Honey

Yesterday I read that eating local honey may help you develop immunity to local pollens that you may otherwise be allergic to. My latest purchase was a jar of wildflower honey, which I think I don’t like quite as well as clover honey. But now I may be immune to Colorado’s wildflower pollen!

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Squeaky Clean

By request, here are some recipes for chemical-free cleaning products. I use these myself and they work just as well as (sometimes even better than) the chemically enhanced stuff you buy at the store. You will see that distilled white vinegar is your best friend and I promise your house will not smell like a jar of pickles.

Except the first, each recipe is for a 1 quart (32 oz.) spray bottle, which is the size of a typical commercial cleaner bottle.

Dishwasher Rinse Agent
Instead of Jet Dry or the like, pour 1/4 – 1 c. white vinegar directly into the bottom of your dishwasher just before starting it. You’ll have to experiment with the amount you use, but I promise you will have spotless dishes.

Streak-Free Glass Cleaner
Pour 1/8 c. white vinegar into a clean, empty spray bottle. Fill the rest of the way with water. That’s it.

All Purpose Cleaner #1
Pour 3 tsp. liquid castille soap* or 1/4 c. lemon juice into your clean bottle. Fill the rest of the way with water.

All Purpose Cleaner #2 (slightly more effective than the first)
Into your clean spray bottle pour:
2 c. water
1/2 c. white vinegar
1 tsp. castile soap*
3/4 c. hydrogen peroxide (or lemon juice, but that doesn’t work as well)
20 drops tea tree essential oil**
20 drops lavendar or lemongrass essential oil**

*Castille soap is an all-natural vegetable-based soap with no chemicals. It is sold at natural food stores and even at Target. The brand Target sells is Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and it comes in peppermint (my favorite), lavendar and unscented. You can use any scent for your cleaner.

**Essential oils are sold at natural food stores. Tea tree oil disinfects (it is even used in Australian hospitals) so you don’t want to skimp on that. Lavendar or lemongrass oils are just for scenting your cleaner, so if you want to skip it that would be fine. You could also experiment with other scents. I’m thinking about using orange when I run out of my lavendar.

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Easy Green 2010

Happy New Year, everyone! Hopefully you had a good time ringing in 2010. Did you all make resolutions? If anyone resolved to green their lives a little, here are some ideas for you!

For the Beginner

  • Deny plastic. Use those reusable shopping bags that seem to be available at every store now.
  • Let there be light.  Replace at least one light bulb with a CFL bulb. Not only will you save energy, but you’ll also save money in the long run. Now that you’ve replaced your bulb, turn it off! Don’t leave lights on when you’re not in the room. It just doesn’t make sense.
  • Stop the leaks. Get some outlet plugs (you know, those plastic things that keep kids from sticking things in outlets) and put them in all the outlets that are on the outside walls of your house. You’ll keep cold air from sneaking in.
  • Reset. Set your thermostat cooler during the hours you are gone or sleeping.  Obviously, you will set your thermostat warmer during the air conditioning months.

For The Pale Greenies

  • Begin again. Start recycling again. Did you know that recycling one aluminium can saves enough energy to power your TV for three hours? Three hours!
  • Forget the disposables. Pretend like disposable plates, flatware, and napkins don’t even exist. Ok, you can keep using toilet paper, but please buy recycled.
  • Drive smart. The pedal does not belong on the metal. Don’t floor it or slam on your brakes—that uses a lot of gas. The rule is to drive as if you have a full coffee mug sitting on your dashboard.

For the Advanced Greenie

  • Clean green. Make your own cleaning supplies (I can supply the ingredients if you want them).
  • Reuse. It’s pretty hard to forgo all things plastic in this disposable world. Reuse your sealable baggies (like Ziploc bags) as many times as you can. Just turn them inside out, wash with soap, let them dry and then use again. You can also reuse aluminium foil a couple of times.
  • Back to nature. Start a compost pile or buy an indoor composter. It’s not as hard as you think, and it doesn’t smell.
  • Blowin’ in the wind. Let your clothes air dry, even indoors in the winter. Do the same with your hair.

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Exciting New Gadgets

In our new house I get to try two appliances I’ve been curious about: a frontloading washing machine and a gas stove (exciting, I know).

So far I like the gas range now that I’ve figured out that it runs hotter than any electric one I’ve ever had.

The jury’s still out on the frontloading washer. At one point it sounded like a jet engine preparing for takeoff and at another it sounded like a giant creature crunching ice. But it got the clothes clean, and I guess that counts for something.

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A Few of My Favorite Things

When we move I will miss…

The Pagoda dogwood that was a birthday gift from Jason’s mom

The Heritage birch that was an anniversary gift from my parents

My tiny Colorado spruce, with its cute little red cones

The two weeping willows that Jason planted with a spoon, that snowy November evening

The pink flowering crabapple that is pretty year-round

The two Montmorency cherries who never felt the need to give us edible fruit

And the Crimson King maple, the first tree I ever bought

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Meaningful Quote 2

“Just because you’re winnin’ don’t mean you’re the lucky ones.” Axl Rose

Disclaimer: I am not a Guns n’ Roses fan in general, but even a 90’s heavy metal band can say something that resonates.

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Lil’ Pumpkins

I am the pie maker in my family, and for Thanksgiving I always bring the standard Thanksgiving flavor: pumpkin. Each year—typically the day before Thanksgiving—I dutifully drag myself to the store to buy the traditional pumpkin in a can. But this year I travelled back in time and skipped the can. Let me go back a few weeks….

This fall I bought two pie pumpkins from the farmer’s market. I was going to make soup. Having never used a real pumpkin before in my life, I had no idea how many of the cute little guys I might need, so I bought two. As it turns out, I only used half of one for my soup (delicious, by the way). After dinner that night I thumbed through my cookbooks and found a tasty-looking recipe for pumpkin bars, complete with homemade cream cheese frosting. Wow, those were good! But they only took the second half of my first pumpkin.

So, what to do with that second little orange gem sitting on my deck? I decided to freeze it and worry about it later. After cutting the squash open and cutting away the flesh I steamed the good stuff until it was completely tender and aromatic. Then I put the steamed pumpkin in the food processor and froze the puree in a mason jar.

Come Thanksgiving time, I was ready for my pie before I even knew it! No trip to the grocery store for me. I used my great-grandma Dolly’s crust recipe and a generic filling recipe from an ancient cookbook I have, and was thrilled with the results. The pie took almost twice the time to bake, but it was completely worth it. It was a little lighter in color, and had a more delicate flavor than the canned version. I got a lot of compliments for my pie, and not the usual polite compliments…I think these were the real thing.

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