Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Got Fruit Flies? Get Rid of them Fast with this Simple Natural Ingredient!

No one likes those pesky fruit flies, especially when they are swarming around our food and our kitchens! Maybe it's the extra warm summer we had this year, but for some reason, they have been particularly problematic this season.  Well, take heart, there is something incredibly simple you can do to rid your home of them once and for all!  And likely you even have what you need already in your kitchen!  So what is the trick?

Yep, another one of our natural cleaning superstars stepping up to do the job again - Apple Cider Vinegar!

And the solution is so easy you'll wonder how you missed out on this little secret before!  All you do is pour some Apple Cider Vinegar in a few little dipping size dishes, add a tiny dab of dish soap and set out where the flying pests seem to congregate - around fruit, near the window, next to plants, and so forth.  The bugs are drawn to the Apple Cider Vinegar like crazy and they will flock to it to drink it down.  The dish soap will kill them and very soon you will see less of and eventually no more little flying pests!

FYI:  This also works somewhat well for house flies, which is how I first discovered this trick.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

12 Simple Ways to Keep Home Cleaner between Cleanings

Whether you spend your valuable time cleaning your house yourself or you spend hard-earned dollars paying someone else to do it, isn't it always nice to have that fresh and clean house feel last as long as possible?  Well, here are 12 easy tips which can help you do just that and best of all, once you get into the habit, it will only take minutes of your time each day!

  1. Shoes stay at the door.  
  2. Making a habit of washing hands will prevent the spread of dirty, grimy fingerprints everywhere.
  3. Wipe down kitchen stove and counters immediately after cooking. (Spraying with vinegar will cut the grease!)
  4. Move the tea kettle off the stove when cooking with grease or oil and it will stay clean and pretty.
  5. Place an old towel on the floor in front of the oven when frying to keep grease and oils from splattering all over the floor- only to be tracked all over the rest of the house, making for grimy floors everywhere!
  6. Cover your food when using the microwave and you will rarely have to clean it! (Read more about keeping the Microwave clean.)
  7. Brush Fido! A daily brushing can do wonders in helping keep the hair at bay, instead of all over your house, clothes and furniture.
  8. Everything in its place! That's including clothes, to the hamper or back to the closet.  Make the kids get into the habit of picking up after themselves and cleaning up before bedtime.  It will work even better if they are able to follow their parent's example!
  9. Mother knew best! Make your bed in the morning and your whole bedroom will automatically appear neater.  And it only takes a minute or two.
  10. Give the sink a quick once over the scrubby sponge after dishes. Also, giving it a real quick rinse after you dump things into it (especially that super staining coffee!) will help keep it always looking decent.  Likewise, giving that coffee pot a quick rinse after dumping it will help keep it from getting horribly stained.
  11. After draining the tub, giving it a couple quick rinses around will eliminate the hair and dirt from drying to the surface of the tub, as well as lessen the ring of dirt.  Applying that same principle to the sink, give it a quick rinse after using for messy things like brushing teeth and shaving.
  12. Giving the shower a quick spray over with a cleanser after getting out will help cut down on the film of soap scum from drying on  the surface.

Naturally, I could think of many more things which I do so routinely that it feels as though I hardly even need to clean my house on actual cleaning day.  I hope this will get the ball rolling for you in the right direction so that you may develop some of your own routines which apply to you!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Eliminate Stinky Trash Syndrome for Good!

Garbage…. It's the things which we have to deal with, have to have in our kitchens whether we like it or not.  At times, it can seem a bit contradictory to trying to maintain a clean environment.  But, believe it or not, there are ways of getting along with your kitchen trash.   All it takes is establishing a nice, working relationship with it.  Did I say relationship?!  With my trash?!  Yes, I did, and I am going to tell you exactly what I mean.

