Archive for the ‘REAL Clean’ Category

I get it– spring cleaning because you can set the wash tub outside, and beat the rugs when it’s warm.

But my washtub stays indoors since, despite my pioneer-woman conceits I actually don’t use a scrub board to clean; nor do I beat the rugs. I vacuum them. I don’t want to be stuck inside cleaning when the weather is finally nice and I can get out of the cave for a few hours.

Enter the January Cure.  This is one of those internet things of which you’re vaguely aware for years.  And then a friend says “I’m doing this!” and you think, okay, why not. It’s great “Dark Days” therapy.

Last year my friend petered out after a couple of weeks, but I stuck it out and went the whole month. I confess some of the tasks struck me as silly (buy some mass-produced art), or inconsistent with the eco-friendly mandate (buy some cut flowers in the middle of January– they’re only the most ecologically disastrous industry on the planet!). But for the most part it laid a really useful and effective structure for cleaning. Last year I had an entire 10-room house to clean, which was a little more than the “Apartment Therapy” home site was geared towards. This year, I’ve contracted onto my first floor, so I should be able to keep up a little more.

I’m going to add my disaster of a basement to the mix (in fact I’m headed there right after writing this).

I’ll be going back to my regular Tuesday posting day for  reporting. (It seemed ridiculous to post about cleaning on New Year’s Eve- I don’t know about you, but on New Year’s Eve my aim is making messes, not cleaning them up!)  I hope you’ll join me in signing up through the Apartment Therapy site, and that you’ll chime in on the comments here about your successes, misses, and surprises.

Happy New Year!

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After a super busy month – I finally was able to find some time last night to choose a few winners for the Tropical Traditions products.

Drum roll………

The winner of the Tropical Traditions Lotion is:

The winner of the Tropical Traditions Deodorant is:

I just wanted to extend a hearty THANK YOU on behalf of all of us here at Not Dabbling for you – our readers. We appreciate that you stop by, we appreciate that you comment, we love hearing your tips. If you have any ideas of things you’d like to hear about, read about, or learn about we would love to hear them! Thanks so much for participating in the REAL clean challenge, stay tuned for our next REAL event.

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Last week we spent several days cleaning my (Xan) mother-in-law’s apartment.

Before you get all sad on me, this was not because she passed, but because she invited friends from the Old Country, whom she has not seen in nearly 60 years, to stay with her.

Mom’s apartment is the subject of rueful, affectionate…,well, I have to say, disgust in the family. She never throws anything away (we’re talking thousands and thousands of those plastic bags you bring your veggies home in from the market), and  she likes to be able to “get at her things” meaning nothing goes into cabinets, it’s all out on counters. She fries everything. Rather than cleaning, everything is covered in little bits of saved plastic and old newspapers, which she changes, oh, once a decade. She’s 87 and frail.

When my daughter was 6, she ran barefoot into that kitchen and had to be carried back out, crying. The level of grease is not to be described.

We had to clean this needless to say. We cannot let people from the Old Country see how she lives. They’ll blame us! We started with her stock of cleaners– 409, Comet, Palmolive, that soap-treated steel wool, sponges. A couple of hours into it I realized these products were not going to work. I was feeling ill from the fumes, and things weren’t getting clean.

So I brought in my REAL clean stock–vinegar, washing soda, rags, brushes. Forgot the castille soap, so I stuck with the Palmolive as a surfactant. Halfway through I knew I would be writing this post, and was wishing I had brought my camera to document the difference.

And the difference was amazing. Easier, cleaner, and I felt like I could breathe. If these things can clean the Superfund site that was Mom’s kitchen, they can clean anything.

So, I’m making the transition. I have my borax. I have castile soap, washing soda, salts and vinegar at both the kitchen and the laundry stations. I have my Ligget’s bar shampoo (everyone’s been complimenting my hair) and I’m going to take Susy’s challenge and find a natural deodorant. I just took out towels washed in Peppermint castille soap, borax and vinegar; they’re hanging on my line in the basement and making the whole room smell wonderful.

