Monthly Archives: January 2012

6 Reasons Why My Cleaning Solutions Are TOTALLY BOSS

Or, 6 Reasons Why These Magic Mixes Will Cause You To So Deeply Regret All Those Years and Dollars You Wasted On Commercial Products That You May Need Grief Counseling

1. They are homemade.

As Pinterest users can testify, anything DIY is automatically more awesome than the alternative. Which makes you cooler than other people who don’t make their own stuff. You can feel a little smug in your heart when you see people grabbing crap from the cleaning aisle, cause you don’t need some giant corporation to make your products for you. You’re self-reliant! You’re like a freaking pioneer in the wilderness! Before you know it, you’ll be growing your own wheat, constructing a water mill to grind it, and then baking homemade bread over a fire. That’s right. A fire built with wood you chopped.

[SIDE BONUS: The more stuff you make at home, the more prepared you are for the zombie apocalypse.]

2. They have simple, easy-to-find ingredients.

Everything you need to mix your own cleaning solutions can be found at your local supermarkets, and you probably already have a lot of this stuff at home. It’s best to buy these in bulk sizes if possible—that usually gives you a better value. Like the 32oz Dr. Bronner’s soap instead of the 16oz, and a gallon of vinegar instead of a small bottle. One exception is olive oil: I buy a cheap little bottle instead of using the kind I cook with. You’re not concerned about quality or taste–just its, well, oiliness. Here’s what you need:

Easy enough, right?

*I can usually find these for cheaper on Amazon than in a store. If you have a Prime membership (so worth it OMG), you can have them shipped super fast for free!

3. They smell ridiculous.

Before you mix up your solutions (recipes below), you have the exciting task of deciding which scent combinations to use. Dr. Bronner’s liquid Castile soap comes in a variety of ridiculous scents which are also based on essential oils, so you can combine different soaps with the oil of your choice for a knock-your-socks-off aroma. For instance, I made my first batch of cleaners with peppermint soap and lavender oil. For my next trick, I will be using citrus soap with thyme oil. Or you could try lavender soap with eucalyptus oil, or eucalyptus soap with tea-tree oil, or—well, the mind reels! And I think you will find that these heavenly smells actually make cleaning pleasant. I myself often feel compelled to burst into cheery song and let a little birdie alight on my finger.

4. They are effective.

I just recently became aware of the cleaning power of essential oils. I’d been using some boring vinegar-and-water mixes with a little baking soda here and there, but boy do these oils pack an extra wallop. They cut through grease better, they leave surfaces more resistant to grime, and they have natural disinfectant properties. I mean, seriously, it’s like cleaning with fairy dust.

5. They are environmentally friendly.

No nasty man-made chemicals or pollutants here. Safe for humans, safe for pets, and safe going down the drain into our lakes and rivers. In fact, not only are these cleaners not bad for you–they are very likely beneficial. Essential oils are known to have very positive effects on mood and overall wellbeing. Aromatherapy FTW! Of course, it’s important to remember that Borax and essential oils can be toxic in high quantities, but these solutions are so diluted there’s little risk of danger. Just don’t, you know, drink them or anything.

6. They are cheap.

Ok, I sat down, screwed my courage to the sticking place, and did some math. It was very complicated and I had to retire with a cold compress and hot tea afterward, so I hope you’re properly grateful. Anyway, if you follow the recipes below, you will need to mix more of the solutions around every six weeks or so. And remember that a little goes a looooong way (time to break that Lysol-spray-induced habit of sloshing gallons of cleaner around). With this in mind, I figure these solutions will ultimately cost you around 10 bucks a month. Basically, that’s six different solutions for $1.67 a piece. Remember how much you paid for the aforementioned Lysol? Mmm-hmm. You’re welcome. Please send all cards and flowers to my secretary.

Homemade = cool

RECIPES

I make multiples of some bottles so I can keep one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom and so forth. You need some empty spray bottles and some condiment squeeze bottles. Reuse old ones or get them cheap from the dollar store or Wal-Mart or something like that. And yes, I count the drops of essential oil.