The way you do that is through a simple system.  Here is what it looks like at my house:

1. Recycling Can.  For glass, plastic, metal and cardboard.  Rinsing out containers first will help eliminate any stench from developing there.  
2. Main Trash Can.  In here, we put things which can't be recycled, but also aren't food or any messy type stuff.  It actually takes us quite a while to fill up this can.
3. Compost Pail.  This is where we put our fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and tea bags, bread scraps, etc.
4. Food scraps Can.  Since we don't use a garbage disposal at our house, we use this small can to scrape the remnants of our dinner plates and basically anything yucky that we can't put in the compost, like prepared meals, dairy, oils, dressings, meat, sticky things, etc.  Get the picture?  Being a small bathroom size waste can, this is actually the can we dump the most often (about every other day). You may ask, why don't you just use a bigger can?  Because, then it would just get to stinking, right? This is what makes this whole system work like magic.  Another thing you can do to eliminate/prevent odors, is to soak a piece of bread in vinegar and place it in the bottom of your can. Finally, a good use for those heels!

It may sound like a lot, but it really isn't.  And it doesn' t have to take much room either. Believe me, when I started this system, I had a small, inefficiently laid out kitchen in an old house, but I managed to make it work.  My recycling can is actually in my laundry room (which is connected  to the kitchen), my compost pail lives under my kitchen sink, and the other two cans are side by side in the kitchen. 

It may seem a bit awkward at first, but trust me, stick with it, and once you have it down, it will feel wrong not to do it!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Make Your Own Tile Floor Spray Cleaner

Are you still spending money on store bought floor cleaning products such as floor sprays and Swiffer mop pads?  I did, too, (for far too long, I might add) before I discovered there was a better, far less expensive, more eco-friendly way.  And its super easy to boot!  You probably have all the ingredients on hand already!

Here's what you need:  (For a typical size spray bottle)

  • 1 cup Distilled Water
  • 1 cup White Vinegar
  • 1 cup Alcohol
  • Squirt of Castile Soap or Dish soap
  • (Optional) Add choice of essential oils such as Tea tree, known for its antibacterial properties.

  1. Just pour all ingredients into the bottle and give a shake. That's it! 
  2. If you want to make a gallon size, like I do, just make triple the recipe.

To use:
  1. You'll want to be sure to give it a quick shake each time you use it to distribute the soap inside sufficiently. 
  2. Simply spray and mop.  I use a large hardwood floor mop with washable pads (less waste, more eco-friendly).

Friday, August 28, 2015

10 Simple Ways to Conserve Water

By now, everyone knows that we are in a serious time of drought.  Who knows how long this could go on and what kinds of consequences there may be, but in California they are already feeling the repercussions of being frivolous with our precious water sources.  

And because three-quarters of the Earth is water, most people seem to have the mistaken impression that our water supply is endless, but that's what got us into this mess in the first place! However, of that, 97.5% of is salt water, leaving only 2.5% as fresh water. But then, crops consume a rather large portion of freshwater supplies leaving less than one percent (0.37% to be exact) of the Earth's  water for drinking. 

When you take into account mass pollution of our waters both accidentally and intentionally (billions of gallons of water are used in the fracking process every year which will forever be contaminated), it seems those numbers are seriously declining.

According to Planet Green, each person in the world is allocated 2.5 gallons per day; yet the average American uses an average of 400 gallons! Thirty percent of this is consumed by outdoor uses such as watering lawns and approximately 25 gallons are flushed down the toilet.

All this staggering information might make you feel it is hopeless.  After all, what can one person do to possibly make any difference?  The answer is PLENTY!

  1. Place a pitcher under the faucet to collect the water when waiting for a temperature change, rather than letting the water run down the drain.  This water can then be used to water houseplants, pets, etc.
  2. Same goes for the shower.  Place a bucket under the faucet to collect the running water.
  3. Take shorter showers and install a low-flow shower head.  Try to keep it to five minutes or less.
  4. Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth.
  5. Modify your flush habits.  Toilet flushing is the single largest consumer of household water. Americans flush a staggering seven billion gallons of water every single day.  That begs the question, is it really necessary to flush away every single little tinkle? As the old saying goes, 'Yellow let it mellow, brown, flush it down!'
  6. When you steam or boil a pot of veggies, that water can also be used to water plants, giving them a nice little boost of vitamins.  Of course, you'll want to let it cool first.
  7. Only run the dishwasher when full!
  8. Don't leave the water running as you hand wash dishes.
  9. Wash full loads of laundry. If possible, switch to a high efficiency washer which uses a fraction of the water that the standard machines do.
  10. Consider planting native plants in your landscape which do not require an excess of water beyond what nature provides.  This would include the type of grass you choose for your lawn. Better yet, forego the water-sucking lawn altogether and stick with more hardy plants and flowers.

