Monthly Archives: January 2010

The Wonderful World of Vinegar

By now you probably know that vinegar is pretty useful for cleaning around the house. The smell isn’t always the best, or so my husband says, but it fades away quickly as the vinegar dries, so I really don’t consider it to be a problem.

Here are some of the many ways you can use vinegar around the house. Please feel free to share any further ideas you have.

1. Clean the microwave

Water can do this pretty well too, but it lacks the deodorizing capabilities of vinegar. Just heat a cloth that you have dampened with vinegar for 15 seconds or so. Once it’s cool enough to touch again, wipe the inside of the microwave clean with the cloth. The moisture should have helped to loosen some of the splatters.

2. Clean and unplug a showerhead.

Especially if you have hard water, your showerhead may get somewhat gunked up at times. Vinegar can do a slow but good job of cleaning it up.

Fill a plastic bag with vinegar. Put it over the showerhead and attach with a twist tie. Allow to soak for at least 15 minutes.

The vinegar may still be used after for other cleaning projects. Might be a good time to finish off cleaning the bathroom while you have it there!

3. Kill weeds

This can be a bit slow, as it kills the leaves but doesn’t touch roots. Spray it on the leaves and repeat as necessary. Eventually the plant will stop regrowing if it can’t get energy from its leaves.

4. Make soil more acid

On a gentler note, vinegar is good for adding a bit of acid to garden soil for plants that love acid soil.

5. Clean up pet urine

After cleaning up the mess by soaking up the liquid and then cleaning with water, pour vinegar on the area, blot out the excess and allow to dry.

6. Hair rinse

Rinse your hair with vinegar after shampooing. It removes the last of the shampoo nicely. Some say it helps with dandruff also.

7. In the laundry

Vinegar also helps to get the soap out from the laundry. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.

8. Afraid colors might run?

Soak brightly colored clothing in a mix of vinegar and warm water before washing. You’ll soon see if dye bleeding might have been a problem. I don’t know if this works with all dye types, but it’s been amazing what comes out of some red clothes.

9. Tenderize meat

There’s a reason why vinegar is so often used in marinades. The acid in it help to make the meat more tender.

10. Clear a drain

This one takes baking soda too, but it’s wonderful! Pour a half cup of baking soda down the drain, follow with a half cup of vinegar. Allow to work for 5-10 minutes, then pour boiling water down the drain. Repeat if necessary, but I’ve never had it be needed.

11. Deodorize the air

Spray vinegar in the air to control odors, or set a small pot of vinegar and water to boil. The vinegar smell will fade away.

12. Clean windows

Use vinegar as you would any other glass cleaner. Wiping with newspaper is highly effective too.

13. Use in the carpet cleaner

Vinegar can be used mixed with water at about 1 cup of vinegar to a gallon of water. Not terribly strong, but nice for a general cleaning.

14. Remove water rings from wood furniture

A mix of olive oil and vinegar can be rubbed on wood furniture to get rid of the white rings caused by leaving a wet glass on the wood.

15. Clean the garbage disposal

Make a few vinegar ice cubes. Put down the garbage disposal and run it while running cold water down the disposal as well.

16. Clean the dishwasher

Pour a cup of vinegar into the empty dishwasher, and run it.

17. Clean the coffeemaker

Your owner’s manual may even tell you about this. Pour a cup of vinegar into the reservoir and run the coffeemaker. Run it twice more with just water in the reservoir to rinse.

18. Soothe a sunburn

Apply vinegar to the sunburned areas with a cloth.

19. General cleaning

Use vinegar to clean hard surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen. It works well on tile and many other hard surfaces. You can dilute it with water for mopping as well.

20. Toilet bowl cleaner

That includes the toilet bowl. Pour 1 cup into the toilet and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes before flushing. This won’t get the areas out of the water, of course.

Talking as a Family About Where Food Comes From

For the most part, kids don’t care where food comes from, so long as they can eat what they like. That’s natural. However, you can teach them from pretty young to appreciate where food comes from.

There’s not much you can do for babies, of course. You can appreciate things yourself, though, and make homemade baby food when possible. Teach your baby from a very young age how wonderful homemade food is.

Believe me, they do notice the difference. My nearly 1 year old isn’t nearly so enthusiastic about eating when it comes from a jar, as it does when we visit relatives. She can tell the difference.

Toddlers and Preschoolers

Toddlers and preschoolers can begin to appreciate where food comes from. One of the best ways to do this is to start a garden with them. Go select seeds together, and plant them together. Get your toddler or preschooler involved in caring for the garden – watering, learning what makes a weed, and of course harvesting.

Another way to teach appreciation for where food comes from is to visit a local farm. Try to find one that offers tours. This may be easiest to do as a part of a preschool group, so suggest it to the teacher if your local farm prefers group tours.

Kids this age love to be told that they are eating “grow foods” when they’re eating healthy foods. Little kids do love to grow!

Elementary School Age Kids

Keep working with kids as they get older in ways similar to how you started with your toddler or preschooler, but increase their participation. Teach your child how to cook age appropriate recipes. It’s really not that hard to teach a child to do something like make scrambled eggs safely. Talk about safety rules and only cooking with adult supervision, of course.

You can also get more into the difference between organic, local and conventionally produced foods. If you haven’t already, join a CSA or co-op and get some organic or local food at a pretty good price.

Middle School and Up

Time to get serious!

You might want to check out The Omnivore’s Dilemma for Kids as a great starting point for really getting into what goes into bringing food to the plate. It really gets into what goes into all kinds of food, and the environmental damage that occurs.

And of course keep up the healthy eating habits and keep the kids involved in food preparation at home. It’s not only a great way for them to really appreciate what they eat, it’s great family time.

Auugh! How Do You Stop Junk Mail?

Junk mail is amazing, at the very least for the sheer quantity of it. You may go days without mail you want to receive, but it’s a rare day you don’t get at least a little junk mail for many people.

Talk about a pain! Thank goodness there are things you can do about it.

Take Yourself Off Lists

You can get yourself off the mailing lists that you don’t want to be on in many cases. Contact the companies that send you catalogs that no longer interest you or you’d rather just view on their websites. Tell them to take you off their list.

I’ve also posted in the past about getting rid of junk mail credit card offers. It’s not too hard and worth the effort.

You can also contact the Direct Marketer’s Association and opt out through their site. You can even pick and choose which companies you don’t want to get mail from, so you still get anything that actually matters to you.

Or You Can Pay Someone to Do It For You

There are companies such as Tonic MailStopper that will handle stopping junk mail for you. That particular service also plants 5 trees. It takes about 90 days to start working they say. That’s because it’s hard to stop things the companies have already scheduled, and many mailings are planned months in advance.

Pay Attention to Forms You Fill Out

To keep your name from being added to too many lists, pay attention to where you’re sharing your information. Most sweepstakes include that they’re going to share your information, but may include an opt out.

Similarly, if you order something, pay attention to anything that mentions sharing your information and be sure you opt out of it. These are places that can get your name and address onto new lists.

Is the Watkins Home Business Opportunity Green?

Joining a direct sales or network marketing opportunity is just about traditional for stay at home moms who want to earn some money. It’s been going on a long time, more than 100 years.

Watkins is one of the oldest direct sales companies out there. They’ve had good times and bad times, as any business will, but they’re still around.

And pretty nicely green so far as I can tell.

They focus on using natural, environmentally friendly and renewable ingredients in their products. They have an organic spice line. They even started selling natural cleaners in 1917.

The company tries for a small environmental footprint. They have a recycling program and use biodegradable packaging where possible.

For those looking for a green direct sales opportunity, this may be a good choice. You’ll be able to sell personal care products, gourmet products, home remedies and more.

Just What Is Discreet Breastfeeding?

I’ve been doing breastfeeding a long time. Still breastfeeding baby #3 right now, who turns one year old soon. But the thing that always gets to me is when people talk about the need to be discreet when breastfeeding.

It’s just not always that simple.

Keeping oneself covered up is pretty easy in the early days when baby is too small to do much about it. But as babies get older that becomes much harder and sometimes pretty near to impossible.

What Is Discreet Anyhow?

One of the problems I have is that the definition of  “discreet” can vary so much from person to person. Does it mean always draping a covering across baby and your body so that no one can see anything going on? Is just popping out one breast just enough for baby to latch on and keeping the other covered discreet enough?

Who decides these things anyhow?

Essentially, it always seems to come down to other people. What’s discreet enough for some is too much for others to handle or it’s seen as worrying too much about the whole thing.

It’s About Feeding the Baby – Comfortably

For me it comes down to how best to get baby fed in a way that works best for you. Others can judge, but that doesn’t mean they’re worth paying attention to. It can mean being prepared to deal with rudeness, especially from those who mistake breastfeeding for some sort of sexual display. As if!

I’ve been fortunate enough to not get it that bad.

I’ve found that what is discreet enough can change quite a bit from baby to baby as well as with how the baby’s need to move around while breastfeeding changes with his or her development.

That’s particularly true with my current baby. To her, breastfeeding is pretty much an athletic event. She’s all over the place if she’s awake. What most people would call discreet just doesn’t happen so much with her. She can move herself and other things around and she knows it.

Breastfeeding a baby who has climbed over your shoulder is an odd experience. Even if you are leaning way back at the time.

I do tend to resist feeding her in public not out of embarrassment but because she clowns around even more with an audience. Better to be quiet so that she focuses a little more on her food than on flirting with anyone amused by her antics.

That’s what’s comfortable for us at this moment.

Used to be I could feed her anywhere, and did so. My father-in-law has had to get used to the fact that I will do that. So did my mother-in-law, but she got it after the second baby was born. My father-in-law still resists a little.

As a mother, you have to figure out what’s right for you and your baby. It’s not about what’s right for those around you. You may have to decide how to cope with situations made awkward by the reactions of others, but it still comes down to what you’re comfortable with doing.

In the end, breastfeeding means you’re feeding the baby the way babies were meant to be fed. It’s a wonderful ability, not something to be hidden away and treated as something shameful.