Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Freebies

Its an unusual Friday at our house. I've been up since 5:45am and although its only 7:15 now, I've already gotten two loads of laundry done. I'm freaking myself out a bit with all this productivity. I'm not a morning person at all. I'd rather stay up all night than get up this early but with Jim getting up at 5:00am most mornings so he can head to the Y for a pre-work workout, its seems the only fair thing to do.

There's also the fact that my two sons have a knack for getting into trouble if I try to shower once they're awake. Yeserday's extravaganza included making a "volcano" using tonic water, tap water, quite a bit of dishwashing liquid and a bottle brush. It seems Robs teacher demonstrated the kinetic energy of a volcano using Mentos and cola. Rob was trying to duplicate the experiment at home. Having sons teaches you to look at the world in an entirely different light!

So here I sit, already showered, although still in my bathrobe. Getting totally dressed for work seems like a huge commitment right now. In keeping with my current knitting jag, todays links will feature knitted granny squares. Traditionally, however, granny squares are chrocheted. I just can't seem to master the crocheted version.

The idea behind the granny square, whether knitted or chrocheted is twofold. First, it provides you a project that makes use of small amounts of leftover yarn, making it a truly frugal technique. Second, once you begin to create and accumulate these granny squares, they can be assembled rather quickly to create a last minute, one of a kind gift.

7 Inch Seed Stitch/Basketweave Square

A More Elaborate Knit Granny Square

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Knitting the Time Away

I spent about an hour and a half getting my car serviced yesterday. On the one hand, I got a lot of knitting done and my knitting project sparked some fun conversations, which made the time pass. On the other hand, they had Fox news on the whole time I was there. I'm continually amazed at the opinions that Fox passes off as factual news. If the devil exists, I'm pretty sure he works for Fox.

In comparing my knitting and crocheting efforts, it seems in knitting it is easier to keep stitches uniform but that could just be because I have to pay so much attention to the process of knitting. Either way, its exciting to see a project begin to take shape.

I did have one setback. I tried to save a little time by only rolling half of the skein of yarn into a ball (since the project requires knitting with two strands but only uses one giant skein of yarn, rolling it into a ball was necessary.) Unfortunately, the portion that I didn't roll into a ball became a tangled mess and I had to spend almost 45 minutes untangling and rolling it. I won't make that mistake twice!

Today is my long day at work. The sunshine, warm air and promise of summer is making it harder and harder to go to work! This weekend we'll plant part of our container garden. We're already behind on parts of it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Soups and Blankets

The verdict is in on the Fennel Bulb Navy Bean Soup that I made this weekend. It was a hit! The recipe appeared on The Vegetarian Group. I used the fennel bulb and stalks as the recipe says and it was delicious. Jim even volunteered to take it for lunch today. Here's the link to the recipe. If you haven't checked out this yahoo group yet, do it!! Its a great resource, especially with CSA and farmers market season just around the corner.

I finally started the baby blanket I mentioned the other day. My car is going in for an oil change and inspection this afternoon. Since I'll be a prisoner of the service station, I'm bringing this project and hoping to make some real progress. I think the hardest part is reading the pattern with confidence (ie, trusting that you know what the abbreviations mean.) This should certainly be simple enough since there is an abbreviation key on every pattern but still I get antsy.

The pattern calls for knitting with two strands of yard, which I've never done before. It seems to make it easier to drop 1/2 a stitch, if such a thing is even possible!

Monday, March 26, 2007

But Wait, There's More!

I decided to get a little bulk cooking done yesterday. The goal was to use up some of the veggies and apple butter in the freezer portion of my refrigerator (I forgot to look there when telling of my success in cleaning out the chest freezer in the basement!) I discovered a few containers of fennel in the freezer yesterday and set about finding a recipe to use them up. I'll post a ther recipe and a review when I get some feedback from my family.

The boys had a good time peeling and crushing garlic. Its quite funny what kids begin to enjoy when they get the opportunity! No one enjoyed cutting the onions and once again everyone threatened to put on goggles while the onions were cooking. It doesn't help that they saw a picture of one of the kids from the HomeEconomiser family wearing them while peeling onions in an interview in the now defunct Budget Living.

On tonights menu is a Red Lentil Stew that uses some of the multitude of red lentils that I seem to have accumulated.

In other news I finished my first knitted dishcloth!

No more time today!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday Freebies

In light of the recent pet food recalls and the comments of a recent Cornell vetrinary School graduate on my local public radio station, I thought I'd dedicate todays Friday Freebies to homemade pet food. I must confess that I do not make any of my pets food but I do think its an interesting idea.

How to make homemade cat food

How to make homemade dog food

How to make your own pet food recipes

I'm not sure how I feel about vegan/vegetarian dog/cat food so I'm planning to look at links for this a little more closely before adding them to this list.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Canning vs Freezing Plus a Knitting Revelation

Things have been very busy lately and my cooking has not been blogworthy. We're relying on old favorites and things that can be thrown together quickly. My quest to empty the freezer has almost been realized. There are only two containers of frozen pumkin/squash and just 4 frozen apple butter left. I've broken down and gone to the grocery store to get some much needed variety back.

Having canned the applesauce two years ago and frozen the apple butter this past year, I've decided I prefer canning. First, because you don't have to worry about defrosting it before you use it. Second, because I think its easier to organize. Canning jars are obviously see through, which helps you do an inventory at a glance each time you enter the pantry or cabinet. The freezer holds more mystery and therefore more aggravation. Third, I have a small chest freezer and really could use the room for other foods that don't can well.

I've promised myself that I will once again find time to can the apples we pick this fall. I also plan to can my tomatoes as well, another thing I didn't get to this past year. I refuse to continue to compromise the things that are important to me all in the name of my job.

I have just one more knitting class left. I've been gathering simple patterns and I bombarded the teacher with questions about reading the patterns last night. I've been making a dishcloth with the cotton yarn that I got at the thrift store. I was a little embarassed to say what it was but when I confessed, I discovered my teacher was a cotton dish cloth making junkie herself! Other class members, who are far more talented/experienced knitters than myself, were shocked that you would use something like this to wash dishes but our teacher assured us they work beautifully and wash beautifully too.

I have a simple, so they say, pattern for a baby blanket that I'd like to make for my brothers baby that's due in late April. I bought the yarn when my sister-in-law was pregnant with my niece, who turned two in December. I think I've worked up enough nerve to give it a try. At least if I start it this weekend I can ask the teacher questions at our last class next week.

Today's supposed to be my day off but I'm teaching two senior citizen fitness programs in an hour. Its not a big deal but this is the kind of thing that's making me very weary of my job. There's always another commitment/favor/volunteer opportunity that's not a big deal but steals more time than I have to give. The odd thing is, I say no very often. I can't imagine how I would be feeling if I said yes to more of these events.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Frugal Fridge Find

It snowed again last night, just enough to remind us that it wasn't spring yet. As winter continues to linger on, my thoughts keep turning to summer. One of the charming things about the cabin is the smaller scale of things. The house is smaller, the kitchen is smaller, the stove is smaller and the fridge is smaller, a lot smaller.

As you might imagine, with four kids, an apartment size fridge can be a bit of a complication to our simple summer existence. A small fridge means more frequent trips to the store. It also means that CSA pickup is a pain in the rear, rather than a bountiful joy, because it is such a challenge to fit things in the fridge.

Unfortunately, there's no room in the kitchen for a larger fridge so we were on the lookout for a fridge to put in the garage for the summer. We had a couple of requirements. It couldn't be more than a few years old because we didn't want it to be too inefficient. At the same time, we didn't want to pay for a new one because this fridge would be used only for the summer and the temperature extremes of being kept in an unheated garage over the winter takes a toll on the lifespan of appliances. We figured we'd keep our eyes open and see what we could find.

This weekend we got lucky and discovered a working fridge on our local ecycle list that was about 6 years old and in need of a new home. Jackpot! It fit in the back of our minivan. Double jackpot! It just needs the gasketing around the door replaced which is very minor in the grand scheme of things. The woman who gave it away even cleaned it first!

