Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Green Machine!

We won't have a society if we destroy the environment.
Margaret Mead

I love finding new home remedies for things! They benefit me in many ways but the main two are they tend to be cheaper, they're typically eco-friendly, and they're typically not harmful like store-bought chemicals (which makes me feel better about using them around my family and pets). (They are also not filled with perfumes or toxins which can be hazardous and smelly--the smells give me headaches cause I'm allergic to fragrances.)

Since moving to England, I've discovered quite a few helpful home remedies. They range from home made facial masks to window cleansers. But today I wanted to focus on the home-cleaning remedies!

I am definitely a believer that today's traditional methods for cleaning the home (or anywhere really) can do more harm than good. A group called the Environmental Working Group is a non-profit that helps consumers make better safer choices in their homes and lives by promoting greener methods and exposing the potentially harmful tools you might have under your kitchen sink. (Did you know many cleaning products might promote or exacerbate your child's asthma? Or your own exzema?)
(They also do the same thing but with cosmetics and skincare products; you should hop onto their website and see how your sunscreen or foundation scores!
So a few tips and things I learned:

1) Dryer sheets often use tallow (animal fat) as an ingredient as well as many other chemicals that can irritate your respiratory tract! I switched to Method which offers Softener Infused Dryer Cloths that use softeners, anti-static agents and fragrance that are all plant-derived. Each sheet can also be reused once! So it reduces litter and adds more bang for your buck.

2) You can clean windows and mirrors with a simple solution of 1/4 Cup vinegar and 1 Quart water (I use filtered water to avoid hard water spots.) I also used this to wipe off the hard water and soap scum off the shower doors. I loved this solution because it was easy and didn't fill my house with the awful fumes other cleaners leave behind--my house smelled just a hint of vinegar which reminded me of pot stickers and dim sum-YUM.
If you notice this formula is leaving streaks, add 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap (I use Seventh Generation) and this will help cut through the residuals waxes left on from past window cleaners. (You can also use this for mopping!)

3) Use baking soda to clean your toilet... Pour some in and let it sit for a bit and scrub.

4) Use baking soda to deodorize your home! Pour some on the carpets before you vacuum, let sit for a while, and then vacuum it up.

5) Mouse problem? If you live in England you might have had a mouse problem... Mice hate the smell of peppermint so hang a few peppermint infused sachets around problem areas or plant peppermint around your house. They also don't like the smell of cedar. (Another solution? Get a cat... or just cat urine. The smell of that keeps them away but probably not an ideal solution.)

6) You can make your own Drano with baking soda and vinegar! Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain. Slowly follow that with a cup of vinegar. Let it fizz for a while then chase that with some hot water.

Happy cleaning!

Monday, March 29, 2010


When angry, count to four. When very angry, swear.
Mark Twain

Oh Mark, you silly bastard. A few years ago, I tried to quit swearing. In it's place I used quirky euphamisms. The euphamisms did two things for me: 1) they allowed me to express myself in a similar, passionate fashion without an expletive (helpful in the presence of a G-rated audience) which releases tension 2) calmed me down by the sheer silliness of my euphamisms.

Unfortunately, this didn't last, I swear up and down like it's my first language, so I'm not sure why but I'm going to try and bring it back with the help of some euphamisms!

Replacements for angry words (think of things you don't particularly like but are G-rated and persnaps amusing or just words that sound funny, like "amuse bouche"... I try to use the first G-rated phrase that come to mind in a mad-libs style.)
-Martha Focker
-Toe Jam!

Replacements for angry words directed at people (Things to say to people that you might actually mean but are less harsh than the typical cursings)
-Go suck a toe.
-I hope you get diarrhea on your next date.
-You're the moldy grape in the bunch.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The joys of "motherhood"

Motherhood is the strangest thing, it can be like being one's own Trojan horse.
Rebecca West

I plan on applying my cat-owning mothering style to my child-rearing mothering style.

Embarrassment builds character!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Keep moving forward

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.
Herman Cain

Yesterday was my last day of work in the Camfed office. I walked in through the green side door of the building thinking about all the things I acocmplished in the last six months and wondered if I should be extremely proud of my accomplishments... or extremely humbled by where I came from and how much further I have to grow. While I've made a lot of friends and managed to get everything I wanted from my experience at Camfed, I still was not happy working there and I don't know why. It was an opportunity I had been wanting for years and when I finally had it, it was everything I expected and everything I didn't expect. I expected the work to be difficult, rewarding and extremely challenging which it was and I loved that. But it wasn't satisfying and it wasn't enough for me, which I did not expect.

So it was a bittersweet day yesterday in the office. I poked fun at Moin's clothes and Dan's abilities for the last time. But it also felt good to be embarking towards the next step in my life... a Master's degree. While my expectations are lowered and my concerns are at the forefront of my mind, I am a bit relieved to be moving on and excited to see if this is a step towards the right direction.

I finally met Ann Cotton. I was able to affect girls' lives in Africa. I rose to a challenge daily. I couldn't have asked for a better experience.