Vermicomposting -- Yes, This Is A Post About Worms

Sunday, March 25, 2018
I interrupt your regularly scheduled fashion, fitness and lifestyle posts to talk about a glamorous subject -- worms. In fact, not just worms. Worms, their poop, trash and composting. Excited yet? You should be!

kyle-ellefson-196125-unsplash compost vermicomposting worms low impact living zero waste

Lately I've been slowly exploring the low impact living scene (and/or zero waste), striving to reduce how much waste I'm making and pick more sustainable alternatives. Part of the low impact movement is the five R's: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot. I've been getting better at refusing what I don't need, picking options that reduce the amount of waste they produce and trying to reuse what I already own and recycling has been a household standard since my childhood. The last R, however, has been my weak spot.

compost bin reusable vermicomposting zero waste low impact living movement produce bag

For Christmas I asked for a countertop compost bin (yes, I know I'm a very exciting, dynamic human). This was my first step toward improving my Rot game. My parents have a huge garden with a compost pile of their own, but unfortunately they live just outside of town and I don't get over there enough to keep up with my tiny compost bin. There's also the slight problem of their compost bin freezing shut each year... I've mentioned winter is cold, right?? Unfortunately my city doesn't offer any municipal composting service (be sure to check if your city does!) and none of my neighbors have a compost pile I could contribute to. My own backyard isn't big enough for a compost bin, so here I am, contemplating getting a pound of worms as pets instead.

Why pet worms? Vermicomposting.

worms eat my garbage mary appelhof vermicomposting compost bin food scrap
The most well known vermicomposting book, still in print today and available on Amazon or at your local library!
And what the heck is vermicomposting? Essentially, it's feeding your food, and even paper, scraps to a bunch of worms and waiting until they process it down into a nutrient dense compost. Vermicomposting is different from regular composting because you're relying on the worms to digest the scraps and poop them out into what we call worm castings, rather than just waiting for the scraps to break down and rot naturally, which could take quite awhile. With vermicomposting there's no turning of compost piles or large outdoor spaces, but instead a box of worms kept in some bedding either indoors or even outdoors if it doesn't get too cold where you live.

Vermicomposting might be weird to consider at first, but it's pretty cool! Worms can eat through about half their weight in food each day, so that means a pound of worms can eat up to half a pound of your trash. Worms also need bedding to hang out in and ultimately digest, which can be made from black and white newspaper I get sent in the mail. Two birds, one stone. The castings they produce are also really fantastic to use in your garden. Worm castings have 5x more nitrogen, 7x more phosphorus and 11x more potassium than regular soil -- perfect for bolstering your summer veggie gardens!

vermicomposting bin wood compost worm
I'm lusting after this gorgeous handmade bin I found on Etsy.
The whole process isn't very hard either. All you need is a bin for your worms (red wiggler variety worms), filled with some moist bedding and left somewhere that stays above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. There are lots of bin types to consider, but the simplest is just a wooden bin, about 2ft x 2ft x 8inches , with some holes drilled in the bottom. For bedding you can use newspaper, shredded corrugated cardboard, peat moss or even some dried yard clippings. Keep the worms under a few inches of bedding and periodically add your food scraps into the bin. If you add scraps working from one end of the bin to the other, by the time you're looping back around again they should have processed all the food scraps in that previous area.

Once the scraps and bedding has been turned almost completely into castings, it's time to harvest. There are lots of ways to harvest but there are two common ones I've seen mentioned a lot. One is to divide up the mixture into small mounds and then shine a light (worms are photosensitive so they're naturally try to hide) which helps separate the castings from the worms, and the other is to move all the castings to one side of the bin, replace the other side with fresh scraps and wait for the worms to migrate over. Either way, you're left with some awesome stuff to mix into your garden!

There are so many resources available out there, but I'll link some of the ones I found most helpful. I know this whole concept seems a little weird, potentially kind of icky depending on how you feel about worms, but I hope you do consider it seriously. The earth is fragile and we need to do everything we can to treat it kindly. This is a really easy and really impactful way to do your part!

Great overviews of the process:

The single-most well known intro book for vermicomposting:

Low impact living:

Spring Cleaning: A Whole House Cleaning Plan

Sunday, March 18, 2018
spring cleaning flower crocus clean flower

To me, Spring means two things: dusting off my spring wardrobe and, well... actual dusting. Gotta balance out the fun with the not so fun right? There's just something about pulling out the Spring clothing that turns me into Pavlov's dog and sends me running for a broom. So even though this month has been, and will continue to be, packed full of craziness due to job changes, house renovations (aka me sleeping in a bed in the middle of the living room), and trip preparation I've for some reason also decided to take on a full deep-clean of my house. Am I crazy? Yes, probably. Will I appreciate it later? .....Maybe.