If you are curious to see how much water you may be using per day, here is an interesting quiz you can take from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).  The results for my household's estimated use was 118 gallons per day (we are a family of three).  A good number to be at is 40 gallons per person.  I would love to hear yours in the comments!

For those of you who want to really make a difference, you can install newer toilets which use 1.6 gallons compared to the 3-4 gallons used by older toilets.  You can also splurge on a new high efficiency washing machine which will use half or sometimes even less than the typical forth gallons used by older models. 

The main thing here is just to get into the habit of being mindful of how you use water.  If we all did this, it could turn around our situation rather than making it exponentially worse, so that none of us would have to concerned with a potential water shortage in our immediate future.



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Yucky Microwave? Here's how to Clean it Super Easy...

Microwaves. . . Probably the most used appliance in our kitchens.  It's no wonder they get so yucky so quickly.  The thought of cleaning them may even strike fear into the hearts of some. . .  But, take heart!  Cleaning that grime monster doesn't have to be as treacherous as you think!  In fact, all you need is one ingredient and a few minutes!

So, what is the magic ingredient which will be your shining knight?  Need you ask, I say?  I'll allot you one guess.  If you said Vinegar, then you are absolutely correct!  That's right, good ol' vinegar comes to the rescue again.  If you have not bought yourself a gallon or two by now, you probably should!

Alright, here's all you need to do:

  1. Arming yourself with either White Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar (especially good if you really need to cut tough odors!) spray the entire inside (don't forget the inside of the door!)  If you don't have a spray bottle handy, place a bowl with solution of 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup water inside. 
  2. Now, simply run the microwave for 1 minute.  Two minutes if you used the bowl method. The steam combined with the vinegar for this will loosen the grime, making it super easy to tackle.
  3. With a scrub sponge, quickly go over the inside, tackling any tough spots.  If you used the bowl method, you can also dip your sponge into the solution for extra scrubbing power.
  4. Wipe clean with a cloth or two.  Voila!  Your microwave is clean!

Now that your microwave is sparkling clean (how long has it been since you've seen it this way?), you may be wishing it would always stay this way.  Well, that is easy, too!  To keep your microwave everlastingly clean, all you need do is be diligent about covering the contents every time!  I keep a basket stocked with old cloth napkins beside the microwave just for this purpose, but there are also plastic microwave plate covers you can purchase at the store specifically for this.  Personally, I am not keen on the idea of heating up plastic with my food.

Do this devotedly and your microwave will virtually never need to be cleaned again!  However, I would still advise doing at least a quick spray and wipe weekly or so to keep it fresh smelling.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Make Your Own Natural All-Purpose Cleaning Spray!

Did you know that rather than buying expensive green home cleaning products, you can make your own at a fraction of the cost and just a few household ingredients?  And, they are actually far more natural than the commercial ones since there is little to no regulation on the usage of the word 'Natural' on product labels. Here is how you can make your own natural all-purpose cleaning spray.

What you'll need:

  • 2 cups Distilled Water
  • 2 cups White Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Alcohol
  • Squirt of Castile Soap or Dish soap

Simply mix all ingredients in a reusable spray bottle and use!  

Great for kitchen, cleaning up general messes, wiping walls and trim, etc.  The start of the show here is vinegar, which is all natural and safe, has antibacterial and disinfectant properties and is excellent at cutting through all sorts of grease and grime.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

How to make your own Dishwasher Detergent

For those of you who are trying to go the more natural route with your home cleansers, one of the simplest things you can make is your own dishwasher detergent.  You only need four simple ingredients.   Making your own will keep damaging phosphates and sulfates out of the environment.  And as an added bonus, you will save money!

