I've been slowly transitioning to using more natural products for household cleaning. With a move approaching, I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to go completely 'green' with my cleaning products. I've been making a natural laundry soap for about two years now and have implemented other commercial products like Seventh Generations all purpose spray cleaner and their dishwashing detergent. My shortcoming has been in the bathroom, however. I was still bleaching the bathtub monthly and occasionally using one of those liquid toilet bowl cleaners that requires venting when used. I know...yikes! But I'm now using my cleaning powers for good. My husband and I went to clean our new place yesterday and I put together a very eco-friendly cleaning kit. I realized after we left the new place that I didn't get that feeling of over exertion and nausea I normally do when cleaning. And with it being an antiquated building we're moving to, I can't imagine adding more chemicals and toxins to the indoor air. 

What we use
white vinegar
baking soda
Dr. Bronner's tea tree oil castile soap
Ivory soap
essential oils: lemon, lavender, tea tree
washing soda

What they do
White vinegar acts as an antibacterial agent and can be used, diluted with water, to clean hard surfaces including tile.

Dr. Bronner's is a pre castile soap safe for cleaning your home, your clothes, and your person! It comes in liquid and bar form. The liquid is form is great for adding to a vinegar and water mix for cleaning hard surfaces like countertops. It's concentrated so a few drops go a long way.

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is another multipurpose product. It can be used for the body internally and externally. Most importantly, it makes a great scrubbing agent for cleaning tubs, tile, and toilets. It's also great in laundry to freshen  garments.

Essential oils tend to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties among others that promote a healthy environment.  Because they are the natural oils and not manufactured fragrance oils, those wonderful scents don't leave behind unwanted chemicals in the air.

Borax is is sodium brate and functions much like baking soda. While not safe for human consumption, it is a great addition to cleaning solutions for natural deodorizing. It's already found in lots of commercial detergents but can be purchased on its own making more eco-friendly.

Ivory soap is another brand of castile soap. Castile soaps are simply the purest, gentlest kind of soap one can get.  As a bar soap, Ivory is great for making laundry soap.

Washing soda (sodium carbonate or soda ash) also acts much like its counterpart, baking soda. It's not safe for human consumption but will soften hard water and boosts the cleaning power of a castile soap in the laundry.

How we use it
Scrubbing paste: In a plastic bowl, I mixed baking soda, a few drops of liquid castile soap, and water to form a paste for scrubbing the bathroom tub and tile. 

Floor cleaner: For the kitchen, which is vinyl flooring, I did approximately a 1:3 solution of vinegar to water, a few drops of liquid castile soap, and a 12 drops of lemon oil. 

For the hardwoods, I did approximately a 1:5 solution of vinegar to water and damp mopped. This was done after sweeping the floors. Again, the mop should only be damp not soaking wet. I used a microfiber mop as I figured the cloth would be great for picking up any remaining dust and not scratch the floors.

Hard surface spray: I mixed a 1:4 solution of vinegar to water, a few drops of liquid castile soap, 10 drops lemon oil. Shake vigorously, spray as much as needed and wipe with sponge or cloth. I cleaned the refrigerator, stove, counters, and window sills with this.

Other uses: 
Pour baking soda down the drain and let sit for at least 15 minutes then rinse to freshen sink drains. 

If you need to quickly get rid of kitchen or bathroom odors, pour vinegar down the drain or let simmer on stove with water.

Add 10 - 20 drops of an essential oil like orange, lemon, grapefruit, or lavender to a spray bottle and fill with water for an all natural air freshener. Remember to shake well and can even be lightly misted on furniture and window treatments.

What green cleaning tips do you have?
I was trollin' for handmade and here's what I found and added to the wish list...
*Pieces of Me Pendants' Pink Cherry Blossoms
*jobozarth's Wee Wee Dance - The Couple
*jobozarth's "Read" print
*bertie's closet hummingbird laptop sleeve
*molly proctor's argyle round in tangerine resin ring

Support handmade!
I got this really cute crochet pattern from elsiecake at A Beautiful Mess for a super easy winter hat. First, let me say that she's one of my new favorite crafting gurus. Now, I chose to use my Lion Brand Wool-Ease yarn in spice and an M 13 (9.0 mm) hook for the first one. I wanted it to have a chunky look and that it does. It's done in the single crochet stitch. It was pretty much like making a scarf but shorter one way and wider the other. It's a bonnet style with braided cords to secure it and a pom pom (yep, I made that too) in Bernat Softee Chunky natural. 

Do I love it? I'm not too thrilled with how it turned out but my husband had to remind me that I have big hair. It looks like a helmet! But what did I expect? I gots BIG ass hair. I really could have crocheted about 3 fewer rows of single stitches. On the positive, it is quite warm and will be great for the few more below freezing days I can expect in Memphis. elsiecake used a finer gauge yarn but I know my hat would fit wider regardless. Next I'll make one for the kid in his favorite color--green.

Note to natural hair wearers: I know y'all are wondering why on earth I would wear that hair gobbling hat no matter how cold sit gets. Well, I got a little trick and it's better than a scarf. It's one of those hideous thin turbans found in most beauty supply stores. It does not cover all of my hair or even stay on my head while sleeping, but I knew I'd find a use for it one day. It has a snug enough fit that it discreetly covers my crown under unlined hats without the bulk of a scarf. And so that i don't lose it or reveal my secret, I use one of those tiny gold safety pins to secure it to the hat so they come off together.

If you're a Zero 7 fan, you'll recognize Mozez's smooth, ethereal vocals as one of their go to guest singers. For those new to his sound, you're in for a treat...
Today, I was supposed to share a gratuitous happy birthday to me post. But, you've been spared (*wink*) by my 7 year old budding photographer. His grandparents got him his first camera for Christmas, a Phineas and Ferb camera no less. So, the resolution is not much with it being for kids but like most cell phone cameras, it does pretty well in natural light. 

The kid and the Mr. went for a walk yesterday because it was a bit sunny, though cold, so that he could snap some pics. Needless to say that when they returned and I uploaded his pics into my laptop, the Mr. and I were gushing oodles of praise over the kid's "eye". I won't push this on him but I certainly hope that he keeps a camera in his hands because I see something special manifesting...if I do say so myself.

I'd love to know of any kid-friendly photography books that can maybe give some light guidance on the art form. Any suggestions? 

Enjoy the slideshow!
First, please forgive my picture...again. I'm still in need of a decent camera. Having said that, know that this is quite appetizing and filling. My favorite grain, quinoa, serves as the bed for the sauteed meatless grounds, peppers, onions, and garlic. So, you've got some pretty basic ingredients to play with as far as seasoning. I season everything but the quinoa for this quick, easy dish. The spices I use for this give it an Indian (East or West) flare. And both the quinoa and meatless grounds are high in protein which is great for vegetarian and vegan diets. Yep, this is a vegan-friendly meal too! This is a great dish for making in bulk for get-togethers and potlucks. It's also carnivore-friendly for those in the midst of a conversion or when you have a dual vegetarian/carnivore household as I do.

What I use
1 pound Quorn meatless grounds
1 cup quinoa (bulk, not pre-bagged)
1 tbsp. cardamom
1 tbsp. curry
1 tbsp. cumin
2 cloves garlic chopped or minced
1/2 onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped (or red or yellow or any combination of the 3)
olive oil (a drizzle for sautee pan)

What I did:
I cook my quinoa (rinsed) in a rice cooker with about 1/2 cup water (easy) and get that nice fluffy texture without the soggies. No rice cooker? Here's how to cook quinoa perfectly without one. On medium heat, toss meatless grounds, peppers, onions, and garlic in a pan drizzled in olive oil. You just want to lightly coat the pan so the grounds don't stick and get a bit of good fat. Since the grounds come frozen, I wait until their mostly thawed before adding the spices. Toss around for about 5 minutes. Serve over a bed of quinoa (again I leave it unseasoned since the rest is so flavorful).  If you wanna add a little something extra, garnish in some freshly grated parmesan cheese (not vegan-friendly) or hit it with a splash of citrus and garnish with the rind. This should yield about 4 servings. 

Happy eating veg heads!

Sometimes I like to color butterflies. This one in particular. I thought I was the only grown ass woman doing so but I may be wrong. I stumbled across a site recently just for folks like myself. A site called Color Pages for Mom. It's ad riddled but there are some great "grown up" coloring pages there. 

Is it silly for an adult to color? At first I thought so, but didn't care. Now, after finding this and several other coloring for adults pages, I see that others realize it's therapeutic. So, if you've had a horrible day at work or your kids or partner have driven you insane, get out some colored pencils or crayons, print some coloring pages, and channel the anger and frustration into a ten minute masterpiece. By the way, colored pencils are my poison (I have two sets). And I don't always wait until I'm stressed to enjoy this creative past time...

Happy coloring!

A few Coloring pages for grown folks:
Color Pages for Mom
Adult coloring posters and line drawings