Tuesday, May 31, 2011

[Featured at Make & Take] Tea-cup Cupcakes

Featured at Make and Takes

Check out Make & Takes for more details from the tea-party!

And as for me, I will tell you how to make these adorable little tea-cup cupcakes! The idea wasn't mine, however I didn't ever bookmark the blog I did see them, so I have no idea the blog site! I'm sorry! If it was you, let me know so I can give credit where due!

What you need:
Ice-cream cone "cups" variety
Shortbread cookies
Peachy-Os candy rings

Box of cake mix--baked according to directions into mini-cupcakes
White Chocolate

Cut the bottoms off the ice-cream cones, creating the cup look. Use the icing like glue, and "glue" the cup to the cookie. Peal the paper off the mini cup cakes and place in the center of ice-cream cone cup. Top it off with icing. For the decorations on top, pipe white chocolate into desired shapes and sprinkle with the colored sugar. Freeze for 15 minutes, then place on the icing. Cut the peachy-o rings in half and stick them to the side of the cups.

[do not make more than a day ahead--the cones will get soggy!]

And there you go! A perfect treat for the tea-party girls!

Monday, May 30, 2011

PMM #2: Grilled Catfish

There has been cases of thievery in the blog world. Start adding watermarks to your images (if you haven't already)! 733 Blog gives a very easy tutorial on how to if you don't know.

[Got that image from HERE]
This is me and my husband 8 years ago. Thats my Hero.
Getting his commissioning (pinning him) after college.
My, have times changed us.
This was from our Ball last year

Ok, so the linky site is supposed to be paid for after your trial is over. And I'm too cheap to pay for it. I know, maybe some other time I will. So I'm still going to have my "Penny-Meal Mondays" and if you have one you would like to share, link it up in a comment. Thanks for understanding my friends!

And, of course, this week's "Penny-Meal" isn't really things I have on hand. Its more planned, but very cheap.

6 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 catfish fillets 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1 lemon, sliced into rings

In a large Ziploc, combine lemon juice, butter and Worcestershire sauce. Add the fish; seal a refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Drain and discard marinade. Sprinkle fish with salt and lemon-pepper.

Spray the grill with cooking oil. Grill fish, covered, over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes on each side, or until fish flakes easily. [Cook with lemon slices on top of fish]

Serve with:

1 large squash, cut into rings 
2 large zucchinis, cut into rings
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 to 2 teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning

In a large bowl, toss squash and zucchini in butter and sprinkle lemon-pepper seasoning over top.

Grill, at the same time as fish, for 10 minutes or until soft, with lemon slices [from fish] mixed in.

Serve everything over white rice!

COST: Catfish fillets: $4.75; squash & zucchini: $1.00 (summer sale!); Rice: "free"--whatever in pantry
TOTAL: $5.75 for a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children)

Cookin' for my Captain
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.cookinformycaptain.blogspot.com" title="Cookin' for my Captain"><img src="http://x00.xanga.com/edcf956300333276855046/t220581120.jpg" alt="Cookin' for my Captain" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Featured at Makobi Scribe

I'm featured today at Makobi Scribe! I wrote an article about the area I live in. Hope over there and check it out!

Natural Springs

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Grilled Pocket - Peaches

This is super easy. No need to mess with the measuring. E-A-S-Y. 

1. Grab 2 peaches, cut in half and remove the pit.

2. Layer 2 sheets (12-by-12 inch) heavy-duty foil. Place both peach halves on top.

3. On each peach: sprinkle with a few blueberries, spoon of brown sugar, a teaspoon-ish of butter, and a dash of lemon juice.

4. Roll up the foil and seal tightly.

5. Grill, covered, on med-low heat (top shelf if cooking meat at same time) for about 20 minutes. Open carefully to let steam escape!

This is finger-licking good!

~Cook 1 whole peach per person. (a peach-pocket each!)

~I made "boats" with the foil, so no need to dirty a plate.