Most of the difficulty of relearning the old cleaning skills is in, as I said in an earlier post, establishing a new routine. Instead of pouring out a capful of chemical cleaner, I need to measure, dissolve, and mix. Instead of just grabbing the product off the grocery store shelf, I have to hunt it down a bit. But routines can be changed, and old dogs like me can learn new tricks. Little by little I’ll start removing the old items from the household so that my husband will have no choice but to learn these new old ways as well.

And I think that together, we’ll save the world, one bar of soap at a time.


rose & lavender hand oil

For me, Jennifer, things haven’t changed too much this past month. I have had loads of fun mixing and experimenting with some new products. Researching has been a blast and I’m thrilled to see so much available on the internet for so many people to access. As for my cleaning supply list, I really didn’t purchase anything new, which I absolutely love! Of course we hope that most of you will purchase a whole lot LESS, but having already kept a basic group of items including Borax, cleaning soda, old boxes of baking soda, vinegar, and castile soap, well, purchasing was easy on me this month.

The few things I did pick up were nice oils for my skin which were absolutely lovely. I adore the rosewater hand oil that I created (which I lovingly coined “hand salad dressing” here at home), but regret not having time to play more with concocting new recipes. I’m hoping we get to do this again in a few months so I can experiment some more ::hint hint::. But my absolute favorite was the Milk & Honey with Coconut scrub I started using! My face feels amazing and the smell is just YUM.

So what does the future hold for me and Real Clean “products” and “not-products”? I am definitely going to take up Emily on the hair washing experiment; I’ve given up for the time-being on finding a recipe that I like for dishwasher detergent; and I will get back to brewing and concocting some more yummy hand lotions and balms.


We hope you’ve enjoyed our “Real Clean” month!

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I have had a whirlwind of a month and admittedly have not had the chance to try all of the fun recipes and concoctions that I had planned on. I suppose that’s what happens when you do so much on impulse and forget that there are only 24 hours in a day. That, and I’m a complete ditz when it comes to remembering all the things I want to do in a day.


So here’s a list of webby things that I looked into this past month that I wanted to try:

Strawberry leaf mouthwash via The Green Girls

Our very own Chiot’s Run’s (Susy) recipe for toothpaste

Go through and create a Spring Cleaning Kit c/o Mountain Rose Herbs blog

Make the All-Purpose Cleaner and Tough Dirt and Grease Formula at Rodale.com

(Honestly since I cut out a lot of commercial cleaners so long ago, I don’t miss having all of the bottles of goop around. The thought of having to stock up on spray bottles for one specific use irritates me a bit, but that’s a rant for another post!)

All of these which I could’ve done in the time it took me to write this column today.

Now the one thing I really, really wanted to do that didn’t get the opportunity to do was to create my own Burt’s Bees hand salve recipe. Mmmm I adore Burt’s Bees, but I can’t necessarily afford it as quickly as I can go through it. Fortunately I can get my own beeswax for free (and you can purchase it cheaply through Mountain Rose Herbs) and other items  can be found in my home, at health food stores, or at MRH. If you’re vegan, you can use shea butter or cocoa butter as an alternative to beeswax. Here are some ideas at TipNut.

What projects will you try?

Jennifer can also be found at Unearthing this Life where she blargs about her life in rural Tennessee – at least when she’s not out working the fields to death!

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Deodorant is probably one of the hardest things to find a REAL version of that you like and that works for you. That’s probably because as humans we’re made to sweat – there’s a reason that we do – it’s not just some random thing that happens. It takes a lot of pretty serious chemicals, waxes and other weirdness to make us not sweat. As a society we’ve become so worried about pseudo cleanliness and often associate a “natural” smell with being unclean – which is really kind of a sad state of affairs if you think about it. We prefer to give ourselves cancer and other health problems by wanting to smell like synthetic things and look down upon those that smell “normal” and “natural”.

