Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A recycled posting for my 100th post: natural cleaning products revisited

I just noticed this morning that I have written 99 posts. So I thought in the true spirit of an ecologically focused blog I would recycle my most popular blog post. This was originally written in early April when I only had a handful of followers. Since then, Small at Reduce Footprints has Stumbled the following post and sometimes it alone receives a dozen direct hits a day. The day it was Stumbled it it nearly crashed my site, a new visitor logging in almost every second!

It always makes me happy to see someone showing interest in removing the chemical cleaning products from their home. So for my newer followers who haven't seen this yet I challenge you to give some of these recipes a shot. They're easy, very cheap and your body will thank you for it. Now I must go unclog the bathroom sink with baking soda and vinegar....

Kate reveals her all-natural cleaning product secrets,
originally posted April 3, 2009

The spring peepers are calling like mad in my neighborhood, the herring have been sighted in the fish ladder and my forsythia is about to burst. Spring has arrived on the north shore of Massachusetts and the two days I've been able to open my windows wide has made me itch to do a big spring cleaning. As I round up favorite four (and my ONLY four) cleaning products I thought I'd share my secrets with the world. All you need are these, I'm serious:

Grab some empty spray bottles, a rag or newspapers (ditch the paper towels, a rag works great and you can throw it in the wash and newspaper is a great window cleaner) and you're ready for a toxin-free cleaning!

All-purpose cleaner: one part vinegar, four parts water and a splash of lemon juice, put in a spray bottle. This is the first thing I grab for cleaning counters, windows, sinks, sticky mystery messes my husband leaves on the kitchen table....

Safe scrub: baking soda, plain and simple. I get the biggest box the supermarket has and sprinkle it in my ceramic kitchen sink, my bath tub, my bathroom sink. Just moisten a bit and scrub. Everything is pearly-white in no time.

Floor cleaner: Equal mix of white vinegar and warm water. Add a splash of lemon juice for a yummy scent. For wood floors add a splash of baby oil. I admit, I loved my Pine-Sol. But it always left a chemically odor that I didn't want my newborn inhaling. All the ammonia is not only bad for her sensitive mucous membranes (not to mention mine) but unnecessary.

Drain de-clogger: pour a half cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a half cup of vinegar. Don't be alarmed when it foams up! That's how it works it de-gunking magic. Fifteen minutes later pour hot water down the drain to wash it all away. DON'T do this if you've already used a chemical cleaner, the vinegar will react with it and release toxic fumes. Best bet, start with baking soda and vinegar in the first place.

Mold remover: spray it with hydrogen peroxide. One part hydrogen peroxide three parts water.

And my favorite, courtesy of my chemist father-in-law (which I haven't actually tried yet but I'm itching to do because I love a good basic chemical reaction.):

All natural-magical-silver polish: Line a saucepan with aluminum foil and fill with water. Add a teaspoon of salt and baking soda and bring to a boil. Once it's boiling add your silver and let it sit for a minute or two then take it out. Voila! Tarnish-free AND far easier than doing all that polishing! Let me know if you try it and how it works out, my mother-in-law says this is the coolest thing ever and is mad that my father-in-law didn't show her this trick years ago!

What you're never going to need to clean your house:
ammonia: causes damage to mucous membranes and potential burns.
bleach: causes chronic respiratory damage and heart conditions.
antibacterial soap: a whole mess of health problems including antibiotic resistance for you and the creation of super-germs, just don't go there. Get them out of your life for good.

One of the best benefits of getting the scary chemicals above out of my house is I don't have to worry about my almost-crawling baby getting her grubby hands on toxic products and swallowing them.

Happy spring and happy toxin-free cleaning!! -kate

Monday, December 14, 2009

Playing farmer

Friends of ours in a neighboring town occasionally go away and ask us to pet sit. Except their pets include a lot more than their three friendly cats. They also have a goat, two sheep, a dozen chickens, a half dozen peacocks, a flock of guinea fowl, two geese, and a couple of turkeys (I might be forgetting something?)

