Sadie and I collected sticks and twigs from my parents' property a couple months ago, and I used those as a base layer for my pile. Then I started layering dry grass,weeds and leaves with kitchen scraps. At the base of the pile I also added a little bit of bagged compost from the store, hoping that would help things get started.
And I'm using this fabulous crock for collecting scraps in the kitchen. It was a happy day at the thrift store when I saw this...just what I'd been looking for! It sits right next to the sink and all my fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, and egg shells go there instead of the trash can. Every couple days I empty it into the bin and give it a quick rinse.
Now I just continue to layer kitchen scraps with dried grass clippings. Every once in a while I'll throw a little soil on top to keep the bugs down. I'm not going to be sticking my head in the bin anytime soon, but I have yet to have any complaints about odor. Nothing appears to be going too incredibly wrong. But I can't really tell if anything is going right, either! I'm hoping to have miraculously created rich earthy soil to thrown on my garden in the fall. We'll see....
In the meantime, it's AWESOME to barely be throwing anything in the trash. We recycle everything imaginable, and now barely throw any kitchen/food scraps away. The only things in our kitchen trashcan are plastic wrappers, styrofoam containers (which I avoid like the plague, but sometimes meat products are packaged with styrofoam, you know), and other types of plastic packaging. These days I'm also trying to find ways to minimize the amount of this type of material coming into the house.
So, it's a grand experiment. I'm trying to not overthink it. And crossing my fingers that this compost pile, if mostly left alone, will do what it's supposed to do.