Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vermicomposting

It’s my first video blog! Hope I don’t stumble too much. As I say in the video, I’ve been composting with the use of worms (vermicomposting) for the past couple of years and I completely love it. People ask me every now and then exactly what is vermicomposting, and recently a friend requested that I do a blog entry on it and set one up for her. A few things I forgot to mention in the video, (hey it’s hard remembering everything when it’s impromptu!):
· Worm bins can be kept inside and outside. When I had a garage I kept them in there, but when I moved I kept them in the kitchen closet. The general rule is if you are cold, so are they. I put them out on the deck early spring when it was getting warmer (don’t leave them in the direct sun), and will bring them back inside when it starts getting cold. It doesn’t smell, and you only get fruit flies during f.f. season if you aren’t careful.
· If it does start to smell, lay off on the food for a while and add “brown” (paper, leaves). That will help balance the bin's contents. Just remember that it needs balance- give them a variety of food, and keep it moist but not mushy and drippy (that’s what I call worm diarrhea!). If you overfeed them, it will bottleneck the process.
· If you want to use the castings for your garden or house plants, stop feeding them for a while so that they can go through the food that’s already in there thoroughly. It can take about 3 months sometimes to go through everything.
· Some items they love are fruit, veggies, stale rice/pasta/bread, coffee grounds, tea (take staples out of the bags!), used napkins, paper towels, and my favorite, used coffee cups! They will eat all of the paper and leave the wax lining, so you will have to pull that out when they are done. (I find it fascinating, but maybe I’m just weird!). Don’t give them fats, dairy, meat, or anything cooked. Throw all of that stuff in your yard waste bin.
· One more thing I forgot to add, it’s not the worms that actually eat the food. The food breaks down with the help of microbes, and it’s the microbes that the worms eat. Nice little cycle!



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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Coffee....Part II

Speaking of coffee…..I love it. I had my first cup in the 4th grade, and started drinking it steady from the 7th grade on (maybe that explains my height?). I love everything about it! The color, the smell, the pure taste (cream? NEVER!); it’s like a beautiful ritual every morning. But what I don’t love is poor treatment of it. Here are some tips that I have learned from years of working as a barista, and just pure passion for the drink. And yes, I freely admit, I am a coffee snob.

*Always buy whole bean, never ground. Your coffee is at its peak flavor upon freshly grinding it. If you must buy ground, make sure it is in an airtight package.

*Buy organic (free-trade is a big plus!). Organic coffee doesn’t necessarily taste better or different, but it is usually grown outside of the American border and pesticide restrictions vary internationally. If you think it’s too expensive, go to CostCo, there they sell a great coffee bean by San Francisco Bay. It’s organic, a great roast, and you get 3 lbs. for about $14 compared to the typical 1 lb. for $9 at the store. My only complaint is that their bag is transparent, which the coffee beans should be packaged in a dark bag.

*In a dark bag, you say? It’s best to store your coffee in a dark, air tight canister at room temperature. DON’T put it in your freezer; it’s not a bag of peas. Freezing just strips it of its natural flavor and oils. It can get freezer burn too, so don’t stock up and think you’re good for winter.

So now you’ve got a clean coffee machine, and great whole beans - go make me some coffee!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cleaning Your Coffee Machine

Your drip coffee machine needs to be cleaned just like anything else does. It can gradually collect a build-up of calcium deposits and mold making your coffee taste...well...not so fresh. Rather than buying a fancy cleaning solution (eww..more chemicals?) from the store, buy a jug of white vinegar and brew 1 part vinegar, 2 parts water once. It will strip the calcium and kill any mold spores hanging out (vinegar naturally kills mold). Turn off the machine, and leave it in the pot for 15 minutes. Dump the solution out and do that again 2 more times but with straight water. Be sure to wash your grounds basket and the carafe often, and compost your grounds!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Stainless Steel Care

By far the most popular appliance surface is stainless steel. Sure, it's very attractive, but man it's a pain in the butt to keep clean. Finger prints, food smudges, and sticky condensation on stove hoods are magnets to destroy a nice surface appearance.

Along with residential cleaning, I also did tons of remodels and new construction cleans. Every contractor and owner would set out the little bottle the manufacturer would include to polish the appliances. Don't bother using it. It's overpriced and doesn't do a good job. Instead, first wipe all spots and smudges off the steel surface with a damp rag or scrubby sponge. If you have a stove hood, you'll probably need to hit it with some degreaser. The more serious chefs should be sure to deep clean it at least once a month. Also remember to wash the stove hood screen (most stoves have one). You can just toss it in your dishwasher and let it do the work.

Once it is clean and dry you can polish the stainless steel with either Pledge (or something like it- Endust), or mineral oil. You can also get some pretty good stainless steel spray polishers from stores like Home Depot, but Pledge does just as good a job, and it's more accessible. Spray it on, wipe it off. It is non-streaky, quick, easy, and leaves a nice shine (and lemon-like scent, oo!). Same thing with the mineral oil- I've never used it, but I've seen it used and it leaves a nice finish.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tea Tree Oil

Windex to the dad in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is as tea tree oil is to me. It's the miracle oil! To some, the smell is a little over-powering, but I love it. Put a few drops in a hot bath and the aroma stimulates your senses while relaxing your muscles. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic derived from the narrow-leaved tea tree. It has been used for ages traditionally to heal infections.

My best experience with it was to cure athlete's foot. The first year I was a cleaner I developed my first ever case of it due to actively working for 10 hours a day, constantly getting my feet wet in showers, tubs, mops spills, etc., and it was HORRIBLE! The ITCH, MY GOD! It would literally wake me up in the middle of the night it itched so badly! The "leading" over the counter products did nothing to kill the fungus. I did a "natural cure" Internet search and came up with the oil. I bought a bottle at the drugstore and I swear to you it was gone in 3 days. I don't get athlete's foot anymore, but whenever I get a little cut or rash, I reach for that little stinky bottle and it usually does the trick.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Deodorant Marks and Smoke-Be-Gone

Here is a quickie for you. Ever pull on a shirt or dress and find a lovely white deodorant mark on your clothing? Grab a pair of nylons, pull them kind of tight around your hand and brush it over the white marks. It's like a magic deodorant eraser!

One more quickie for good measure. I went out with a guy a couple times and he heavily smoked in his apartment Gross, right? Every time I left his apartment I'd want to puke. All my clothes and hair would stink horribly of the cigarettes, but there were items that I was wearing that were freshly washed, needed to be hand washed or dry cleaned so it was annoying having to constantly re-wash these items. As a quick and easy freshener for my hair, a couple spritz from a dry shampoo like Psssssst would clear up the stink and leave your hair with a nice scent and soaks up any oil build up. For my clothes, I would throw them in the dryer with a damp wash cloth and a dryer sheet. When it came out there would be no trace of the cigarette stink- now if only I could have done that to him? ; )

Un- what?

"Un-shit your life"- to rid your life of useless shit. This blog is a collection of hints, tips, ideas and stories that I have gathered from my family, friends, articles, the internet, rumors and life experiences. Please share your own!
 

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