Archive for ‘Housekeeping’

November 16th, 2010

Tuesdays Tip: Saving $ On Organic Foods

I get asked a lot how to save money on Organic/Natural foods and supplements. Here are some tips that I use and an Ex coupon junkie.

1. Buy supplements on Ebay. As long as they aren’t outdated and are sealed, you can save a lot buying online.
2. Write the companies you buy from frequently, tell them you like their products, and if they can send you some coupons. Most companies will send you some sort of savings.
3. You can buy organic food coupons on Ebay for cheap.
4. Go to websites such as HealthEsavers.com or the companies own websites. Some have on-line print outs.
5. If your favorite item goes on sale, buy a lot of it if it’s non perishable. I always buy my natural dishwasher detergent on sale and buy a couple of boxes because when it’s on sale, I usually save at least $2 per box!
6. Sometimes, the stores will have coupon books in the front of the store or at the customer service desk. Just ask!
7. Look at expiration dates. If things are close the the expiration date and you knew you will use them before, ask for a discount.
8. Buy in bulk from Amazon or other online companies. Sometimes this is cheaper than buying from the store.
9. Bring your own bags! Some stores give bag discounts, if you bring your own.
10. Shop the bulk bin section for common kitchen ingredients, such as rice, nuts, flour, oats, etc. This is often cheaper than buying a pre-packaged item, because they are saving on packing materials which brings savings to you.

This is how I try to save the most money I can. Living organically can be expensive, but there are savings to be had! It’s better for you and the environment, so it’s worth it in every way!

September 3rd, 2010

I have a 10 year old!!

Towards the end of August, I always wish my cat, Acey May, a Happy Birthday! I don’t know her exact birthday since she was dropped off as a kitten, probably in the field across from my parents house. So, every day in August feels like her birthday to me!

I remember B and I coming home from my high school Powder Puff game, and my mom greeted us outside saying, “There’s a cat stuck under your Dad’s van.” Without thinking, I was under my Dad’s van searching for this cat. I heard the little cries and grabbed for it somewhere around the guts of the van.

I pulled out an oil slicked, gray fuzz-ball, covered in fleas. We took her inside and cleaned her up. I knew I couldn’t get attached because we already had two other cats that wouldn’t care for the new addition. My mom made me promise to try to find her a new home. For about 2 weeks we kept her on the front porch, so she wouldn’t bother my other cats. I found myself out there for hours playing with the adorable baby. I was so tempted to bring her in, but I didn’t want the cat to get too comfortable either, if I was just going to have to give her to someone else.

Needless to say, my begging to my mom worked and I was able to keep her. The minute she was allowed in the house, she made herself at home. She slept in my bed, and followed me everywhere, even in between the shower curtains, on the bathtub ledge, while I took a shower. She was, and still is my best friend.

I did notice, however, that there were these dark dirt-like specks in my bed all the time. I didn’t think too much of it. I would just wash my blankets frequently. Then, I actually saw a tiny brown bug, making it’s way across and in my baby’s nose. I was so grossed out, I immediately gave her a bath and we got her a flea collar and a good flea brush.

She has been the most clean and pristine cat…. until she turned 10!!!!

I was noticing that she had been scratching around her neck, way too much for me to be comfortable with. I grabbed her flea brush and gave her a swipe. Sure enough, FLEAS!!! I was appalled. My perfect, clean cat had fleas for the first time since we had gotten rid of them 10 years ago. I couldn’t understand, until I realized that there had been a couple of new cats that have visited us, from our neighbors.

I knew I had to get down to business to eradicate them.
Here are some flea facts: They need a warm blooded host, such as your pet, because there are lots of warm, furry places to hide and they live off of their blood. Their life cycle is about 20 days from laying eggs, hatching and then dying. They can jump 100x their own height.

I love my cat, I don’t want to put toxic pesticides on her, that she’s just going to lick away. Those products, meant to control fleas on your pet, can do long-term damage, such as liver and kidney damage. No thanks! I have found that the natural approach is the best approach.

The things you need are: a good flea comb, raw organic apple cider vinegar , tea tree oil shampoo, and red cedar oil.

-First, you must comb your pet every day. Get in all the nooks and crannies. This is really the best method of getting rid of them. I do it outside and then squish the flea right away so it can’t jump back on my cat.

-Give them a bath but do not get their head wet. Fleas hate water, and will search for higher, drier ground. Create a sort of soap collar out of some herbal (natural or organic) shampoo. I like Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle. When your pet is all wet, the fleas should jump into the soapy collar and get caught and then you’re able to wash them down the drain. I follow up with TJ’s Tea Tree Tingle conditioner mixed with raw, organic, apple cider vinegar (about 3:1). Fleas hate the smell of this stuff so it’s a great defense tool. After they’re out of the water (and their misery!) get a cotton swab soaked in apple cider vinegar and apply it to their ears, repeat with their rear-end, with a new cotton swab (fleas love these warm places).

-Vacuum every day if possible. If any are living in your carpet, you’ll need to suck them and their eggs up. Like I said before, they need a warm host, so if there’s a pet in the house, they are most likely not going to bother with the carpet. You can make an essential oil spray by adding a few drops of red cedar oil to some water, enough to make a pleasant smell. Spray your carpet.

-Brush, Brush, Brush! Everyday, outside. This is the only way to ensure your getting rid of them and their eggs and their poop.

These steps should bring your pet back to scratch-free happiness.

Part of having a wholesome home, is treating your pets with equally wholesome practices. For most people, our pets are our loyal, loving best friends. They are always here for us, so why would you want to surround their small bodies with toxins.

-Be Wholesome

-Linds

August 31st, 2010

Tuesday’s Tip


Instead of throwing away the lint from your dryer, use it in your bon fires for an easy fire starter. It’s very dry and easily flammable, this is why you should make sure your dryer is clear of stuck lint. You’re also saving it from the landfill!

August 19th, 2010

Upgrading the blender: Blendtec VS Vitamix


Like most couples, we registered for the best looking blender without spending hours researching the best. I never used our first blender. It failed miserably at anything involving ice. Isn’t that why most people buy a blender?! Anyways, I sold that blender, so it wasn’t a complete loss.

I went for 3 years just using an immersion blender that my mom had bought me before I got married. It was stashed away in my hope chest, just waiting for it’s debut. I love it. I use it all the time. But it cannot make a smoothie, or nut butters or make instant ice cream. However it can make smoothing a hot pot of soup a chinch.

For about a year and a half now, I have searched the internet high and low trying to pin down my decision on which “real” blender to by. Since I wanted to make sure I would make the right choice, I pacified myself with a nice blender from Kitchenaid. It’s the Architecht Series and it has, for the time being, filled the homemade frappe void. It’s loud, which I’m guessing is something that I’m going to have to get used, and it sounds like it’s going to take off to the moon if I don’t hold the base while blending. It’s doing a fine job, but I plan on selling it once September arrives. You see, I have a birthday in September. This means, someone has realized the desires of my heart for the past year and a half, and understands why a blender would cost more that $100!

I have to make my decision quick though. My birthday will be here before I know it. I have seen so many raw foodist with the Vitamix and a lot of restaurants do use them. You know you’re a blender nerd when you go by a Starbucks or smoothie shop and ask what brand their blender is!

I thought I had made my mind up on which was best for me, and then when I was taking my friend E (who works at SB) to the airport, I told her I finally found out what brand Starbucks used, and I said Blendtec. Then she quickly, with a smile said, “Oh, we just got all new ones and they’re Vitamixes, and their wonderful. They’re so smooth and a lot quieter.” Dang it! How can you not take someone’s opinion into account when they have used both?!

So, spent a couple hours watching videos, reading blogs, and sifting through the blender loyalist opinions. I think I have made my decision (again!). Based on what works for me, I plan on getting the Blendtec. It will fit in a cabinet or under one without problem. The Vitamix is a lot taller. I’ve read that people wished it was easier to clean the Vitamix, and they loose food at the bottom, under the blades. The blendtec is much wider at the base and does not have this problem. Also ,the kicker, the blendtec is said to be easier to clean. There it is folks, the real reason I would go with this one! It’s a square jar so there are no curves to get around, it doesn’t narrow too much and the base and the blade and pitcher are fused together, which means, by law (sanitary reasons), you don’t have to be able to remove the blade to clean it, since food bits won’t slip through any gaskets and grow bacteria. I also don’t mind the digital control panal, it seems easier to wipe clean.

