Don's Way of Living Green

I’m pretty pleased with myself ever since we moved to this new place.
The first thing that struck me was that I could have my own organic composting area. In my previous apartment, we didn’t have space at all so putting 10 pots on the balcony was simply out of the question.
Now that I have a bit of garden space, we’ve reduced the amount of rubbish we throw away each day.
We do this because we compost our organic materials.
I first learnt this technique from Don who teaches people how to recycle easily and successfully without much hassle.
When I think of traditional composting, I think of smell! It would stink to high heaven, right? And attract flies and ants. And maybe even birds!
Don rubbished my fears. He showed me his 10-pot system, a system that’s so simple yet works so beautifully it’s hard to believe! (See below for the link to the method).
So I am trying it out.
First you need a container to store your food scraps of the day. You only compost it at the end of the day so you ‘collect’ them first. I bought my clay container from a crockery shop in Carnavon Street for RM13. It is usually used to store salt (or in some hawker stalls, to store sauces for cooking) but I use mine to store food scraps (veggie peel, fruit peel, fish bones, chicken bones, anything you’ve eaten etc). Here’s how mine looks like:

A traditional Chinese salt container made of clay is used as a food scrap container
A traditional Chinese salt container made of clay is used as a food scrap container

As it has a heavy clay lid, I don’t have to worry about Margaret getting her fat paws into it or the scraps stinking all day.
This clay pot is also glazed on the inside so you can easily wash off oil and grease with soap and water. This pot is about 9 inches tall and sits next to my sink.
I toss all sorts of stuff into this – garlic skin, vegetable peel, fruit peel, stale bread, cooked leftovers, fish bones, chicken bones, lala shells, leftover rice.
Basically anything that you can eat, you can compost.
Next you need 10 pots of about 12 to 14 inches in diameter. Any cheap clay pots would do. We bought these for RM5 apiece in the local nursery as they were a bit chipped and cracked.
10 pots for composting
My 10 blue pots for composting...sue me, I

And then go here for the full instructions on how to compost. We usually compost the scraps at night, once dinner is done. So 1 pot should last you 3 days before you move on to pot #2.
In case you have a large family, go get bigger pots. (It’s only Nic and me but then again sometimes we eat a lot so we have a mountain of food scraps!)
I’m now filling up the 5th pot already. By the time I’ve filled the 10th pot, I should be able to go and dig the 1st pot and find all the food scraps disintegrated into fresh, rich soil.
Which I can use to grow the plethora of herbs I’ve been meaning to.
Which also means, my regular rubbish bin isn’t overflowing with stinky rubbish. It’s just mostly plastic wrappers which cannot be recycled.
Underneath my sink, I’ve put a collection container for recyclables such as glass bottles, plastic bottles, newspaper, cardboard and tins. These go to the nearest recycling centre every once a month. The nearest centre I go to is the SIMA Handicapped Centre just off the Jalan Tengku Kudin roundabout. Our ‘junk’ actually helps the disabled earn their living.
I always like dropping off my recyclables (they also take in usable household items like clothes and furniture) because the disabled are always so appreciative of the things you give. They light up with their innocent and generous smiles and never fail to thank you with a friendly wave.
If you have a small plot of garden, do try this system of composting. I assure you, if you follow Don’s method to the book, you won’t be smelling your food scraps.
Imagine if all of us who can do this are doing this – how much we can save in terms of landfill space and how much less leachate will seep into our rivers and seas. That’s why I say I am proud to be creating so little rubbish for the rubbish truck!

My Quiet Christmas

My external hard disk has not been repaired yet. Hence, do bear with me. The photos aren’t quite ready yet.
But, a merry Christmas to you!
I don’t celebrate Christmas the way Christians do but I’ve grown up with a Catholic best pal so we used to hang out in her house on Christmas Eve, downing glasses of Blue Nun and feeling utterly sophisticated and out-of-this-world. We’d chat and think of the future and wonder what we’ll be doing. Would we all end up doing what we want? She wanted to study Eng Lit, in the end she ended up doing Law and refusing to practise law. Lecturing is a lot more calming for her.
Christmas Day was strictly for her and her family as they’d go to church, invite a bunch of church friends over and have open house the whole day.
I’ve never much liked boisterous parties anyway (as you can see from my growing up years) so Christmas, like New Year, is often spent at home. I’m rather boring that way but I’d rather be honest and boring than get my eardrums split with loud music or liver agitated with hard liquor at the hot spots in town. Anyway, I prefer not having a splitting headache the day after.
I don’t like doing things for the sake of doing them. I like doing them because I want to. Petulant as it sounds, it’s true.
So having said that, I enjoyed a quiet Christmas Eve at home, going through some old recipe books, watching a slew of Xmassy cooking shows on AFC. When Vern came by with some tiramisu, we gobbled that down with Chinese tea and then carted our chairs into the garden for a bit of star-spotting. I thought we were looking at The Big Dipper, Vern thought it was more of The Orion.
Christmas Day was a totally relaxing day too. Not much happening as I refused to go near the laptop. I know the moment I switch it on, I get immersed. So I did my leisurely stuff while prepping my fruit salad for a family potluck dinner. (Totally simple salad you can make with success: open up a tin of lychee, a tin of peaches, a tin of nata de coco. Drain completely their sweet juices. Mix with a handful of raisins. Stir in half a cup of mayo and half a cup of evaporated milk. Chill for an hour before serving. Delightful!)
The thing about the year end is always very quiet and introspective, at least for me. I tend to journal more, recording my experiences and feelings. I often get pensive and look back at the year with wonder and amazement as again, it has flown by.
And yes, I will be studiously doing my yearly wishes or resolutions next week despite most skeptics saying it never lasts anyway. Last or not, for me it’s a new beginning and always, always a fresh hope that I can be better!
Thanks to Vern, we watched The Bucket List this afternoon while munching on her mom’s freshly baked chewy, addictive cookies.
It was a hilarious yet touching movie. A bucket list is a list of things you wish to do or achieve before you kick the bucket. It’s supposed to make you reflect and appreciate your life, and stop putting things on hold because of the kids, the dog, the circumstances, the job etc.
So yeah, now my bucket list includes “To finish watching all the movies that Vern recommends or has passed the DVD to me”.
Do you have a bucket list? What’s on it, if you care to share?
I didn’t know it was called a bucket list but I’ve been making up this kind of list for a while now. My list changes ever so often because when one is immature, lots of weird stuff ends up on the list. Now I know better!