Some of you must be thinking, how do they always find all the stuff they're looking for? The answer is, we don't. I think we improve our odds of finding what we're looking for mainly by knowing what we want/need. If we hadn't thought about the problem of the small fridge and tried to figure out a solution, I'd never have given a second look to the email that told me about the larger fridge. Planning is everything when it comes to frugal living!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Welcoming Frank & Elvis

Saturday we welcomed Frank & Elvis to the family. Rob & Kyle were so impressed with Ratsothat they wanted a guinea pig too. Generally I'm not one for just giving in to the whims of my kids but this seemed like a good idea. Rob's been hitting some rough spots in school and his teacher suggested a pet of his own might help him deal with things.

We had gotten Biscuit for exactly this reason, and he has been wonderful for Rob, so I was a little hesitant at first. Did we really need another pet? Then it occured to me that different pets, just like different people, can answer different emotional needs in our lives.

Biscuit is 82 pounds of energy and giddiness. He's the perfect companion for running around in the yard or house. He's great for a game of catch. He's even great for snuggling against when you're reading a book. He's not very good at teaching people to be gentle with other human beings, especially when he takes his giant paw and slaps it in your lap to get your attention.

We gave Rob a test run taking care of Ratso at the gym. He helped Patty, my coworker, clean Ratso's cage and feed him. He did a great job. I have to say, Patty has the best system for setting up and cleaning the cage that I've ever seen. She lines the bottom with newspaper and tops it with shredded paper. Ratso loves it, we don't get cedar shavings all over the floor and we save a bit of money. When its time to clean the cage, Patty just rolls the newspaper and shredded paper up and she's done.

Seeing Rob interact with Ratso at the gym made me realize that a guinea pig might be the perfect creature to teach Rob how to be a bit more gentle. Like Ratso, Frank and Elvis (formerly known as Chunky and Chewy but Rob renamed them) needed a new home and we happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Here's Rob with Frank

Here's Kyle with Elvis

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Freebies

Today I've decided to focus on Potager Gardens (kitchen gardens where fruits,veggies and herbs are used as functional ornamentals). Thinking and planning about gardening seems to be the only logical way to combat the blizzard we're in the middle of.

Information from the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

How to Desing a Potager Garden There is a free newsletter you can sign up for as well.

Of course if you want to go one step beyond potager garden, check out Path to Freedom's garden

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Frugal Kids & Frugal Finds

The squash biscuits made with only molasses had a good taste but a slightly gooey texture. Next time I make them I'll have to decrease the amount of other liquids to account for the molasses. Overall I was pretty pleased, a little time in the toaster solved the gooey texture problem and make the biscuits a tasty treat. I have found that toasting, like ketchup, often times makes the worst of culinary creations edible.

I think the best part of raising kids in a frugal family is the way they learn to appreciate the value of both goods and services. This week my oldest son put on a a Hawaiian style shirt that he's been dying to wear since he discovered it in a bag of handme downs from a coworker last fall. Two buttons were missing, so he asked if I could put new buttons on for him. "You probably have buttons just like that in your box of buttons," he told me. He was right and this morning he was tickled to put his "new" shirt on. "Thanks for sewing on my buttons," he told me.

After living with her loft bed for almost two years, Leen has decided she doesn't like it all that much. (Personally, it would give me claustrophobia to be up that close to the ceiling.) A while back she asked me to keep an eye out on our local ecycling group for a daybed to replace her loft bed. This was her lucky week. I picked up the unwanted daybed on Tuesday. She's thrilled. Since she used her own money to buy the loft bed, she's trying to decide what to do with it now.

Tasha has been using the same rickety student desk for years. This week we were able to replace it with a beautiful, sturdy wooden desk, also from our local ecycle group. Although she wasn't unhappy with her old desk, she is very pleased with her new one.

This week we also acquired a 13 inch tv/vcr combo that was dumpster bound. My sister rescued it while helping clean out the store she works in and gave it to us. It works beautifully and even has the remote! Jim and I are pleased that my sister thought of us before tossing the tv.

I know I've said this before but its worth saying again for anyone new to frugal living. A lot of times you just need to make it known that you don't mind taking used items. Sure you'll have to wade through some junk a long the way but you'll get some treasures as well.