I would be happy receiving either one of these great machines. I’ve looked at the Vitamix in person, and just can’t imagine that big of a machine in my kitchen. And it’s ugly. I don’t want to have to look at it all the time because it’s too big to put away. The Blendtec seems like a realistic choice. I can’t wait to see what a difference a real blender makes and to not smell that burning rubber smell of a cheap blender!

I still have a little bit of time left to change my mind, so if any of you, out there in the abysse, have used these machines, please share your experience!

August 3rd, 2010

Tip Tuesday

I have a thing for jars. Glass ones, that is. There’s something about collecting them that reminds me of my Grandma. Maybe the fact that she never threw one away, makes me feel guilty if I give mine to the recycle man. There are so many possibilities for it’s new life.

Regardless of my love for glass jars, they are very useful for storage, decoration, etc. But some times when you want to reuse these, especially for food storage, you don’t want to put something like butter into an old olive jar. Sometimes the original intention (and smell) of the jar is just to stubborn to leave.

If you have a jar that is still stinky after a few washes, just make sure it’s dry and clean, wad up some old news paper and pack it in the jar. The paper absorbs the old odor and you will be left with a 0 odor jar, ready for use!

July 20th, 2010

Tuesday’s tip: Stinky sink

If you have a garbage disposal, chances are, it’s not always april fresh. When ever there’s a funky smell in the kitchen, my first thought is to clean the sink and the disposal. The easiest way to do this, for me, is to make myself a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and chop up the orange peels and put them down the garbage disposal. I chop them up to make it a little easier. There are wonderful, aromatic essential oils in the peel of the orange, and when these get squeezed or chopped at a high speed, the fragrance is released. Orange oil is also a great degreaser, so if you’ve dumped something oily down the sink, this is a good maintenance tip.

May 2nd, 2010

The Seasonal Closet

This spring weather has me confused.  I don’t know whether to wear shorts or jeans, a tank top or long sleeves.  I’m also a proud owner of a mean tan line on my mid thigh.  In early April, I thought I would just sit outside for an hour on a freak 80 degree day, store up on some vitamin D and a little color.  One hour later, my rolled up yoga pants gave me  a “reverse shadow” effect on my legs!  No shorts for me for awhile.  The next week I had to drape my flowers and cut some spring buds that were in danger of freezing because a cold snap was rolling through.  I guess that’s the beauty of Ohio weather.  It will drastically change on you, in one day.

I have been teasing my self with my summer clothes.  They’ve been hiding away, under the guest bed, just waiting on the right time to make their debut.  I  have been taking out piece by piece when the weather is nice.  I just can’t commit to totally changing over my closet, since I know there are going to be a few chilly days.

As a kid, I was always confused when I would see “big girls” change out their seasonal clothes.  I mean, for a kid, it makes sense, you’re growing, and you aren’t going to fit into those clothes next season.  As an adult, you have the luxury of having all your clothes in your closet at the same time.  I practiced this since from age 14-24.

When we bought our first house, we renovated the back half of the second floor.  Down to the studs.  The original master only had one small closet.  Since we were taking out a bed room ,we had room to add to the master.  B designed, and built me an almost walk-in-closet.  There was a lot of room and great organization. It only made sense for me to have the larger closet, I’m a girl!

A year later, I realized B had (has) way more clothes than I,  so one day, I decided, after much discussion, to make the switch.  I had just realized I couldn’t manage the awkward shape and overwhelming  space.  I was already practicing the  seasonal closet, so moving to a smaller closet wasn’t a problem.  It was on my side of the bed, so it was more accessible and I was more likely to put my clothes away faster.

I get tired of looking at the same clothes, colors, etc.  The seasonal closet is perfect for me.  It de-clutters your space, makes you appreciate your clothes more, causing you to look forward to them more and buying less new clothes.  When stored properly, it makes them last longer. Your closet has more room to breath, so your clothes smell fresher and there is less room for bacteria to linger.   I’m trying to make an effort to buy more “classic” pieces of clothing so that they will stay in style longer.