I have a bit of a different perspective on this because I grew up in Colombia, South America. Since it was a third world country while I was living there, the standard of living was very meager. Most people didn’t wear deodorant because they could barely afford food, much less something that would make them not sweat. Since the city we lived in was on the equator, it was hot, hot, hot. Since sweating helps your body cool off, the last thing you want is to not sweat. Deodorant was usually just a quick wash or a shower before bed, or before you went to the store. Everyone smelled sweaty and no one thought anything of it, it was just the natural way to smell. I think because of this the smell of sweat isn’t offensive to me, it doesn’t bother me when people smell a little, I find it “normal”. I know most folks who have grown up in the United States have a different view of this. A fear of “smelling” of anything natural is instilled in us from a young age. Somehow we’ve equated the smell of sweat to being unclean.

Now if it were a perfect world, we could simply quit wearing deodorant, tell people we were going natural and they would accept us even if we smelled a little sweaty – but that’s not the case. People expect us to not smell, or to even to sweat for that matter. As members of this type of society we try to find a balance between not poisoning ourselves and yet trying to mitigate the natural odors that come from being human.

Probably the biggest hurdle for folks making the switch to an all-natural deodorant is that you actually perspire. Most people wear anti-perspirants which blocks the production of sweat. Moisture in your pits can be a bit weird if you’ve been wearing anti-perspirant for you entire life. All-natural deodorants have ingredients that are supposed to limit the growth of odor producing bacteria that can happen when you sweat, they don’t stop you from sweating. I think another one of the big hurdles of switching to a non-toxic deodorant is that we all have different body chemistry. We all produce different kinds of bacteria and perspire at different rates. That means you’ll probably have to try a few different products until you find one that works for you.  You also have to be careful when choosing an all-natural deodorant because sometimes they still contain questionable ingredients.  We purchased an “all-natural, aluminum free” deodorant from Arm & Hammer and when we read the ingredient list it was was filled with unpronounceable chemicals.

I’ve used a few of the products we’ve purchased – but to be honest I rarely wear deodorant. I have very sensitive skin and my armpits have always been ultra-sensitive to just about everything.  I’ve always preferred to not wear it rather than to have red irritated armpits. Because of this, Mr Chiots has been the guinea pig for this experiment in our family. He’s been willing to try to products and head out in the heat of the day to work up a sweat to put the products through their paces. Here’s a summary of each of the products that we’ve tried and who likes each product best:

Burt’s Bees Men’s Deodorant
This is a men’s deodorant so I didn’t try it. Mr Chiots did not like this deodorant at all, not one bit. He wore it once or twice and that was it. He didn’t like the feel and he said it didn’t work at all.  The smell is rather nice though if you’re looking for a “manly” smelling deodorant this is a good one.  The ingredients are pretty normal too, nothing to weird.

Tropical Traditions All-Natural Deodorant
Until this, I had never used a roll-on deodorant and I must admit – it was a little weird to put a wet product under my arms. You kind of have to hold your arms up for a minute or two for the product to dry – which really isn’t a problem. Mr Chiots was not a fan of this at all, I didn’t mind it so much. This deodorant worked fairly well. I found that it worked even better if you reapply halfway through the day. The three fragrances are all nice, I used the lavender and Mr Chiots opted for the Frankincense. I’ll keep using this product when I need deodorant (which is only when I’m going out in public for a long period of time). I like that all the ingredients are something I wouldn’t be afraid of consuming. Tropical Traditions was kind enough to offer to send one of our lucky readers some of their all natural deodorant to try. All you have to do is comment below for your chance to win. I’ll announce the winner next week!

Crystal Stick Body Deodorant
Mr Chiots and I have both tried this product. I don’t particularly care for it as it irritates my underarm skin making me itchy. Mr Chiots loves this product – it’s his favorite product by far. He likes that it goes on easily and dries quickly. He appreciates that it isn’t creamy or too textured. For him this product worked better than all the others that he tried.  He’s been using this produce exclusively for the last few months and is very happy with it.

One of the best all natural forms of deodorant is to simply wash each evening. It’s all natural (if you’re using non-toxic soap) and you don’t have to keep an extra product around! If you don’t want to take a full shower, simply wash your armpits with a washcloth & soap. This is the method I use often as I find a bar of soap to be the best defense for underarm odor.

I know a lot of you make your own deodorant and have recipes for them. List them below if you’d like, or write up the recipe on your blog and link to it in the comments. One lucky commenter will win an All-Natural Deodorant from Tropical Traditions. We have a winner!

Have you found a type of all-natural deodorant that you like? Do you make your own?

For an extra chance at winning sign up for the Tropical Traditions Sale e-mails (they have great sales all the time) or follow them on Twitter as they tweet their sales.

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, maple sugaring, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Ethel Gloves, Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.

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Our weather this week presented me with a new real clean dilemma: garden dirt.

Winter laundry tends to be light on the grime, but once that warm gardening weather hits, everything gets covered in dirt. As I (Xan) was looking at a shirt and wondering if anyone would actually NOTICE that it wasn’t terribly clean, the brain gears started clanking, and a word from the mists of my childhood surfaced.

Pre soak

This was what you didn’t have to do anymore because of Tide (or whatever miracle detergent you were using). So I checked my washer: lo and behold, there’s a pre-soak setting (how smart was I, to buy a washer with a presoak!). So I mixed up some borax and some castille soap, and dropped the really dirty things in. While this was running, I cleaned out my now-empty seed starting bench; by the time the pre-soak was done, the bench was clean, and I threw the laundry into the regular cycle with the soapnuts I’ve been using for about a month.

And this is the point of real clean–the detergents and convenience products do not get your clothes any cleaner. They just remove a couple of steps from the process. But, you know, without that presoak, that messy planting bench would be hanging over my shoulder, looking like a task. Instead, it became a convenient time filler.

Maybe for next week’s laundry, I’ll just pull out a book.


This week I’ve been contemplating how to ethically and efficiently clean my dishes. For me, Jennifer, it’s a conundrum and I’ve read all the arguments: “the dishwasher is better if you pack it tight and turn off the air dry, but only if you rinse your dishes off first…” or “hand wash if you only partially fill your sink and don’t keep the water running for just a few dishes.” At this point I’m not sure that I’m that much further than I was when I started, beginning with “ecological” dishwasher detergents and dish soap.

cloudy dishes

The recipe I’m currently using is one I found on TipNut, but I’ve seen it all over the interwebs. I’m trying to adjust for the residue left on my dishes even after a vinegar rinse and I don’t know that adding extra citric acid is a good choice for either the waterways or my septic system. And adding more detergent seems like a bit of a waste to me. Anyhow, lots and lots of people rave over this recipe – I just have to find the right ratios for my limestone-y water.

  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1/2 cup Washing Soda
  • 1/4 cup Kosher Salt (optional) – for scrubbing
  • 1/4 cup Citric Acid (optional) – as a phosphate replacement

About 1 Tbsp of the mix goes into a full load, but you may need more or less depending on how dirty your dishes are and the efficiency of your machine.

So far I’ve found using my base recipe of Borax and washing soda and adding salt and the acid as needed can help cut down on wasted ingredients. (I use citric acid for making cheese; it can be found at cheese making suppliers and some health food and bulk stores).

For a rinsing agent I’ve been using straight vinegar in the rinse cycle – right in the compartment.

I’m looking forward to getting this perfected so that I can save a tremendous amount of money!


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Holy cow, sometimes having animals is a chore. Our dog Basil loves anything stinky. She takes delight in anything putrid, rotting, fermenting… it could be as simple as deer poo, or as exotic as rotting raccoon carcass. This morning alone she came up twice with cakes of goo all over her neck. My God. It’s disgusting. I guess to be more accurate, she enjoys things with strong smells. When the violets started blooming I found her rolling in the patch of fragrant purple flowers and as far as I could tell she was just enjoying the smell. Unfortunately, rolling in flowers is far more pleasant than what she is usually found rolling in.

