Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Effectiveness of Natural Cleaners

A couple years ago, my mom sent me the book, Vinegar, Duct Tape, Milk Jugs & More by Earl Proulx. "1,001 ingenious ways to use common household items to repair, restore, revive, or replace just about everything in your life."

This has been a very interesting book, and it's changed how I think about small storage and organization, especially in my kitchen. However, it also includes a pretty vast range of recipes on how to make a variety of household cleaners. In a couple of weeks, I plan on making some homemade dishwasher detergent and fabric softener. I know I could use tennis balls in the dryer, but I think the idea of the sound of them during a cycle would drive me bonkers. And with a cat and a dog that's already shedding, I need my dryer. I can line dry a lot of things, but I still need the no heat air setting to remove the hair. I figure if the homemade cleaners don't work, I can go back to my usual gel dishwasher detergent and for the dryer, I can try store bought dryer balls.

But I have already tried other natural cleaning recommendations from that book. "Baking soda is also a great tool for deodorizing your dishwasher. When that's your goal, add 1 cup soda to the dishwasher when it's empty. Run the machine through the rinse cycle, then shut it off. Once it has dried, it should smell fresh." It definitely does, considering how a dishwasher sits, closed up, with dirty dishes that are streaked with food and drink, until it's run. It could be a few days in between cycles and I know the smell can be kind of rank at times. A friend of mine makes her own dishwasher detergent sometimes and said it works just as well as store bought powder.

One of the natural "ingredients" mentioned throughout the book for a variety of reasons was vinegar, especially as a glass cleaner. "This mild acid will clean and sine nearly everything in the house. Mix 1 cup vinegar and 5 cups water to clean windows or eyeglasses." The smell does take a little getting used to, but in my opinion, nothing cleans glass better than regular Windex Original Glass Cleaner or Armor All Auto Glass Cleaner, depending on your needs.

I like Armor All for our glass bearded dragon cage, our fish tank, and to remove doggie nose prints from the front door. I like Windex because of its versatility in what it cleans, and the smell doesn't seem nearly as harsh as the vinegar/water cleaner. Plus, vinegar/water cleaner just doesn't clean a tub or shower well enough for my liking. It may be a natural cleaner, but my bathroom just didn't look clean enough afterward (the soap scum didn't really go away, even with a thorough scrubbing), and I made up enough to fill a spray bottle that I was reusing after the Windex was gone.

But in that same vein of cleaning, I did find out the hard way that an SOS pad on an old bathtub is not a good idea. Our house was built in 1941 and I would imagine the bathroom has been updated once. The fixtures are all white and when we moved into the house in 2002, the tub was clean but dingy looking. Just recently, I ran out of bleach and needed to clean the tub, so I grabbed an SOS pad. When I was done scrubbing, the tub was clean but there were (and still are) grey scrubby streaks around the bottom of the tub. I can't even bleach those suckers away! I read on this page that a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser may work to remove those marks.

But all these natural cleaners that we can make in our homes for cheaper and greener than buying them, I don't think it's worth making them if they aren't getting the job done to your liking. I know it's adding unnecessary chemicals into our water and exposing us to things we might not need, but I'll be honest, I'd rather have a house that I know is clean than to wonder how clean it is.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Confirmed: Crazy Cat Lady in Training

I thought Christmas might get me out of the crazy cat lady feeling. I mean, a crocheted mousie and sewn stocking for SOMEONE ELSE'S cat should be sufficient, right?


Nicole sent me...errr, I mean, ODIN, sent me a Facebook message last night. It said, "Deers Mousey maker, i noz where my mummys waz (i can reeds you noz) i thinks yous should makz me a very,very large mousey tosnuggle whenz my mummys is gone.... The Odin"

Odin doesn't just play with his mousies. He takes them to bed with him and Nicole. He leaves them in her yarn baskets. He even leaves them next to his food bowl in case they get hungry.

The gauntlet has been thrown down. Challenge accepted.

Sorry about the hideous picture tonight. The overhead light in here doesn't seem to like brown fabric.
My original plan was to sketch out, on fabric, the basic shapes of the crocheted version, only larger. A while back, through Craftster (I am such a lurker there!), I learned about ReFabulous' blog.

