it a nutrient rich option. In my home, I cook with store bought bone broth concentrate, bone broth powder, and homemade bone broth.

Ancient Nutrition Savory Herbs Bone Broth Powder

Jarrow Bone Broth Powder

Layering your immune boosters is a beneficial way to go. I definitely get my sleep in, cook with a lot of garlic and bone broth, and take elderberry when I start feeling sick. If you follow my Instagram this time of year, you’ll find a ton of recipes on Paleo Comfort Foods that are rich in garlic and bone broth. Check out my Instagram here.

What are you favorite sustainable immune boosters?

 

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!

blog