This month I have taken it upon myself to try to keep our pets clean in a natural way. When the dogs get slimed, the apple cider vinegar comes out! The added bonus of ACV is that the residues it leaves on their hair keep pests away including mosquitos (who can transmit heart worm!) and even fleas! If the dogs are particularly stinky, I’ve started using baking soda paste just like I use in my own hair now.

In addition to the stinky dog issues, we live in an area with very resilient fleas. They laugh in the face of modern chemical flea medications, and they love our dogs. Cat fleas and common fleas. Gross.

Last summer we got into some serious trouble with fleas. They were everywhere! They had established themselves in our home, and you could see them on your socks as you walked through the room. *shudder* I had tried the topical remedies for the dogs, both conventional and all natural. I had tried spraying them with various concoctions, including apple cider vinegar. Nothing was working. I even resorted to buying an all natural carpet spray that, despite being all natural, had the potential to be very toxic and dangerous. Finally, I started researching flea bombs. Ick.

I had several nights of tears, trying to decide what to do. I’m so against setting anything off in the house that requires me to not only seal my cupboards but then re-wash every food-related item in the house despite it being in sealed cupboards. Yikes!

It was a small forum I found through a random Google search that led me to Borax. Apparently when you apply borax thickly to your flea infestation it causes them to become dehydrated. More importantly, it dehydrates their eggs as well, destroying the unborn fleas. When combined with salt, it works even better. The possible reactions to borax include GI upset and skin/eye/lung irritation but considering it wasn’t nearly as toxic as the flea bomb I decided to give it a try.

It worked! Now, I was pretty religious about this stuff for a while there and I think it was my diligent vacuuming that sealed the deal more than anything. I did five applications of the whole house – Borax EVERYWHERE – and the fleas were gone. We would occasionally see a dog scratching here or there, but I assume it was from bringing fleas in from outside or from friends’ houses.

Now I find that if I simply sprinkle a bit of borax about on the carpets while I vacuum, maybe once a month, it keeps the fleas down. Between borax (boric acid), vinegar (acetic acid) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) I feel like my pets are staying clean and far safer than when I was using the things I was before.

My big discovery about cleaning this month has been the use of vodka as an air freshener spray. Basically if you mix two cups of water with 1/2 – 1 tsp of vodka in a spray bottle you have yourself an unscented air freshener! It works very well in the general direction of the dog beds (or in our case we use it on the two carpet squares that our dogs lie on in the mud room that get wet-dog smelly). I haven’t gone as far as to add essential oils yet, but everything I’ve read suggests 20-30 drops of essential oils makes for a very nice level of scent. I can’t wait to get some lavender oil and try it out!

Do you use any natural methods to clean your pets or your pet related messes?

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Here at Chiot’s Run we’ve been using homemade cleaning products for a long long time. My mom always used vinegar and baking soda for cleaning, so I grew up using them. Here are a few of the products I love and use for keeping my house clean without all those harsh chemicals & toxic products. By learning to make your own cleaning products you’ll not only save money, but you’ll save space. I don’t have to run to the store to buy products, I don’t have tons of bottles taking up space, and best of all I’m not polluting the air inside my home with chemicals and synthetic fragrances.

I keep a few main ingredients around for all of my housekeeping needs:
Dr. Bronner’s Sal-Suds
Washing Soda
Baking Soda
White Vinegar

IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM: We make our own laundry detergent with some locally made lye soap. I’ve tried soapnuts in the past but I can’t handle the smell of them. I’m fairly happy with my homemade mix, which is just grated locally made lye soap, borax and washing soda mixed together. I’d like to try using just soap as I don’t like buying borax and washing soda and using them and I’d love to keep my cleaning products as local as possible. If a load of laundry is super dirty I’ll often pour in a Tablespoon or two of Sal Suds as well. I don’t use any kind of fabric softener as I don’t like them. I also appreciate that my laundry doesn’t smell like anything, simply clean. I’m not keen on any kind of fragrance in my home as I’m very sensitive to synthetic fragrances (they usually give me a headache).

