Saturday, March 31, 2012

Let's Not Neglect the Kitchen Sink

Often times a kitchen sink and garbage disposal are ignored in the household cleaning process.  I mean, what the heck?  Hot water and soap run through them both on a regular basis, so why do they need cleaned?  Unfortunately, bits of food get stuck in the rubber part of the drain, then in the disposal and grow bacteria.  Then a stench starts to develop.  Yuck-o! 

You should never, ever, ever,ever (!) put a chemical down this drain.  It's not only not healthy, but it's not safe as the chemical could splash back up on you when you run the water or start the disposal.  So how does one clean the sink and garbage disposal?  Simply and naturally, of course!

I start by cutting a lemon in half.  In this case, my husband had squeezed a tablespoon of juice from a half of a lemon in order to make some home made ginger ale (tutorial to come...if it turns out!), so I just took the "gently used" lemon to clean with. 

I sprinkled the lemon with a tablespoon or so of sea salt and just used it to scrub out the sink.  It easily scrubs off any stains or caked on guk (technical term) that is in the sink.  Afterwards I just rinsed with hot water and had a sparkly clean sink! 

To clean the garbage disposal, cut the lemon you used to scrub with into smaller chunks.  Push the chunks down into the disposal and toss in a half cup of baking soda and a handful of ice.  Let the ice melt a little and then run the garbage disposal with cold water running until the lemon and ice are completely ground up and gone.  The ice and lemon rind helps to clean and sharpen the blades, while the baking soda cleans the actual housing of any grossness that is lingering there.  Not to mention the sink smells lemony fresh afterwards!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Natural Ant Solution

I admit it. We have ants in our house. It's only in the spring and fall, it seems, but these tiny little grease ants invade and seem to be everywhere. Its gross, not to mention unsanitary.

For the record, you can tell the difference between grease ants and sugar ants pretty easily. Grease ants tend to go straight for any fatty/greasy thing that may be laying out. Sugar ants only go for sweet things....like your sugar bowl. I found these ants swarming the cat dishes and a greasy plate in the sink, therefore, grease ants.
I did a little research on the best way to get rid of them without using chemicals. I was also concerned about making my cats ill, so I figured I would have to be careful. According to my Green Housekeeping book, borax seemed like the best and least toxic solution.  And its cheap. $4.99 for the 4 lb, 13 oz box at Kroger. I've been using this box for nearly a year now and its not even halfway empty.

I started out by dumping the cat dishes and soaking them in hot, sudsy Blue Dawn water.  I vaccumed the area and sucked up any remaining offensive ants. Then I sprayed the trails and surrounding areas with plain white vinegar. Ants detest the smell and taste of vinegar, so it makes it impossible for them to follow their own scent trails again. And the final step....

I followed the trail to where the ants had been coming in, and poured a handful of borax into it. Borax is very toxic to the ants, but not to the mammals that reside in my house. It destroys an ants digestive system and exoskeleton after the ant carries the borax back to the nest. I know it seems cruel, but to me, its better than poison in my house and unsanitary conditions in my kitchen due to the ant invasion.
I woke up this morning...no ants. Seems to have worked.!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Switching To Cloth

Hubs and I made the decision a while back to make the switch to cloth in our house.  No more paper towels, no more paper napkins...the only thing that is safe is toilet paper....Haha!

About a year ago I stopped buying paper towels for the house.  We used the huge package of rolls that we had, and the gigantic box of shop towels that we had in the garage before we made the full conversion.  Instead of paper I started using microfiber cloths that were bought at Sams Club.  I probably have fifty of them, and I just throw the dirties into a plastic bucket on top of the washing machine when I am done, and wash them once a week. 

Cloth napkins have been a little more difficult.  I bought this fabric out of the clearance bin at Wal-Mart (ugh) about a year ago.  They were fat quarters, and only $0.50 a piece, so there wasn't going to be too much lost if they didn't work out.  I washed and dried the fabric on hot to shrink it since it is 100% cotton, then cut it to size. 

The fabric sat ironed, folded, and ignored in a basket on the kitchen counter for a year!  I dreaded turning those raw edges to stitch, and even more, I dreaded trying to use my roll hem foot on my sewing machine to try and hem them.  I thought about just zig zagging, but the fraying would have driven me insane.

And then today, hubs bought me a serger.  TA DA!  I zipped around those edges in no time while I was watching a DVR'ed episode of Grey's Anatomy...and all of a sudden we have 13 cloth napkins.  I am exceedingly pleased with them!  They're not perfect, by any means, but they are just one more finished step towards a more green life! 

Aren't they pretty?  I decided while making them that some linen napkins and hand made napkin rings would make a great gift, don't you agree?

Monday, March 12, 2012

DIY Non-toxic carpet powder

I like my house smelling fresh and clean.  Who doesn't?  It's hard to do sometimes because of my three cats, despite cleaning the litter box twice a day (and adding a generous shake of baking soda to it each time) and vacuuming regularly.  I had been buying Arm and Hammer Carpet Deodorizer for pets, but its expensive and honestly I didn't really like the way it smelled.  Even when I didn't use it on the carpet, I could still smell it in the vacuum. 

So I decided to make my own carpet powder/deodorizer.  Of course I did!  First, I gathered my ingredients:

Baking soda
Lavender essential oil
A clean, empty, plastic shaker bottle- this one used to be home to Kraft shredded Parmesan cheese

I poured my baking soda into an empty plastic container.  I didn't really measure.  That's a 12 oz container and its mostly full.  This definitely was not an exact science kind of project!

Next, I added about 20 drops of lavender essential oil to the mix.

It's a little hard to see the oil because it's clear and the powder is white, but you get the idea.  I used a fork and mixed the oil into the baking soda, breaking up the lumps the best I could as I stirred.  I took a good whiff of the mix and decided it didn't smell lavender-y enough for me, so I added in another 20 or so drops of essential oil and mixed thoroughly. 

It took a while to break up the lumps, but I got them mixed into the baking soda the best that I could.  It was still a little lumpy, but it still will work.

Here is the finished product.  It filled up the shaker about 3/4 of the way, which gives room to give the powder a good shake to break up any lumps that might form as it settles. 

Sprinkle over your carpets, wait five to ten minutes and the vacuum it up!  Voila!  Non-toxic and fresh smelling....for pennies compared to buying carpet deodorizer at the grocery store. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Update to the Menu/Grocery/Coupon binder

My husband makes fun of me for trying to keep up with this binder.  And I will freely admit that it is difficult, especially with him traveling for work often and being the 'fly by the seat of his pants' kind of guy.  He likes to eat out, and really, so do I, but I am really trying to save us some money...be more environmentally friendly (eating out is horrible for that)....and be healthier.

I took my little binder to work this week to share with one of my girlfriends there because she is interested in doing the same thing.  She fell head over heels in love with it, and ended up giving me a good idea to add to the madness.  I had bought these 4x6 photo sleeves for the binder, but once I started putting it together, I could not figure out what to do with them so I just stuck them in the back to save for later. 

So what am I using them for?  Recipes!  When I plan my menu for the week, I tend to surf Pinterest to find new and different things and healthy recipes.  I write out the meal plan on a notebook sheet (because I haven't found nice, neat printables to use and I have been too lazy to make my own), then write out the recipe on a 4x6 card and stick each one in a sleeve behind the menu.  That way I have the menu, the recipe and then the grocery list all together for easy access and so I can make sure that I did not forget anything at the grocery store!

I found these awesome and free printable recipe cards last night to start using.  I just printed out a handful of them and cut them all out with my paper cutter so I have a stack ready for when I need them.  It's working well so far!