The Big Move…Done

I kind of missed my blog when I was away, moving house.
But I am back now and though I wouldn’t say I’m totally settled in (after all, I scare myself when I look at my 3rd room and see boxes and more boxes of unpacked stuff!), I’m lots better now. Less frazzled. Less stressed.
While we loved the old apartment (we stayed there for 9 years), the new place is HOME. Yes, cornily it is. We’ve been hunting for this type of apartment for the longest time ever and we found it.
Law of Attraction? Highly likely.
Serendipity? Most probably.
What I love best about our new home is that it’s a total change from our old place. Gone are the tangerine walls. When I told Jo I had bright tangerine walls in my old place, she went “Cool!” I had a sky blue wall in my bedroom. Nic’s home office was orange and dark green! (We once lived in a room which Nic painted black and with a red door. This was in our student days. Yup, we were radical people!)
Gone are most of the knick-knacks and stuff we accumulated over the years. We sold off a lorry-load of stuff!
It’s unbelievable how much junk two people and a cat can amass.
But a move also portends lots of de-cluttering – not just physically but also mentally.
When we moved into our previous place, we were in our 20s. So the decor reflected us in our mid-20s. A bit mad, a bit adventurous, a bit brazen. I still remember the cow’s skull hanging in my living room wall. It scared off a lot of folks. Even the 8 fake plastic geckos stuck to the tangerine wall using blu-tack also freaked out most friends. Plus we had Iban war shields and a fiery parang too hanging on the wall. No wonder everyone thought Nic was not Chinese!
It was shocking all right. It also attracted attention. Even the postman wanted to step in and have a look around!
We did the paint job ourselves so it was messy and unkempt, and the colours were raw.
But that’s youth you see. And when you get a whole apartment to play with, you go crazy!
Over the years, we’ve realized that our style has changed a little. Gone are the raw colours. But yellow (Dulux Popcorn Yellow) still features in my all-white kitchen. Everyone who knows me know I adore yellow.
And Nic likes his red, well, red. Powerful and energetic.
And Dulux Ruby Red is on our feature wall. Red is a colour that attracts and repels. You either love it or hate it. You can either turn a house into a temple or you can turn it into a home. After all, we are Redbox Studio right? Red features in our lives a lot. So red made a splashing entrance.
In a way, we toned things down a little. But heightened it a lot with lighting. It’s amazing what lighting can do for a home. People think we splurged on major renovation but a lot of it went into de-gunking the place. Tearing down the built-in display units, old kitchen and toilets.
Starting anew with contemporary colours, a fresh new foundation. Re-wiring the place up. Replacing all the old pipes and plumbing. Putting in extra power points – this sounds mad but I go all tingly inside when I know I have 8 places I can plug in my electrical appliances in the kitchen!
Expensive? Yes.
Was it worth it? Definitely!
I’ll post up photos of our new home soon – I have to get things sorted out by unpacking first.
On our first official day here, Margaret got lost after we let her out of her pet carrier. We spent a good half hour walking about this area with a torchlight and shaking her plastic container of kibble like maniacs at 10pm. We’d read stories of cats finding their way back to their old homes thousands of miles away. Margaret could possibly find her way back to Taman Jadeview!
Fortunately for us, Nic is a cat whisperer. He finally found her crouched in a shallow drain. Margaret was a bit wet, all together frightened but no limbs missing. Once she got her bearings and sniffed enough, she was happily munching kibble and rolling over on the marble floor.
I’m still getting used to the new home. I actually have a garden right now (hurray for being on the ground floor) and I can do my 10-pot composting which Don taught.
I can hang my laundry at the back of the house now. We can (finally) park our car right in front of the house! No more going up the multi-storey car park and no more car tyres getting ruined! I can have a fun barbie at the back. Nic can do all the painting and carpentry he wants. I actually have real grass under my feet! I have my own floor to ceiling bookshelf. Oh and a kickass shower.
For some people, it’s the big things.
For us, it’s the little things which matter!