Worm Bin

I made myself a worm bin!

It all started, many years ago, when my college roommate and I spent an unreasonable amount of time looking at worm bins at the state fair. We eventually made the wise decision that spending over a hundred dollars on a worm bin for our college dorm wasn’t the bestest idea ever.

Much more recently, I was browsing the internet looking at gardening things and wondering what the best medium would be to grow things in for my container garden. I would love to compost – but traditional composting isn’t really feasible in an apartment. But vermicomposting is!

I did a an excessive amount of research and decided to build my own bin instead of buying pre-made. Partially because of cost, partially because of custimizablity. Space is at a premium and I really wanted to make sure my bin could fit under my sink.

I took my measurements, and a measuring tape, and went shopping. I got two identical bins for under six dollars each. Opaque, because light is not good for worms.

I drilled some holes in the bottom of one bin for drainage and in one lid for air. The bin with the drainage holes nests inside the other one.

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I prepared bedding for my worms by tearing up a bunch of newspaper and wetting it down. I also threw in a handful of dirt and some leaves fallen from my potted plants.

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I ordered my worms online, and waited impatiently. The box my worms came in was kind of beat up, and I was a little worried about my poor worms, but they were just fine. When I opened the bag they were wriggling all over the place.

I dumped my worms into their new home, and added a bit more water to moisten their travel bedding.

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Now I just have to let them settle in to their new home then I can start feeding them scraps!

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About $12 for the bins, $36.94 for the worms, a borrowed drill, and shredded news paper. Overall, by worm bin cost me under $50.

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Cheap, Easy Drip Irrigation

Here’s a puzzle: Given a patio full of thirsty plants, how do I keep them all watered?

I started out the usual way, hauling buckets, and watering each plant.But, as the weather got hotter and the plants got bigger (and I kept adding more plants), they needed a lot of water. Eventually I was using two five-gallon pails each morning, and some of my plants were dry by evening. I didn’t even get a reprieve when the weather was wet; my patio has a full roof so the plants barely get any water from the rain.

I got tired if not being able to skip a day, and worried about my plants surviving if I was out of town for a few days.

I started looking into drip irrigation. The main problem here is that most of those systems hook up to a hose, and I don’t have an outdoor faucet. The systems I found with a reservoir required putting the water tank higher than the plants. That is difficult when the plants that dry out most quickly are hanging or on the patio rails. Even if I rigged something high enough and stable enough, I would still have trouble lifting buckets of water high enough to fill it.

Also, a lot of those systems are expensive.

I found some automatically watering examples where you put a reservoir higher than the plant, then run a cotton string from the water to the plant. I tried this a few places with mixed results. It worked a couple places, but usually the string would just dry out. I never managed to isolate the conditions that determined if it would work or fail.

I came across a few products that attach to the mouth of a bottle. You would fill the bottle, screw one of these on, then shove the bottle upside down in the pot. After looking into those, I realized that all they provided was a small hole for the water to drip out of. I have straight pins – I can make my own holes!

I could poke a hole in the lid of a bottle, but then I would have to pull the bottle out every time I needed to fill it. So, I poked a couple of holes in the bottom of the bottles, pressed them as far into the pots as I could, and filled them up with water. I found that if I left the lid on, I needed to also make a hole near the top of the bottle. Other than that, it worked beautifully.

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In the beginning, I screwed the lids back on every bottle every time, to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in them. Eventually, I just left the lids off and let the run completely dry a couple times a week. With the lids off, it’s easy to fill the bottles with a watering can.

There were some pots where I couldn’t get the bottles down in far enough into the dirt to keep them from tipping over. For those I poked holes in the side of the bottles, kept the lid on, and set them in the pots sideways. I put two holes in the side facing the dirt and one on the side that would be facing up. Next year I will be incorporating the bottles into the soil as I fill the pots.

I had mixed results with half gallon milk jugs. When they worked they were great: good stability and good size. But, the holes tended to close up or get clogged more easily than other bottles.

Another thing that worked really well was plastic baggies. Fill with water, poke a hole in one of the sides, and set on the soil. It is a great short term solution, but long term the baggies got kind of gross, with stuff growing in them.

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The biggest challenge was my topsy turvy planter. I especially wanted to set up the self watering for this, because I was having a hard time giving it the right amount of water. It was tricky, because there wasn’t enough open soil at the top to fit a water bottle. If I used a container that mostly set on the plastic, the hole wouldn’t touch the soil and it wouldn’t drip right.

So, I built a specially shaped water-er. I cut the top off of a party favor size bottle of bubble solution, cut a whole in the bottom of a plastic tub (it once held peanut butter), and attached them with plastic epoxy (noxious stuff, seriously only use it outside).

 

I found that it is important the the hole in the water container is in contact with the soil. If there is a gap, the water flows too quickly.

More photos: https://goo.gl/photos/yepoBZ89f58CJcKS9

 

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School Colors Knit Hats

School Color Hats

I have three cousins who are siblings who each went to a different one of the three state colleges in Iowa. This year I made them each a hat with the colors of their school.