~Also a great idea for a grill-out!

Friday, May 27, 2011

FBF: German Chocolate Cake

~~I'm looking for some co-hosts for this linky next week. If interested, please leave comment so I can get in touch with you!~~


I like routine. I also like control. Have a routine, stay in control. Some people call it weird. I call it effective.

So on Fridays, I'm gonna do a "flash-back" to some of my very first posts. I know the majority of my followers are fairly recent, so I just wanna highlight a few old recipes ya'll might not have seen. (yes, I just said ya'll!)

One of my husband and I's favorite all-time dessert.


Click on picture to see full post
I know everyone has old posts that not many have seen, including me! So please join the party and link up your old posts! I'm so looking forward to this!
~Please only 1 or 2 entries.
~Link directly to your old post, not just your blog
~Hop around and check out everyone's old post, comment too!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Flank Steak Pinwheels

**as for the issues I had yesterday...I got confused between "following" and "subscribing". Even if you've noticed i'm not "following" you anymore, I'm still seeing your stuff through the subscription. With Google reader, it makes it possible. So you won't have that problem--click on "subscribe by RRS" [where I have the 'follow me this way' on the left column] with the orange funny icon.**

**Thank you everyone who has "followed" my craft blog. Its not "officially" up yet, so don't expect much yet =) But I do appreciate it! I don't do crafts as often as I cook, just a disclaimer. LOL Its still under much construction!**
Ok, if the kabobs haven't gotten you in the mood for grilling--this WILL. And don't just do the pinwheels. Do the pinwheels, cheese sauce AND fettuccine noodles. Trust me on this one, please?


8 bacon strips
1 beef flank steak (around 1-1/2 lbs)
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1 jar (7 oz) roasted sweet red peppers, drained

Place bacon strips wrapped in paper towels, and cook for 2 minutes or until partially cooked.

Cut steak horizontally from long side to within 1/2 inch of opposite side. Open meat so it lies flat.

Place spinach over steak within 1/2 inch of border; top with red peppers.

With the grain of meat going from left to right, roll up jelly-roll style. Wrap bacon strips around the beef and secure with toothpicks. Slice beef across the grain into eight (about) slices.

Grill, covered, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until meat reaches desired doneness.

Discard toothpicks before serving.

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup 2% milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

In a small saucepan, combine the cream cheese, milk, butter and pepper. Cook and stir consistently over low heat just until smooth (do not boil!). Off heat, stir in blue cheese.
~Put a good size spoon full of the cheese sauce on the plate, and place pinwheel on top.

~Serve with fettuccine noodles tossed in a little butter. The noodles soak up the extra blue cheese, and its D-E-V-I-N-E!

~This is a great party grill-out dish. Just prep ahead of time and pop them on the grill when guests arrive.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blogger Problems

Hey friends! So, Blogger sent me a message that I cannot follow more than 300...? Is there a way to change this, or am I stuck? PLEASE HELP!

So in the  meantime, if i posted a comment on you that I was following, and you number didn't increase (haha) its me. I haven't forgotten, just trying to figure out a solution.

This is so aggravating!

I'm beyond frustrated. I apologize now if i've "unfollowed" you...I'm trying to subscribe more, and less "follow"....I dunno. This is giving me a headache.

So leave a comment if i'm not following you anymore and you would like me to.

Wordless Wednesday


Proof my kids loved the kabobs!

 Blog hops:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Polynesian Sausage Kabobs

I'll put up "Penny-Meal Mondays" linky again next week. Hopefully more will link up! 

Also, I'm doing a hop on Friday called "Flash-back Fridays" in which you link up a very old post from the past! That should be very fun! 

DON'T FORGET: I'm still looking for a blog or 2 that would like to co-host a hop! Leave me a message if interested!
This was an absolutely FANTASTIC dish for camping or just grilling out at a campground. We went to our favorite "fishin' hole" and while husband and kids fished, I whipped these bad boys up. Ok, so I didn't just whip them up, there was some planning. But totally worth it. TRUST ME.


