Category Archives: Green Living

Black Tea Window Cleaner

Black Tea Window Cleaner @ NancyC

Who would have thought that black tea could be used as a window cleaner? I think it’s a great idea–so many people drink it, so they have it on hand, and it’s a great eco-friendly alternative to conventional chemical-laden cleaners. I didn’t come up with this idea myself–the tea experts at Choice Organic Teas, makers of organic, fair trade certified teas, told me about it and sent me some samples of their black tea to try it out! They sent me their Classic Black, English Breakfast, and Wild Forest Black teas–any black tea should work for making the window cleaner.

I used the Classic Black tea and found that this window cleaner is really easy to make. I was also surprised at how well it cleaned my windows! Here’s how you make it:

BLACK TEA WINDOW CLEANER

What you’ll need:

  • a clean, empty spray bottle
  • 3 tea bags of black tea
  • 1 cup of hot water

Directions: Steep tea bags in 1 cup of water for 4 to 5 minutes; remove tea bags and let brewed tea cool. Pour the cooled tea into your spray bottle. Spray on windows and mirrors and wipe thoroughly with a paper towel or cloth.

That’s all there is to it! it’s nice to be able to clean your windows using natural ingredients instead of chemicals, isn’t it? This sure comes in handy for spring and summer cleaning! Have you ever tried making your own window cleaner?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Inspire Me Monday.

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Olive Oil Soap

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Photo courtesy of The Best Homemade Natural Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps by Mar Gomez, 2014 © www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Have you ever made your own soap before? I really like the idea of using homemade soap with natural ingredients and have been interested in trying to make some myself. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to review the new book, The Best Natural Homemade Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps (Robert Rose, softcover). 

UnknownThe book starts off by sharing some interesting history about soap making. In ancient times, soap mainly consisted of a mixture of boiled fat and ashes. The first people to make olive oil soap were the Syrians, several thousand years ago in the city of Aleppo. “The women of Aleppo realized that by adding ground bay leaves to soap, skin infections were reduced considerably; the leaves from the bay plant possess an extraordinary natural antiseptic.” And other soap-making discoveries continued over the centuries.

This book also includes preparation tips and utensil and ingredient guides so you have everything you need to make your own olive oil-based soap. The step-by-step instructions seem easy to follow and include information on therapeutic qualities of the natural soap additives in each particular recipe–additives like essential oils, beeswax, cocoa butter, kaolin clay, seaweed, and goat’s milk. Some of the 40 different soap recipes include Kiwi Soap, Lavender Soap, Marigold Soap, Seaweed Soap, Green Tea Soap, Chocolate Soap, Coconut Soap, Cinnamon Soap, Rosemary Soap…and many more great-sounding versions!

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Image from The Best Natural Homemade Soaps

I was going to try making the basic Olive Oil Soap recipe. The ingredients are simple and basic enough–mineral water, lye (caustic soda), and extra virgin olive oil. However, I wasn’t able to find lye in any stores near me, so I guess I’ll have to order some from a soap-making supplier (there’s a list at the back of the book). In the meantime, I have permission from the publisher to share the recipe with you! Note: You’ll need safety goggles, a large saucepan, and a kitchen thermometer to make this soap.

OLIVE OIL SOAP from The Best Natural Homemade Soaps

  • 7.5 oz. mineral water
  • 3 oz. lye (caustic soda)
  • 1.5 lbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • Scent (optional), store-bought or homemade
  1. Wearing gloves and goggles, pour mineral water into a large saucepan. Add lye slowly, stirring gently until it is dissolved.
  2. Using a thermometer, monitor the temperature of the lye mixture until it is between 120˚F and 140˚F.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, heat olive oil to between 120˚F and 140˚F.
  4. Remove olive oil from heat. Add lye mixture to olive oil, stirring slowly and trying not to splash.
  5. Stir occasionally, every 15 minutes or so, until the mixture thickens and congeals (it will have a texture similar to that of light mayonnaise).
  6. Stir in scent (if using). Stir for 1 minute with a spoon (or with a whisk, taking care not to create foam).
  7. Pour into a greased or paper-lined soap mold. Gently tap mold to remove any air bubbles.
  8. Cover with a blanket or towel and let stand for 2 days. Uncover and let stand for an additional day if the mold is very large.
  9. Turn soap out of mold. Wait another day, then cut into bars as desired.
  10. Dry bars for 1 month, turning occasionally to ensure they are drying uniformly.
Soap recipe from The Best Homemade Natural Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps by Mar Gomez, 2014 © http://www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.

 

This sounds like a great soap for your skin! Homemade soap is a great DIY gift idea, too! Do you use or have you made any olive oil-based soap, or any other kinds of soap?

Linked to Thursday Favorite Things.

Love Bulk Foods and Celebrate Earth Month!

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In a little over a week, April will be here already and April is Earth Month (Earth Day is April 22). It’s a great reminder for us to do what we can to care for our environment…we can all do something, whether it’s recycling, composting, reducing waste, using environmental-friendly cleaning products…things that a lot of you probably do already! I’ve been much more conscious myself about recycling and trying to cut down on unnecessary waste these past few years. And a really simple way that anyone can help reduce paper and packaging waste is by buying natural and organic foods from bulk food bins available at various grocery stores, health food stores, and natural food co-ops. I usually buy things like peanut butter, almond butter, and different granolas from the bulk bins, but I’m realizing now that there are many other things I could be buying!

lovebulkbuttonThere’s a non-profit organization, the Bulk is Green Council (BIG), that is dedicated to promoting the environmental and economical benefits of using natural and organic bulk foods. To help celebrate Earth Month this year, the Bulk is Green Council (BIG) is challenging consumers to “Love Bulk Foods.” And they are offering you the chance to win a prize pack filled with some great products to help you start creating your own pantry of eco-friendly bulk foods. The photo above shows what’s included in the prize pack–a starter kit of popular natural and organic bulk foods that can be found in most bulk bins at natural food co-ops and grocery stores from these brands: SunRidge Farms, Frontier Natural Products Co-op, Lundberg Family Farms, and several other bulk brands…organic and natural foods like granola, whole grains, spices, trail mix…lots of yummy and healthy things! You’ll also get two really nice 100% recycled glass storage jars to keep some of your bulk foods in and a handy canvas “Love Bulk” tote to use on your shopping trips!

To enter the drawings for the prize packs: The Bulk is Green Council (BIG) will have a drawing each week in the month of April–you just need to take the pledge to Love Bulk Foods at the BIG website, agreeing to purchase natural and organic bulk foods once a week during Earth Month–and you’ll automatically be entered for the drawings! You can read more about this and take the pledge by clicking here at the Bulk is Green website.

Here’s some helpful information about the benefits of buying natural and organic bulk foods and some shopping tips:

BIG-Earth-Month-Infographic-2014

I had no idea so much landfill waste could be prevented by purchasing bulk foods! I know I’m going to make an extra effort to buy what I can in bulk. Earth month in April will be a great reminder for me to do that!

Do you like the idea of buying bulk foods and what kinds of foods do you buy? Do you plan on taking the pledge to “Love Bulk” in April?

I received a complimentary bulk foods prize pack to sample and write about, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Orange Vanilla Coconut Scrub

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I love orangey-scented things, so I thought I’d try making a scrub with epsom salt. Not long ago, I did a post on Peppermint Tea Tree Bath Salts and mentioned some of the health benefits of epsom salt. I thought they would be great to use in a body scrub, too. This scrub is thick, like a paste, and is scented with orange essential oil and pure vanilla extract. It smells so good and makes your skin really nice and soft!

ORANGE VANILLA COCONUT SCRUB by NancyCreative

  • 1 cup Epsom Salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 8 to 10 drops Orange essential oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a small or medium-size bowl or other clean container, combine Epsom Salts with coconut oil using a spoon or spatula (Note: If the coconut oil gets much above 76˚ it can turn into liquid form–so if yours is liquidy, refrigerate your coconut oil until it solidifies). Add orange essential oil a few drops at a time, stirring after each addition. Add the vanilla extract last and blend everything well. Store in a shallow jar or container with a tight-fitting lid. You don’t need to refrigerate this scrub unless the temperature in your home gets much higher than 76˚ (or when you notice the coconut oil turning to liquid form), because then the mixture will be more runny. You can use this scrub 1 to 2  times a week to keep extra dry or rough skin areas smooth and soft.

When using, wet your skin all over in the shower and massage the scrub into your skin. You don’t need to use a lot–just pinch up about 1/2 teaspoon at a time from your jar or container–a little goes a long way! This is great for rough skin areas like knees and elbows. Don’t use on face or other sensitive areas. Also, be careful when using, because the oil from the scrub can make your shower or tub a little slippery. If you want to use this on your feet as a foot scrub, it would probably be safest to give your feet a separate foot scrub/bath while you’re sitting down using a small plastic tub; that way, you don’t have to worry about slipping in your bathroom tub or shower.

It’s fun making your own bath and skin care products, and so much cheaper, too! I think they work just as well as any you can buy. Have you tried making any for yourself?

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

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I’ve seen lots of recipes for homemade laundry detergent, especially on Pinterest. And then a friend of mine told me she had made some herself and really liked it. Making your own is supposed to be much cheaper than buying it, and I’m always looking for ways to save money…so I told myself that as soon as I used up the laundry detergent I had on hand, I would try making my own. I decided I would do powdered detergent because it seemed a little easier and less messy to make. I looked at quite a few “recipes” and many were very similar. Most of them had these ingredients–Borax, Super Washing Soda, and Fels-Naptha. I decided to add some baking soda to mine because that’s such a good cleaner. I also decided to use a bar of Ivory Soap along with the Fels-Naptha–I’ve read that you could use either, so I thought I’d try one bar of each (I forgot to add the Ivory soap to the photo below!).

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You start out by grating the soap bars, which you can either do by hand or in your food processor. I grated mine by hand–I bought a separate grater just to use for soap, and the Ivory soap grated easily…the Fels-Naptha takes a little longer if you’re grating it by hand. One of my readers, Barbara, mentioned in a comment that she found it much easier to use her long Microplane grater that she normally uses for Parmesan cheese–so that’s another option, too. Here’s what the soaps look like when they’re grated–I used the smaller grating side of my hand  grater:

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Then you just mix the grated soap with the other powdered ingredients, and you have your very own homemade laundry detergent! You don’t even need to scent this with anything because it has such a wonderful fresh-smelling scent of its’ own! This is a low-sudsing detergent, so don’t expect a lot of suds! But I thought it did a good job of cleaning.

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You can store your detergent in a container with a tight-fitting lid–I used this glass jar I bought at Wal-Mart and made a tag for it, which I attached with a ribbon at the neck of the jar. You can also use a plastic container, which may be a safer option.

Here’s the “recipe” for my homemade detergent…

HOMEMADE POWDERED LAUNDRY DETERGENT by NancyC

  • 1 (5.5-oz.) Fels-Naptha soap bar (or you can substitute similar sizes of Kirk’s Hardwater Castile or Zote bars*)
  • 1 (4.5-oz.) Ivory soap bar
  • 2 cups Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
  • 1 1/4 cups Borax
  • 1/4 cup Baking Soda

Grate soap with a hand-held grater or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered (if you grate by hand, your soap will be coarser, but that’s okay–the soap can be either finely or coarsely grated; I grated mine by hand using the smaller grating side).

Put grated soap in a large bowl or small bucket (you can line the bucket with a plastic bag if you like) and add the washing soda, borax, and baking soda, mixing everything together well. Store in an airtight container.

This makes about 6 1/2 cups of powdered detergent (this detergent is low-sudsing, but it still works great). For a light load, use 1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons of detergent; for a heavy load or heavily soiled load, use 2 to 2 1/2 Tablespoons of detergent. Depending on what size loads you have, this makes enough for about 60-80 loads. I’m estimating that the cost for making this comes to about $4.20 per batch, which is pretty good for that many loads!

Some of you have asked if this detergent can be used with HE washers, and I don’t know the answer to that–it’s best if you check directly with the manufacturer of your washer.

*Note on soap bars: It’s best to stick with the brands listed; do not use heavily perfumed or moisturizing soaps–the oils in these kinds of soaps can create spots on your clothes.

For a lemon scent to your laundry, add 1/2 to 1 cup of lemon juice to each load. The lemon juice will not only give your laundry a light lemony scent, it also adds extra whitening power!

Have you tried making homemade laundry detergent yet? What did you think of it?