Here's what you do:

1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1/4 cup Salt
1/2  cup Lemon Juice

  1. Mix first three ingredients together in a plastic storage container.
  2. Add lemon juice and mix well.
  3. Put in dishwasher and run as usual.
  4. Adding white vinegar in the rinse aid compartment will soften water and combat film.

That's it!  This stuff works great for me.  I just keep it in a plastic container under the sink.  Scoop it into the detergent compartment of your dishwasher just the same as you would your store bought stuff.  Comments welcome!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Have Musty Smelling Towels? Here's how to Freshen them up...

Wet towels = mildew, and mildew = smelly!  That's yucky enough by itself.  But even worse, what if I told you that unpleasant odor is actually the smell of bacteria breeding!  Yep.

You may have also noticed that sometimes towels aren’t as absorbent as they used to be.  Well, guess what?  Both these problems actually stem from the same source: Commercial Detergent and Fabric Softener Build-up.  One thing you can do is to avoid both.  Read my post on making your own Natural Laundry Soap here.

You see, over time, your bath towels will build up detergent and fabric softener residue. This not only attracts smelly mildew, it essentially “waterproofs” your towels.  If water can’t get into the fabric to clean it, the towel won’t be or smell clean.

What you’ll need:

• 1 cup of white vinegar
• 1/2 cup of baking soda
• HOT water


  1. Put the towels in washing machine and fill with HOT water! You may even want to boil some water on the stove and add it to the load.
  2. Add one cup of vinegar to the load and run through an entire wash cycle.
  3. Leave towels in the washer and refill again with HOT water, this time adding 1/2 cup of baking soda. Run through another entire cycle.
  4. Now dry towels thoroughly!  This is key!

 Vinegar, which contains acetic acid, breaks up water mineral deposits and dissolves buildup, and baking soda, which contains an alkali— sodium bicarbonate— neutralizes odors and dissolves dirt and grease. 

This combination should take care of the problem.  However, if you are still experiencing “smelliness”, try repeating the same process above until it is gone.

You don't need to do this every time you wash your towels.  Just when you start to notice that “funky” smell or the towels don’t seem to be absorbing the way they should.  

So now that your towels are better smelling and more absorbent, here are some tips on how you can keep them that way:

• Be sure to check that your towels are 100 percent dry before putting them away. Even a small amount of moisture can make towels smell sour.
• Mold and mildew love it when towels are left in a puddle on the floor! They should be hung up to air-dry after each use. Bathmats, too, should be hung to dry.
• Make sure you’re not using too much detergent. Too much detergent leaves a residue, especially with high-efficiency washers which use less water.
• Don’t use commercial fabric softener on towels; it coats towels with a thin layer of chemicals which makes them less absorbent. White vinegar is a fabulous natural fabric softener. It prevents further build-up, eliminates static, and makes towels softer. 
• Make sure towels are drying quickly enough after using them. Hang them on towel bars or spread across two hooks until they’re completely dry.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How to make your own Natural Homemade Laundry Soap

Why spend tons of money on expensive 'green' commercial laundry detergents when you can make your own?  The recipe below costs only a total of $4-6.00 and makes two gallons (256 ounces).  For roughly the same amount of Seventh Generation Liquid Laundry detergent you would pay upwards of $20-25.00.  That's a savings of about 75-80 percent!

You only need four ingredients, plus a stockpot, a long stirring spoon, a grater, a funnel and two jugs to put your homemade soap into after you are done.


  • 1 bar of soap your choice.  (If you want your laundry soap to be as natural as possible, then you probably should use a natural bar soap as well. There are many choices out there.  Be sure to pick a scent you love!  This is what your clothes are going to smell like!)
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • 2 gallons distilled water (using tap water could cause bacteria to grow after several months.)

