Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cleaning: The Natural Way

The nesting urge has set in so I've been cleaning like mad lately (although it almost seems like I'm making more of a mess since I feel like I need to take everything out of each closet so I can re-organize my closets). I was thinking about how we clean the other day. I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about natural ways to keep your home clean.

Tools of the trade:
A really good stiff scrubbing brush
A couple micro-fibre clothes
Spray bottles of various sizes
Tea Tree Oil
Baking Soda
A broom/vacuum

The motivation for us to switch to cleaning products that contain no chemicals was not so much about the environmental impact but about my asthma. Cleaning with those strong chemical cleaning products really made my asthma flare up so I just decided to stop using them.
In the kitchen I mainly use a vinegar and water mixture for cleaning the counters and stove top (we have a glass top stove). Recipes for vinegar cleaning products can be found here. But I will admit that sometimes there are those sticky spots that you need to use something extra on. Enter baking soda. Put a little bit of baking soda on the sticky spot and with a damp (not wet) cloth scrub in a circular motion until the spot is gone. For the dishes and the dish washer we use a biodegradable soap. My favorite is Seventh Generation.
In the bathroom is where the scrubbing brush is the most handy. To clean the tub and shower baking soda and the scrubbing brush should get off any soap scum. Then I like to give the whole tub a spray with the vinegar/water cleaner and wipe it down. The sink and counters are done is a similar way. If you notice any spots in your bathroom that are beginning to develop mold or mildew this is where you would use your tea tree oil. To make a mold-killing cleaner at home add about 4-5 drops of tea tree oil to a spray bottle with about 1 cup of water. Spray on the affected area and either wipe clean or scrub, depending on how much mold you are dealing with. Cleaning the toilet was a challenge to do without a cleaner. We got a good toilet brush so that helped and I tried just using vinegar but it just didn't seem to do the job to my standards. So again I turned to Seventh Generation for a natural cleaning product. For the mirror, which always seems to get toothpaste on it, I use the Method Mint Glass Cleaner. Yes, you can probably make a natural glass cleaner that will do the trick but I was getting frustrated with the smudges my mixes seemed to leave so I just decided to give into the commercial products.
General household cleaning is a lot easier to do without chemicals. We have hardwood and area rugs in the majority of our house so we use our broom a lot and vacuum the carpets. Every so often I bring out the Swiffer. I don't like the Swiffer products so I use Method Compostable Corn Clothes (which I think might be discontinued since I can't find them anymore) with their multi-floor cleaner. Dusting only requires a good micro-fibre cloth.
Laundry is done with a natural laundry soap, again I find Seventh Generation to be superior. However, if the load I'm doing not necessarily "dirty" but needs a refreshing clean (bed sheets and bath towels usually fall in this category) I just use vinegar and Borax to kill any bacteria or smells. In the spring and summer I dry the clothes on the line outside but in the fall and winter (when it usually raining around here) I do use the dryer. Right now we are using the Method Dryer Cloths but I would really like to get some of these.
I will do a post on all the new organization going on here once things are where I want them. I secretly LOVE this new phase of pregnancy. It's tiring but so satisfying!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Woolly Goodness

The other day I received a package of woolly goodness in the mail. Since we are planning to do EC (elimination communication) with our child we would like to have some wool clothing on hand. Wool is naturally water repellent so having your baby in wool pants during outings or wool diaper covers at night makes it easier on you and your baby when misses occur. I had ordered some beautiful gender-neutral purewool for some wool longies and the wonderful Jennifer Wilson-Parkes knit them up for me. She has a great little shop on Etsy called Dragon's Treasure. She also does amazing custom work.
 These are the two that I custom ordered. I love the orange and blue colorway, I think it is a great gender neutral pair of pants. The burgundy pair are the newborn size and I love them. They are both so soft!
 Jennifer is just so awesome. Her son had outgrown his newborn woollies so she sent them along for me. I love the little cargo pants!
She also included these awesome diaper covers made from up-cycled sweaters. Isn't she just so talented and cool? Seriously check her out if you are looking for woolly stuff for your baby or if you knit since she sells patterns on her Etsy site. Thank you Jennifer!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

No Poo Update

Now that I'm back on the no poo path after my little detour, I've been noticing a few differences in my hair. First is that without the use of conditioner I've been have really dry ends that usually lead to tangles. I've recently cut the majority of my hair off so hopefully that helps but I've been thinking of doing bi-monthly masks to help with this problem. Some of the masks I've been thinking about are either yogurt and avocado or olive oil and honey. I've read that straight coconut oil on your hair can be really hydrating but I'm worried about my hair looking to greasy if I only use oil. Anyone have some suggestions?
The other issue is that I've been having some dandruff. Usually I would treat this with a week of Head and Shoulders but I decided to try using tea tree oil instead and it appears to be working. Occasionally it seems to be really challenging to get the oil to spread evenly through my wet hair but in the end my hair always looks clean so I must not be doing that bad a job.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Little Christmas Tree

We put up our Christmas tree last night. I love going through all the boxes of memories and finding the perfect place for that ornament you love so much. We got a slightly smaller tree this year because we found the living room to be so crowded last year that walking around the tree was a challenge. I was think of that Nat King Cole song Little Christmas Tree as we were decorating it. I love the way my house smells now that the tree is up. I'm going to go turn on the fireplace, plug in the lights and bask in the Christmas goodness.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Christmas Coat

Being pregnant means no cute (or very functional) winter coats this year. So I decided to make myself a winter coat, only miniature.
 I followed the pattern sold by Alicia Paulson. It was really easy and fun. I'm currently flipping through her book Stitched in Time and making a list of cool little projects to do.
The ornament actually ended up taking me a really long time because it had been so long since I used embroidery  thread and even longer since I did a blanket stitch. But it is so cute. I'm glad I made it.
Since it ended up being so cute, I'm sort of tempted to try making the gingerbread house pattern but then I realize that I just do not have the skills for that one. Oh well, a girl can dream.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wreath Making

This past weekend my mother-in-law and I went to Russell Nursery to do their wreath making class. I took the class last year and loved the results. I think the fresh, real wreath looks so much nice then the plastic berries and glitter wreaths they seem to be selling these days. This year I decided to use cedar as my base. I don't usually wear gloves to these classes because I find they just make things harder but this year I wish I had. I ended up with an allergic reaction to the cedar all over my fingers. But I slapped some Aveeno on it as soon as I got home and it cleared up pretty quickly.
 The cedar made for a floppier looking wreath than the one I made last year but I like the natural look of it.
 Again, I went for the traditional holly to accent my wreath. I have a white front door so I really like to add a little bit of red to anything that hangs on my front door. Red and white are just so Christmasy!
The finished product! I used those beautiful sequoia cones for the final touches. They were beautiful, they had an almost rose-like appearance and I love how they look with the holly. This wreath is now proudly hanging on my front door!