My Rotting Veggies Reek (Or How to Fix a Wet Compost Bin)

So, I know a compost bin is basically an oozing mess by definition, but my bin has sort of gone beyond an acceptable amount of nasty bilgy-ness lately.

If you remember my watermelon carving incident, you know I essentially created a rabid alien instead of a shark. Not only was the beast rather hideous, but the watermelon itself was a mealy, inedible disaster. It wasn’t even fit for flavoring tequila, so I hacked it into pieces and rather unceremoniously hurled it into my compost bin.

A few days later when I was outside watering my plants, I noticed my cilantro plant was looking rather sickly.

Please don’t die, cilantro. I love you. And I need you to make salsa verde for my birthday party.

As I knelt down to inspect the wilting cilantro more closely, I noticed a repugnant ooze leaking out of the compost bin beside the plant.

Oozing Filth

I’m really sorry I made you look at that.

Upon opening the bin, I discoverd it was far too wet, and it also smelled rather foul. A bin that is too wet (or too dry) will not break down the waste efficiently. A smelly bin is also a hint you have a problem on your hands. It can mean the bin is not getting enough air and is therefore producing anaerobic bacteria (which smell worse than their aerobic friends).

It can also mean your carbon to nitrogen ratio (C:N) is off. For those of you who weren’t insane enough to take as much chemistry as I did in college, this is nerd for “there’s too much green shit in your bin and not enough brown.” (The greens are the kitchen scraps and the brown stuff would be paper, dry leaves, and whatnot.) Given the size of the watermelon, I figured the problem was the C:N ratio and not a lack of oxygen. I figured the best way to fix both the stench and the ooze would be to add dry carbon-rich materials, so I consulted the internet to confirm my hypothesis. It seems I was on the right track because the internet confirmed my suspicion. (I love you internet. Almost as much as I love cilantro.)

I was saving newspaper ads to make a papier mache pirate ship centerpiece for my Peter Pan birthday party, but my bin problem was a little more pressing. I mean I can’t have brown sticky ooze all over my balcony, so Captain Hook will have to wait for his Jolly Roger centerpiece for another day. I ripped up a lot of Ralph’s advertisements for baby wipes and Bacardi, and put the paper strips in my bin.

We don’t care about your carbon ratio. Wake us up when you start mixing drinks.

I stirred the bin and distributed the newspaper strips throughout the bog.

Hopefully it won’t be as foul in a few days. If you want to know how I made the bin in the first place, the instructions are here.

And now that we’ve covered ooze and filth, it’s time for me to wash my hands, put on something pink, and crank up the Carly Rae Jepsen because my geeky tomboy to girly girl ratio is getting out of whack up in here.

Do you have any other compost bin suggestions for me? Oh, and if you know how to not kill cilantro, please tell me! If this plant dies, it will be my second one in two months. I am starting to feel like a cilantro serial killer!

Free Stuff is Fun (Or How to Remove Carpet Indentations with Ice Cubes)

I love free things. Like really love free things. And by free things I mean, actually free. Not the kind of free that’s free for the first 30 days and then you have to remember to cancel or you get stuck paying $50 a month until you get around to calling.

So, when I came across a trick for removing the indentations in your carpet using only ice cubes, I was like, “Um, yes please. I have ice cubes.”

Today I decided to give it a shot. I discovered it’s best to put the ice cubes down when your dogs are in a coma-like napping state after a long hike. You probably shouldn’t do it when they’re feeling frisky from putting their faces in your morning latte. If you do it that way you end up with dogs who think it’s a game to lick and kick the cubes all over your carpet.

That was sort of how the first round of my ice cube experiment went.

Albus began licking the ice cubes while Woodley watched cautiously. Then Albus discovered it was super fun to kick the cubes. Still, Woodley watched. She eventually summoned the courage to approach the ice and quickly began contributing to the chaos as well. She’s never the instigator, but she’s always a willing participant once she overcomes her initial trepidation of, well, everything.

There I was, eager to see if the trick worked, and they were convinced we were playing a game. I placed the cubes on the carpet. They hit them. I put them back. They hit them again. And so on until I distracted them with bison and sweet potato biscuits….

So anyway, here’s what I discovered:

It actually works if you can keep your animals away.

Also, after the ice melts you have to use your hand to rub the carpet fibers back and forth to get them to stand up. One application of ice cubes was sufficient for the shallow indentations, but it took three applications of ice for the deeper dents.

After surveying my free fix I put on a little Oh Carolina and did a happy dance to some vintage Shaggy, circa 1993.

Too bad the ice cubes can’t fix how ugly the carpet is….

Do you have any easy tips you want share?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Somebody’s Having a Baby Spritzer (Or how to entertain pregnant friends)

Tonight I’m experimenting with alcohol-free fizzy drinks. No, I’m not on the wagon. I have pregnant friends, and I’m contemplating throwing a baby shower or three. I’m not above waving champagne punch in pregnant ladies’ faces, but I’d be a lousy host (not to mention a bad friend) if I didn’t serve something sweet they could sip as well.

Looking at my herb garden I see that my cilantro plant has committed suicide, so that herb won’t be making an appearance in my glass this evening. I put the withered leaves into my compost bin and swear under my breath. So much for making salsa on Saturday….

I decide to pluck some fresh mint and basil and mix up a tasty mojito-inspired spritzer while blasting Maroon 5’s Moves like Jagger. (It’s essential to dance in the kitchen while making drinks — even if they don’t contain vodka.)

The recipe is below.

Somebody’s Having a Baby Spritzer

1 Lime*
3 Sliced strawberries, plus 1 whole strawberry for garnish
4 Fresh basil leaves
4 Fresh mint leaves
2-3 T of sugar, plus extra for the rim of the glass
8 oz of soda water

Squeeze the juice of one lime into a tall glass or a cocktail shaker. Add the mint, basil, and sugar. (I like my drinks a little sweeter, so I go with 3 T.) Use a muddler to macerate the sugar and herbs. Add the sliced strawberries and mash a little more. Add soda water.

Slice one strawberry beginning at the pointed tip, but do not slice it all of the way through. Rub the strawberry around the rim of the serving glass.

Pour a few tablespoons of sugar onto a small plate and invert the glass onto the plate, rimmed side down. The strawberry juice will help the sugar adhere to the rim.

Put the strawberry on the rim as garnish, and then place a few ice cubes in the glass.

Pour the spritzer into the decorated glass. If you don’t want the bits floating in the glass, you can use a strainer. I like chunks, so I skip this step.

Consume.

Repeat.

Dance while you’re drinking your sweet little libation. Show off your moves like Jagger, even if the only one watching is your disapproving dog.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

*Lime Composting Note: There’s quite a debate about including citrus in your compost bin. Discussions range from the pH impact on soil to worms’ predilection (or lack, thereof) for citrus.

I decide to use the smashed lime to wipe out the inside of my sink before disposing of it. Lemons and limes offer a green way to clean your sink (plus they make the stainless steel look all shiny).

Chopped citrus peel can also be used in your garbage disposal to prevent it from smelling like the Bog of Eternal Stench.

If you’re looking for a shopping guide for some of the products I dig, I have included the links below:

Citrus Juicer

Soda Stream

Muddler