I really like the fact that my kids have no problem with previously owned items. They only let very close friends in on the origin of these items but thats ok with me. If I can just make sure its engrained in them before they leave my house and enter the world of consumer debt, they will be so far ahead of their peers.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cleaning Out the Freezer

I'm on a quest. I want to use every last bit of frozen vegetables and fruit that I have left in my freezer before buying anything else. As you might imagine, this time of year the pickings are getting mighty slim. Every year we try to use some of the less loved veggies first, yet every year that's what we are left with. A quick glance in the freezer last night revealed a fair amount of winter squash, both cubed and pureed, apple butter, frozen bananas, frozen blueberries and some frozen greens. I'll be doing a more exact inventory tonight but I've gotten the general idea.

I'll be combining the greens with chick peas, bulgur, and a mixture of tamari, nutritional yeast, maple syrup and garlic powder to make a delicious concoction that I call Chick Peas and Bulgur. Not an original monicker but it does the trick.

Last night I made some squash biscuits and tried substituting molasses for the 3 tablespoons of brown sugar the recipe called for. So far no one seems to have noticed but I'll poll everyone later to know for sure.

I've got the itch for spring planting and I'll begin putting some seeds in my container garden later this week. Rob has volunteered to help with the job. He was very impressed with the bean plants that his second grade class grew. I'm going to peek at the worms later today as well, the suspense is killing me!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Another Baked TVP Variation

A while back, Imixed up a batch of the taco seasoning recipe from The Complete Tightwad Gazette. It seemed like a good idea but it just sat on my spice shelf. In retrospect I wasn't even sure what to do with it since my days of browning ground beef and ripping open a package of taco seasoning are so far behind me. This weekend, I finally came up with a use for it while making a Mexican inpsired dinner for our non-veg house guest this weekend.

I made white bean chili, roasted vegetables (carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes) and this variation on Russell's tvp recipe:

Taco TVP
3 cups tvp
3 cups water
1 Tbs taco seasoning
2 tsp garlic powder
2-4 Tbs tamari

As always, I grease the cookie sheet and then combine all the ingredients on it. Less dirty dishes are always a good thing! I baked it at 425 degrees until browned. I took it out when it wasn't completely browned and gave it a taste with the intention of adding more taco seasoning if it needed it but it was perfect for our taste. If it had needed more kick I would have just sprinkled the taco seasoning over the top and stirred it around before returning it to the oven to finish browning.

We served this with tortilla chips, salsa and seasoned bulgur (using the seasoned rice recipe from The Complete Tightwad Gazette.) I would have made rice but I discovered I was out of it and bulgur worked just fine.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Thank God Its Friday??

Friday was the longest day I've had in a quite a while. It started with a 5:30 am trip to drop Jim off at the train station because his car was still in the shop. (Before I continue, I'm sure some of you are wondering, how can she advocate frugality and green living when her hubby commutes in a car while the option of public transport exists? The thing is, Jim has to take a train and a bus to get to his job and the trip takes two hours each way. So on the one hand, its a great option when he needs to use it but, for now, his time is a more precious commodity to us and worth the extra money spent on commuting via car.)

Once home, the usual morning activities began with children getting ready for school and me getting ready for work. Everyone made it to their respective school busses and I got ready to head to work. I had planned to leave a little early and hit the bank on the way but it was not to be. As I closed the front door behind me I noticed the front tire of my minivan looked flat, not a little low but totally and utterly flat and it was really cold out. I'm 36 years old, fairly intelligent and extremely independent but changing my first tire in the freezing cold on a big minivan seemed too daunting. (I was hoping my first flat tire would be on something smaller, like Geo Metro, somehow that seems less daunting.) I called my dad. Before he could head over, my neighbor came out to give me a hand. He was a pro and had it changed in a matter of minutes which was good because as I mentioned before, it was really cold!!

The rest of the day was spent at an equally frenetic pace. Jim needed to be picked up at the train station and dropped off at the mechanic to get his car. Then he took my van to get the tire repaired, the stem was faulty. While he was at the tire shop, the tech topped off the other tires and a second valve stem blew out. They fixed that one at no charge, which was very nice. It pays to develop a relationship with the tire shop, or any local merchant you use.

When I started to drive home in his car, it made a noise every time I braked that sounded remarkably like the opening notes to Heart of Glass by Blondie. Back to the mechanic we went to get that resolved. Again it helps to have a relationship with your mechanic, I always fear being treated like a "hysterical girl" in a situation like this. The new brakes just needed an adjustment and we were on our way much faster than I thought we'd be with no extra charges.