If you want a fresher, roomier closet, give the seasonal closet a try, it won’t hurt.

April 20th, 2010

Natural Ant Control

So, when B and I arrived home from our out-of-town family Easter weekend, it was like walking into a war that I didn’t know about!  It was a surprise attack!  Large black ants, EVERYWHERE in our kitchen!

There is nothing nastier, to me, than big, fat, black ants crawling all over my work zone.  When I was a kid, I just lived with the occasional un-welcomed guest.  My mom told me, “that’s just part of country living”.  Now, it’s like, “oh, it must be spring!”

Three hours later, I had gone through a whole roll of toilet paper, finished off my surface cleaner, took out all of our trash, cleaned every surface, nooks and crannies, appliances, everything!  I vacuumed up the stray ants and when I would turn it off, they would just crawl out.  Once I thought I had it under control, I went to bed.

I don’t like to use poisons.  I have a cat who is my child and I would never do anything to put her at risk.  The sprays can linger in the air, you can inhale this over time, and it can do damage to your brain – causing diseases from Alzheimers, Parkinsons and of course, cancer.  Ant killer is normally a “sweet” poison, so if you have kids or pets that like sugar, this poses a major problem if they ever get ahold of it.

The next day, they didn’t get the hint that they had out stayed their not-so-welcome.  Since I was out of my own ideas I went to my favorite weapon, Google!  I searched for natural ant control.  Most things just said to find where they are coming in, and close it off, find the trail, and clean.  I kept thinking that if I knew where they were coming in, duh, of course I wouldn’t have this problem.  I did find out that ants are social creatures, so they are looking to party.  However, they are “clean” in nature so you can rest easy that they aren’t bringing dirt and diseases in your home.  They’re just looking for food.

I went out to mow for the first time this season, for a break from all the ants.  B came out and picked up the stray twigs and what not and shortly after he went to the front yard, he had me stop mowing to check something out.  I walked up to what looked like a sand pile next to a tree in the front lawn.  I kicked it around an little and saw TONS of ants freak out and scurry in and out.  Ok!  So, this is where they are coming from!! I looked around the yard and saw three other large ant hills!  I saw this last year, but thought nothing of it since it was close to the road and they weren’t in the house!

After I finished mowing I went into attack mode!  I had a surprise attack of my own.  I fired up the stove and got my largest pots filled with water and set them to boil.   Once they boiled, B and I headed out to the front yard.  Quickly, without disturbing them, we carefully dumped the boiling water all over the ant hill.  We did this three times!  It was amazing to see no movement no matter how much I poked at the once lively home.  After the boiling water, I followed up with baby powder.  They hate baby powder.  It’s irritating to their exoskeleton and they do not want to touch it.  I put it around the doors where I thought they were coming in.

Now, the ant hills are still vacant.  We’ve only had maybe 3 or 4 ants in the house, but I took care of those already.  I have done some maintenance “boil-outs” on little ant hills, so they don’t become huge.  I have visited the scene of the crime, and like an ant death ceremony, an ant or two goes into the dead home and pulls all the “victims” out in a pile!  It’s kind of crazy.  I can’t believe how easy it was and how well it worked!

Directions for Ant Hill Boil-out:

Things you need:

  • large pot
  • water
  • baby powder
  • oven mits
  1. Comb over your lawn, close to the house and even as far out as your property line.  Look for something that looks like a pile of sand (or dry yeast, if you know what that looks like) in the middle of your grass.

    Discovery

  2. Boil enough water so you know it will completely soak the area.
  3. Carefully, pour the hot water over the ant hill.

    Post boil-out

  4. Follow up with regular baby powder if you like, sprinkling it over the soaked mound.  If you know where they are entering your house, sprinkle a line around the opening or you can use chalk.

    Powdered

  5. Clean your kitchen thoroughly.  Ants love sugar especially and the ones that are in your house are “scouts”, searching for food so they can tell the rest of the colony where to find food.

    The dead

    Note: This may kill a little bit of your grass but the ants already did enough damage.  Nothing a little grass seed can’t fix!  Plus, they did free aeration for you!