1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup soy sauce (I ran out and only had 1/4 cup--and it worked just fine)
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 pounds kielbasa sausage, cut into 1 to 1-1/2 inch pieces

1 small pineapple, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small cantaloupe, cut into 1-inch cubes (or with "melon-baller" tool)
1 medium green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

In a large bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients. Set aside 1/4 to 1/3 of marinade for basting (cover and refrigerate).  Pour remaining marinade into a large ziploc and add sausage. Seal bag and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.

Drain and discard the marinade from the sausage. On metal skewer, add pieces of sausage, fruit and green pepper. Grill, uncovered, over med-heat for 10 minutes or until sausage is browned, turning and basting (with reserve marinade) frequently.

I had each "item" in different Tupperware bowls, and when we got to our spot, assembled the skewers.

This is so good--the sausage just melts in your mouth. The "blackened" edges were even delicious!

And after 3 minutes, my tray looked like this:

Monday, May 23, 2011

PMM #1 {{{Hop & linky}}}

**These can be FUN MEALS or INDIVIDUAL dishes to add on the linky! And it doesn't have to be like $3 cheap--just a dish that is fairly inexpensive!**

So this is something I've decided to start on my blog. PENNY-MEAL MONDAY. Don't you even have that night when its the day before pay-day, and there is nothing to cook? I always have these meals on hand in case that happens. I always have the ingredients. And if I don't, I can scrape up money from the couch cushions and get. Hence the name: Penny Meals.

~~I'm looking for some co-hosts for this linky next week. If interested, please leave comment so I can get in touch with you!~~ 

Cookin' for my Captain
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.cookinformycaptain.blogspot.com" title="Cookin' for my Captain"><img src="http://x00.xanga.com/edcf956300333276855046/t220581120.jpg" alt="Cookin' for my Captain" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Here is one of my favorites. I have many, so please check back next week for another one! Who knows when you might need it to save the day.
Pasta Roni: (10/$10 sale) = $1.00
Can veggie: $0.75 [corn is just what I had tonight, but any family fav veg will work!]
Polish Kielbasa Sausage: (huge value pack was $6, split into normal portions) = $1.50
TOTAL: $3.25 for a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children)

IMG_7247 (800x800)
How do I make this? 
Pasta: according to directions (5 minutes)
Sausage: Cut in sections, then in half. Spread BBQ sauce over it and cook on grill, or grill pan.
Veggie: Drain, dab with butter and garlic salt and pop into microwave for 2 minutes.
[variations: mac-n-cheese instead of pasta]

Some might think this is retarded, but it has saved me so many times. And my kids gobble this up like their life depends on it.
So please share you penny-meal recipe with me and everyone else!

1. Grab my button and put it on you blog (optional--but would be really nice)
2. Be a follow of me via GFC
3. Link up your penny-meals, as many as you would like!
4. Please no giveaways or other linkys
5. This linky opens up May 22nd, 6pm central times and close May 24th, midnight central time.
6. Jump around and leave comments on others linked up.
7. I'll choose my favorite and share them (with your blog) the following week.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Banana Nut Bread

I've used this recipe for yeaarrrrrsssss now. My aunt gave it to me in college, and I don't use any other recipe. This one is perfect. Enjoy!



1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 -4 really ripe bananas
pinch of salt
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together first 6 ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gradually mix the flour mixture into the banana mixture. And pecans (optional).

Pour equally into 2 greased glass loaf pans. Metal pans might need different cooking time, I've "perfected" this using glass. So make sure you keep an eye on it while cooking if you do use metal.

Cook for 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then invert them on wire rack to cool. Eat. Or freeze--this is excellent for freezing then thawing! But most importantly--ENJOY!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spinach and Turkey Pie

So I had this fabulous dish planned to share. The day I made it, terrible storms were passing through, so I had no natural light, so the picture really sucks. I was hopping that this post would be soooooo awesome that everyone would bypass the picture...until I sat down to write it out and I can't find the recipe. And its one I found in a magazine ages ago so no "internet look up" possible. And I did try. Its from a magazine called "Anyone can cook."

So what now? Just post the picture and say "haha look what I made and you can't!"? Ya, your right, I should.

IMG_7198 (950x950)

What it has in it: 1 box of angel hair noodles, 2 cups of turkey (chopped) 2 boxes of frozen (thawed and drained) spinach, 3 eggs, so milk, salt, and mozzarella cheese....bake for 50 minutes....

So If you are determined to make this, I'm pretty sure that was all that I used in it. I tripled it and gave some to my neighbor who moving. But the ingredients I listed are for 1 pan. So its easy to multiply.

I'm sorry my friends, that was the best I could do. Hopefully it won't happen again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday



Mmmmmmmmmmm Sprinnnnnng!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Orange Jam & OLB Award

I thought I had already posted this--but since blogger went hay-wire, not really sure what happened. So, if you have seen this already, I'm sorry! Blame blogger. And my kids. Then comment again. LOL Just kidding.

Also, keep reading and scrolling down! I received an award from Joy of Desserts and want to pass along this award to several blogs that I read!

I had a bunch of oranges in my fridge, and wanted to try making it jam like the strawberries. So I made this EXACTLY like the other kind--using the same measurements.


6 good sized oranges
7 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 package of pectin
4-6 mason jars

Boil a large pot of water with mason jars lids. After a few minutes, remove lids and pour water into mason jars to keep them warm.

Peel and remove skins and pith from oranges. (no white at all!) Cut up oranges into big chunks. Place in a large pot and start cooking them over med-high heat. Add the sugar after about 5 to 7 minutes (add the butter about 4 minutes into it). Cook until sugar is dissolved and mixture is boiling.

Dump the water out of mason jars (careful! very hot!) and using a ladle, fill jars up to the lip. Wipe the threads clean and seal with the lids.

Turn them upside down for 5 minutes (enough time to clean up). Turn back upright and let cool on the counter. You will hear a loud "pop" when its all sealed! Enjoy on  a toasted English muffin or toast!


Thank you so much Joy from Joy of Desserts! This is actually my very FIRST award! Needless to say, it brought a huge smile to my face and what an honor it is! *happy dance* I love Joy's blog as well! I can always count on a fun blog hop, no matter which day it is, and it's guaranteed to add 5 lbs to your butt every time [there is that many good sweets!]. Such a SWEET gal--make sure you stop by and tell her I sent you! ;)

Thank you so much, Joy!
 Rules for accepting the award:
1. Post linking back to the person that gave you the award
2. Share 7 random things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered blogs
4. Drop them a note and tell them about it.

Now its time to share 7 random things about me:
  1. Today, this very day, my husband and I celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary!
  2. I LOVE the smell of fresh herbs, and would prefer a herb bouquet over a flower bouquet.
  3. I try to run anywhere between 2 and 4 miles a day..I gotta keep my butt from expanding, somehow.
  4. I've never lived on the west coast, but I have lived in 7 different states (12 different places) since married.
  5. I cannot function without coffee in the mornings, but I'm trying to broaden my horizons with fresh herb tea.
  6. I'm a huge cat fanatic. Don't bring a dog around me, and for heavens sake, if your dog poops--PICK IT UP...I don't care if you have to do it bare-handed.
  7. I absolutely love the Military life-style. I love change and accept it with arm wide open. Don't ask where you think we'll be next year, we will never know. =)
And I like these 17 wonderful bloggers [the list is quite a bit longer, but could only put 15. I'm a rule-follower]:

2. A Well Seasoned Life
3. Susie B. Homemaker
4. Bacon Time with the Hungry Hypo
5. Boobies, Babies, & a Blog [you'll see "Boobies" when she leaves a comment--cracks me up EVERY TIME]
6. Confessions of a Marine Wife
7. Le Chateau des Flours by Frenchy
8. GI Joes Wife
9. Grandma's Guide to Life
10. Cooking Mimi
11. There's a Newf in My Soup
12. The Country Cook
13. Kerrific Online
14. Semper Wifey
15. Mommy's online garage sale

Monday, May 16, 2011

Creole Seasoning & Lousiana White Rice

And to go with that amazing GUMBO...