This mousie, 10" long from nose to hiney, is ReFabulous' free pattern and can be found here. The nice thing is that with this pattern, I didn't have to guess on anything. All I did was make a larger version of ReFab's mouse.

I made it entirely with items I already had. The fabric and stuffing is actually re-purposed from a throw pillow. When I was stuffing it, I was alternating the layers of stuffing with some really potent catnip from PetsMart. If you need catnip, I highly recommend the Kong premium catnip. It comes in a plastic tub and is crazy strong. And for catnip sewn inside a toy, this mousie is going to drive Odin nuts!

New mousie is going to it's new home tomorrow.

Eye See You

"Don't pander to me, kid. One tiny crack in the hull and our blood boils in thirteen seconds. Solar flare might crop up, cook us in our seats. And wait till you're sitting pretty with a case of Andorian shingles, see if you're so relaxed when your eyeballs are bleeding. Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence."
--Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, "Star Trek," 2009

Since the plan of the day yesterday was to sit around on our butts, watching Doctor Who all day, I decided it would be a good day to break out the yarn for a couple of easy patterns that didn't require much attention in order to make them.

I guess I was in a Halloweenie kind of mood yesterday.

This necklace, if you want to call it that, was inspired by this crochet posting on Craftster. There wasn't a pattern for the eyeball, just a photo, so I decided to muddle my way through it to see if I could manage.

I'm fairly happy with it but I'm glad I didn't use regular red yarn for the vein "chain". I used leftover sari silk yarn from Darn Good Yarn. I loved how it untangles itself slightly as it's being used. Although I should have switched to a thinner yarn for the eye veins for this project. I was going for a bloodshot kind of look but those veins are just unhealthy looking! But then again, I am talking about a giant dismembered eyeball hanging on the attic doorknob.

The other project is called "Catch His Eye" from the AntiCraft! I found this one a while back and have been saving it for a rainy day.

I love this bag!!! I actually used the same colors and same yarns to make this drawstring bag as I did the eyeball pendant, but in the larger size, I think this makes those yarns look so much better!!

AntiCraft said to use an F sized hook, but I went one bigger to a G. I figured since I was using a variety of yarns (cotton, silk and chenille), I might want a little more room to work with the yarns on a larger hook.

I think these are going to be fun to break out for Halloween this year!

Doctor Who?

Nicole the knitter is working on a version of the Doctor Who scarf for a friend of her's for Halloween. Joe wants to be a Doctor that incorporates aspects of all the Doctors, and Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor) is his favorite. Since Joe picked out all the yarn, beautiful earthy and jewel tones in a variety of wools, Nicole has been knitting this scarf that will end up being about 25 feet long. There's a lot of love knitted into the scarf already and it's about 1 1/2 feet long so far.

During our third Doctor Who marathon yesterday, I joked Joe needed a celery stalk for his jacket, since he was going to incorporate the other Doctors. Nicole thought that was kind of funny and I showed her this page, the Crafty Tardis section of LiveJournal. Someone already found a free crocheted celery pattern at Coats and Clark, and made it up for their own Fifth Doctor needs.

"On his lapel, this Doctor wore a celery stalk. He claimed in The Caves of Androzani that the celery would sometimes turn purple in the presence of certain gases in the "Praxis" range to which he was allergic, although this allergy was not mentioned by any incarnations before or since. He said that if that happened, he would then eat the celery, adding "[I]f nothing else, I'm sure it's good for my teeth." In the same story, while attempting to revive a feverish Peri from Spectrox Toxemia, he had noted that celery was an "excellent restorative from where I come from," but that the human olfactory system was "comparatively feeble." Supporting this assertion, in the 2010 episode Cold Blood, the Eleventh Doctor asks if there is any celery handy after being subjected to a decontamination process intended for humans (which proved potentially lethal to a Time Lord biology). The Tenth Doctor repeatedly poked fun at the celery in Time Crash, describing it as a "decorative vegetable"."

I managed to get this whipped up this morning. The kitchen knife is for size reference. I used an E sized hook (the smallest I have) and it's Caron green with a stripe of white. I'm not sure why I added the white. I think I just wanted a little contrast against that green. It's the lightest green I have right now and I like the way the white breaks it up a little bit.