IN THE KITCHEN: For washing dishes I love Dr. Bronner’s Sal-Suds. It cuts grease like nothing else! I mix it up in a foaming dispenser and a little goes a long way (simply buy a foaming dispenser and experiment with amounts for your particular one, I use about 2 Tablespoons per 1 cup of water). I also keep a Glass Cheese Shaker filled with baking soda on the sink. I sprinkle some in pots and pans when I’m scrubbing them, it really helps get those dirty dishes clean! I currently use Ecover Ecological Automatic Dishwashing Powder 48 oz (1.36 kg) and I’m pretty happy with it. I’ve experimented with making my own and haven’t made a product I love quite yet. I add a Tablespoon of this to the wash and usually a few drops of Sal Suds for grease cutting (don’t add too much as this is a foamy soap). I simply use white vinegar in my rinse cycle dispenser to keep water spots off of the dishes.

IN THE BATHROOM: For cleaning my bathrooms I have a little basket filled with a few items. Sal Suds cleaner in a spray bottle (mix a teaspoon or two of Sal Suds in a spray bottle with water), a spray bottle of vinegar, a parmesan cheese shaker filled with baking soda, a few rags, a toothbrush, and a compostable sponge. Generally I’ll spray all the surfaces in the bathrooms with vinegar and wait a few minutes, then I sprinkle a little baking soda in the sinks and scrub with the Sal Suds cleaner that I make. If you want a scented cleaner simply add a few drops of essential oils to your Sal Suds mix. I sometimes add orange, sometimes eucalyptus.

For cleaning toilets the non-toxic way simply add a quarter to a half cup of vinegar, let sit for 15 minutes (or overnight if very dirty). Sprinkle in some baking soda, and scrub. You’ll be amazed at how well this cleans. If you want to keep your toilets cleaner longer, keep a squirt bottle with some vinegar in it by the toilet. Every night before you go to bed squirt a Tablespoon or two of vinegar in the toilet. This keeps them cleaner longer, smelling better and free from germs. If you have really stuck on dirt or hard water deposits let vinegar soak overnight and use a stainless steel scrubber to get it off.

OTHER AREAS: For cleaning windows I usually mix a few drops of Sal Suds in a bucket of hot water. Then I use a window scrubber and a squeegee to clean the outsides of the windows. I’ll wipe the insides with vinegar and rag. I find that if I do this often my windows stay very clean without streaks.

FOR TOUGH DIRT ON RUGS, CARPETS FURNITURE AND PET ODORS: After trying all kinds of products I finally came up with a recipe that makes a terrific wonder cleaner. I use this on my floors, floors, and just about every surface in my home. It’s great for cleaning up pet stains and it gets rid of pet odors better than anything else I’ve ever tried. The basic recipe: one cup of peroxide, one cup of water (I use filtered), a few drops of Sal Suds, a few drops of essential oils if you want fragrance (I usually don’t add any). Mix in a bottle and use when needed. As with all cleaning products test on an inconspicuous area before using on an entire rug or piece of furniture.

What great non-toxic products do you make at home (any recipes)?  Any great products you’ve found that you’d like to share?  

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, maple sugaring, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Ethel Gloves, Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.

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Now that we’ve all be thinking about new places we’d like to detox our personal care and housecleaning products it’s time for a roundup to see how we’re all doing. Comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win a bottle of Tropical Traditions Moisturizing Lotion. We’ll choose a winner during next week’s roundup. We have a winner!


Here at Chiot’s Run we’ve been on the hunt for a non-toxic deodorant. I have to admit it’s a bit of a challenge for Mr Chiots, but he’s been a real trooper willing to try all the kinds I’ve brought home. I’ll be doing a post specifically about deodorant later this month so I won’t talk about it here today.