I have a blast doing this! I've never lived on a farm. I've never taken care of "farm" animals, even though I did aquatic animal care for twelve years, this is much different. My husband and I only own 0.06 acres so unless we move we'll never be able to own more than a few chickens and never a goat or sheep and especially peacocks as they are very loud.

I think it's a great deal: we take care of their animals, get to play farmer for a few days and can take home all the fresh eggs we want. If you've never eaten an egg straight out of the nest box you are missing out. The yolks are impossibly yellow and the flavor is out of this world!

So I will stop typing and share some fun pictures. This is the goat, he eats everything and tried to eat my camera:

I think this turkey is just beautiful. At first they seem quite ugly but just look at those colors! As soon as you walk by them they puff out all their feathers and put on quite a display:

This photo isn't great since it was cold and my hands were shaky, but these are some of the guinea fowl (they keep them for tick control) and there's one of the big male peacocks in the rear center. Have you ever seen a peacock fly? He flew clear across the paddock to perch in a tree and it was very impressive:

This is the last clutch of eggs we got. The brown ones are from the chickens, our friends say the big white ones are also chickens since the geese shouldn't be laying until next year but I'm not sure. They are HUGE! Twice the size if not more than the chicken eggs:

I'm sure we'll get a call again soon for some more pet sitting. Which is fine with me. Ever since I left my job at the Aquarium I do miss taking care of animals. Hopefully some day I'll be able to keep chickens, it will be a great learning experience for my daughter when she's old enough to help with the care. She loves going to the "farm" now, although in the recent cold weather I've had to bundle her up pretty tight. But, I can still hear the giggles through all the layers as she imitates the animals.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Most Hilarious Santa Arrival. EVER.

Before I get to the point, I apologize for letting a month go by without blogging. An explanation (trust me, it's good) at the end of this post.

I live in a quirky seaside town. And I love it. But, the way Ipswich, Massachusetts has Santa arrive is about the quirkiest I have ever seen. This was the first year my husband, our little girl, and I made our way down to the town wharf to see the action and we were not disappointed.

I've seen Santa arrive by fire truck, by sleigh and on a horse. But, in our town, he arrives by fire rescue boat. He motors up the Ipswich River to the town wharf. Then, an awaiting fire truck with a boat trailer picks up the rescue boat and the whole town, I swear the WHOLE town, follows Santa, still in the boat, about a mile upriver to the downtown area.

I'm not finished. There's also a jailed Grinch in the back of the police department's pick up truck. They make him pull up the rear of the Santa parade, I guess since he's in jail he shouldn't be up front in the place of honor with Santa.

I'm not sure what my daughter made of all this. She's only fourteen months so the crowd of mostly older kids was probably more interesting to her than Santa or the Grinch. But I think she really enjoyed the mile walk, the bells her Aunt Bev bought her along the way, and the lights from the fire truck. LIGHTS is now her favorite word, which she has to scream on the top of her lungs. Every time I turn on the Christmas lights in the living room I hear her shrill little voice cry out "LIGHTS! WOW!"

What I've learned in the past few days from the Santa parade, a very unexpected jailed Grinch, a new favorite word and the look of pure yumminess on my little girl's face when she ate a gingerbread cookie is the Holidays are so much more fun with a child. How on earth did I find them fun before? I have no idea. But all the wonderment and magic I felt as a child waiting for Santa is quickly rushing back. You might just find me creeping down the stairs at 3 AM Christmas morning to see if Santa drank the milk and ate the cookies we'll leave out.

I am so thankful for a child to share this holiday season with. And the reason why I've taken a little blogging break is we have another one on the way. I'm ending my first trimester and I'm hoping the nausea and exhaustion will start to fade like it did at about this point with Lizzie. If my kid is napping than so am I, hence the lack of online activity. So I think I'll go have another ginger cookie and go to bed!