On cleaning (naturally).

I have a bit of an obsession with a clean living space. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that my home is always top-to-bottom clean (actually, it usually isn’t), but oddly I take some sort of pleasure in cleaning and I’m certainly much happier after the chores are done.

I’ve always been ‘into’ cleaning, but since the recent purchase of our first home, I’ve got a renewed interest in learning about the best ways to clean and maintain the many things that need caring for around the home (you know, the stuff you don’t care or think about when you’re renting – like the inside of your oven, the build up of grease on your range hood, the hard-to-reach areas behind your appliances — who knew you had to clean all these things?!) ;)

I’ve been doing some research and experiments into the ingredients that are the most natural, least expensive, yet most effective in cleaning the home.

The main learning I’ve taken away from this process is this: the majority of the cleaning products available at all grocery stores, drug stores, and home supply stores are simply overkill.

They contain all sorts of toxic chemicals that – in most cases – you don’t even need! There are a few basic ingredients that will do the dirty work for you, without forcing you to breathe in some foreign chemical concoction.

I’ve compiled a few different product recipes that I’ve had great success with. Most of these are – of course – from the great Martha Stewart! (I know, I know. I used to find her insufferable – sorry Martha – but honestly, the more I study her the more I realize: the woman knows her shit).

I know it’s mega cheesy, but this book (a gift I received from my mother upon getting my first apartment), is an excellent resource for all homeowners. It’s fine if you stop reading now – a few years ago, I would have, too!

Here are a few staples I’ve been using around the house and am absolutely loving:

Tub scrub

This is one of my favourite’s from Martha. I swear by this scrub – it keeps my bathroom bright white all week long. Seriously. It’s a dream! I use it on the inside of the tub and shower walls (we currently don’t have tiles in the shower – it’s more of an acrylic, Bath Fitter style shower wall), as well as in the bathroom sink and to clean the vanity countertop.

(photo c/o marthastewart.com)
(photo c/o marthastewart.com)

Make this magical scrub from only 4 ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. dish soap
  • 1 c. baking soda
  • 8-10 drops of an antibacterial essential oil (I tend to use tea tree)
  • Water

I just mix this up in a measuring cup and use a scrub brush to apply it – works like a charm!

Basic, all-purpose cleaner.

I keep a bottle of this in the kitchen at all times – it’s just so simple but works so well! It’s perfect for washing down the counters after cooking, cleaning the kitchen table, the stovetop (when something stronger isn’t needed), and so on.

Absolutely love this stuff – and there are only 2 ingredients!

Grab a spray bottle, and throw in:

  • 2 c. water
  • 2 tbsp. dish soap

Shake it up – et c’est tout. You’ve got your 2-ingredient, 2-second all-purpose cleaner!

Glass & window cleaner.

My bathroom currently has 3 sliding glass doors as a shower enclosure. I’m a bit indifferent to these – they work well to keep the water in, but they only look so-so and they have to be cleaned constantly.

Between soap buildup and fingerprints, they can be a bit of nightmare. But as long as they’re cleaned weekly, this spray works wonders in making them look shiny & new!

Grab another spray bottle and mix up:

  • Equal parts vinegar & water
  • Few drops of lemon

I use micro fibre cloths with this spray on the glass and my mirrors – I typically pick these up for around .60 cents at Value Village!

Kitchen grease remover.

Perfect for removing tougher grease stains on the top and inside of the oven, on the outside of the range hood, and so on, this grease remover spray is the cat’s meow.

There’s a bit more of a process to this one, so check out apartmenttherapy.com for the directions. And again, only 3 ingredients!

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Vegetable oil

Last 2 tips…

For an environmentally-friendly, locally-made dish soap, try the Down East product line. I buy their dishwashing liquid in 4L jugs at a time – it lasts forever and is a great product that can be mixed into these recipes as well as clean your dishes.

(photo c/o acapcb)
(photo c/o acapcb)

And finally, one last piece of advice from the great Martha: start your cleaning with the most basic cleaners you can (like the ones above), and escalate to something more abrasive only if/when simpler ones don’t work.

