Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

If anyone who knows me in real life is reading this post today they probably read the title and literally laughed out loud (I‘m talking to you mom). You see, I’m not exactly known for my sparkling clean home or being fastidiously clean. I’m definitely not a germaphobe and when you hear those people talk about how they are so OCD that they can’t live with dust or crumbs on the counter I cannot relate to them. At all.  That said, when I do take the time to really deep clean my home I make it count and in spite of whether or not messy people like myself should be dishing out cleaning advice I’m going to anyways.
I started making some of my own cleaning supplies about a year ago. I haven’t bought Lysol or Windex in a very long time. Making your own cleaning supplies is fun, environmentally friendly, economical and easy! This is the recipe that I started using to wash my dishes but as you will read soon enough you can also use it for other household cleaning needs as well.

The Ingredients:

1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
½ cup salt
½ cup citric acid

What the heck is all this stuff???.

Washing Soda is similar to baking soda but they are not the same thing. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and washing soda is a sodium salt of carbonic acid.  Baking soda is very easy to find at the store but washing soda can be more difficult to come by. I went to 5 different stores in my area looking for washing soda and couldn’t find it. It was only after I bought some off eBay that I randomly stumbled upon washing soda at Fred Meyer. Go figure. Although it wouldn’t hurt to mix the two up when it comes to making cleaning supplies you definitely don’t want to use washing soda for cooking.  Washing soda comes in a yellow box whereas baking soda is in an orange box. The laundry section of the grocery store or a hardware store are your best bet for tracking this stuff down. You can also buy it online if they don’t sell it in your town.

Borax is also know as sodium borate and is derived from the same stuff as boric acid. Don’t use boric acid for this recipe. Boric acid is nasty, nasty stuff used to kill cockroaches and other bugs. Look for the box in the laundry isle that says 20 Mule Team Borax. It has household cleaning as one of its uses listed on the side of the box so you know it’s safe.

Salt. I think we all know what salt is. Regular table salt will do just fine but purists may prefer to use finely ground sea salt or kosher salt. These will work fine as well. Moving on…

Citric Acid
is a weak organic acid. Its used as a preservative, cleaning agent and a TON of other things. You can also use it to make bath bombs! (recipe coming later this week!) I have no idea where to buy citric acid except the Internet. I bought a big 5lbs pail off Amazon. Citric acid is your secret ingredient in this recipe. It helps to cut grease and residue.  Apparently you can also use unsweetened Kool Aid or Lemonade mix instead of pure citric acid though I have not tried this.

Mix the ingredients together and store in a reusable container. Add two tablespoons per load. Swap out your regular rinse aid (Jet Dry)  for regular distilled white vinegar.

Because everyone’s dishwasher and water hardness are different you may have to tweak things around until you find the right ratios for your homemade detergent. Try making smaller batches at first until you find the right mix.

You can also use this mixture to clean your toilet bowl. Take a bucket and fill with water and dump it into the bowl. This will flush out the water and leave it empty. Wearing gloves, (obviously) rub the powder on the inside of the bowl thickly and let it sit for about 10 minutes.  Scrub it with the toilet brush and flush. Voila, sparkling toilet!

In a pinch your can also use this as laundry detergent. The homemade laundry detergent recipes I have read usually don’t include the citric acid or salt but I have been adding a couple tablespoons instead of laundry powder and it seems to be working just fine.

For the shower, take an old spray bottle and add two teaspoons of the mixture and fill the rest with water. Spritz on the bathtub and shower walls and scrub like you normally do. You need to use a little more elbow grease but it does work.

Do you make any of your own cleaning supplies? What are some of your favorite recipes?

How to Make Seed Balls

A few years ago I went to the natural cosmetic store Lush in downtown Vancouver.  As I was browsing the aisles the beauty advisor informed me they were giving away seed balls to help promote Earth Day and gave me a packet of  marble sized red brown dirt balls. I had never heard of seeds balls. The lady told me the balls were loaded with wildflower seeds and I should toss the balls anywhere I would  like to see some flowers grow. I thought this was a fun idea and when I used up the seed balls I was given  I decided  to make my own. This is a fun project you could do with kids to help teach them about gardening and the environment. It’s also a good way to use up any extra seeds you may have.
Supplies:
1 cup Seed starting mix/ potting soil
1 cup Crayola Air dry Clay. You can also use red art clay or potters clay. Available at an art supply store or garden center.  If you can get your hands on some of powdered clay  I have read it works better but in a pinch the Crayola stuff will work too. You can find it at the craft store.
1 cup Compost
Seeds

Mix all ingredients together except for the seeds in a large bowl. Because my clay was starting to dry out I used my food processor. If you use a food processor don’t put the seeds in because it will grind them up and ruin them. Add water to the mixture as needed until you get a good consistency. It should look like this

You can now stir in your seeds. I used a couple cups of wildflower seed mix. Form the mixture into half inch balls and set them aside to dry.  This part gets messy so make sure you have lots of old towels on hand for clean up! In a few days your seed bombs should be dry. You can put them in little baggies to give away as gifts or favors or just start tossing them anywhere you would like to see some flowers grow.

Make a Compost Bin out of Pallets

I  wanted to buy a compost bin and saw some  for sale at the Home Depot. They cost $50-100 and up depending on how fancy you want to go. I decided to make my own after seeing some online tutorials. Why pay for something you can make for free?
This is a project you can do for free or very little money.  You can get shipping pallets for free from shipping companies or any place that receives freight.  Go take a look behind a big box store and you will probably find some pallets. The stores will be happy to give them to you.  I work for an international shipping company and we receive freight that comes on pallets. The pallets are a pain for us to get rid of. I got my husband to bring his van to my work and we loaded it up with the pallets.  Wear gloves and be careful. Pallets are usually full of splinters and many have old rusty nails sticking out.  Try to choose sturdy looking skids that are all the same size.

I propped them up in position and secured with rope. I just twisted the rope through the slats and tied the loose ends together. You could nail them together or use old wire coat hangers to secure. For the front, I only secured one side so I could still open the front to get out the compost. You could use a bungee cord to help secure the front for easy access.

If you live in a dry climate you may want to line your bin with plastic to help keep the moisture in.  Moisture isn’t really a problem here in the Pacific NW.  So I didn’t bother with that step.
The slats on the pallets help to increase airflow. You could have an additional pallet on the bottom to help with airflow from underneath

Compost tips:

  • Alternate brown and green layers in the bin. Brown= vegetable and kitchen scraps and manure. Green = yard waste and grass clippings
  • Chop the scraps up as small as you can, they will break down faster
  • Water the compost to keep it moist, but not so wet that it gets rotten and stinky, turn often with a pitchfork.
  • Consider adding composting worms to your bin to help things break down faster.

Upcycled Dog Scarves

The days are going to start to get cooler soon. Our sundresses and shorts will get packed away for scarves and mittens. While your going through your old clothes and sorting through some of the stuff you don’t want anymore consider keeping a few pieces around to upcycle into some cute dog accessories.

If you have an old hat lying around you can simply snip off the top to make a neck warmer for your pup.

You can flip the loose edge over so that it doesn’t fray and then simply slide it over her head

If you have a knit scarf on hand you can do the same thing but cut the scarf to the correct length to fit your dogs neck and then weave some yarn through the holes to “sew” it into one loop.

The possibilities are endless. What fun stuff can you upcycle for your pets?

Vegan Potato Pancakes

My husband bought a humongous bag of potatoes a few weeks ago and I was starting to worry that they would sprout and go bad before I had a chance to use them up. I decided this would be a good opportunity to try out a new recipe,. Vegan potato latkes! So yummy, but if you are trying to watch your weight this recipe might not be a good option since you use so much oil to fry them in.  Prep time about 15 minutes, cook time about 20.

Ingredients

3 lbs of potatoes
1 medium onion
1 egg replacer
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp baking powder
Olive oil for frying
Apple sauce and vegan sour cream for dipping

Directions:

Peel and cut potatoes into chunks.  Using the grate blade on your food processor grate all the potatoes and the onion. You can grate by hand with a cheese  grater but it will probably take you 3 weeks. I wasn’t going to even make this recipe if I couldn’t find the grate attachment for the food processor. 3lbs of potatoes is A LOT of taters.  In a bowl add the rest of the ingredients and mix them together with the grated potato and onion.
Heat the oil on medium in a large pan spoon in the potato mixture into the pan into little pancake patties  about 3- 4 inches in diameter.  Cook for 2-3 minutes then flip. Continue cooking and flipping until both sides are golden brown.
Serve with  applesauce and vegan sour cream.

How To Make a Flower Pen

Why write with a boring regular pen when you can  write with a pretty flower pen?
My mom, sister and I made these pens when I was little. My mom owned a clothing store with the word “Rose” in the title, so we made these pens with fake roses on top as a little promotional giveaway. I brought some extra to school when I was in grade 8 and my friends all begged me to make them one.  This one is a fun craft for kids and tweens or anybody like me who wants something pretty to write with.

Materials:

Pen
Floral tape
Flower
Glue

Take the floral tape  and wrap it around the pen. You can add a dab of glue if you want but floral tape sticks to itself so you shouldn’t need it.

Once the pen is covered with the tape pick the end of the pen off

Stick the tip of the flower in the pen and secure with glue.

Voila! Flower Pen!

Is Organic Worth It?

Organic lemons growing at my husbands grandparents house in Mexico

Organic fruits and veggies can cost 50-100% more than the non- organic varieties at the grocery store. It makes you wonder, is buying organic really worth the extra cost? Well according to the Environmental Working group a non profit organization that is based out of Washington DC some types of produce are more susceptible to pesticide residue than others. The group came up with a list of the “Dirty Dozen” the 12 foods that are definitely worth buying organic:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

This list above are the foods that you should focus on buying organic. These foods are affected most by chemicals and pesticides.
If you can’t afford to buy only organic, that’s OK. They also complied a list of 12 foods that have the least pesticide residue:

  • Papayas
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Bananas
  • Kiwifruit
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet corn (frozen)
  • Avocados
  • Onions
Homegrown avocado also grown at the grandparents in Mexico

So if you can only afford some organic foods make sure you stick to the dirty dozen.

Vegan Blueberry Muffins

 Make delicious vegan blueberry muffins with this yummy recipe!

A yummy treat to snack on in the morning, or anytime of the day actually! These taste best warmed up with melted margarine.

Ingredients
1/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup organic applesauce
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup soymilk
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 tbsp of cinnamon.

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 and grease your muffin tins
Mix your dry ingredients and then your wet. Blend with an electric mixer.
Add your blueberries and then spoon the mixture into the muffin tins until it is ¾ full.
Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

Vegan Egg Replacements

egg replace

When I  first started experimenting with vegan cooking I was pleasantly surprised to find there are vegan alternatives to many, many foods. Mayo, milk, ice cream and  cheese,  all have vegan versions. A lot of vegan “meats” are made with tofu.  There are even egg substitutes for cooking such as Ener- G Egg Replacer. If you are ever cooking or baking a vegan meal and realize you don’t have any  powdered egg substitutes when you are midway through a recipe, don’t worry ! There are actually some homemade egg replacements you can make yourself.  This list comes from the cookbook Vegan Comfort Food by Alicia C. Simpson. As a substitute for one egg you can use one of the following:

  • 2 tablespoons potato or corn starch
  • 3 tablespoons or ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed simmered in 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder plus 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • ¼  cup soft silken tofu, pureed in a food processor or blender
  • ¼ cup plain soy yogurt

So far I have tried applesauce, cornstarch and the baking powder/vinegar mixture. They all seemed to work pretty well. You couldn’t tell there was an egg missing. Have you ever tried one of these substitutes? How did it turn out?

My Favorite Cell Phone Cases

I’ve had my latest cell phone for almost a year now. It’s the Iphone 6S. I still have another year before my contract is up and I can get a free upgrade but I am thinking it might be time to splurge on a new case. Right now I just have a plain rose gold case. I did a search on Etsy and found some pretty sweet cell phone cases. Here are some of my favs:

 

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Lemon Case from Dessi Designs
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Marble and Rose Gold Case from Wolf Cases
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Amethyst Case from Case Ocean
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Wood Case from Real Design Rocks
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Frieda Case from Giant Sparrows
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Pineapple Case from Clash Cases
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Strawberry Case from Dessi Designs

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