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Monday, January 24, 2011

Vinegar--Who Knew?!?!

In my on-going effort to be more "green" I have recently discovered (ok, maybe re-discovered) vinegar.  Such a simple product and oh so CHEAP!

Vinegar has become my new fabric softener!  It is a natural water softener, cleanser, disinfectant, and brightener!  So, you can put 1/2 cup (or so) in the wash to help with a stain or odor, and 1/2 cup in the fabric softener dispenser.  It also helps keep lint from sticking to your clothes in the dryer (the fact that you used it in the washer--to clarify).  I find that it works really well!  I love that I am disinfecting things like towels, underwear, and socks AND neutralizing odors.  It is also great because I have respiratory allergies that scented fabric softeners can aggravate (a walk down the fabric softener aisle at the store can require the use of an inhaler!).  Now, you may be wondering about the smell--vinegar is not  so pleasant to the olfactory system.  You may smell it faintly as you take clothes out of the wash, but it dissipates as they dry--you do not smell it at all once clothes are dry (either in the dryer or line-dried).  Another bonus is that it cleans your washing machine and is good for your pipes!

Vinegar is also my new dishwasher aid.  I was having a hard time with spotty and sometimes not completely clean dishes coming out of my dishwasher.  Adding 1/2 cup of vinegar to the bottom of the dishwasher (in addition to my dishwasher detergent) has made a HUGE difference.  You can also put it in the rinse agent slot (like Jet-dry).

There are tons of other ways to use vinegar in cleaning your home.  An inexpensive, natural disinfectant that doesn't pollute our water ways or fill our homes with unsafe vapors to breathe!  What more could you ask for? (Okay--I admit, it could smell better coming out of the bottle, but we can't have it all, dear!  I will say, that in using it, it does not make my house smell like vinegar.)

For more ideas on how to save money AND green up your home, check out these websites on using vinegar for cleaning.  There are MANY more out there too!  Next, I will start experimenting with baking soda.  I'll let you know how it goes!
Frugal Fun
Vinegar Tips

Friday, January 7, 2011

Update on Fair Trade Christmas

So, how did the fair trade Christmas go?  I would say about 30% of the gifts we gave were fair trade.  I would like to have done better, but then I don't think it's a bad start either.  I tried to keep in mind who I was giving the gift to, and sometimes it didn't work out.  When possible, I went with made in the USA or by a local craftsman too.  Clothing and toys are the hardest areas I found to meet the criteria.

What DID I find?  The easiest areas by far were chocolate, coffee, jewelry and soap.  Green & Black Organic Chocolate, Newman's Own chocolates & coffee, Green Mountain coffee, Fair Trade Exchange Coffee and Dr. Bronner's soap were all easily found in major chain stores and grocery stores (I found them at Target, Hyvee, Schnucks, Fresh Market & Kroger in Peoria.)  Even more brands were at natural food stores and specialty grocery stores.  In Peoria, I easily found fair trade items at: Forest Park Nature Center (some beautiful Christmas ornaments, jewelry, fiber arts, decorative objects, chocolate, cleaners--really neat selection there!);  Global Village (a small store dedicated exclusively to fair trade and run by volunteers to keep prices down);  RE- (a new store at the Metro Centre where everything is made from recycled or environmentally sustainable goods);  Naturally Yours (lots of coffees, chocolate, soaps).  I am sure that this is not an exhaustive list, but it is what I've found.  If you know of others, please let me know!

Another really cool thing I should mention is that I actually received some fair trade gifts too, which was really neat.  I got a bread basket with cloth in it (both fair trade) and a loaf of homemade bread in it--very clever, I thought!  Please share any great gift ideas you have too!

Homeschooling quote

I love this quote about homeschooling!

Home schooling is a very old way of doing things. If you look at any of the bills in your wallet or the coins in your pocket, they all have a picture of a homeschooler on them. - William Lloyd