Lion Hometown yarn. The yellow is Pittsburgh Yellow for each.

Size 11 needles

Knit in stockinet, my basic hat pattern (knit about 8 inches, decrease by 6 ( *k4, dec*, knit row, *k3, dec*, knit row, ect. until dec every stitch, cut yarn, pull through, seam)

Cyclone Hat

Tampa Spice (red)

CO 38
6 rows per stripe

Hawkeye Hat

Oakland Black

CO 44
6 rows per stripe

UNI Hat

Portland Wine

CO 44
I tried uneven stripes. I wasn’t as pleased with the results as I hoped to be.

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Refugee Vetting

Let’s be clear on one thing: The refugee vetting process in the United States is already ‘extreme’. It is the most difficult way to get into the country, and by turning away people who have already been through this onerous process, we are not making ourselves safer, we are just hurting them.

The current travel ban would not have stopped the September 11th attacks. There have been NO fatal terrorist attacks in the US committed by anyone from ANY of the countries currently banned. There have been no fatal terrorist attacks that have been committed by refugees since the current vetting process has been in place.

And while we are at it, the Trump travel ban is completely different from when Obama limited immigration in 2011. What Obama did in 2011 was to temporarily halt processing of refugees from Iraq in response to a specific incident. The difference is that it was a narrow action in response to a specific threat, and it didn’t lock out people out whom we’ve already welcomed in.

There’s a post going around Facebook, something about “I don’t lock my door at night because I hate the people outside, but because I love the people inside.” But, if I had a renter, someone who I had lived with for years and was on good terms with, would I be justified in changing the locks and barring the doors while they were out? If my neighbors house was caught fire, in the middle of a snow storm, wouldn’t I open my doors and welcome them in? Right now, we aren’t locking out strangers, we are slamming the door in the face of friends.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” Matthew 35:25

References:

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Folly Cosplay: Apron

“She wore an apron – but it looked to be made of leather, and was burned in several places, a smith’s garment rather than kitchen wear.”

I started my costume research online. I found some nice smith’s aprons with the look I wanted, but they were all way more than I wanted to spend. (Probably reasonable if I was actually working in a forge.) I started checking thrift stores for something I could cannibalize for leather-like fabric. I found a nice leather jacket half-off at Goodwill.

I ripped the seams and reassembled it into an apron. The body of apron is the back of the jacket – I got a jacket large enough that I only had to shape it instead of piece it together. I only really had to shape the curved sides on the top. I hemmed all of the edges, but I was able to keep the original hem at the bottom.

The strips for the neck strap and waist ties were cut from the sleeves then stitched on. The waist straps included the sleeve seams, for stability. The neck strap is made of two strips, sewn together with two seams.

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The burn marks were harder than I expected. I took a box of matches, some paper, and a bucket of water out to a corner of the parking lot with the apron. If I just lit a match and held it to the apron, or set it on the apron, it wouldn’t scorch the leather. The best solution I found was to set a match on the apron, then use a second match to light it. Sometimes, I would pile a few matches together, so it would burn longer. I had to be careful not to let it burn too long or else the leather would pucker more than scorch.

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Jayne Hat

Lion Hometown –Pittsburgh Yellow, Syracuse Orange, Tampa Spice (red)

Size 11

CO 44 in orange

Knit all in stockinet

Knit for 18 rows (5.5 in), switch to yellow (leave long tail on the orange, for seam), knit 7 rows (2 in), decrease.

Decrease: always knit first and last stitch for seam. *K4, ssk* to end, knit next row, *k3, ssk* to end. Continue until decreasing every stitch.

Cut, leaving long tail (for seam). Seam.

Ear flaps:

Count 9 stitches from the seam, pick up 9 stitches, 4 stitches up from bottom. With red (all in stockinet), knit 8 rows, dec first and last (7 st), knit 1 row, dec first and last (5 st), knit 1 row, dec 1st and last (3 st), knit 5 rows, dec 1st (2 st), dec 1st (1 st). Cut yarn, leaving about 4 inches, pull through. Tie knot in end of tail (to avoid unraveling). Cut another length of yarn, about twice as long as the tail, and pull it through. Knot both ends and knot together with the tail.

Do on both sides of hat.

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Next time: Make the body shorter by about 3 inches. Make the ear flaps larger: wider by 2 more stitches towards the front, longer before decreases to 18 rows about 5 inches. Decrease at beginning of each row instead of at the beginning and end of every other row. Attach ear flaps to inside of hat instead of outside. I need to work on the puff ball too.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Grandma Sis’s Best Ever Cookies

(Open Line)

1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
1 c. oil
1 c. Crisco
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
4 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
4 t. cream of tartar
1 t. salt
12 oz. chocolate chips

Mix ingredients together.  Drop walnut size balls on cookie sheet.

Bake 350°, 10-12 minutes.

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