This helps limit both your spending on cleaning solutions, as well as your exposure to harsher (harmful) chemicals!

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Busted. 5 bad habits.

Not to get all philosophical on you, but today I find myself thinking about Aristotle’s bold, sweeping statement, “We are what we repeatedly do.

(Photo c/o: Deliirious)
(Photo c/o: Deliirious)

When I think about what this means for me, it’s both good and bad – on the one hand:

  • I’m an early riser
  • I’m a relationship-builder
  • I’m a writer
  • I’m (sometimes) a runner
  • I’m a starter

On the other hand:

  • I’m a procrastinator
  • I’m a worrier
  • I’m a lose-interest-in-a-few-weeks-er
  • Oh, and I’m a snacker

Popular psychology says that making something ‘habit’ – i.e. creating some sort of change or action – generally takes 21 days. I certainly don’t think that in 3 weeks I’ll miraculously stop being a procrastinator, or stop being a worrier.  But it does get me thinking about what are some of the habits I wish I didn’t have, and can I work on minimizing those?

I’m not a nail-biter, a smoker, or an over-spender. I do, however, have a few less-than-desirable-traits that perhaps by committing to paper (or… screen), I’ll be able to take more notice of and stop them in their tracks.

1. Snacking mindlessly.

You know what I’m talking about – the type of snacking where you barely notice you’re doing it, but then you look down and notice that half the container of hummus is gone and you’re 3/4 through the bag of tortilla chips (whoops). Not ideal.

But let’s take baby steps, please, I’m not some sort of miracle worker. My most problematic snacking behaviour rears its ugly head the most when… I’m cooking supper. I know! It doesn’t make any sense – why would I eat while cooking? It’s so counterproductive: I get home from work around 5:45pm, starving. So while I’m prepping what we’re having for dinner, I’m simultaneously eating some of that hummus and those tortillas mentioned above.

And half the time I’m no longer hungry by the time supper is ready!

2. Eating too fast.

I promise these won’t all be about food, but let’s be real – I do think about it a lot.

I eat too fast. It’s no secret. It’s probably even bad for me – not chewing things enough to be digested easily. And not only that, but I spend a lot of time cooking every week. You’d think I’d take the time to savour and enjoy what it is I’ve so thoughtfully prepared, instead of rushing through it like it’s some sorta race. New goal.

3. Using exaggerated language.

I *may* have a habit of exaggerating – but don’t most storytellers?!

This all seems well and good, except that sometimes, I think it actually add to or creates stress in certain instances. I have a tendency to say (and therefore, think) things like, “Oh I have a huge deadline this week”, or “Oh my god it’s the worst when this happens.”

I think this amplifies whatever the task or situation is, making it seem worse or more stressful than it really is.

4. Losing interest.

Why is it so much easier to start than to finish?

I love trying new things – I thrive off of it (more on that in this previous post). But why do I find it so easy to start something, as opposed to finish it? Not that hobbies or interests really have a finishing point, but still.

I’m an off & on again runner. I once took a painting class that I loved. I signed up for a rec badminton league that I’m already bored with. I started to teach myself to knit, and haven’t touched it since. I’m interested in lots of things, but none seem to hold me for more than a couple months, max.

5. Worrying.

Okay, I know  I said that I don’t expect to be able to stop worrying overnight. But it’s worth listing as a long term goal, right?

A good friend recently said this to me, “I never worry. Why would I? You can’t control half the things that happen anyway.”

TRUTH.

I don’t know about you, but that is not how my brain works. I wish it did! The thing I’m most trying to keep in mind is this: the past doesn’t determine the future. Just because something didn’t go well once, doesn’t mean you’ll have the same outcome the second time. So instead of worrying about what could go wrong, I’m channeling all of that time and energy and directing it at making that ‘thing’ awesome – whether it’s meeting with a difficult client or trying a difficult recipe.

What ‘bad habits’ are you working on kicking?