  1. Grate the bar of soap into the stock pot.
  2. Pour one gallon of distilled water into pot.
  3. Heat until soap dissolves. stirring will help.
  4. Add borax and washing soda.
  5. Bring to a boil.  The mixture will coagulate. (Be careful to watch and stir, otherwise it could boil over and let me tell you, this highly concentrated soap is no fun to try to wipe up!)
  6. Turn off heat. Add second gallon of water.
  7. Stir well until uniform consistency.
  8. Using a large funnel, pour soap into gallon jugs of choice. Be sure to go slowly or it will bubble up and not all fit.
  9. Soap will thicken as it cools. 
  10. The first time you use it, it will have gelled.  Shake it up firmly.
* Your soap will be affected by the temperature of the room it is kept in, making it thicker if it is cold and thinner when hot.

** Use 1/2 cup per average size load of laundry in a standard machine. About 2 Tablespoons for average size load in High Efficiency machines, add another tablespoon for higher soil level.

I have been making and using this now for a couple of years and just love it!  It's fun to make, far more economical and lasts us for about six months (doing an average of 3-4 high efficiency loads a week.)

Happy Laundry! :-)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Remove Pesticide Residue Inexpensively & Naturally!

Let's face it, as much as we may want to, we can't all afford all organic produce 100% of the time. There always comes a time where we have a limited amount of money to make stretch for all of the groceries we need.  When this happens, I find myself picking and choosing.  There are certain things I just will NEVER buy non-organic like leafy greens and berries.  But when I do buy non-organic produce, you better believe I take it home and wash it diligently!  Anything I can do to remove as much of the pesticide residues as possible.  

And you know what works wonders for this?  I'll give you one guess:  I bet you guessed it... that's right... Our good old friend, White Vinegar!  Vinegar not only cleanses, it is also antibacterial!


Why pay upwards of six bucks for a small bottle of 'produce wash' when you can use something you have available all the time right in your kitchen, at a cost of only three bucks a gallon?  

Here's all you need to do:
  1. Add 2 Tablespoons Baking Soda & 2 Tablespoons lemon juice to clean sink or large bowl.
  2. Add 1 part White Vinegar to 3 parts Water to fill. 
  3. Add produce. 
  4. Let soak for 10 Minutes. 
  5. Water will look dirty and your food will sparkle with no film or wax.  Also helps keep fruit from molding longer.  
  6. Rinse off well and you will not taste the vinegar!

I also keep a small spray bottle of this solution under my sink (in the following smaller batch recipe) for single fruit washings that I am about to take on the go.  For these, since I cannot let them soak, I just give them a quick scrub with a handheld produce brush and rinse off.

  • 1 c. water
  • 3/4 c. distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice

If you can’t grow your own or can't afford all-organic produce, pay particular attention to what is known as the “dirty dozen” – crops which have been tested to show higher pesticide residues on average. Make these a higher priority for organic purchase when funds are limited:

These are in general HIGHER in pesticide residues:
• Apples
• Celery
• Strawberries
• Peaches
• Spinach
• Nectarines (imported)
• Grapes (imported)
• Sweet Bell Peppers
• Potatoes
• Blueberries
• Lettuce
• Kale
• Collard Greens

On the other end of the spectrum, the following “clean fifteen” were found to have the lowest amount of pesticide residues:

These are in general LOWER in pesticide residues:
• Onion
• Sweet Corn
• Pineapple
• Avocado
• Cabbage
• Sweet Peas
• Asparagus
• Mangoes
• Eggplant
• Kiwifruit
• Cantaloupe-domestic
• Sweet potatoes
• Grapefruit
• Watermelon
• Mushrooms

*Source: Environmental Working Group (2012). Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

Also, I tend to only buy non-organic what has an outer skin that can be peeled away, since that is where the majority of the pesticide residue accumulates.   

Friday, August 14, 2015

Make your own Foaming Hand Soap!

With the booming popularity of foaming hand soap lately, wouldn't it be great to know that you can make your own at home?  Well, you can!  And even better, it's all natural!  Just save your empty bottles and fill 'em up your own way.  What's more, it will cost pennies on the dollar compared to buying the commercial varieties! 

It only takes me about 30 seconds to make a bottle and it's super simple!  Here's what you'll need:

  • Empty bottles with the foaming pump
  • Liquid Castile Soap (You may use any of the scent varieties you like, but I tend to go with the mostly unscented tea tree version and let the essential oils add the scent.)
  • 1/2 tsp. Almond Oil (optional)
  • Your choice of essential oils

  1. Fill soap dispenser with distilled water about an inch from the top.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of Castile soap.
  3. Add almond oil and essential oils in any combination you choose.
  4. Close and lightly swish to mix.

