Little Home, Big World

…what would Ma do?

Taking My Own Advice June 20, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Thoughts — bethanyjoy @ 8:40 am
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Irony is posting about rolling with life’s challenges, and then having a couple big ones wallop you good a few days later.

I find myself taking my own advice, or rather, trying to  – there’s a fine line at times between acceptance and denial. One will help you move on; the other just prolongs the battle. If you’re anything like me, you spend a few days bouncing from one to the other.

I’m also spending a lot of time breathing deep. Looking outside at the trees and the lake, and when I can’t sleep, the moon and stars. Did I mention breathing? Lots and lots of that. In with Mr. Good Air, out with Mr. Bad Air…

And looking at the good stuff. There’s always good stuff. Even when jobs are in the air and housing in flux, there is good stuff. Healthy kids. A somewhat chaotic and wacky family, but one that loves intensely. Sunshine. Summer breezes. The joy of a good book. The feeling of sand beneath your bare feet. A favourite song on the radio, right when you need to hear it. Imagination. Creativity. Pink hair. Yummy-smelling bodywash. Beautiful yarn. Chocolate-peanut-butter-cup-ice-cream.

If you open your mind and think about it, there’s always more good stuff. Hold onto it with both hands. The sun sets on good days and bad days, but we’ll only see the beauty of it if we take the time to look.

 

Spring Cleaning Recipes March 8, 2009

Filed under: Penny Saved,Virtuosity — bethanyjoy @ 7:03 pm
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OK, so you should actually use these all year, not just for spring cleaning. But we’ve had above-zero temperatures for THREE consecutive days, so I am officially in spring-cleaning mode. 🙂

Not only are these recipes quick and easy — and effective! — but they are definitely cheaper. And they leave your house smelling fresh and clean… not like funky blue cleaner.

Basic Ingredients:

  • Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap
  • Baking Soda (look for the big, generic box of it at the grocery store. You’ll use lots.)
  • Vinegar
  • Washing Soda (look in the laundry aisle)
  • Borax
  • essential oils (optional; I use mostly Lavendar, Lemon, and Tea Tree Oil)
  • some spray bottles, rags, and a sponge (look for spray bottles in the plant section of your department store, or at a dollar-store location. You could recycle them from other spray products, but since most of those contain the toxins we’re trying to avoid, it might not be the best option.)

Soft Scrubber: In a small bowl, combine about 1/2 cup of baking soda with a squirt or two of Dr. Bronner’s and just a little bit of water (add water by the tbsp until it’s the consistency you want.) Scoop some up on a sponge and use it to clean the tub, shower, sink, etc. Rinse well. (If you need more heavy-duty scrubbing action, use 1/4 cup borax and 1/4 cup baking soda.) Obviously, you can mix this in any amount and consistency you want…figure out what works for you.

All Purpose/Glass Cleaner: In a spray bottle, combine equal amounts water and vinegar. Spray on windows and wipe off with rag. (If windows are really dirty, you can add a few drops of Dr. B’s to the mix. If there is a lot of mineral-buildup, use more vinegar and less water.) I keep a bottle of this in the kitchen and use it to clean counter tops, the table, highchairs, etc. Vinegar is a natural germ-buster.

Dirt Buster Spray: A fantastic recipe over at Care2 – check it out! Works great on stuff like stovetops, fridge door handles, etc.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Sprinkle borax over the water in the bowl (I do two shakes and a shimmy, AKA 1/4 cup), use a brush to clean bowl, then let it sit for 1/2 hr or so. Cleans great, deodorizes, and doesn’t turn your water blue.

Stinky Carpets or Couches: For mild stinkiness, sprinkle with baking soda, let it sit for at least 15 minutes, and vacuum. For mustiness or serious stinkiness (hey, if you have kids, you know not to ask) use borax in the same way, but let it sit overnight if you can.

Linoleum Floors: For a sinkful of HOT water, add a couple squirts of Dr. B’s and a glub of vinegar. Use a mop.

Laundry Boosters: Add washing soda to whites and towels — it does wonders on stains and odors. Use vinegar instead of fabric softener to remove detergent residue. For fresh-smelling clothes without chemicals, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil on a small rag and toss it in the dryer.

Linen Spray: Combine 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup vodka in a spray bottle, add 15-20 drops of lavender essential oil. Spritz over beds and let dry before making up.

Migraine-free ‘breeze: Combine 1/4 cup vodka and 1 cup water in a spray bottle. Add EO’s as desired. (I like 10 drops lavender with 10 peppermint for a fresh scent, or mandarin and clove bud for a holiday scent.)

Pot Luck: If you have a glass, ceramic or stainless steel pot or casserole — fill with HOT water, sprinkle with washing soda, and let it sit overnight. All the baked-on crud will come right off in the morning.

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. Happy cleaning!

No, really. It’s spring. Clean those windows, let the sunshine in, and enjoy the fact that a) you’re not hurting the planet b) you’re not hurting your health c) you’re not hurting your kid’s health and d) you saved money. See? Almost makes it fun, doesn’t it?

 

Simple Goals January 5, 2009

Filed under: Simplicity — bethanyjoy @ 2:53 pm
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Well, the holidays are over. In a blur of last-minute baking, visiting, white-knuckling it through snow squalls and icy roads to get together with family…add in a 15 hour power shortage, school break, and a hubby working over-over-time, and you have the reason for the blogging lapse.

So, happy 2009! May it be an amazing year for you.

I am actually a big fan of the New Years Resolution. In years past, it has been the impetus I needed to overcome the post-holiday-dark-dreary-winter-day blahs. The key to making resolutions work for you is simply to pick things that matter to you — and are reasonable, simple goals.

I would love to be a runner…I gaze in admiration at the faithful who run down my street, daily, in minus-ouch weather. But jumping into a jogging routine in frigid January, kids in tow? Not likely to happen! That would be a foolish resolution, and would only set me up for failure. However, if I continue with my recent exercise routine, then I could likely start a walking-then-running routine come spring.

So, my goals for the year are as follows:

a) Continue to exercise for at least 15 minutes a day. (Small and consistent pays off.)

b) Knit through Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac. I adore these patterns, and knitting through the book will be a great motivation to tackle a few skills I’ve been avoiding getting serious with (hello, colorwork!).

So go ahead, pick something simple, and DO IT. You’ll thank yourself.

 

Bread for Beginners November 28, 2008

Filed under: Simplicity,The Clutzy Kitchen — bethanyjoy @ 3:26 pm
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Of which, I am one. 😉 I have only been experimenting with bread making over the last few weeks, but have been surprised by how simple and enjoyable it is. The smell of baking bread is like aromatherapy on a cold and dreary fall day. Serve it with some hearty homemade soup, and enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

Both of these links make excellent, artistic-looking loaves. Both are made from simple ingredients. No strange preservatives or coloring here — just delicious and nutritious goodness!

  • No-Knead Bread this was my first loaf. It’s very simple; time does the work. If your house is drafty like mine, consider letting the dough rise overnight in your oven, with just the ovenlight on — this maintains a steady, ideal temperature.
  • One Hour French Bread from the folks over at the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-Op is my current favorite. It’s moist, the crust isn’t too chewy for the little kids, and it makes two loaves — one for dinner, one for breakfast! Requires a bit of kneading, but it’s still quick and easy.
 

 
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