Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Quick floor wash!

I'm back!

It's been a long blogging hiatus. (Blogiatus? Anyone want to help me out there?) But I am back with something so wonderful, so exciting, that I just had to share.

One thing I've missed since I embarked on this whole green journey is having a quick and easy way to mop floors. Time was, I had one of those mops that squirted some kind of noxious chemical bleach stuff on my floor, and I used it almost every day. Crazy! Man, how times have changed. How I have changed.

But I've missed the convenience of it. And let's face it – I really like my high-maintenance floor cleaner but I don't always have time for the washing and rinsing. If I spill chocolate sauce all over the floor (it's happened, don't judge), I want to be able to get it off the floor quickly and easily.

Here's what you need. I'm not even going to bother illustrating this one. It doesn't get easier:
1 c. Water
1 c. White vinegar
10 drops peppermint essential oil

Shake it all up in a repurposed squeeze bottle, squirt it on the floor, and mop away! Obviously, it's easily doubled or tripled.

Have fun and know you're getting it done fast – and safely!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cozi link fixed

Just wanted to let you know that if you haven't been able to access the Cozi article, the link is fixed now. Thanks for your patience!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm baking bread over at Cozi!

A new post is coming tomorrow, but in the meantime, please check me out on! If you've wondered how to simplify bread-baking, this post is for you.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

When "crunchy" hits the wall

Here is why the blog entry didn’t happen yesterday: I have a three-year-old. A three-year-old who gets bored when Mommy is on the phone. A three-year-old who shows it by finding a bit of brown crayon and scribbling all over the LCD TV screen with it.

The ensuing apoplexy made it impossible for me to say anything intelligible or fit for reprinting in a family-oriented blog.

I did what any 2009 mom worth her salt would do: put it out on Facebook. Many, many comments later, the consensus appeared to be a product called Magic Eraser, made by Mr. Clean, which I have never used. One of the ingredients is formaldehyde-melamine-sodium bisulfite copolymer, which the company insists is not formaldehyde but rather a chemical compound that is totally safe and nontoxic. I don’t doubt that, but still, it’s not a product I would buy under normal circumstances.

These were not normal circumstances. I didn’t pay anything for the TV, but I can’t afford to replace it, either. This was a case where I felt like the benefit of restoring the TV, and bringing my blood pressure down, outweighed the detriment of having weird chemicals in the house. (Besides, my kids won’t lick the TV screen. Maybe I should confirm that with the three-year-old.) After further Internet research singing the Magic Eraser’s praises on LCD screens, I went with it. It was a miracle. You can’t even see where the crayon was.

I didn’t try what another friend suggested, rubbing it off with a microfiber cloth, because I was afraid it wouldn’t work and might smear the crayon. Maybe on another, less costly surface.

Do you find that certain situations test your crunchiness (or cheapness)?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Guest-blogging with Cozi!

There will be more later, but just wanted to let everyone know that starting next week, I will be guest-blogging over at's Live Simply magazine! Can't wait to see all of you over there.

In the meantime, look for another "real" post tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How to make floor wash

Perhaps I should mop. What do you think? Doesn’t it look like a crime scene?

You know me. I’m not pulling out the Pine-Sol. A few simple ingredients, most of which you have in your house already, will get your floors clean as a whizzle (as my five-year-old son says).

Here’s what you need:
Liquid soap (here I’m using natural dish liquid, because it’s what I have handy; Dr. Bronner’s is my favorite, though, and another time I’ll show you how to make your own)
Peppermint tea
Measuring cups

And here’s why:
VINEGAR. I find that vinegar cuts grease and dirt well, and it’s an effective germ-killer. It’s a nontoxic way to add a little oomph – Mr. Clean with long hair, if you will.
LIQUID SOAP. The EPA recommends liquid soap as a germ-killer.
PEPPERMINT TEA. Also has disinfectant properties, and its strong but pleasant smell helps to cut the vinegar’s intensity.

First, sweep up schmutz, tragic Legos, and whatever else bedevils your floor.

Next, put ½ cup of water on the kettle to boil, and make a cup of very strong tea. As usual, resist the urge to slurp it up greedily.

While it’s steeping, pour a cup of vinegar and a scant 1/8 cup of liquid soap into the bucket. If you find at the end that it’s a little soapy for your liking, you can always add more water to the mix.

After about five minutes, add the tea and then a gallon of water to the bucket, and mix. Mop, rinse, and dry as usual. Good for one use.

Look, Ma, no Legos!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Moving green

Being the ever-frugal and environmentally conscious person that I am (or try to be), I wanted our Colorado-Illinois trek to have as minimal an impact on the earth and our bank account as much as possible. And now, with a month or so remove on it, I still feel like we did pretty well. Here's what went right, what went wrong, and some things that might help you the next time you have to uproot.

Shedding. I have gone from pack rat to compulsive shedder. (When I announced this to my husband, he hugged me with tears in his eyes. “Finally!” he said. “You’re one of us!”) It’s always been part of the “thrift” thing – “What if I need it one day?” So I lugged things around for 10 years or more, waiting for the day when I might need it. Then, when we realized we were moving, I looked around and, through my tears, said, “Well, I don’t want to take all this stuff.” I didn’t need this weight, this dormant energy that 20 boxes of unused stuff brings. Why not send it out into the world, to spread joy and comfort to those who need it (if I haven’t used it for 10 years, clearly I don’t)? So I did, and I threw very little away. And I’ve never felt better.
Have a yard sale (or two). Sell it on Craiglist or eBay. Put it on Freecycle. Give it to your local charity thrift store. Give it to friends. Spread the wealth (and create a little wealth for yourself), and keep it out of the landfill!

Boxes. Thank goodness my natural pack-rat tendencies led to my having saved every barely usable box I’ve accrued since college – we didn’t have to buy a single box this time! Family and friends also gave us some boxes, totally unsolicited. Never turn down gifts of boxes at moving time.
If you don’t have a stockpile from which to draw, or friends who will give or lend you boxes, get freebies from the liquor store or grocery store. That’s where many of ours came from in the first place. They’re free, and they’re strong; and by taking them off their hands, you’re keeping them out of the waste stream.

Packing materials. We had some leftover bubble wrap, which we reused, but mostly I multi-tasked my newspaper subscription (which helps an industry close to my heart in the first place). I say pish-posh to those who insist that one must pack in something other than newspaper – if you wrap your fine things well (as you would a present, but without the tape) and in a couple of layers of paper, you’ll have little to no breakage. (I always make sure to wash my plates and cups once they make it to their destination.) It’s so much cheaper, and it’s recyclable.
Another idea, which I used to great effect, is to use towels and sheets as packing materials rather than packing them separately.

Moving truck. We rented a Penske truck, the biggest one we could get (after all, there are six of us). One reason we picked Penske was that it purported to get 500 miles per diesel tank. But even on almost exclusively highways, and even with using cruise control, we found it got about half that. (We think they figured the mileage on an empty truck. Because who doesn’t rent a truck to PUT NOTHING IN IT? Thanks for the bait-and-switch, Penske. End of rant.)
We were paying for the move ourselves; thus, we did the whole thing ourselves. This was the balance we had to strike. If you are able to hire professional movers, it’s worth checking Green Movers to get a quote. Their partner movers are taking steps to reduce carbon emissions and their contributions to the waste stream. If yours is a local move, you might be able to find a mover that uses biodiesel-powered trucks (a little Google searching ought to help you there).