The combinations you can use here are truly endless, just have fun and experiment!

Here are some of my favorites:
Orange, Cinnamon and Clove
Lemon Lavender
Basil & Lemon

Happy Hand washing!  :-)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Make your own Miracle Wood Conditioner

Do you have wood furniture around your house that is old and dry?  Maybe it's a beloved antique or perhaps it's just a well used cutting board.  If you do, then what I am about to tell you may be the best thing to happen to them.  When I first made this stuff and used it on some salvage furniture projects and antiques around my house, I was absolutely floored.  I could hardly believe the difference.  It truly brought life back to my old furniture. And the best part is, there are no harsh chemicals in it and it isn't some super expensive store bought product.  

I promise, once you try it, you'll never want to go back to using anything else! I like to call it my wood lotion.  The picture above is one of my chopping blocks just before applying it (I use this stuff to condition them weekly). Below is after I have rubbed in the lotion.  Isn't it beautiful? 

Here is the recipe.  I like to make a double batch, but I have a lot of wood furniture to take care of. 

What you'll need:
  • 3/4 cup Distilled Water
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Vodka (helps to keep it from going bad)
  • 2 Tbsp. Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Vegetable Glycerine
  • Essential Oils (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. Xanthum Gum (thickener)
  • 1/2 tsp. Emulsifying Wax, melted
  1. Place all ingredients except last two in blender on high.
  2. While still running, add Xanthum Gum and wax.
  3. Process for 10-15 seconds until slightly thickened. 
  4. Pour into squirt bottle.  
  5. Shake before using. 
I would suggest storing it in the fridge when the weather is warm or if you will take longer than a couple months to use it.  To use, just squirt some on the surface or on a rag and buff it in.  For items which are in severe need of moisture replenishment, it may take a few treatments to bring it back to life, but once you have, maintaining it with this will keep it in pristine condition!

Please Note:  This is for use on wood furniture only, preferably raw wood or wood with a stain not containing a polyurethane coating, which will not allow it to penetrate and will just remain on top and dry sticky.  Totally food safe for use on cutting boards and butcher blocks. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Make Your Own All-Natural Bug Repellant

No one likes having to deal with mosquito bites.  But instead of grabbing a pesticide and chemical laden commercial bug spray, there are natural ways you can avoid the annoyance of bug bites.

The worst time for mosquitoes is at dusk and dawn, so if you can, avoid being outside during those times.  If you must, wearing long sleeves and pants provides them less skin surface to land on.  When that isn't possible, you can use natural based bug sprays.  There are now several available for purchase in stores.  But why buy what you can make yourself at home?  And it's easier than you may think!  Read on for the recipe:

  • Witch Hazel
  • Distilled Water
  • Vegetable Glycerine (optional)
  • Essential Oils of Choice: Good ones to use (in order of potency) are Neem Oil, Citronella,  Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Clove, Peppermint, Cinnamon, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Cedar, Catnip,      and Lavender (If you want your spray to be especially effective, you won't want to skip the Neem Oil.  It is truly nature's superstar when it comes to repelling bugs!)

  1. Fill 8 oz. spray bottle half full with distilled water.
  2. Add witch hazel to near full.
  3. Add 1/2 tsp. vegetable glycerine, if desired.
  4. Add 30-50 drops of essential oils in any combination.  The stronger the scent, the better it will work in warding off the bugs!

If you're asking why you should bother, then here is just a condensed list of some of the toxic - and sometimes fatal - side effects of using DEET, the most common active chemical used in bug repellants. If you are interested, you may visit the links below for more extensive research information.

Case reports of toxicity from DEET exposure have been widely documented in medical literature, and range in severity from mild skin irritation, damaging effects on brain cells, psychological effects, muscle control, strength and coordination, memory loss, headache, weakness, fatigue, tremors and shortness of breath to even death. Some of these symptoms may not be evident until months or even years after exposure. 