2 tablespoons celery salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon  garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground allspice

Mix together all spices in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Store up to six months.



1 tablespoon chicken fat, extra-virgin olive oil, or butter
1 small onion, minced
1½ cups Louisiana rice (or another long-grain white rice)
3 cups Basic Chicken Stock
1 bay leaf
1-2 pinches salt

1. Put the fat, oil, or butter and the onions into a medium saucepan and sweat the onions over moderate heat until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Pour the rice into the pan and stir for 2 minutes.
3. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
4. Add the bay leaf and salt.
5. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 18 minutes.
6. Remove the pan from the heat, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

DK Challenge: Chicken & Sausage GUMBO

Oh yes, you read that right. GUMBO! This was hard for me to get started. My husband was raised in the south, and on Gumbo, the real stuff. He's made it several times, and it was never "my cup of tea." He did his with shrimp (and I'm allergic to iodine) and okra that was super slimy. I was thrilled to see the "Chicken & Smoked Sausage" recipe. But still, I have some big boots to fill! So here it is my friends! **drum roll please!**
Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.


~I've added my thoughts in [ ] and bold and blue~

1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) rendered chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil [I used the oil]
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) flour
2 large onions, diced
1 chicken (3 ½ to 4 lbs.), cut into 10 pieces
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) Basic Creole Spices, or store-bought Creole spice blend [I made mine--come back Monday to see how]
2 pounds (2 kilograms) spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch (15mm) thick
2 stalks celery, diced
2 green bell peppers (capsicum), seeded and diced
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme [yeah! from my garden!]
3 quarts (3 liters) Basic Chicken Stock (recipe follows), or canned chicken stock [canned taste great too!]
2 bay leaves
6 ounces (175 gm) andouille sausage, chopped [this CAN be found! I found it with the other sausage/hot dog section at grocery store]
2 cups (480 ml) (320 gm) (11 oz) sliced fresh okra, ½ -inch (15mm) thick slices (or frozen, if fresh is not available) [I used frozen, taste just like fresh to me!]
1 tablespoon (15 ml) Worcestershire sauce
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Filé powder, to taste [couldn't find it, so left it out]
Tabasco, to taste [no thank you! it has enough "kick" already]
4-6 cups (1 – 1½ liters) (650 gm – 950 gm) cooked Basic Louisiana White Rice [check back Monday!]
1. Prepare homemade chicken stock, if using (recipe below). [I just used store-bough stuff]
2. Prepare homemade Basic Creole Spices, if using.
3. Season the chicken pieces with about 2 tablespoons of the Creole Spices while you prepare the vegetables.
4. Make sure all of your vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning. [do not mix the onions with the other veggies--they go in at different times]
5. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes. [mine turned out to look like refried beans at about 7 minutes, so I added chicken stock to try to fix it and continued to next step]
6. Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes. [again, mine didn't...so just kept going...]
7. Add the chicken to the pot; raise the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
8. Add the sliced smoked sausage and stir for about a minute.
9. Add the celery, bell peppers, tomato, and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.
10. Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.
11. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.
12. Add the chopped andouille, okra, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco, all to taste. [I also took out the big chunks of the chicken and shredded them up with forks and then put them back in--I like the idea of eating gumbo with big chunks of chicken instead of bones]
13. Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. Pass more filé powder at the table if desired.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Baked Cheesy Mac

This is NOT your normal macaroni and cheese! That's right, its Paula Deen's! Its also baked. I know, it keeps getting better and better! Just wait until you try it ;)


4 cups cooked elbow macaroni, drained
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Once you have the macaroni cooked and drained, place in large bowl and while still hot add the cheddar.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and add to the macaroni mixture. Pour mac mixture into a greased casserole dish and bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Top with additional cheese (optional).