Kyle and I were even able to make it to our Friday night yoga classes, kids yoga for him, power yoga for me.

The whole day we were on the edge of disaster but in the end everything went smoothly. We were able to head up to the Adirondacks with one of the girls' friends as originally planned. Although, honestly, a weekend wasn't long enough to recover from Friday!

I tried some new and some not so new recipes with our weekend, non-veg house guest. I'll share my results and a recipe tomorrow.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday Freebies

As I mentioned yesterday, the focus of Friday Freebies is shifting from things to knowledge. This feels more relevant to my lifestyle and beliefs. Let me know how you feel about the change.

The Twin Cities Green Guide DIY a resource for a variety of earth friendly projects. I just made a plastic bag holder last week.

Fabric Scrap Rug Instructions

Yoga Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana) Instructions - Join me on my quest to master this posture.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wandering Thoughts

I'm stuck at home today, all day. Jim's car is in for service so Jim took my minivan to work. Honestly, I'm thrilled. I haven't spent a day at home since last summer. I've been giggly about it since last night. My plans for the day are pretty humble, a little laundry, a little cooking, maybe a little knitting and a little reading. I haven't even turned music on yet, I'm just enjoying the quiet that's only interupted by the jingling of the dogs' tags.

We watched a documentary last night called Walmart the High Cost of Low Prices. It reinforced what I already had realized about places like Walmart, if things are too cheap to be true, somebody is suffering somewhere. I personally turned my back on the Walmart experience about 2 years ago. No low price is worth the lack of customer service that I experienced there.

On a related note, Friday Freebies will officially begin to focus more on free resources rather than free things. I think knowledge is more valuable than stuff anyday. Now that I'm 5 weeks into my knitting class, I'm on a quest for simple knitting patterns to try. I hit the jackpot last weekend and found some brand new cotton yarn at a thrift store that was having a bag sale. I plan on trying to make the knitted dish cloths that I saw here and here.

Leen's been on a quest to take pictures of Mel and Biscuit like The Dog. I think she did a pretty good job. Here's Biscuit

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

It Can't Be Helped

Last week at yoga, I said, "Hi Barbara, how are you?" to the owner of the yoga studio. She responded that, "Not well, actually." When I said, "I'm sorry to hear that." She responded, "It can't be helped." Later in the evening I overheard her say, "Next week will be better."

Her calm response, impressed me so much. So often at work and at home, things don't go the way I want or need them to but I've yet to master that calm. Honestly, I don't even come close. I want to achieve that level of calm (and that headstand too!)

I've made myself a promise to work on my headstand and shoulder stand each night while focusing on the calm that Barbara exhibited. I've never been good at creating a home yoga practice so this is a real challenge for me but so far I'm doing it.

If Barbara, a breast cancer survivor and business owner, can manage that level of calm, surely I can begin to as well.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Its cold in New York! I've got the woodstove cranking and Kyle is sacked out on the couch next to it. I'm grateful for warmth, although on days like today you wonder if you'll ever be warm again. We've been enjoying soup with our dinner the last few days. I haven't been using any special recipe, I've just been sauteing some onions and whatever other veggies I have on hand and then adding either vegetable broth or miso or tomato puree. I've been very whimsical in my approach to the soup.

We tried the Mexican Chocolate Rice Pudding from Vegan with a Vengeance last night. Rob helped me make it. We subbed carob powder for the cocoa powder and omitted the chocolate chips, because I didn't have any. It was really good in spite of these changes. The cinnamon really lent something to the flavor. A few nights earlier, Kyle had helped make a carob pudding that came out very good as well. Both boys enjoy creating surprise desserts (meaning they pick them out) for the family.

In other news I must share the story of Ratso the guinea pig. Ratso was the guinea pig of a coworker's daughter. When the daughter left for college, Ratso was left behind and taken to a day care center where my coworker worked. The kids loved Ratso but the daycare owner did not and when my coworker quit her job at the day care Ratso was in big trouble. My coworker refused to take the guinea pig home and the daycare owner refused to feed Ratso or clean his cage. My coworker would sneak over once or twice a month to feed and change Ratso, all the while the daycare owner threatened to "get rid of Ratso" whatever that meant. Needless to say, hearing about this drove me crazy.