Children are more susceptible to subtle brain changes caused by chemicals in their environment because their skin more readily absorbs them. Also, their still-developing nervous systems are more potently affected. For the same reasons, you should NEVER EVER use insect repellant containing DEET on infants.

Wouldn't you agree it just isn't worth risking your or your children's health?  Go natural instead. You'll be glad you did!


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Unclog your Drain without Toxic Products

Have you ever had to deal with a slow draining sink or tub?  Of course - we all have!  Just recently, I did too and I searched for how I could combat this problem naturally.
And just in case you're teetering on the idea of just running out and buying a bottle of commercial drain cleaner, let me tell you just why you shouldn't.

1. The cost.  A one-time use bottle of Drano will cost you about $4.00 compared to less than $0.50 for the method below.

2. Bombs!  Did you know you can make bombs out of Drano?  Yep, just one of the scary things I ran across on Google while doing this research!

3. They are made to brutally dissolve organic compounds which typically clog drains such as hair, grease and soap. But if they can do that to them, just think what they can do to your flesh, or interior organs if, God forbid, they are accidentally ingested?

4. They can damage your pipes.  Drano is made from chemicals like Lye and sodium hydroxide known for its corrosive abilities.  Just think about what havoc that can eventually wreak on your pipes!  That's right, ironically, it can lead to worse plumbing issues than those it was meant to solve.

5. Poisoning our Environment.  Commercial drain cleaners are detrimental to both residential and water environments.  Liquid waste that has high levels of such toxins can make its way into the sewage system and out to rivers, streams, and the ocean, and take its toll on plants and wildlife, possibly even contaminating food and water supplies.  And as we all know, what with all the regular oil spills and pesticides leeching into groundwater, our water systems certainly don't need our direct help with becoming more contaminated!

6. Highly Dangerous to children and pets. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care a great deal about your family- human and furry alike-  so 'nuff said!

Super Simple Drain Cleaner


1. Pour a pot of boiling water down the drain.
2. Dump in ½ cup of baking soda and let sit a few minutes.
3. Pour a mix of 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup very hot water down drain on top of baking soda.
4. It will fizzle.  Cover with drain plug for 5-10 minutes.
5. Flush with another pot of boiling water.
6. Repeat if necessary.

Just let me say that this method works best if the problem hasn't been allowed to get too far gone.  If it is a massive clump of hair clogging up the drain, it will most likely still need to be dug out.  If you make it a habit to use this method monthly or so as a preventative measure, then you should never deal with a slow draining pipes again, so long as it isn't due to your child's just too small bath toy blocking the pipe!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Make your Own Non-Toxic Weed Killer

Have you wished you didn't have to use toxic chemicals such as Roundup to keep your yard and garden weed free, but don't know what else to do?  Well, rest easy, there are other solutions.  But first, let me enlighten you to the detrimental impacts of using a commercial weed killer. 

Glyphosate is the primary chemical ingredient used in herbicides such as Roundup and the multitude of dangers it presents to humans, wildlife and the environment are just beginning to be fully understood and are rising at alarming rates.

Milder symptoms of exposure to glyphosate include eye irritation, blurred vision, skin rashes, burning or itchy skin, allergic reactions, nausea, sore throat and difficulty breathing, headache, lethargy, nose bleeds and dizziness.

As if that isn't enough, there are far more major issues associated with exposure to Glyphosate.  These include increased risk to various cancers- including breast and prostate cancer, nervous system disorders, genetic damage to human and animal cells, is transferred from mother to baby in the womb, birth defects, disrupts human sex hormones resulting in reproductive problems, miscarriages, attention deficit disorder, adverse affects on endocrine, immune, and nervous system functioning, seizures and convulsions; and even death.

Children and infants are at a higher risk for illnesses from herbicides than adults. According to the EPA, because children are still developing, their immune systems are less able to protect them from damage from herbicides. Children are also more likely to play in areas that expose them to chemicals, such as rolling on the floor or lawn. Mild exposure can result in complaints of dizziness and nausea, but herbicides may also cause neurological and developmental damage to children.  More recently, it is thought that chemical usage on our foods and Monsanto is a contributing factor to the exponential rise in numbers of children affected by Autism.

