Little Home, Big World

…what would Ma do?

Spring Cleaning Recipes March 8, 2009

Filed under: Penny Saved,Virtuosity — bethanyjoy @ 7:03 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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?


Gully Green February 8, 2009

Filed under: D.I.Why,Virtuosity — bethanyjoy @ 3:45 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Well, I’ve done it. Swallowed a million and one excuses, and am listing a pattern…for sale. (Gasp. Shock.) I’ve been procrastinating a long time, but in the past week had no fewer than three people tell me to just DO IT, so I’m going for it.

Ahh…life on the edge. 🙂

I’m calling it “Gully Green”. The idea was originally born during my post about upcycling holiday wrapping — I initially planned on knitting a plain-jane bag. But then I got to thinking…why not combine the sturdiness of crochet with the loveliness of knitted lace? Why not make a pretty marketbag, that could be used as gift wrap?

That got the wheels spinning. Then I started thinking of all the different variations — maybe a small one, made in mercerized crochet thread, to hold little trinkets. Perhaps a tall skinny version in wool as a wine cozy…perhaps…well, you get the idea.

The pattern is tested and ready, and I’m looking forward to seeing what people do with it.

Happy hooking and knitting!

(And now I’m going to go breathe. My heart is pounding and hands are shaky…who’d have thought this would be such a rush?)


Moroccan Mint Facial Cleanser December 10, 2008

Filed under: Penny Saved,Virtuosity — bethanyjoy @ 2:28 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve been using this recipe for a couple weeks now and I love it. It’s all my skin needs for morning cleansing, and it does wonders for puffiness under the eyes…and I am convinced it evens skin tone as well. All without drying my rather sensitive winter skin.

You know how healthy Green Tea is…now treat your skin to some of the benefits!

You’ll Need:
1 1/2 tbsp Moroccan Mint looseleaf tea (OR 1 tbsp green tea leaves and 1/2 tbsp dried mint; OR 2 green tea bags and 1 peppermint tea bag)
1 cup boiling water
Bowl or large mug, lid of some sort to cover it
Glass jar with lid

To Make:
Place tea in bowl and pour boiling water over it. Cover, and let steep until it reaches room temperature — about 3 or 4 hours. Strain out tea leaves (or remove teabags) and pour into jar.
Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To Use:
Saturate a cotton ball and apply generously to face, using short upward strokes. Allow to dry on skin.
Personally, I like using it straight out of the fridge — it really wakes up your face and brings color into your cheeks. 🙂 But if that’s too abrupt for you first thing in the morning, let it sit at room temp while you take a shower.


Upcycle Your Holiday Wrapping December 7, 2008

Filed under: D.I.Why,Penny Saved,Virtuosity — bethanyjoy @ 7:45 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I’m snuggling inside today, watching as a fine-grained snow blows and billows and drifts around our home. With the wind-chill factored it, it’s about -20 degrees celsius. (For my American friends, this translates to “Brr!”)

While I sit and work on holiday gifts, my mind is drifting too — how am I going to wrap them? My goal is to avoid purchasing disposable products of any kind. In fact, I’d like to take it one step further and use mostly recycled materials. If I can do so in a way that will create something with a long-term use — all the better! I love the term “upcycle” — it’s like recycle, only better. 🙂

To that end, I’ve been searching the vast net for interesting ideas and links. Hope you find them as inspiring as I do! I’d love to hear your suggestions, or see pictures of your eco-friendly wrapping.

Little Origami Boxes ( recycle cardboard — cereal and cracker boxes, for example.)

Greeting Card Gift Boxes (use greeting cards from last year, or check the thrift store for random vintage cards)

Sew A Bottle Gift Bag (check your thrift store for funky fabric scraps, or for holiday table cloths or placemats)

Sew A Simple Drawstring Bag (again, look for fabrics that you already own or can thrift — those ugly curtains might make an adorable little bag!)

Knit or Crochet a “Market Bag” (I’m hoping to make a few of these, and line them with tea towels, cloth napkins, handkerchiefs, etc. The bag can be reused for shopping, and the fabric lining for another purpose. No waste!)

Repurpose the unexpected. Large gift? Maybe you have a lonely pillowcase in a fun print that could be tied with some leftover ribbon.

Make the Wrapping the Gift — how about a stockpot filled with jars of homemade soup mix? Or a mixing bowl with jars of cookie mix? Use a towel to wrap jars of homemade bath salts, and fasten with a ribbon. Gift handmade soaps wrapped in washcloths…see where I’m going with this? 😉

Happy wrapping!


%d bloggers like this: