Showing posts with label Green Living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Green Living. Show all posts

July 11, 2023

Natural Liquid Soap Recipe

The herbs have gone nuts in my garden, so I've been trying to find new ways to use them, particularly the mint. I decided to make yet another natural cleanser, this time a liquid soap. One doesn't actually make the soap part, which is courtesy of Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap, but the other ingredients are easily assembled to make it extra effective and still good for the environment.
One could also substitute 2 bars of castile soap that has been grated for the Dr. Bronner's.

You can use this soap for hand washing, floor scrubbing, dishes, and general cleaning tasks. Feel free to substitute other herbs for the mint and lavender. I think Rosemary would smell really nice too.

Herbal Liquid Soap
*Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Liquid Castile Soap (unscented)
*Large bunch of mint leaves (or 10 mint tea bags)
*A handful of lavender blossoms (use however much you'd like)
*1 tsp. Borax (you can find it in the laundry aisle of the grocery store)
*1/2 cup baking soda
*6 cups of water
*stainless steel saucepan
*clean spray bottle or liquid soap pump

In the saucepan, boil the water and add the lavender and mint. Turn off the heat and allow the herbs to sit for 20 minutes. Strain out the herbs, then add the other ingredients and stir until combined. If using grated castile soap, you'll need to reheat the liquid to a simmer until the soap flakes are dissolved. Once the mixture is cool, pour into a spray bottle or soap bottle and use anywhere there's dirt. Be sure to give the mix a shake before using. Of course, use it with some reusable cloths, like ones made from old flannel receiving blankets.

June 18, 2023

Friday Feast: Bounty from the Co-op

I've mentioned like a million times here about the local organic farm collective that we've joined. It's really made me get off my ass and start cooking some recipes outside of my usual repertoire.

This week I turned our first share into a few spectacular meals, including fresh sugar snap pea soup and awesome eggless dinner rolls (I substituted Smart Balance for the butter in the recipe).
Honestly, the soup looked a lot brighter in real life. The lighting is not so good, and it has literally rained the last 10 days around here.

Since I was stumped about what to make with the kale, which quite honestly, is not a favorite of mine, my friend Shana shared with me a recipe she picked up in her years of living in Spain. It is so simple and so delicious, and involved kale, potatoes (how can one not love anything with carbs), onion and garlic.

Rather than boiling the potatoes like she suggested, I quarted them, tossed them with herbs from my garden and salt and pepper, and drizzled them with olive oil.
I baked them for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. While they were cooking, I sauteed the chopped kale and some swiss chard that I didn't realize was in our share (it was hidden with the lettuce) in a little olive oil with onion and garlic. Then you just serve the potatoes topped with the kale.Add a simple salad and you have a wonderful summer meal.
I love how inspiring the CSA produce has been. It really gives me a respect of what I'm eating, and how it came to my plate. I really hope the motivation continues for the rest of the summer.

To see what's on other blogger's plates this week, head over to Momtrends and Nicole's Friday Feasts!

June 12, 2023

Local Goodness

The much awaited cardboard box arrived in my kitchen at lunchtime.
We ordered a medium share of produce from our local organic farm, and this was the first week of the farm's bounty. Here's what we got:
Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce, Red Russian Kale, Swiss Chard, Sugar Snap Peas, Broccoli, Summer squash, Patty Pan squash, one Goede squash (looks like an unripe pumpkin) and Potted Herbs (common sage and German winter thyme). Yes, I had to add the fancy names because they're just so charming. Oh, and those peonies are from my garden, not the co-op.

So I'm in need of some great recipes for kale, Goede squash, and patty pan squash, which I've never cooked before. Suggestions?

April 22, 2023

Happy Earth Day!

While I haven't put together any great plans for Earth Day, I wanted to put together a list of some of my favorite green posts from the past year.
  • I love using my homemade baby wipes, since they're both safe on my son's bum, and on the earth's too!
  • My homemade laundry detergent is worth the elbow grease of shredding the Fels-Naptha soap. Try it out yourself, and free the rivers and streams of phosphates.
  • Recycling a tote into a water-saving baby bathtub
  • Reusing Newspaper in some creative ways
  • Joining a local food CSA
  • And of course, drying your clothes on the clothesline, which I haven't necessarily devoted a post to, but I talk about it all the time!
Enjoy your Earth Day, wherever on Earth you may be!

April 21, 2023

Earth Day Confession

I may just be the only green-leaning blogger not going all out for Earth Day.
To be honest, it's pure laziness masked as busy-ness. Well, ok, it is busyness, and not having time to post something really inspiring and creative. I still have one day left though!