Pets can also be poisoned by herbicides by coming into contact with the chemicals. Pets can ingest herbicides by chewing on plants or toys that have been contaminated, or when they lick themselves after coming into contact with the chemical such as simply laying in the yard.  Even scarier, animals that bring herbicides into the house on their fur may spread the chemicals around the home and leave residue on furniture and carpets.

And this doesn't even begin to highlight the severe affects usage of glyphosate herbicides are having on the environment.  When it is absorbed into the soil it contaminates ground water and easily finds its way into streams and other bodies of water, disrupting the delicate balance of life in those ecosystems.  Traces of Roundup have been found in many wild fish, crustaceans and amphibians and are contributing to their decline in population due to cell damage and reproductive hindrance. It also affects many insects, which in turn affects the wildlife depending upon them for food. 

And the list goes on and on and on…  They also affect the bee population and as you may well know, the severe potential detriment of that global issue is a whole other story in itself!  If you are not aware of this issue, I implore you to do some research.

Mind you, these are merely very brief highlights.  If you are the type who enjoys reading really scary and depressing stuff, just check out the references listed below which includes several reputable scholarly studies proving the detrimental health and environmental impacts of using Roundup and other herbicides.

However, do not despair.  While we should still be concerned about the large scale impacts of herbicides, there is at least a way around directly exposing yourself to this highly toxic chemical.  What's more, it's easy and far cheaper!  And for every person which uses a natural alternative to a toxic chemical, we can at least know we are doing our part to lessen the overall numbers, and not contributing to the environmental problems that much more.

Did you know that in addition to its many other qualities and uses, white vinegar can also be used as a weed killer?  That's right!  Vinegar is eco-friendly, non-toxic, safe for pets, people and the environment.  But like other herbicides it is non-selective, meaning it will kill your beloved flowers just as it will kill a pesky weed, so use with caution in that area just as you would a store bought herbicide.  The only major drawback to using vinegar as a weed killer is that it has no residual action, so new weeds will grow again. That's why the added common table salt in this recipe is great.  Combined with the vinegar it will destroy weeds for good in trouble spots such as crevices in the walkways or driveway.

We have been using this method for the past several years and it has worked great!  We love that it is completely safe and that we are not contributing to environmental concerns.  And it is far cheaper to boot!  This will cost you around $3.00 to make for a gallon, whereas a gallon of Roundup costs about $25.00. 

Non-Toxic Weed Killer

Directions and Ingredients:

  1. Pour 1 gallon of white vinegar into a bucket. Everyday 5-percent household white vinegar is fine. You won’t need higher, more expensive concentrations such as 10 or 20 percent. It may take two or three days longer to kill the weeds with the lower concentration, but they will die.  So, you make the choice.  It's your buck.
  2. Add 1 cup of table salt. Stir the solution with a long-handled spoon until all the salt dissolves completely.
  3. Stir in 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap. This will act as a surfactant and make the vinegar and salt solution adhere to the weeds more efficiently. Blend thoroughly.
  4. Funnel the weed killer into a portable yard sprayer that you can buy at your home improvement or garden store.
  5. Drench the weeds with the solution on a dry, sunny day. Coat all surfaces well with the spray. Any plants soaked with this solution will die within several days. They won’t be back and nothing else will ever grow there.
  6. Funnel any leftover weed killer into an empty plastic container. Cap it tightly. Label it clearly and store in a cool, dark spot indefinitely.

Of course, if you don't want to use anything like this, there is always the good old by hand method, which I actually did, painstakingly, for about a year before we discovered the vinegar method.  It works, so long as you get the weeds by the roots, but it also makes for hours of back breaking work and is hard on the hands!  But, hey, you are free to choose what works for you!  Who knows, maybe pulling weeds might just prove to be the meditative experience you have been searching for…

And for tips on how to prevent weeds growing in your garden where you can't spray something that will just kill everything, you might want to read this great article by Homestead Honey: