Homemade Multi-Purpose Spray Cleaner

I started making my own multi-purpose spray cleaner several months ago. You may ask: Why make your own household cleaner?  It’s only pennies to make compared to store bought cleaners, really easy to make, no toxic chemicals, and you don’t have to buy more plastic to add to the landfills since you can reuse plastic spray bottles making sure to label them correctly.

Also, I can make the spray any scent I am in the mood for.  I use essential oils for their antibacterial properties and because they smell nice too. I’ve used  lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and red thyme. I like the lemongrass or peppermint essential oil for my kitchen spray and lavender or red thyme for my bathroom spray.

I have tried other so-called ‘green cleaners’ from the store but I don’t like the smell and they cost anywhere from 25-45 cents per ounce. This homemade cleaner works equally as well for a fraction of the cost.  This homemade cleaner will run you anywhere from 1-3 cents per ounce. 

You can use this cleaner on most surfaces. I wouldn’t recommend it on marble however, since the vinegar may harm the finish. I have used it on glass and my hardwood floors with excellent results. It also works great for cleaning my grout on my kitchen counters and shower walls since the hydrogen peroxide slightly bleaches the grout (I have colored grout in my kitchen and white grout in my bathroom and it cleans without affecting the colors).

Homemade Multi-Purpose Spray Cleaner

Equipment
Spray bottle – either rinse out an old one or buy a new one. (I get mine from the Dollar Store)

Ingredients

  •  2 cups water (tap water is just fine)
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar (I buy mine in bulk at Costco for just over $3.00 for 2 gallons)
  • 3/4 cup hydrogen peroxide (also purchased at Costco, 2 qts for $2.09)
  • 2 tsp liquid castille soap
  • 20 drops Tea Tree essential oil
  • 20 – 30 drops essential oil of choice (Lavender, Lemongrass, Peppermint, etc.,  either alone or in combination)

1. Add water, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle.

2. Add the castille soap and drops of essential oil, cap, and shake the bottle.

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

I am so excited about my vegetable garden this year. This may sound lame, but it has not been a pretty site for the last two years. We have been in the midst of remodeling our home and this has been a slow journey to say the least. We have added nearly 1400 sq feet to the back of our house and this meant digging out a mountain of dirt for the foundation. Needless to say, we still have that mountain in what used to be my large garden area. Last year we rushed to try to get a garden area ready and I planted probably 2 weeks later than I normally do (I try to have everything planted by Memorial weekend), and I was in too much of a hurry and did not prep the soil properly. Well, it was pretty much a failure as far as gardens grow and I only got some green onions, a few beets, and lots of green tomatoes.

So on to this year…..I still have the mountain of dirt, but a much better prepped garden area. This past weekend we had beautiful weather, mid-70’s, so it was the perfect time to plant. I started the weekend, well Friday anyway, going to a bi-annual wholesale plant sale at a local nursery. This didn’t have anything to do with the vegetable garden, but I love plants too! I am ever so slowly trying to landscape our yard (it isn’t very pretty right now…..the remodel and all) so I am taking advantage of the super plant deals during these sales. I got a beautiful rose bush, a dark pink lilac, a holly bush, and 3 Hostas.

Now back to the vegetable garden…we rototilled, I raked and added composted manure to my planting areas, crawled around in the dirt and planted.  I began feeling pretty proud of myself getting a two week head start on the garden. Here is what I have done so far:

              

   Herbs: Basil, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Parsley, Lavender

Seven tomato plants. I am using the red plastic as it is suppose to improve the tomato harvest and after last years dismal results I will try anything.

 

 

 

6 Brussel Sprouts

The straw areas you see are covering the potatoes. I have never planted potatoes before and heard they are easy, so we’ll see.

Broccoli and Cabbage – I need to add more broccoli so I have enough to freeze for later in the winter.

 

60 onion sets (white and brown skinned), Bush Beans, and Parsnips

 

 

Radishes, already peeking through the soil!

 

 I started these seeds on paper towels, evenly spaced. This is the first time I have tried this method and at least so far the radishes are growing. I also did the paper towel method with my parsnips, beets, carrots and dill. It is a bit too early to tell if they are working or not.

 

pickling cukes along the fence to use as a trellis, dill in front of the cucumbers, chamomile seeds behind the rocks along with my new lilac and holly bush!

 

I didn’t get the zucchini, acorn squash or pumpkins planted though. I worked so hard for three days and looking at it now it sure doesn’t seem like a lot. After such a beautiful weekend we had thunderstorms, high winds and torrential downpours. The temperatures dropped and I had to cover all the tomatoes with buckets to protect them. Maybe planting earlier isn’t better?

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Remake of old favorite

Since I am no longer purchasing a previous pantry staple, cream of mushroom soup, I have had to find an alternative and have come across a mighty tasty homemade version using healthy ingredients without unnecessary additives. Here is my version:

 Condensed Creamed Soup (makes the equivalent of 2 cans condensed soup)

 Basic Sauce Base:

 2 tbls butter

2 tbls coconut oil (or olive oil) I just didn’t want to heat my olive oil so chose the coconut oil

 1/4 c white whole wheat flour

1 tsp sea salt

 2 cups whole milk

 Heat butter and oil. Add flour and stir until well incorporated. Add milk and stir until thickened. Use in any recipe calling for condensed soup.

VARIATIONS:

 Cream of Mushroom Soup: saute in butter/oil  – 12 chopped fresh mushrooms and 1/2 cup chopped onion until softened.

 Cream of Chicken: add 1 tsp chicken base (a paste with no MSG), 1 cup milk, 1 cup chicken stock, chopped cooked chicken (optional)

 Cream of Celery: substitute celery in place of mushrooms, 1 cup vegetable broth, 1 cup milk

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Week 2 Recap

I can hardly believe that 14 days have past on the 28 day challenge. Here is my week in review:

Day 14: Happy Valentine’s Day:  This afternoon my husband and I went to check out a co-op and new source of milk. I was pretty impressed with the system they had in place. They place your orders and provide a drop off point for picking up local meat, milk, eggs and much more. I have actually purchased from some of their same farmers, so I was familiar with the quality of what I would be getting. After visiting the co-op it got me thinking….there needs to be one closer to my home and maybe I should check into opening one here. I know there has to be a need in my local area for this same type of service and maybe I could become a drop off /pick up point. My wheels are spinning….AGAIN!

Day 13: Get your (good) bacteria: I made Gingered Carrots (recipe from Nourishing Traditions). I actually started them earlier in the week not even realizing this was going to be part of this week’s challenge. I decided to start with the carrots as my first fermented veggie. Last week I drained some organic, whole milk yogurt so that I would have the whey to add to future recipes. I was surprised to find that the carrots are very mild tasting. They were a good accompaniment to the baked chicken we had for dinner last night. I am now on a good rotation with my Kombucha and now have a steady batch at all times – one for drinking and one fermenting. I can’t wait to try making water kefir.

Day 12: Finding Real Milk: I already have a good source of real milk, however I am not able to purchase it as often as I would like. Even though the health benefits should supercede the cost, I still have to be careful on a tight budget. I did find and try some raw milk cheddar cheese this week and found it very tasty.

Day 11: Sourdough: The starter I have is going strong. I made another batch of Whole Wheat Sourdough Crackers and a loaf of Sourdough French Bread. The bread is not totally LEGAL for this challenge however, as it has regular, unbleached flour in it and a small amount of yeast. I really want to make a 100% sourdough bread but the recipes I have come across call for baking it in a special heavy duty pan that I don’t have and I am a little intimidated to improvise with this type of recipe.

Days 10 & 8: Fats to eat Raw / Fats for High Heat:  I haven’t used olive oil for cooking for over 6 months after learning that heating it changes it’s properties making it unhealthy. I use it in salad dressings and for dipping sourdough bread in along with balsamic vinegar (I think this is better than garlic butter!) It makes me crazy watching cooking shows and how they always use olive oil to fry in. I want to scream into the television not to cook with it! This week I rendered my first ever batch of lard. It took several hours, but it was worth the effort. I purchased 10 lbs of pastured leaf lard and rendered 2 1/2 lbs which yielded 5 cups of pure, white lard.  I typically use butter or coconut oil for frying and in baked goods and now that I have lard I will replace the butter, saving the butter for my vegetables.

Day 9: Fight against GMO’s:  I have had a copy of the GMO Shopping Guide since last October and I keep it in my purse so I have it available when I am shopping. The first time I read through the shopping guide I was shocked to see all the products that have GMO’s in them and has made me more aware of what I am buying and feeding my family. I can safely say that there are no GMO products in this house!

I must admit that I am finding this challenge to be pretty easy. I really think I am feeling better and I can honestly say that the arthritis pain I was suffering from in my right hand is virtually gone. I am convinced that the foods we eat play a big role in how our bodies function and I will continue to monitor how I am feeling.

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First Week Completed

It is now day 7 of the 28 day real food challenge and reflecting back on the week has made me realize that I have been doing pretty good. Processed foods haven’t been in my kitchen for quite some time now, so I didn’t have an issue with this portion of the challenge.  The hardest part was the white flour (unbleached).  I have never had a lot of success with whole wheat flour so I am anxious to see how to do away with the white flour and still make baked foods taste good.  I was a little intimidated about soaking my wheat, but today when I rinsed the kernels I was so excited to see the little sprouts! I actually used some in our pancakes this morning and I think they were the best pancakes we have eaten (and they were ‘flour free”).  Now I have to figure out if I will be able to dry the sprouted wheat in my dehydrator.