~ I like to sprinkle bread crumbs over top (Italian seasoned). It adds a little crunch!

~This is perfect for doubling up on!

~I like to use the block cheddar cheese, it seems to melt better and blend better with the other flavors.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Just a little tease! Tea Party ideas coming soon!

Blog hops...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wedge Salad

I've seen this done at a few restaurants, and absolutely loved it! It defiantly impresses the guests and you can take a spin with it and change the ingredients.


1 head of lettuce
Cherry tomatoes
Ranch dressing
Bacon bits

Rinse and clean the head of lettuce. Then pound the "knot" on the counter and remove it. Then cut the head of lettuce into quarters. Remove a little bit of the inside "layers" to create a crevasse for the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes and drizzle with ranch dressing. Sprinkle with bacon bits to top it off!

Next salad, I will use strawberries instead of tomatoes, and the poppyseed-vinaigrette from the strawberry salad, instead of ranch. Sprinkled with chopped almonds. (I will take a picture and post it if it is irresistible!)


A great Tuesday blog hop!

BWS tips button

Monday, May 9, 2011

Compost Pile

What is composting?
The art of composting has been part of our global culture since ancient times. The basic principles are quite simple, and adhering to them will result in an efficient and successful outcome. Studies have shown that home composting can divert an average of 700 lbs. of material per household per year from the waste stream. Municipal composting carries a greater environmental cost, but not nearly as high as if leaf and yard waste are disposed of by conventional means. Composting is an excellent way to avoid both wasting useful, natural resources and creating environmental problems, while at the same time producing a high quality and inexpensive soil amendment.

Composting is the transformation of organic material (plant matter) through decomposition into a soil-like material called compost. Invertebrates (insects and earthworms), and microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) help in transforming the material into compost. Composting is a natural form of recycling, which continually occurs in nature.

We decided to start our own compost pile! We've been reading all over the internet on different ideas, materials, and different tip and tricks.

I'll start with the "bones" of the operation. We used a 50 gallon bin that we got from a hardware store and drill 1/4 inch holes all over. Then placed it on a few wood blocks so air can circulate all around.

We set it by the woods, in case it "smells" (its not really suppose to though, its just in case). We are worried about animals, so we kept the holes small, and the lid locks tightly to the container. We'll add bungee cords as well once we start adding to it.

Here are a few bits of information that we found and will be using.

  1. Obtain a plastic storage bin. Plastic storage bins are available just about everywhere, and most of us have at least one of them in our basement or garage. The bigger the storage bin is, the better. The bin you decide to use for composting should be no smaller than 18 gallons. The bin must have a lid. If you are able to obtain a second lid, this would be perfect to catch the liquid that leaches out of the bin. Otherwise, this nutrient-filled liquid will just be wasted.
  2. Prepare the bin. You need to have air circulating around your compost to help it decompose faster. To manage this in a plastic bin, you will have to drill holes in the bin. It really doesn't matter what size drill bit you use, as long as you drill plenty of holes. Space them one to two inches apart, on all sides, bottom, and lid. If you use a large spade or hole-cutting drill bit, you may want to line the interior of the bin with wire mesh or hardware cloth to keep rodents out.
  3. Place your bin in a convenient spot. Because this bin is so small, it will fit just about anywhere. If you are a yardless gardener, a patio, porch, or balcony will work just fine. If you have plenty of space, consider putting it outside the kitchen door so that you can compost kitchen scraps easily, or near your vegetable garden so that you can toss weeds or trimmings into it. It can also go inside a garage or storage shed if you'd rather not look at it.
  4. Filling the bin. Anything you would throw in a normal compost pile, you can throw into your storage container composter: leaves, weeds, fruit and vegetable peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, and grass clippings all work well. Anything you put into the storage bin composter should be chopped fairly small so it will break down quicker in the small space. Fruit and vegetable trimmings can be chopped small with a knife, or run through a blender or food processor to break them down. Chop leaves by running a lawn mower over them a few times. Crush eggshells finely so they will break down faster.