I do try to live Earth Day every day, and I have seen some buzz about's Screw Earth Day, which offers the opinion that Earth Day is a crock, that it takes more than just one day to attone for our sins toward the earth. While I can sympathize with that P.O.V., I believe that any amount of green lovin' toward the earth is good. Baby steps, people, are better than no steps. So I applaud all of you mamas and papas out there who are starting to make changes in your routines to help our earth. Everything helps!
Our Earth Day plans are simple: we'll be trying to spend some time outdoors, depending on the weather, and doing our everyday routine of recycling, using green cleaning items to clean up the messes, and maybe doing laundry and hanging it on the clothesline (weather permitting, again).

I had high hopes of planting a tree in our yard, but we're looking to put up a fence (we live in town, on a corner near a busy street, which equals danger for SoJo) so the tree will have to wait until we figure out where the fence will go. Our yard is tiny and we need to space the tree far enough from the fence.

Oh, and the photos...they're the flowers that have finally opened up in the front of the house. I love daffodils and their smell. It reminds me of the hundreds of them that grew in our yard as a kid. I once picked nearly all of them, thining my mom would love such a huge bouquet. I can tell you she was not as pleased as I thought she'd be, since I only left one or two in the yard.
I also have some Primroses that came back from last year (I thought they were annuals), and of course some pansies that I planted last month for some early color.

So what are your plans for Earth Day? Is your community doing anything special?

April 16, 2023


I've been wanting to post about conserving water, since gardening season is coming up. I'm amazed too that in our area, our rainfall levels are lower than usual, which makes me a little nervous going into the summer with water deficits.

This year, to save on water, I'm going to turn to greywater for some of my watering. Greywater is household water that's been collected from laundry or kitchen use (no toilet water here!) and used elsewhere, like in the garden. A simple way of doing it is to use a bucket in your shower to collect water as you're waiting for the water to warm up. Then use the water on your plants.

Another method is to take water from your washing machine, via the overflow hose. You can set up contraptions to automatically send greywater from your home into a sistern outside, however I'm lazy and just not motivated financially to do this. This is the cheater's method!
My machine conveniently has the overflow hose located in a panel on the front.
To collect the greywater, I unscrew the hose and direct it into a bucket during the spin cycle. This yields a few gallons of water. I'll admit that it takes some time to empty, but I can see myself occassionally doing this in the summer.

I should also mention that I use phosphate-free detergent, so it's not too hard on the garden to use the rinse water for plants. And of course, water from loads of dirty diapers is NOT used!

One other method I want to pursue this year is a rain barrel, which collects rainwater from the roof of your home or garage.

I found a post from HGTV on how to build your own...

but you can also purchase them from places like Gardener's Supply Company, but they run a minimum of $100.
We've wanted one for a few years now, so I'm going to see if we can make our own, using some clean, food grade barrels. I'll keep you posted!

March 6, 2024

Mama Kenz' Homemade Dryer Ball Tutorial

Mama Kenz aka MacKenzie has joined the Green and Clean fun, by sharing her tutorial on homemade dryer balls. She blogs about all things crafty over at Mama Kenz Studio, and I was fascinated when I came across her post for homemade dryer balls. And you don't even have to be a knitter or crocheter to make them. This is a great way to soften your clothes without the use of chemicals, especially if you can't use a clothesline (I've heard tennis balls work well too, but these are much nicer looking). All photos are courtesy of Mama Kenz.
Mama Kenz' Homemade Dryer Balls
Lately I have been faced with two dilemmas (among many, but let's just focus on these for the sake of this post):
1. I have left over, strange amounts of yarn that I don't know what to do with,
2. I have serious static in my dryer (we don't use dryer sheets and I recently found out the blue dryer balls we were using are made of PVC and therefore not going back in my dryer!)

My solution? Homemade wool dryer balls! I have heard from many people lately that they simply swear by them to not only reduce static, but soften their clothes and reduce drying times as well! So, I dug out my leftover stash and went to work! They are incredibly simple to make with a little bit of time and a good grip (I will explain in a moment!).
Left over wool yarn from other projects
1. Wrap your 100% wool yarn of choice into a tight ball- we are talkin' tight here! As tight as you can make it! The tighter the better (this is where the grip issue comes in- when the ball is very small it has a tendency to pop out of your fingers and unravel- no fun!)!Wrapping a Tight Ball
2. Once you have wrapped to about the size of a golf ball you have made your core, which should be felted on it's own for the best results. Take the end of the yarn and wrap it into the ball with a small crochet hook to secure it.Securing the end of the yarn
3. Place the ball into the end of an old nylon or sock and put a tie of non-wool yarn or string just past it to insure that it does not fall out and unravel. If you are making more than one ball tie in between each.
Balls tied in nylon
4. Throw the ball(s) into the washer with a load of clothes (preferably a hot wash) and follow up with a tumble through the dryer. This process can be repeated as many times as you like to acquire the desired level of felting. The more times you wash and dry the more firm and dense the ball will become.
Balls in washer
5. Once your core is sufficiently felted it is time to add on your outer layer. Just begin to wind more string (tightly, once again) onto your core until it reaches about the size of a tennis ball (generally around 9 in. in circumference) but make sure that you allow for some shrinkage in the felting process.
Starting to wind more yarn onto felted core
6. Repeat steps 2-4 and voila'- you have just made your very own dryer balls! Throw them in with each load of laundry for the softest clothes you've probably ever had! Generally speaking, the more balls in the dryer the better! So, go get busy with this fun and simple way to go green, reuse and be frugal!
Thanks Mama Kenz, for sharing your crafty frugalness!

March 3, 2024

Eco-Friendly Dishwasher Detergent

Although we don't have a dishwasher, I dream of one all the time. Today's dishwashers are more efficient than those of the past, using anywhere between 4-6 gallons per load, and the debate is still open over whether or not washing dishes by hand is more efficient. Treehugger and Green Daily have good articles on the pros and cons, and also calculations about the number of watts, gallons, and other figures.

If you are one of the lucky people who has a dishwasher (that is not human), Barbara from Moo Cow Momma Etsy shop has a great recipe for homemade dishwasher detergent that is eco-friendly. Some of my blog friends have complained about not finding a dishwasher detergent that works well, so maybe this one is a winner. Leave me a comment and let me know.

And before we get to Barbara's recipe, check out her wonderful eco-friendly cleaning items she sells in her Etsy shop. She sells flannel wipes, reusable Swiffer mop covers

and reusable sandwich wraps.
Barbara's Water Friendly Dishwasher Detergent
You will need:
  • Borax 20 Mule Team Natural Powder (4+ lb. Box at Walmart is $2.39 will last many loads)
  • Pure Washing Soda (also known as Sodium Carbonate, Arm and Hammer makes, sometimes it can be tough to find, but is usually in laundry aisle on top shelf near Borax and Fabric Dyes, etc) .
Keep in mind it is NOT Baking Soda (also known as sodium Bi-carbonate), though the boxes look similar. You may also be able to find it at your pool store. If you can't find it, Call this phone number 1-800-524-1328 and have the UPC code 33200-03020. They will tell you where you can find it near you, they will also try to get you to buy it and add shipping, but it's better to ask your local store to carry it and then buy all they have when they do get it in to let them know they need to keep carrying it. It's about $2.30 a box and will last many loads!

Mix both ingredients 1:1 and store in a clean labeled container (my favorite is a repurposed creamer bottle, the lid opens easy and you can write right on the bottle what's inside after easily removing the creamer label). Put 1/2 tb. into each cup. You can also use white vinegar in the rinse cup to help with water spots. If that doesn't get the dishes clean enough, try using 1 tsp. of eco friendly phosphate free dishwasher detergent in each cup with the borax/washing soda and that should do the trick!

Thanks so much Barbara for sharing this, and please check out her Etsy shop, Moo Cow Momma.

March 1, 2024

It's Green and Clean Week!

Now that March has arrived, many of our thoughts turn to longer days, warmer weather, and spring cleaning--whether we enjoy doing it or not. In previous centuries, spring was a time when bedding was shaken out, rugs were beaten to remove the dirt and dust, and dwellings were swept top to bottom. We still do the same around our homes, albeit with many more convenient tools and supplies.

But when you really consider what's in a lot of the cleaning products that we use, are we really keeping our bodies clean of chemicals and synthetic ingredients? Of course heavy duty cleansers may kill germs and scour away dirt more easily, but at what cost?

We often think of our bodies as temples or refer to the phrase "you are what you eat," but couldn't the same apply to our homes? We spend so much time inside of them, walking barefoot on carpeting, touching and preparing food on its surfaces, soaking in its bathtub, and catching our babies chewing on its windowsills and crawling on its floors, that it would be impossible not to say "you are where you live" too. And wouldn't you want to live in something with as few chemicals as possible?