In case any of you out there are wanting to tackle a good house scrub while you're 9 months pregnant, releasing your first novel and launching a new business or something, I'll let you in on how I've broken everything down. I don't like to spend a lot of time cleaning, so I've dedicated an hour or two once a week (Sundays for me) to tackle a few tasks at a time. Everything will be wrapped up in a month, which is just in time for me to leave the country and enjoy the fruits of my labor from 4000 miles away. I tried to keep all the tasks in a logical order (dust before I sweep, sweep before I vacuum, etc) and I front-loaded a lot of the work so I can harness the power of my cleaning urge now before my enthusiasm for cleaning supplies dwindles. Hope this helps you organize your spring cleaning!

spring cleaning flower tulips clean flower

Week 1
Clean baseboards
Dust the whole house
Windex glass doors and surfaces
Clean oven
Clean microwave

Week 2
Clean stainless steel appliances
Clean cabinets
Wash and seal countertops
Hand-wash wood floors

Week 3
Vacuum all rugs
Hand-wash tile floors
Wash towels, rags and sheets

Week 4
Clean bathrooms
Sweep and wash front porch

And as a reward for scrolling all the way down, here's a bonus adorable cat photo just for you! Finn says "See you next week!"

black cat sunbathe sun kitten chair fur

Spring Style Inspiration

Sunday, March 11, 2018
So I've got a question. At what point does wishful thinking really just mean blatant disregard for reality? Because yeah, it's March now and yeah, that probably means nice weather and springtime for most places, but I'm in Nebraska. While it might be 60 degrees and gorgeous today, tomorrow it's supposed to be a high of 38. I want so badly to jump into Spring fashion and try to will more sunshine filled days with my fun new outfits, but the crazy weather fluctuations have battered my spirit and I'm feeling a little vulnerable over here. To bare my ankles or to hide away under all my layers, that is the question.

Since this transitional period has left me a little timid, I've been living vicariously through the internet (don't we all?). Partially because I'm daydreaming of the sun on my skin, but also so I can start planning my Spring wardrobe. Like I've mentioned before, I try to build a capsule wardrobe each season, รก la Anuschka Rees. Part of that planning process is discovering your tastes for the season, figuring out what kind of outfits you'll want to create, and seeing patterns in those styles so you can create a sensible shopping list if necessary. I've just about wrapped up my planning session for this season, so it's time to share what I've been into!

(Note: all pictures have come from Pinterest and belong entirely to the original creators, not me!)

Colors & Patterns

brown coat beige sweater cream pants fashion style spring

After wearing all black everything more days than not for the last few months, I've been gravitating toward a lot of lighter colors. Creams, whites, light grays and khakis are all over my inspiration board this Spring. Even when darker colors pop up, they're not full-on, saturated black, but instead they're dark browns or navy blues. I still tend to avoid really bright or saturated colors -- some things just don't change that much. Set me up with some earthy neutrals over jewel tones any day, thanks.

checked long line blazer

In the past, patterns didn't really play a huge role in my style, but I still am loving the checked pattern that I've been wearing to death in my winter capsule. As Spring warms up, the blazer might be a bit too heavy but I can definitely see the same pattern making its way into some shorts or pants.

ribbed cream cardigan tortoiseshell button white jeans denim

blazer denim jeans straight leg sock boot tortoiseshell button

I've also really become obsessed with all things tortoiseshell. I want it everywhere! On sunglasses, hair accessories, earrings, shoes, buttons -- especially buttons. I don't know why but big tortoiseshell buttons on a cream cardigan is a look that has just been permanently seared into my brain lately. If left unchecked I might soon be found wandering the streets clutching tortoiseshell accessories and muttering 'my preeeeciousss' over and over. Stay tuned for that.

Textures & Fabrics

ribbed turtleneck roll neck sweater fine light knit long sleeve spring style

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention my love for ribbed knits that has seemingly come out of nowhere. My current theory is that a ribbed finer knit is Spring's answer to Winter's chunky knit, which I was also very into. Ribbed, long sleeve, neutral-colored lighter knits I can already tell are going to be my rock this season. They're practical, easy to wear, and go with everything, but they also provide a little visual interest with their unique texture. That's a quality I'm always on the lookout for when the majority of my wardrobe is made up of basics.

silk shirt button up down satin high rise denim jeans mid wash blue

For more visual interest I am also looking to really shiny satin to give an everyday Spring look a little extra juice. I'm just dying for luxurious, silky, fluid feel after hiding under a bunch of wool layers, even if they are cashmere, for the last few months. Give me a nice shiny button up in a light sand or brown and I'll be in heaven.

high waisted denim mid wash blue straight leg jean

Finally, I pretty much plan on pairing all of this with either some high-waisted, thicker, ankle-bearing, mid blue straight leg jeans (phew, a lot of adjectives) or some cream colored denim. My poor black jeans are actually wearing a hole in the crotch (the dreaded chub rub) so I'm sure they're delighted to be retired and I know I'm excited by the possibilities having more than one jean color will open up. So many new outfit combinations! I'm sure my coworkers will be shocked to see me wearing my own version of a "brightly colored" outfit, but I'm sure they'll get used to it...

