Soap suds fun in Lynne’s Lab

wpid-2014-08-30-12.58.55.jpg.jpeg“What is elegance? Soap and water!” – Cecil Beaton

Well here I am, back in Lynne’s Lab, playing mad scientist again. My drive for finding natural solutions to chemically-laced products has made me more aware of how simple things can be. Like soap suds.

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Book Giveaway!

Vinegar Fridays
Vinegar Fridays

If you take a peek around my blog, you will find “Lynne’s Lab,” where I blog about doing my best to “go green.” I have been making my own household cleaners and toiletries for almost two years. My “green epiphany” began when my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and I started researching alternative and holistic methods of slowing down the progression of his disease.

My research opened a whole new way of looking at health – mainly, the prevention of disease. Our family now eats more organic and locally grown foods, less processed foods and we have done our best to rid the house of harmful chemicals.

I met author Hana Haatainen Caye, who is known as the “Green Grandma,” at a training conference in Chicago. The two of us connected, as when we both hit mid-life, we could see the benefits of being more aware of our environment, and the health risks that come with many commercial products. As we were talking, we shared information, and started following each through social media.

And, when I had the opportunity to review my fellow blogger’s book, I was excited to do so.

As consumers, we succumb to advertising, and many times we find ourselves purchasing foods, household cleaners and toiletries that have adverse side effects. Harsh chemicals that leach into the water system, vapors and fumes that can overwhelm users – there is a whole lot of bad stuff in our foods, cleaners, shampoos and make-up!

The Green Grandma offered a weekly feature on her blog entitled, “Vinegar Fridays.” Each week, she discussed a new use or tip for vinegar, and her readers loved it. After a year, she stopped the feature, thinking her readers were growing weary. But they didn’t. Green Grandma’s readers missed Vinegar Fridays. So, with the encouragement and support of her family and her blog followers, she edited her posts, did additional research, added recipes, more tips, and her book was born.

From using vinegar in the kitchen – in cooking and cleaning – to using it in the laundry room, to cleaning indoors and out; for skin and health care, pet care and critter control and more, Green Grandma covers numerous topics. Though she admits these are her opinions and she isn’t claiming scientific evidence to support her opinions, quite simply, the proof is in the pudding. Distilled white vinegar and apple cider vinegar are multi-purpose items that have stood the test of time and have been used for generations.

For years I have been using distilled white vinegar and water for cleaning windows, and I’d never use anything else again. I also use it for disinfecting the kitchen and bathroom and mopping the floors. Not only does it kill germs, there is no lingering perfume-chemical smell. And the house smells fresh! The vinegar smell dissipates quickly. (Quick side note – I had our furnace checked out for the winter, and our heating and cooling serviceman recommended cleaning the humidifier’s water intake/out-take pump with vinegar, and flushing with water, explaining that bleach was too harsh on the vinyl out-take hose!)

From this book, not only did I learn more about vinegar and its uses, but I enjoyed Hana’s writing. And, Vinegar Fridays is a great resource – I keep my copy handy in the kitchen with my favorite cook books. It is great to have all these tips handy and in one place.

If you are a resident in the U.S., and would like to be in a drawing for a copy of Vinegar Fridays, please fill out the RaffleCopter form for a chance to win. Deadline for entry is midnight on Sunday, December 8, 2013.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more green living info and tips, or to order a book, follow and/or click on any of these links: Green Grandma on Facebook and Twitter and the Facebook page for Vinegar Fridays!

Let me know your favorite use for vinegar in the comment section.

 

Junk? Trash? No! Hands off my stash!

“To invent, you need you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” Thomas Edison

rose in bud vase

The organizational bug hit me the other day, so I began fall cleaning a little early. Starting a little at a time, I tackled my dresser drawers, the night stand and my food pantry. Amazing how much junk one can collect. Some of it is so easy to pitch! Other items, not so much.

I came across a pile of greeting cards, which gave me a well-deserved cleaning break. Sorting through the anniversary, birthday, thank-you and Mother’s Day cards, I found some real gems, especially the handmade cards from my brood.

card

One of the best things I found was a construction paper card filled with coupons. It was made by my now 18-year-old son. Lucky for me, he was unaware of expiration dates at the ripe old age of ten, so I promptly presented him with the, “1 Free Room Clean Up (without groans)” coupon. I held onto the original, so I can present it again later this week when he needs to borrow the car…

Moving into the kitchen, I pitched boxes of cereal that had less than one serving remaining, stale crackers and cookies, and a bottle of dry creamer that I forgot was even there. I don’t even know why it was in the cupboard. Dumping all the contents into the trash, and crushing boxes for the recycle bin, I held onto the empty plastic creamer bottle.

“Surely there will be a good use for this,” I thought, as I washed the container.

A chill ran down my spine. I was turning into my grandmother!

My maternal grandmother, a product of the Great Depression, kept everything. I mean, everything! Newspapers, cat food cans, scraps of foil, boxes of all shapes and sizes, plastic bags – the list is endless.

She was a firm believer in reuse, reduce, recycle long before it was a popular catch phrase. And as much as I used to roll my eyes when she insisted I pull something out of the trash, I now get it.

Believe me when I say I have my own collection. Sparkling water bottles make great containers for my chocolate and lemon cellos. I wash and re-use spice containers for the herbs I am growing in my garden, which are now drying in bunches in my kitchen. Since I make my own deodorant and tooth paste, I use containers from all kinds of leftovers, looking for that perfect package. My homemade laundry detergent is in an old sherbet container. Gallon-size plastic tea jugs are lined up, waiting for me when I start making the liquid detergent again. Old Ball and Mason jars are shoved in a cabinet for when I figure out how to can tomatoes, which better be soon as I have at least 100 Romas ready to turn red. I have used pasta jars for displaying wildflowers and dandelion bunches. And oh, to prove I am not completely crazy, the photo at the top of this post shows that small sparkling water bottles make great bud vases!

containers

Good heavens – I am addicted to glass jars and plastic containers!

But I have it under control – believe me, I do! Once a year a take an inventory, and what I can’t use, I throw into the recycle bin. Or I figure a way to use the container in order to justify keeping it on hand.

chives

Yes, there is a method to my madness! That little, itty-bitty pimento container? My dried chives will be a perfect match! The dried mint will look beautiful in my antique spice jars. The sage, (which tasted awesome and smelled divine while roasting in last Thanksgiving’s turkey) will fit perfectly in the gelato container. The cellos – I can now double the recipe for these delicious drinks.

But darn it, I have yet to find something to fill that creamer container.

Oh, Grandma, I miss you! You would be so proud of me, recycling and learning to garden. I wish I had watched you, as you lined up jar after jar of fresh, delicious veggies from your garden and delectable fruit from your trees, carefully canning and preserving each item. I am really sorry that I rolled my eyes; you were ahead of your time in so many ways!

Plus, dang it, I know darn well you’d figure out something I could do with that Cremora bottle…

© Lynne Cobb – 2013

Do you have a hard time parting with items that could one day be useful? Share in the comments below.