This week I'll be focusing on all kinds of tips and tricks on cleaning with greener materials, from my BFFs baking soda and vinegar, to some more commercial cleansers from eco-friendly companies. And to sweeten the deal, I'll be having double giveaways each day from our wonderful sponsors.

So roll up your shirt sleeves, grab the mop and scouring brush, and let's get clean!

February 26, 2024

Recycled Boxes

Since we've been sick a record 4 times this year (I rarely get colds, that is until I had a baby, and I believe the lack of sleep has destroyed my immune system), we have been buying tissues as of late. Of course tissues in themselves are not necessarily an eco-friendly choice, but I'll admit that I was lazy about the handkerchiefs we have. Somehow they've disappeared, and I think Mr. Geek is to blame after using them all summer as bandanas for tennis playing (they are those navy blue ones that one assumes cowboys know the type).

Enough of the confessional, though, and let's move on to what this post is about--reusing boxes. You'd be amazed at all of the things you can use them for. Since my empty tissue box had a cute pattern on it that was too nice to flatten for recycling, I decided to repurpose it into a bag holder for our car.
I took a few plastic bags (which we somehow manage to accumulate despite religiously bringing reusable ones with us) and stuffed them inside the empty box. I'll keep this in the car to use for trash and for carrying my and SoJo's wet bathing suits after our Monday swim sessions. I'm always forgetting to pack one in our swim bag.

A tissue box would make a great container for small dust rags, or ziplock bags that you've washed and reused. I also thought about cutting off the top and using it as a container for something else. With the top cut off, it could also be a pretty way to present a plant to someone. Just stick the pot inside.

I found some other ideas for recycling boxes on the web too. I've seen this one before, for turning a cereal box into a magazine holder. Imagine how nice it would look after decoupaging some scrapbooking paper onto it.

I also like this idea, of turing a pasta box into a cute little tray, from the blog all over the map. I can really see a person creating an entire desk set out of recycled boxes and coordinating craft paper. I'd love to do this, but I'd need an office (or desk for that matter).

February 20, 2024

Support Your Local CSA

We finally did it this year...we joined a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture group (sometimes called a co-op). From June through November, we'll be getting a box of locally grown, organic vegetables and fruits from Seasons' Harvest Farm. As much as I want to grow my own food, our yard doesn't get enough sun for more than a few tomato plants and herbs.

While it was more than a few pennies (about $17 a week), the cost is worth it, especially knowing that every week, all summer and fall, we'll have box of healthy food to cook up into stews, salads, and to eat raw. I end up spending that amount every week at the Farmer's Market, and last summer I was horrified to see that the sleeve of garlic I bought had a "Grown in China" sticker (to clarify, I mean this not against Chinese produce, but against shipping heads of garlic halfway around the world instead of selling locally grown ones). Thanks Renninger's Farmers Market, for masquerading as a venue for local produce.

Local Harvest is a great place to start looking for your own CSA, or a local farm market. That's where I found my farm (I love writing that..."my" farm).

January 29, 2024

Green Living: Whole House Water Filtration

I'm in the throes of a washer that won't drain water (of course in the middle of a load of dirty diapers), so forgive me if this post is a bit hasty. I've spent the morning manually draining water from the tiny hose in the front of the unit, and I'll be spending the next nap time taking apart the hoses that connect to the pump. I'm thinking there may be a baby sock or something yucky stuck in there. I actually enjoy taking stuff apart and figuring out what's wrong, but I'll save that for another post.

I was thinking of something to post for today's Thrifty Green Thursday, and remembered that my husband and father-in-law had recently installed a whole house filtration unit on our main water line. It's been wonderful, not having to use the bulky PUR sink filter or filling up a water filter pitcher. Here's what it looks like
That's the filter on the left, and the main water line coming in on the top right. The water goes through the filter before zooming around through the pipes throughout the house.
Please ignore the makeshift hanger for the filter (clothesline and some brackets). It would probably embarrass my father-in-law if he knew I posted a photo of that, since he's very meticulous and by-the-book in his work. Our local hardware store did not carry the proper hanging equipment when they installed this, but it'll be correctly hung soon.

The unit and filter were under a hundred dollars, and apparently one needs to replace the filter about once a year. We have a unit for a family of 4-5, but they make larger ones too.

Some of the benefits of a whole house water filter are
  • Not having to buy bottled water, since tap water is filtered (less plastic bottles in landfills)
  • Having filtered showers, so you aren't inhaling hot, vaporous chlorine from the water. Also, less chlorine in the water leaves your skin softer and not as dry (I've definitely experienced this)
  • Less residue in the laundry, sinks, showerhead and toilets (no need to use harsh cleaners to remove gunk)
  • I don't have to run downstairs in the middle of the night to get a glass of filtered water. I just go into our bathroom
  • Less buildup in your pipes from calcium and lime (which our water has a lot of)
If you're interested in buying one for your home, you can find them at home centers like Lowe's and Home Depot. Again, if you install it yourself, it should be under $100.

January 22, 2024

Green Living: Clementine Boxes

Like many of you, I hate throwing away those sturdy boxes that clementines come in. It's not often that you find products packaged in wood boxes, which seems nostalgically along the lines of tea and biscuit tins. But if you go through as many clementines in the winter as we do, these boxes can quickly overwhelm your kitchen.

We have a high chair with a shelf underneath the seat, which is great for storing bibs and cloths for wiping up messes. However, the shelf itself was starting to become a mess with fabric and dishes.
{Should have taken a "before" photo}
I was thinking of something to put under there to corral the chaos, and remembered the clementine boxes.
Although pretty in their own right, sometimes you might want to dress up a clementine box. You can paint them or decoupage them with wallpaper or scrapbook paper. I took a box and glued some striped paper onto the sides using Mod Podge, an acrylic-based glue that's great for decoupage.
To decoupage, you just spread the Mod Podge or glue on the side of the box, lay the paper down (first cut to size of course), and then put a layer of glue/Mod Podge over the paper. This creates a smooth surface that is somewhat protected, unlike plain paper.

Because the box has some large staples on the side that hold it together, I had to cut some slits at those spots so the paper didn't bubble up. Then you just smooth those areas down when your gluing. Mod Podge takes very little time to dry, so I had my box in place within the hour.
Much better!

Here are some other ideas to reuse your boxes

1. Use them for all kinds of storage throughout the house (duh!). An entire shelf of these painted or decoupaged in coordinating colors would look great. They stack nicely too.
2.. Make a window sill herb garden by lining the box with plastic and sitting some small pots inside the box. Tie some twine or garden-esque ribbon around the box for decoration. There's a nice photo here. You could also just add dirt to the box itself and plant some things.
3. After decorated, use it as a shadow box on your wall or for a classroom project like a diorama.
4. Use it for packaging a gift, like a kitchen gift box with a dish towel, a bottle of wine, or some cookies.
5. Turn it into a doll bed by adding a cushion and a tiny blanket. Or just a cushion for a cat bed (my cat is too fat for this).
6. Use it in the pantry to hold sticky and messy things like oil, honey, and syrup so that the bottom of the shelf doesn't get yucky.
7. Fill it with deer moss or real wheat grass and use it as a centerpiece for Easter. You could nestle eggs in it too.
8. You could fancy-up one of these and store extra toilet paper in it, either on the bathroom floor or on the back of the toilet.

Feel free to add some of your own ideas in the comments. I'd love to hear them.

December 18, 2023

Green Gift Wrapping Options

With Christmas next week, I've been thinking of all of the wrapping paper that ends up in landfills year after year. Leave it to me not to be thinking of sugarplums and candy canes. And to be honest, I do use some wrapping paper, mostly because it looks so darned pretty on ordinary boxes, especially some of the cool patterns that I've seen lately.

But I do try to reduce my usage by using recycled materials like brown paper bags, old maps, and even newspaper to wrap gifts. My frugal grandpa used to save the Sunday comics for weeks before Christmas to wrap the kids' gifts. At the time I thought it was just cheap, but now I think it's great that he was inadvertently helping the earth. I'm not sure those papers were recycled afterward (it was the 80s and not so easy), but nowadays you could certainly do that.

Here are some other ideas for wrapping gifts in an eco-friendly way:
1. Recycle your kids artwork
2. Wrap gifts in scraps of fabric left over from other projects and tie with yarn
3. Save and reuse paper from last year
4. Use reusable paper gift bags (I do this a lot and have quite a stash for all occasions)
5. Sew up some fabric sacks from scraps that can also be reused or repurposed for other things around the house.
6. Pack multiple items in a basket or even a clementine crate that you've painted or decoupaged with paper from magazines or scrapbook remnants
7. Recycle CD Jewel Cases into cute gift card holders. Decorate them with nice paper and cut a slot for the gift card.
8. Give a gift in a reusable shopping bag that can also be used at the grocery store. I love the Envirosax ones that can be folded up and kept in your purse or glove box.
Feel free to add some more in the comments! I'd love to hear your ideas.
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