Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

Do you remember that show, game, etc? I remember sitting in front of my computer pouring over the World book trying to figure out where she was. She was a crafty girl!

Strange thing number 4: I love to travel!

Okay, maybe it's not that strange, but I love to travel. Any place is fine, especially overseas. I find it fascinating to learn about other cultures, experience their flora and fauna, and see the sights. I'm soon to be off to Belize for a week, which I'm pretty psyched about. We plan on snorkeling a bunch, doing cave tubing (like river tubing, but the river goes through caves), and seeing Mayan ruins. We're staying on Caye (pronounced "key") Caulker in an apartment, so we'll have access to a kitchen. That will be helpful in keeping our costs low and also with our food issues (veganism). It will be nice to be able to just eat some toast and a banana in the morning rather than having to go out for breakfast.

Why did I pick Belize? With only a week of vacation available for me through work (damn you work!), I had to pick a location that's close enough that I'm not spending 2 of my 7 days just on a plane. Latin America seemed like a logical choice, however I had to choose a place I haven't been to yet and is not rife with political turmoil.

I'm pretty excited. I can't wait to go snorkeling in all the cool locations. I would love to see a manatee as well (from a distance, of course). Hopefully the weather will be nice and everything will go smoothly.

I've traveled to other locations as well. A couple of years ago we went on a 3 week trip to Costa Rica. I planned everything, it wasn't through a group. We traveled all over the country, flying into San Jose and traipsing about. We did an overnight white water rafting trip. Spent some time in Avenal where we got to experience a live volcano. Our rooms were so close that when it exploded it jarred me awake (I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing...). We checked out the local hot springs, took a horseback ride to Monteverde. Wandered the cloud forest and got to see the rare quetzel, the coolest bird ever. Did night walks and saw tarantulas and scorpions in the wild. Hit the beach in Manuel Antonio after hitching a ride with our ziplining Canadian friends. Took a flight to the secluded Drake Bay to play in the surf, snorkel and hang out. Our last days we were in Tamarindo surfing and boogie boarding before heading to Liberia to fly out.

I've also been to Mexico a few times, the Caribbean, briefly in Canada while going to and from our cruise to Alaska, France, spent a month in China, Italy, and Spain. I love it!

My "other" doesn't love traveling as much as I, so I've got to keep international trips to once every two years and do something in the US the opposite year. Next year I think we'll go to Yellowstone. The year after that I'd like to get back to Europe, maybe Germany or Crete (I hear Crete is very vegan friendly).

My top places I want to visit at some point, hopefully when I have more vacation days and more money are Africa on a safari, Australia, and Egypt. I also think India would be cool in a semi-scary way, but it's really really far and I'm more likely to go there due to work these days...

I would also love to live in another country. I hope I get the opportunity to do so at some point.

I recently saw that Veg Times is starting vegan trips around the world. I think it would be fantastic to get in on the next one that could work. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled.

Where have you been? Where do you want to go?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wriggly worms

Strange thing number 3: I conduct worm composting in my home.

I currently rent a townhome and we don't really have a yard. We have a small patch of grass that my dog is slowly turning yellow and that's about it. During the spring/summer we utilize pots to make an attempt to grow veggies and herbs. We've had mixed success, primarily due to issues with watering and fertilizer. Fertilizer was a problem because we didn't want to use chemical fertizilers but "natural" fertilizers typically contained bone, which was a no-no due to our veg*nism. Where we live is rather dry, so watering was also a challenge, though we did a better job of it this past summer.

We're big proponents of eating lots of whole, plant foods which means that these days, most of what we were throwing out was plant waste (scraps from dinners, etc) and plastic bags. I didn't like the idea of our plant waste going to some landfill, where it will take much, much longer to compost. Landfills typically have minimal air/water circulation, which prevents items from composting naturally.

But with our small yard, what could we do? I googled a bit and found a great website ( that discussed worm composting. You can do it in your house and it is supposed to have no smell and is easy to do. I whipped up a tupperware box, saved food scraps, and bought a pound of worms, and voila! composting!

This turned out to be easier said than done. Currently, my box doesn't get enough ventilation, so there is a bit of water in the bottom of my bin which is preventing my box from getting to a brilliant, soil state. I've been airing it out the past week or so and adding more newspaper to try and soak it up. I didn't put holes in the bottom of the bin, and I'm wondering if this is going to be a major problem.

That being said, my worms are alive and happy and breeding. There's tons of worms in there of all sizes (even little white worm babies!). There's no smell, providing the paper to food ratio is correct, and it's easy to do. Hopefully I can get this water situation rectified so I can have some worm poop for my pot garden for this summer.

I'm always asked if I've named my worms. The original pound of worms contains about 500-1000 worms. It would take quite a bit of time to name them all. At this point, they've probably multiplied quite a bit, and there's way more worms in there today.

If you're looking for a way to make use of all those banana peels, apple cores, dead herbs, give a vermicomposting bin a try! It also makes a cool science project!