Shopping List

All of this time I spend figuring out what exactly I'm lusting after is only useful when it starts directly translating into what pieces I will need to create the looks I'm going for. Luckily a lot of the looks I want to create this season already utilize a lot of items I have in my wardrobe, so I'll be pulling several items out of storage -- Welcome back my beautiful loafers and stock piles of white crew neck t-shirts. I obviously can't go buying up every trend I'm loving at the moment so here are the top things I'm looking for to start my Spring capsule:

1. High waisted, mid blue, cropped straight leg jeans. So far I'm leaning toward these at Topshop.
2. Cream bottoms. Probably denim because I'm lazy, but maybe a lighter fabric if the right pair comes along.
3. A ribbed, long sleeve, light weight neutral colored knit. Preferably in the cream to brown range.
4. A shiny satin button up, also neutral.
5. Anything tortoiseshell.

I'll go hit the shops (aka not leave the comfort of my couch and instead shop entirely online most likely) and share what I find!

Book Review: The Other Woman - Jane Greene

Sunday, March 4, 2018
You can thank this ice storm I'm currently trapped in for this book review, because without it I probably wouldn't have slowed down long enough during this crazy month to actually finish this book. Mother Nature has spoken, and instead of more house renovations, I spent a nice afternoon under a blanket with a cuppa and two cuddly kittens finishing up my latest chick lit read.

the other woman jane green book review summary rating novel cat loafers blue jeans gold mesh watch

In The Other Woman by Jane Green, Ellie, the career oriented, super chic protagonist, and Dan have been dating for awhile now and things are going great. They've just moved in together and now it's time for Ellie to meet Dan's family. Ellie's mother died when she was young and her relationship with her father has been strained ever since, so she's eager to become part of a big happy family. She quickly realizes that Dan's mother Linda believes he can do no wrong, and that Linda wants to be just as involved in Ellie's life as she is in Dan's. The book progresses through major milestones in Dan and Ellie's relationship -- engagement, wedding, pregnancy, new parenthood and new friendships -- and through it all, Linda involves herself as much as possible. The trouble really starts when there's an accident and Linda is to blame. Ellie must figure out how to balance her independence, relationship with her own husband and child, as well as with her mother-in-law before things end up broken beyond repair.

the other woman jane green book review summary rating novel book shelf gold frame picture painting library books

I've read several Jane Green novels, and I have to say, this is my least favorite one. For better or for worse (heh, puns), I assumed from the summary on the back of this book that the main focus was going to be Ellie and Dan's engagement and wedding. Once we sped right past that and into pregnancy within the first third of the book I was really wondering where the story was going. It felt rushed -- like I hardly had any time to get to know the main character before Green was introducing new babies and friends. The story settled into itself a bit more once Ellie and Dan's baby was about a year old, which ultimately left me feeling like the first part was too lengthy to be general backstory but too rushed along to be a real focus of the plot.

The main character also just rubbed me the wrong way. Sometimes she was described as a smoothed out, conservatively chic powerful woman, and other times she reminisced about her party girl ways and one night stands. The reader never really gets a sense of what led to such a change in personality. Then, once the mother-in-law dynamic is introduced, we're meant to believe that this high powered career woman can be so easily manipulated and annoyed by her finance's mother and won't stand up for herself at all? Something doesn't add up. To top it all off, I didn't even think the things Ellie was supposed to be mad about or annoyed by were even that bad. I think the reader was supposed to chock it up to the fact the Ellie had no mother-daughter experience of her own, but that wasn't enough for me.

the other woman jane green book review summary rating novel black walls pink chair

Finally, the friendships in this book seemed flat. The few friends Ellie has at the beginning are mere wisps of characters that basically just disappear. The two friendships she makes after having her baby are more developed, bit they still seem to be missing a genuine connection. Ellie spends quite a bit of time either finding faults in her friends on her own or discussing those faults of one friend with another. While I realize no friendship is without those small annoyances, I still don't want that to be portrayed as one of the most prominent features of a character's relationships. Sure, this book was written in 2005 but it's 2018 now and I think we can all agree we'd rather see women supporting each other rather than picking apart each others' flaws.

the other woman jane green book review summary rating novel gold watch bedside table ring rings

In the end, this book was a lot different than I expected it to be, both plot-wise and character-wise. The main focus was on family relationships rather than romance or even female friendships. Of course it ended happily, which isn't surprising, but everything in between seemed quite angry. While the topic itself has potential, I think it ultimately lacked the heart and depth needed to pull it off.

2.5 out of 5 stars.