Compost Yourself


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Notice anything different kitchen-wise from the post two days ago?  Let me help with a side-by-side comparison!

Hiding next to the sink is this little cutie!

photo (16)We’ve started to compost!

What does that mean, exactly?  We now save the majority of our food scraps (and some other goodies) in the above ceramic bucket from World Market.  I chose that particular compost container because it blends in so well with the countertops, and it received excellent reviews online.  Plus, it was only $14.99 to boot!  Can’t beat the price!

Even though it’s small, the countertop bucket doesn’t fill up for a good 3 to 4 days, at which point we then take it outside to put it in our giant composter:

image (49)We’ve “hidden” the compost on the side of the house in a bunch of weeds so that it is not blatantly obvious (it’s not unattractive, but it doesn’t exactly match the house).

image (48)Sidenote: please check out how old that central air unit is!  Crazy, huh??

We went with the Suncast Tumbler composter because of its portability.  When we move out of this rental, we’d like to be able to hose the composter down and move it with us.  Because we were specifically looking for one that could be moved, we were slightly limited in options, and ended up shelling out $98.  However, there are so many composters on the market, and you can find one much more reasonable!  If you live in a house, I suggest looking at making your own out of a few pallets.  Or you can simply buy one of these outdoor composters (hover over each picture for pricing):

And if you live in an apartment, you might want to consider keeping one of these around (they can be kept indoors!):

Basically, the cliff notes of composting is that there are things you can compost and things you cannot.

Compostable items include:

Table scraps

Fruit and vegetable scraps

Chicken/rabbit manure

Coffee grounds

Tea leaves

Grass clippings

Garden plants

Lawn & garden weeds

Flowers, cuttings

Seaweed and kelp



Straw or hay

Pine needles

Wood ash


Corn cobs, stalks

Dryer lint

Wood chips


Non-compostable items include:

Meat, fish, animal fats and bones

Fatty foods (dairy products, sauces, salad dressing, cooking oil)

Newspapers/office paper

BBQ ashes

Dog/cat poo (this is a big frowny face :-( for us…)

Plants that have gone to seed or are diseased

Salted foods

Black Walnuts

Doesn’t it feel good to help the planet?!

Xo, Laura

Did you love this post?  If so, check out the following related links!

4 Urban Composting Ideas (
Maintaining Proper Airflow in Compost (
Organic Composting Ideas You Should Try (
Composting 101 (
Composting is the New Cool (

P & B (No Jelly)

image (42) I am going to be quite honest… I am still stumped as to how to make this kitchen look decent (you can see me slowly improving it here, here, and here).  But in the meantime, I’ve decided to make it at least look like OURS.  So when I found some cardboard letters for 30% off at Hobby Lobby ($1.73 each), I decided to take the letters for a kitchen test spin.  In the above picture, you can see how great they look above the sink.  And in the below picture, you can see how great they look on their own! photo (11) Wanna know how I did it?  Follow along as I work on the ampersand! image (43) Step 1: Gather your materials.  For this project, you will need some cardboard letters, scrapbook paper, scissors, Mod Podge glue, and a brush for application.  I poured my glue into a bowl (I know, I know… not exactly eco-friendly, but it made clean-up so easy!).

Step 2 (OPTIONAL): Make sure you have a little dog on your lap to help with the project. image (45)Step 3: Apply a thin coat of glue to the largest flat surface on the cardboard letter.  Place the sheet of scrapbook paper on top and smooth in place. image (44) Step 4: This is the hard part.  And also the most slow-going.  You need to cut the paper in order to fold it down over the sides.  This is much easier if you’re working on a shape with straight edges, like L or E.  But with rounded edges, you just have to go slowly and make sure you smooth the sides out as carefully as possible.  With the ampersand, I found it easiest to cut the paper in about 1 inch increments, lay down some glue, and fold it over into place.  You’ll need to do the same with any holes (in letters such as P or B), and this may even involve adding separate scraps of paper.  For this reason, I was happy I chose a pattern that doesn’t really need to match up perfectly (this would be much more difficult with patterns like polka dots or stripes). image (39) Step 5: Once you’ve covered up the front, sides, and any holes with scrapbook paper, it’s your decision whether or not you want to completely Mod Podge over the whole she-bang (for instance, if you want it to be glossy).  I decided to skip this step, and simply left the letters out for 2 hours to dry. Step 6: Turn the dry letters over and put 3M velcro strips on the back. image (40) You can see in the above picture that I overlapped the scrapbook paper around to the back in order to leave the edges looking clean and smooth.

Step 7: Hang them in place, and you’re all set! image (41)But why did I chose ‘P’ and ‘B’?  They’re the initials of both mine and Mike’s last names.

And why did I decide to put something above the sink?  First of all, the wide-open strip is practically begging for some kind of decoration.  But more practically, SOMETHING had to go there, since there was a random 2-prong outlet embedded awkwardly right above the sink. image (38) The landlords had placed an ugly, awkward, non-working clock to cover up the outlet.  Even though its redness matched our tomato of a kitchen, the clock wasn’t working for me.  Take a look for yourself at how dingy and blah it is:

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Needless to say, it had to go.  And I am so much happier with the space above the sink now!  What do you think?

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Xo, Laura

How the Disorderly Became Orderly

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I love organization.