When we first went non-toxic I had trouble finding a moisturizing lotion that I liked. Eventually I started using extra virgin coconut oil from Tropical Traditions. I works beautifully on my skin and I love the smell. I also like that it doesn’t have all kinds of weirdness in it. I use it as a body lotion and to moisturize my hair. Tropical Traditions was kind enough to send me a bottle of their moisturizing lotion for me to test during our REAL Clean month here at Not Dabbling and I must admit, I like it. If you can’t handle the oiliness of using straight olive oil or coconut oil you’ll love this lotion. It feels like a regular lotion, goes on smoothly and soaks in quickly. Leaves your skin soft and not greasy at all. It has a pleasant scent, not overpowering and very natural. I use it when I’m running out the door and don’t have time to let coconut oil soak in. I also put some on my hands at night before I go to bed. (remember to comment below for your chance to win a bottle of this great lotion)

One of the most frustrating things about detoxing your routine is often spending money on products that you end up not liking. Then you feel wasteful throwing not using them or throwing them out. We had a few such products in our cabinet and this week I finally got rid of them. I passed them along to my sister so she could try them. It can also be hard to get rid of things you already have in order to replace it with a non-toxic product. So I challenge you to go through your cabinets and detox them as well, get rid of those things you’ve purchased and haven’t loved. If you can pass them along to someone else who might like them.


No more excuses in Chicago (Xan). After all the great comments on my Monday w̶h̶i̶n̶e̶ post, I ordered washing soda and dish rags which came today, although I’m still more focused on packaging than on contents. I confess, I pulled out the Swiffer for a quick rinse of the floor this morning, but once the stock is down that will be it. And over the next two weeks, I’ll be looking to work natural lotions and cleaners into the mix of things-I-make-myself.

I have been using Soap Nuts for my laundry for about a month. Now available from Ten Thousand Villages shops (hey 10k- free plug!), these do a perfectly fine job on day-to-day type laundry, but are less sufficient for really stinky workout and really dirty gardening clothes. I’ll be trying some of the baking soda, borax, soap and salt advice I’ve found elsewhere, but for now I’m, again, using the stock of what I have. One of the challenges is time–how do I make this part of my routine so that, while it becomes a chore, it’s not, if you see what I mean, a chore.

Getting my husband on board is another job. He’s game, but slow to adopt the new (old) ways. I just tell him we’re marching gamely into the 19th century.


It has been an extremely busy week for me, Jennifer. I’ve been spending every moment of available time catching up on gardening, projects for the birds, and tidying up the yard. I’m officially calling our “garden” a farmette now that we’re growing grains to feed the critters. We also had a hive swarm this week which took up a good portion of the day to collect.


All of this has left me with little time and energy to put into much concocting and researching, however I did play mad scientist just a little bit and I love the results so far. Since it’s rose season here, going on lavender time, I’ve been collecting rose petals to make more rosewater. I’m also daydreaming about collecting magnolia blossoms to preserve their wonderful odor for later in the year. It’s my husband’s favorite scent and what a treat it would be to brew a little eau de magnolia.

milk and honey

My favorite so far? A facial scrub made with 1-2 Tbsp raw milk (store bought would work fine), 1 tsp honey, and 1 Tbsp shredded coconut. If you don’t eat it first, it makes a great gentle exfoliant. The honey helps to heal any acne, the coconut exfoliates and moisturizes and the sugars from the honey and milk help to hydrate, moisturize, and firm the skin. My skin’s clear, soft and I smell fabulous. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the month brings!


Things have been busy at Tanglewood as well (ie my last post!). This time of year is when I find myself running around with so much to do that I’ll get an entire day without coming inside the house even once, often forgetting to even eat. The best thing I’ve learned so far about real cleaning is that there are several all low-impact natural cleaning products available at our local farmer’s market. We have soap, shampoo, hand cream, lip balm, laundry detergent… all from local businesses and all organic and natural.