All-purpose cleaner – makes 2 medium bottles
Use on all surfaces except maybe granite, wood furniture, and food areas like cutting boards.
2 cups hot water
2 tbsp Borax (dissolve)
1/4 cup vinegar*
1/2 cup Castile soap*
40 drops essential oil 

Disinfectant – makes 1 medium bottle
Safe for use on granite, great for killing germs anywhere.
3 tbsp Castile soap
30 drops essential oil
Enough water to fill bottle

Glass cleaner – makes 2 medium bottles
Shake often to keep mixed.
4 cups hot water
2 tbsp cornstarch (dissolve)
1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
1/2 cup vinegar

Furniture polish – makes 2 small bottles
This one separates super fast, so shake every other spray or so. Goes a REALLY long way.
1 cup olive oil
1 cup vinegar
60 drops (about 3ml) essential oil

Shower spray – makes 1 bottle
Lightly mist walls and tub after you shower—no more evil soap scum!
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar*
2 tbsp Castile soap*
10 drops essential oil

Soft scrub – makes 2 squeeze bottles (mix in individual bottles!)

Scrub into tubs, sinks, and toilets—let sit, then rinse.
1/2 cup baking soda per bottle (1 cup total)
1/2  cup Borax per bottle (1 cup total)
1/2 cup Castile soap per bottle (1 cup total)
15 drops essential oil per bottle (30 total)
Splash or two of water per bottle (get it to the consistency you want)

UPDATE 8/11/12
Shower spray: Guys, I had to tell you, I’ve just started putting this solution in a sponge brush with a fillable handle, thanks to a hot tip I found on Pinterest (unfortunately I can’t credit the originator, as the pin didn’t lead to the right place). AHHHHMAZING!
Soft scrub: So if I, erm, don’t use the soft scrub solution very frequently, I find that it begins to harden in the bottle. If you’re a slacker busy person like me who can’t always regularly clean your sinks & tubs, you might consider making the scrub in smaller batches instead so it stays fresh. If you do get some hardening, a little sploosh of water and a stir should also do the trick. Just a heads up, y’all. 

*UPDATE 10/6/12
Some readers have reported that combining vinegar and Castile soap creates a clumpy unblended mixture, so I recommend using either vinegar or Castile soap in these recipes, depending on your preference and desired effect! For myself, I’ll probably use vinegar in both. 

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6 Reasons Why You Should Implement Autumn’s Spa Sunday Routine

Botticelli was thinking about Spa Sunday when he painted this.

Or, 6 Reasons Why You, Too, Can Feel Like Venus Rising Newborn from the Foam 

1. The luxurious mani/pedi.

So my New Year’s Resolution was to take extra special care of my hair, skin, and nails (thus, Spa Sunday was born!)–but really it’s my nails that need the most help. They sometimes look live I’ve been living in the wild, killing prey with my bare hands and digging Autumn-sized lairs under the roots of trees (I often envision myself having to survive all alone in the wild, just for light amusement, but that’s another post). So the first order of business on Spa Sunday is to clean, trim, and file those suckers. You’ll do the rest in a minute.

[NOTE: I do not include any actual nail painting in this mani/pedi, because, I mean seriously, I have other demands on my time. But if your schedule is less rigorous, feel free to polish away at the conclusion of the Spa Sunday routine.]

2. The sumptuous hair mask.

I do clean and brush my hair fairly regularly, but I sort of neglect it otherwise. The time had come to do a little something extra, so I mixed up an olive oil and honey hair mask (easy recipes for this and other concoctions below). It adds lots of shine and softness. Pour it all over your head and massage deeply into scalp and roots. It’s probably going to drip into your eyelashes or run disconcertingly down into your armpit. Ignore the urge to leap in the shower and scrub it off with a Brillo pad. Just keep on rubbing till you look like this. Then wrap it all up in a towel (if you can get hold of the ridiculously amazing Turbie Twist, I highly recommend) and wash your hands till your fingers stop sticking together.