I finally convinced my coworker to bring Ratso to live in our daycare room at the gym where I new the kids and the staff would love him. Ratso moved in last Wednesday and is doing well. As expected, he is loved by the kids and he seems to be enjoying all the attention he's getting, as well as the regular feedings and cage cleanings.

The transition hasn't been without trauma. Ratso came to us with nails that curled in circles that the guy in the Guiness Book of World Records. With the help of my sister, I trimmed them on Friday. (Let me tell you the challenges of winding a pet nail clipper around nails that curl around like that!) They're still too long but they are so much better. We're putting some sandpaper on the bottom of his cage to hopefully wear them down a bit more.

I'm suprised by how affected I was by this little guinea pig's plight but I feel very good about the way its all turned out.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Where Achieving Goals & Being Frugal Intersect

I have a lot of goals. Some are humble, short term goals, like getting through the day. Others are more long term and intricate like mastering certain yoga moves (headstand is my current quest) or completing frugal projects (making potholders out of outgrown clothes is my current project awaiting completion) or learning a new skill (knitting) or paying off a car loan (which we just did!). Some of my goals are all encompassing like simplifying my lifestyle and lessening my environmental footprint.

One goal I've had recently is to decrease the amount of plastic that comes in contact with hot foods, especially after reading Environmental Risks and Breast Cancer. We've stopped microwaving plastic bowls and putting hot leftovers into plastic containers but recently I've had my eye on the plastic pieces of the coffee pot. Jim and I decided we wanted to get an all metal percolator and have been watching the prices. I've checked ebay and and put wanted adds on our local freecycle site.

One of our local grocery stores had a 10 cup Melitta percolator for $39.99, while the same grocery store near my job, which had been newly remodeled, had it for $59.99. Since $39.99 seemed to be the cheapest price we could find, we decided to buy it on our next trip to the store.

At the register it rang up at $59.99. The price was marked $39.99 on a tag on the product and on the shelf tag as well and I told the cashier so. He went to check and I didn't think much of it until he came back and said it was going to be a few minutes because he needed the manager to bring the key but we were going to get it for free. He walked away again and I turned to Jim and said, "Did he say for free??" The woman behind me on line gleefully reminded me of the store policy of giving items that scan at the wrong price to the customer for free. I knew this but it didn't occur to me that it applied to non food items. Actually, it didn't occur to me at all.

Sure enough we got our brand new percolator for free. That's one more ogal we've achieved and you can't beat that price!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Buggy Worms

My family is usually patient with my frugal endeavors but they were all growing weary of the indoor worm bin. The worms won't survive the cold of an Adirondack winter, so when it starts getting cold I move them from their outdoor worm bin indoors into an old cooler. Naturally, an old cooler doesn't have great drainage and as a result they developed little flying bugs that we just couldn't seem to get under control.

I knew that this was caused largely by excess moisture, which was creating an awesome breeding ground, but I was at a loss how to solve the problem in a frugal way. There was really no way to rehabilitate the cooler and a premade worm bin that is meant for indoors runs anywhere from $99 to almost $200. Jim wasn't keen on the idea of building another smaller worm bin for indoors because we'd need some kind of a drip tray underneath and the dogs would probably get into it. While I tried to come up with a solution, the worms were banished to the garage.

Thanks to Diane at The Vegetarian Group, my problem was solved! Here's the post she wrote that showed me the light.

You can make a worm bin out of 2 10-gallon rubbermaid containers.
Drill or poke holes in the bottom of one and just under the lip around
the top and set it inside the other one. It needs to sit up a bit; I
used 4 rocks, one for each corner. This way you catch all the good
worm "tea" which is beautiful fertilizer. Start with a nice layer of
shredded newspaper or coconut coir or peat moss (if you can get the
latter two, sometimes a little $$), dampen it down well, pour in your
worms, add a large-ish double handful of veggie trimmings and ignore
them for a couple weeks - presto worm bin :). Some finely-ground
eggshell every once in a while seems to help them reproduce.

So thanks to Diane, my indoor worm bin problem was solved for under $10. The bin has been sitting very unobtrusively in one corner of the kitchen for about 2 weeks with no bugs at all. Sometimes the best solutions are found in the most unexpected places.