eco-friendly, Homemaking, recycle, simple steps

Thinking about – Plastic Bags

A friend posted on Facebook how she loves the plastic bags her groceries are packed in each time she shops. She listed the various ways she reuses them and ended with the 2207065273_a55b16424c_ostatement that she does not feel guilty about using plastic bags. Most replies were in agreement with the post. A few souls posted their love of reusable grocery sacks and the ways they’ve reduced their plastic bag usage at home.


It should come as no surprise that I fall in the ‘reusable bags are better’ camp. I have a few thoughts for those individuals who can’t seem to step away from the plastic bag addiction. Continue reading “Thinking about – Plastic Bags”

bikes, eco-friendly

Bicycle Ladies

Jennifer Worth, Jessica Fletcher, MJ

Riding a bicycle used to be thought of as kids play, a way for youth to get to school, or bike-women 1950s editedsomething an adult did for exercise. That attitude is changing. More and more people use bikes to get from point A to point B and beyond.

Jennifer Worth, whose memoirs are brought to life in the BCC show Call the Midwife, shows us that it wasn’t that long ago professional women road bikes to do their job. With her box of supplies strapped to the back, and in a skirt, the midwives and nuns would ride their bikes to check on the women Call-the-Midwife--with bikes editedof the East End of London.

Jessica Fletcher, the beloved fictional character from Murder She Wrote, rides her bike all over her small town of Cabot Cove – from murder scene to murder scene. There’s no end to where a bicycle can take you.

An my friend MJ and her family will ride their bikes to her sons school, 20 miles away, or into the city nearest her, about 35 miles away, just for the fun of it or to attend an event. It is a common occurrence for her to ride her bike to the farmers market and come home with her basket and panniers filled with fresh produce and other goodies.

woman on bike

I don’t know the official name I call them market bikes or cruisers – bikes with comfortable seats, handlebars you don’t have to hunch over to reach, and a basket or two. They are useful for jaunts around the neighborhood or to your local market or to take you to a community event. You don’t have to worry about finding a parking space, if there isn’t a bike rack use a handy poll. There is something freeing about getting to your destination and back under the power of your pedal.

Where do you like to ride your bike to? Do you ride for utility or exercise?

Remember you helmet

You can link to MJ’s amazing blog Imaginary Bicycle here:

eco-friendly, recycle


One of Aaron and David’s nicknames for me is “recycling nazi ”. You would think having grown up at Hawks Landing Farm, rinsing the yogurt cup and putting it in the recycle bin instead of tossing it in the trash can would be natural for them. On occasion I’ll have to correct them, but for the most part they are pretty good about it. Overall at the farm way more waste is taken to the recycling side of the dump than we put in the landfill side (we haul our own trash, in a rural area like ours it a cost saving measure). Stella, who lives in town, had to ask the city for two recycle cans. She finds that her family, on a weekly basis, will only have 1/3 of their trash can full where their recycle can will be completely full (and this is after all bulky boxes have been flattened).

Recycling is easy – once you create the habit of not tossing everything into the trash can. Before you throw something away ask yourself these questions:

Can it be used by someone else? Maybe the item can be donated to a local charity.

Can it be remade into something else? This is called up-cycling. We’ll talk about this more another time

Can it be composted? Almost all non-meat food scraps can be composted. We feed all fruit and vegetable scraps to the chickens and alpacas. Things like egg shells and Ryan’s coffee grounds go in the compost pile along with garden trimmings and the chicken manure. We’ll discuss composting in detail in a later post.

Most everything else can be recycled. Check with your local waste management company
to find out the particulars for your area, but in general if the item has the recycle symbol on it and is clean it goes in your recycle bin. Yes, clean. I know it can seem like a pain to rinse out that glass jar or plastic ketchup bottle, but it will only take an extra second and the benefits will be far reaching. If the item can’t be cleaned, foil with baked on food residue, pizza box oily from the cheese, then put it in the trash can.

A look a few cool numbers: [According to the EPA]

In 2012 each American generated about 4.38 pounds of waste a day of which 1.51 pounds was recycled.

Americans are recycling 34% of all waste.

This is good, but there is still 36% of our waste going to the dump that can be recycled.

This is where you, your family, and your neighbors can make the difference. Without being obnoxious about it become that family become that person who makes their friends roll their eyes when you remind them to recycle that can or newspaper. Be vocal in the office about making sure used paper gets in the blue bin and not the round file. Help move your community to being one in which 100% of what can be recycled is recycle.

You, by simple daily acts, can make a difference.


Cleaning, eco-friendly, Homemaking

Fresh for Fall – homemade cleaners

By this time of year the Harvest Festival is well over and the boys and I find ourselves in the familiar rhythm of home school lessons, sports, and getting the place buckled down for winter.

school books

Being that we live in the Pacific Northwest, our summers are mild and the windows are open pretty much day and night. Between that and all the going in and out [especially since some people – Aaron and David –don’t always remove their shoes] by fall the house has collected a layer of dust and grime that only a deep cleaning will take care of.

I’ll spare you the details of our cleaning route, but the nitty-gritty day-to-day happenings of farm life is far from glamorous. Stella keeps trying to get me to hire her cleaning lady, who is wonderful, but there are some things I feel I need to do myself. Besides, there have been too many sleepless nights over the past three years and vigorously scrubbing at that grout line around the tub at 2 a.m. may have been one of the things that helped me keep my sanity.

cleaning supplies

What I will share with you are my all natural, super cheap, cleaning recipes. Be warned, the disinfecting spray contains vodka and if your liquor store is on the main street of a small town and your pastor sees you coming out of it one day with a brown paper sack, and he knows you don’t drink, you might get some raised eyebrows and concern that your new Hollywood beau is a bad influence on you. Just saying – you might want to go to the next town over to get the least expensive vodka you can find. For goodness sake don’t waste money on the higher priced brands, you’ll be spraying this stuff around your toilet after all.

A note about essential oils:
-they are optional
-I like to use orange oil (reminds me of a special someone)
-use the scent you like
-many have antiseptic and antibacterial properties among them: cinnamon, clove, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, orange, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and tea tree

spray bottles

Disinfecting Spray
(spray on grime free surface and let dry)
Mix in a spray bottle:
1/4 cup vodka
1/3 cup hydrogen peroxide
1 cup water
20 drops of essential oil

1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon Citra-solv
1/2 teaspoon Castile Soap
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 teaspoon essential oil

1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Castile Soap
1 3/4 cups water
8 drops essential oil

When I need scrubbing power I use baking soda or Bon-Ami cleaner

What are your favorite natural cleaning products?
What tunes to listen to when tending to household chores?

Put on your favorite play list, round-up your helpers, and make it a cleaning party. 

Until next week