3. The soothing facial.

Start running your bath water (see item 4) and add the bath salts. While that’s going, give yourself a quick face wash to remove impurities and turn your sink faucet on super hot. Lean over the sink with a towel over your head so you trap all the steam. You might feel like you’re going to die, or at least I did, since breathing in steam gives me a thick, panicky feeling in my throat –but stick to it for a few minutes because this opens your pores. We’ll continue the facial in just one sec.

4. The relaxing bath.

Head for the tub with a jar of sugar scrub, your favorite facial moisturizer, and an orange wood stick (you know, that thingy they use at nail salons). Once immersed, massage the sugar scrub into your face, hands, feet, elbows, knees, and any other bits you care to soften up. Rinse the scrub off your face with warm water first, and then follow up with a splash of cool (I did all this while my bath was still filling up). The chilly water closes up your pores and then you can slather on a dab of face lotion to seal the deal. Next, proceed to soak for a while, making sure to get your fingers and toes fairly raisin-y. Sip a glass of wine, listen to some Kenny G, what have you. Finally, just before you wind things down, push your softened cuticles back with the stick.

5. The rejuvenating shower.

It’s time to shampoo your hair and rinse off the sugar granules lingering in the, er, creases. Use cool-ish water (or lukewarm, you weenie) for this stage–it restore the tissues, as Bertie Wooster would say. You know what to do here. Report back when your hair doesn’t smell like Italian food.

6. The comforting towel-cuddle.

I hope for your sake that you have a nice, big, fluffy towel or robe to wrap yourself in. A thin, scratchy one is no good–that would be like topping a chocolate-dipped ice cream cone with a stick of celery. Anyway, snuggle into your plushest towel and sit in your comfiest chair. Bring along lotion and some nourishing nail serum for your hands and feet. Moisturize yourself into a state of bliss. The end.

My Spa Sunday supplies (bath salts, sugar scrub, and hair mask from left to right).

Hair Mask
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup olive oil

Bath Salts
1 bag Dr. Teal’s Lavender Epsom Salt
1 1/2 cups baking soda
1 cup sea salt

Sugar Scrub
2 parts sugar
1 part oil (I used sweet almond, but olive oil is fine too)
A few drops of essential oil (peppermint was my choice this time around) 

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3 Reasons Why This Commercial Deeply Annoys Me

Or, 3 Reasons Why This Ad and Thousands Like It Are Responsible for That Twitch In My Left Eye

1. It promotes the assumption that all women don’t like sports.

Look, girls just don’t get the same encouragement to watch and play sports when they’re young as boys do. It’s a handicap being barred from the Almighty Boys’ Club from birth—otherwise we might be more likely to ref games and rattle off stats and call plays or pitches like naturals. As it is, ladies generally have a lot of catching up to do. And, God help us, we have a lot of condescending shitheads around to snicker when we use the wrong term or ask a dumb question. But despite all this, some of us ACTUALLY ENJOY SPORTS. Ok? Is there any way we can, like, circulate that memo nationally, or something?

2. It promotes the assumption that all women only want to talk about their feelings.

Note the way she throws out those ominous phrases: “I feel like” and “I’m oversensitive” and “It’s just that you and I…”. Har har, ladies are so crazy, am I right, fellas? She hauled this poor dude to some fancy restaurant so they can endlessly discuss her emotions. What a drag. Women suck.

3. It promotes the assumption that all men don’t care about their relationships.

Sexism goes both ways, people. Ads try to pigeonhole women as the cleaners, the dieters, the shoppers, the sex kittens or the moms. But ads also try to cast men as the beer-drinkers, the truck-drivers, the idiots, the sports fans, and the jerks. Those assumptions are just as inaccurate as the stereotypes promoted about women—and they’re just as damaging.

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