  1. Gather all grass clippings and green yard waste but be sure to mix with the "brown" materials like leaves and shredded paper to add carbon. You will need both, but if you only add grass clippings your pile will compact and start to stink.
  2. Do not compost meats or pet droppings. Stick with food scraps and yard waste only.
  3. Avoid all pesticides and/or herbicide treated material.
  4. If you add weeds to your pile make sure your pile is good and hot. It should be steaming hot, not just warm otherwise it may not kill the seeds.
  5. Turn your pile as often as you can. Each time you turn it will speed up the process.
  6. Keep your compost damp but not wet. As you add material to your pile make sure that each layer is moist as it is added. During the summer your pile will dry out and the composting process will slow down.
  7. Got too much material to compost? Make a second or third pile. Stop adding material to a pile that is underway and start a new pile. This will insure you get a chance to use the compost this season.
  8. Add compost to your garden a few weeks before you plant. Let the compost have a chance to work into the soil. Try to mix it in and let it sit before you plant.
  9. Bugs, worms and most bugs are ok. No need to go crazy trying to keep bugs out of your compost.
  10. Since the compost process works best at temperature between 120 and 150 degrees composting in the warmer months is easier to do, if this is your first attempt at composting best to try in the summer.

Making the Compost Pile
Start with a 4 inch layer of brush, twigs, hay or straw at the bottom of the compost bin. If you don't have these materials, dry leaves will do. This first layer should be as coarse as possible to allow air to be drawn up into the pile from the bottom of the bin.

Then add a 4 inch layer of brown material, then a thin covering of finished compost or good garden soil. That's one layer. The addition of compost or soil is to provide the necessary bacteria to get the compost to start breaking down. If we don't add this layer the compost will still work, the addition just helps to speed things along.

Then add a 4 inch layer of green material topped with a thin layer of an activator. Activators are a source of both nitrogen and protein, ingredients that assist the organisms to break down the material. There are a number of good activators. Alfalfa meal works amazingly well. You can also use fresh manure, bone meal, blood meal, cottonseed meal, or even high-protein dry dog food (yes, that's right, dog food!).
Continue adding materials in alternating layers of greens and browns until the compost bin is full.

Turning the Compost Pile
If the pile has been made correctly the internal temperature should reach about 140° F within 7-10 days. Ideally, the pile should heat up to 160° F so that any weed seeds and pathogens will be destroyed. A compost thermometer is a helpful tool to use at this stage. Since the bacteria need air to survive they will start to die off after a week or so as they start to use up the available air in the pile. This drop in the amount of bacteria will result in the compost pile cooling off a bit from it's peak temperature. When this happens it's time to turn the pile to get more air into it.

When turning your compost pile, move the drier material from the outer edges into the center of the pile and break up any clumps of leaves or grass clippings to ensure that you get as much air into the pile as you can. Moisten any of the materials as you go, if they seem too dry.

From this point on you should turn the pile every 14 days or so, or when you see the temperature fall from the next peak in temperature of about 110° - 120° F. In general, the more you turn the pile the faster you will have finished compost. If you're using a plastic compost bin, an aerator tool will make the job of turning much easier. A garden fork is often the best tool for turning compost in an open style bin.

I got this information from these site:
Compost Info Guide
How to Compost
Organic Composting

Each time I add to the compost, I'll post it on the blog. That way I have record of what we did and if something goes "wrong" its more likely to be pointed out. Also, for all my wonderful readers, in case someone else is inspired to do one as well! 

I will say its so much better and easier when my husband wants to as much as me--and that way I can get HIM to stir it =)

Happy Composting!
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