My favorite find so far has been a simple bar of oatmeal soap that I now use in the shower. The oatmeal is soothing to my garden-weathered skin and I find that I’m considerably less itchy than when I was using another natural bar soap that was more harsh. The oatmeal soap was 100% packaging free, though I admit I took her business card for information.

While I haven’t had any time to try making my own new additions to my real clean household, I have been able to start researching the more commercial natural products that I already use, so that I can stop buying them and start making them. The one I’m most interested in is a rosemary based disinfectant and bathroom cleaner. While I haven’t made this yet, so I can’t vouch for it’s cleaning ability, I look forward to trying it. Making it is as simple as mixing several sprigs of fresh rosemary, along with a half cup of borax into a gallon of very-hot-water. Supposedly this releases the rosemary’s natural oils and they are suspended within the boric acid solution. When I get around to making this, I may actually add some rosemary essential oil if I can find it, just to make sure the cleaning spray is potent. Borax is great as a drying agent, and I’ve used it in my bathtub to help prevent mildew buildup (which in a 100+ year old house is an ongoing battle). I’ve also heard adding a few drops of tea tree oil to your natural cleaner will help as well.

The one DIY thing I have managed to try this week was the use of honey and sugar face scrub. Jennifer’s scrub sounds more appetizing to me, but I have skin that can be very oily at times so I was looking for a more gritty recipe. Basically I’ve been mixing a 2:1 ration of Honey:Sugar, and adding a drop or two of tea tree oil for it’s astringent healing qualities. So far my face has been feeling refreshed and healthier. I do wonder about making a toner for breakouts, but I haven’t had the time yet to research it thoroughly. I used to use Burt’s Bees’ tomato toner and would love to find a similar diy recipe, but I think that’ll have to wait until a time when I’m not spending 90% of my life in the garden.


Don’t forget to comment below to enter to win Tropical Traditions Moisturizing Lotion!

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While I hate grammatical errors like the one I made in my title, it seems to fit colloquially. Heh.

Tanglewood Here! I was supposed to have almost an hour to write this blog post. I had it scheduled into my day perfectly. My husband is set up (exhibiting) at the local comic book convention this weekend and I am his sidekick, so I won’t be getting a whole lot done around the farm. That’s where I came from earlier. I dashed home shortly after 3 to do a bit of work around the farm, walk the neighbor’s dog and write my blog post. Apparently the chickens had other plans. Sometimes… okay I’ll admit it… sometimes I totally HATE chickens. It’s true.

So instead of what I had planned to post, I give you this: my mad dash to make myself presentable after spending three hours working out in the garden and farmyard. I try to use just plain old hot water and scrubbing as often as possible but dang! Three hours in the sticky humidity will wreak havoc on an otherwise composed individual!

So I came inside after chasing chickens around the yard for forty minutes and my clean up went a little like this:

  • Scrub hands and nails with hot hot water and a hard brush. Luckily shearing sheep left my hands soft with lanolin. BONUS!
  • Hot washcloth to the face, followed by all natural anti-shine powder.
  • COLD washcloth to the neck, arms and face. Holy cow my face is red.
  • All natural deodorant, followed by a makeup brush full of baking soda to each armpit (Yes, I am stinky. the natural deodorant doesn’t cut it alone!)
  • Quick brush of the teeth and an inspection for bits of green from the spinach I munched on while gardening
  • Tousle of hair. I try to go for the whole so-messy-it’s-GOT-to-be-intentional look. It’s very “in” right now. 🙂
  • Donning of “nice clothes” which really aren’t that nice, but at least they aren’t covered in sheep manure!
  • Scrubbing of hands again because -dang- that dirt just don’t come out of the cracks on my fingers.
  • Glance at the clock
  • Run!

Tada! Now I am off to dinner with my husband, some friends and some other comic book professionals. I apologize for the crazy post. You can take it up with my chickens. They like to fly 10-15 feet in the air, directly over my head, rather than being caught and cooped up. Ugh.

Do you have any awesome quick and natural clean up methods? Is it me or does gardening always run a little behind schedule?

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