I have the full support of my husband and our ‘new’ way of eating.  All the things sitting around the kitchen – soaking wheat, sourdough starter, kombucha brewing – has been pretty comical and made him proceed with caution.  I feel a bit like a ‘mad scientist’ and my brother in law said it was all my witches brew!  The biggest challenge for my husband has been that he can’t just go into the kitchen and grab something easily. Snacks take more thought than just opening a bag of chips or crackers. However, I did make some sourdough whole wheat crackers that were an instant hit. (I was ahead of the challenge this week and already had sourdough starter made).  These crackers were so good that I will be making more tomorrow.

I tried to incorporate whole grains into various meals. I made soaked brown rice and grass-fed beef that we enjoyed for two of our dinners, baked oatmeal with soaked oats for a healthy breakfast and my sprouted wheat for pancakes.

Moving forward I really want to start fermenting some vegetables.

I am looking forward to the day that preparing and eating ‘real food’ will become second nature.

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Day #2 – Good to go

Not knowing what the second day would bring turned out to be not so bad. It was directed to be a day to do some grocery shopping and at first I was a bit concerned since I will not be able to do this until Thursday. However, I had most of the real food items already in my kitchen so I feel much more confident that I am on the right track. Maybe this will be easier than I thought…..

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Day #1: Clean out the Pantry

This morning I received my first email instruction for the beginning of the 28 Day Real Food Challenge. I felt pretty confident with this step – I keep healthy foods, or so I thought. Well it wasn’t too bad, but I did have to remove more than I thought was in there. It actually was a good time to clean out the cupboards since some of my shelves are so high up that I can’t see what’s on them anyway. Well needless to say, I found some  old stuff that was outdated.

 This is the big Costco shopping bag of the purged items

 Here is what I cleared out:

  • Marshmellows – these were there actually because I used them in a craft project before Christmas.
  • Jar of Marshmellow Creme – I think this has been in there going on 2 years. Think it was for fudge or something….obviously didn’t need this one!
  • 3 boxes pasta – one box was whole wheat noodles (and I thought I was doing so good…) looks like the macaroni will make great kid crafts!
  • Box of instant milk (I knew this was bad, but just didn’t want to throw it out)
  • Soy nuts (GMO’s anyone! lol)
  • 3 pudding mixes – sugar free and regular sugar varieties (all outdated!)
  • 4 jello mixes – sugar free and regular sugar varieties
  • 1 box Jiffy chocolate cake mix – I don’t even remember why this was in here
  • 2 boxes Melba toasts
  • 1 jar ‘powdered’ peanut butter – this from when I was on a “healthy” weight loss program!
  • Bottle of Corn Oil
  • Organic Agave Nectar (I am undecided on this one, there is good and bad press regarding this product, but will go along with the challenge on this one)
  • Non Dairy Creamer – used in Hot Chocolate mix 2 Christmas’ ago for gifts…
  • 2 cans tomato soup, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, low fat of course! ; ) , 1 can lentil soup

 

Even though it looks like I had a lot of BAD stuff in there, I actually have much more ‘legal’ foods. I have the healthy oils (olive oil, coconut oil), raw cider vinegar, dried beans, brown rice, wheat berries, barley, raw honey, real maple syrup, tons of spices and sea salt, crispy nuts (pecans and almonds), homemade sourdough crackers, assorted teas, whole wheat flour, oats, organic corn meal.  As for the cream of chemical soup, I have been making my own version for a while now (this was just a straggler from the past) and it really tastes so much better and isn’t that much harder than opening a can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I looked through the refrigerator (no picture because it really doesn’t look very appealing) and really didn’t find anything to move out. No skim or lowfat dairy lives here. I do not have ‘raw’ milk currently (cost prohibitive at the moment) but the dairy I do have is whole, organic milks and plain yogurt, real butter both regular and some grass fed, some Kombucha and miscellaneous vegetables. I have a few ‘husband’ friendly items that I will not be removing. He is supportive of the real food goals to a point, but it will take a bit more time with him. I feel that if the majority of our meals and snacks are made healthy that a few less than ideal items will just have to have a place here as well. The freezer has some grass-fed hamburger amd a few chicken breasts.

In addition to the clearing of these things today, I also made a batch of chicken stock and kombucha. Not too bad for day #1 except I think I fail the extra credit : (    and I thought I was doing so well, but I have a few items that boast more than one ingredient: tuna (water, salt), diced green chiles (salt, calcium chloride, citric acid), pineapple chunks (pineapple juice and clarified pineapple juice from concentrate, water, clarified pineapple juice concentrate<they add this twice ??>)

Looking forward to Day #2.

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