The last time I was home visiting my parents in Connecticut, they loaded up my car with things that no longer fit with their home’s decor.  I was lucky enough to snag a mail organizer that my mom bought at TJMaxx for $39.99 many years ago.  Mike mounted it on the wall in kitchen, before the pass-through to the living room, and there it remained in all it’s disorderly glory for about a month. photo (6)I had no idea how to organize this… I kept shifting and re-ordering the mail in the slots, but everything looked too messy.  And then Mike made a simple suggestion that we give some order to the slots by putting like with like (top slot for Mike’s mail, 2nd slot for bills, 3rd and 4th slots for whatever I wished). I was in Target for a hot minute before I spotted some adorable file folders in the Dollar Spot.  At 3 folders for $1, they couldn’t be more of a steal! image (18) And they even look cute turned inside out. image (19)I wanted a greater sense of cohesion in the mail slots, so I alternated between the herringbone pattern, and dark gray.  About 4 magazines or a million bills can fit inside one while still maintaining the shape.  The insides of all 4 of my files are lime green, so I cut out 4 “labels” using a 5th lime green file.  They slid down into place, and suddenly all was right with the world! image (20)But these bad boys still needed to actually be identified.  The folders are glossy, so I used a dry erase marker on the makeshift labels, hoping that if the contents of a slot changed, we could easily adjust the label.  And I was right, it works perfect! image (17)   image (21)No more unsightly wrinkled mail!  Hello, glorious organization!

Xo, Laura


Laura’s Stairway to Heaven

Some exciting stuff went down around here today:

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But to start with, times are hard around here without Mike.  Gus and Phoebe have been breaking the rules left and right.  Actually, Gus was extremely helpful last night, when he woke Phoebe and I up at 4 am to notify us that the Wall Street Journal delivery man was actually a Dexter-style serial killer.  I may or may not have been extremely grouchy.

But I DID get to FaceTime with my sweetheart tonight!  Sometimes he talks, but most of the time I talk:

And in other exciting news, I finally took care of our boring stair situation.

Natural wood is beautiful, but too much can be too boring.  And I LOVE the way that painted stairs look:

(More examples can be seen on BHG, Real SimplePickleePainted Therapy and Bees Knees Bungalow.)

I wanted to replicate the look of painted stairs, but I needed it to be renter friendly…. especially since our landlord’s ONE inflexible mandate was that we not touch ANY of the real wood (fake wood paneling excluded) in the house.  I knew that contact paper was the solution.

The only problem I faced was what color/pattern of contact paper to use.  I’ll save you the soul searching I went through to arrive at a decision, but ultimately I chose to go with plain white contact paper.  I decided against any colors or patterns because I worried they would detract from everything going on in the living room and kitchen, two rooms visible from the stairs.  And actually, I initially decided to go with beige contact paper to match our antique white walls.  But on second glance, the color was too far off to actually be pulled off.  White has always been the classic color for painted stairs, so I figured it would work for us.

I set to work with a roll of white contact paper purchased for a little under $8 at Lowe’s, a pair of scissors, and an exacto knife.  The look is extremely easy to replicate, since all you need to do is measure the stair, cut the paper, line it up, and pop it in place!  Because the contact paper is fully removable, you can lift it back up to smooth out any bumps.  Or you can simply take the easy way out and piece any air bubbles with a needle, then smooth the spot over.

Occasionally you may mess up and cut a piece that’s much too short without knowing quite how you did it (was it that glass of wine?).

image (14)But you can just peel it off and start anew.  Eventually, you end up with the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen: a 100% renter-friendly, faux painted staircase!

Spicing Things Up

The kitchen may still need some organizing, but the spices are all set!  Tucked away safe in this metal card catalog, they are as good as gold.

(Please ignore the ugly brown kitchen cabinets. They definitely need a coat of paint… we’re just waiting on the landlord’s approval!)

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How’d I fit all them spices in, you ask?  Good question!

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I bought a twelve-pack of 4-oz. quilted canning jars and just dumped the contents of one spice container in a jar, screwed on the lid, and then wrote on the top in permanent marker.  I ended up with a beautiful array of colorful spices!

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In retrospect, permanent marker was definitely not the best idea, since they don’t wash off easily.  So when a spice runs out (probably in about 6 months to a year, except for essentials like curry and garlic powder), I’ll just have to replace it with the same thing, OR put on one of these snazzy Avery labels I found in my collection of office products.

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No, I’m not proud of the fact that I bought so many office supplies at the start of grad school last year that I have no recollection of what I even purchased.

The best thing about these card catalogs is that the back is expandable.  That means I can buy another 12 pack of mini jars and almost all of the jars will fit in the drawers.  At the moment, I’ve shortened the drawer depth so that the spice jars fit nice and snug without shifting around.

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The entire card catalog also fits pretty perfectly on top of the microwave and underneath the kitchen cabinets.  It’s like it was meant to be.  All the spices I need available whenever I want them!

A few notes about this project… I had a LOT of help.  First, I didn’t come up with this idea on my own.  I saw the exact same type of metal-card-cabinet-used-as-spice-holder on Young House Love, and oooh boy do I love organizational projects!    So I started scouring craigslist for the perfect one, and was just over the moon excited when Joe from Play-Haus Design offered to help me out!  He has the most amazing studio in Cleveland where he takes wood and metal and turns the combo into the sleekest home furnishings imaginable!

I’d love to poke around his studio and see what else I can find – everything he makes and sells maintains the perfect balance of industrial qualities while still being warm, homey, and inviting!   You can follow his blog here or find him on Twitter here.