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WGL Link Love: October

4 Nov

Want to know what caught our eye in the month of October? Here is a little reflection and a beautiful photo that we thought screams October…

Thank you to Sheets Studios for this beautiful picture.

  • I love cooking butternut squash, but sometimes roasting it in the over is a pain and it heats up my kitchen. I like the idea of throwing together crockpot butternut squash.
  • I love seeing recipes that call for using the ENTIRE chicken! On my meal planning menu this week is Honey Glazed Chicken. I love the idea of garlic, Dijon mustard, honey, and balsamic flavoring delicious pieces of chicken.
  • I love kefir. And do you know what I love even more? The idea of making it myself, so I can’t wait to make homemade kefir soon.
  • I have plans to make elderberry syrup this month to boost the immune system during this cold and flu season. I’m also adding fermented cod liver oil as a cure for the common cold in case we come down with something.
  • There is nothing better than a beautiful egg dish. I love the idea of a frittata with cauliflower and bacon.
  • I love the idea of a savory sweet potato casserole, whether its for breakfast or on the Thanksgiving table.
  • Something I need to try when I have some time off over the holidays – How to make a sourdough starter
  • You know we can’t get enough of those fall flavors, so why not make another roasted butternut squash recipe?
  • I made this natural homemade bleach and love it! Homemade non-toxic bleach + sun dried clothes on the line = Love.
  • I have a week and a half off of work over the Christmas holiday this year and we aren’t going anywhere, besides visiting our families to celebrate the holiday. Vacation Goal: Culture fruits and vegetables at home. I’ve been wanting to start fermenting foods for a while now. And make kombucha. It’s time.
  • I always love a good article that encourages breast feeding, offers practical advice, and gives great breast feeding tips.
  • I neeeed to make homemade mascara! So cool.

Can you believe it’s November already?!

Fall Table Flare

10 Oct

We had friends over last weekend for dinner and I wanted to get our dinner table looking nice and “Fall like” for the occasion. We don’t have a lot of purchased decorations for the holidays…mostly a few nice things to set out that we have gotten as gifts from our families. I’m pretty simplistic when it comes to decorations anyways and I love using things we already have in our house or something from the outdoors to spice up the indoors. Not only does it usually end up looking better, but it’s fewer “things” to end up in our landfills one day.

One of my favorite items to decorate with and transition from season to season is a hurricane vase. Not only is it durable and made of a recyclable material, but you can literally keep them out season to season and adapt them with a holiday flare if you so desire…which I usually am. Ha! Plus, you just can’t go wrong with those vases. You can use them to decorate without a candle by filling them with little seasonal trinkets or add in a candle for that house warming touch. Love. Versatility.

We had most of our table decoration items in or outside of our house already. The only things we purchased were three little pumpkins. Sometimes you need to add that extra bit of “spirit” to round out your decoration plan. I used one of our large wood serving platters to set everything on, so that it was raised off of the table. You could always use a different type of platter or serving stand to create some variation in height on your table. You could even use some cut rounds of a tree stump, which would be so pretty. The stumps could be used over and over for different decoration ideas and if they ever get shabby looking, you can have no worries that they will decompose easily back into the Earth.

So we have established that height can make a table decoration look nice, but texture is another key component to making a lovely little centerpiece. You could use any fabric or tablecloth you have around the house. I like to incorporate different colored placemats into my decoration ideas as well. For this one I just used a table runner that has a natural potato sack look. I tend to use a lot of natural or neutral colors in our house and then add in pops of color with other items. Not only does it keep that “natural” look, but the simplicity makes many items useful in different seasons. It keeps decorating easy so I don’t have to put too much thought into it.

I used an unscented off white candle in my hurricane vase & surrounded it with cinnamon sticks from my spice cabinet. If you are going to be eating around your candle you’ll probably want to choose an unscented candle so it doesn’t mingle with the delicious food you have plated up. I pulled some vines off of our house and used them to “hug” the produce I scattered around my candle. I mixed in the little pumpkins, apples, and delicata squash to create a sort of cornucopia type look. Super easy and edible!

Any fun decorations you’ve put out for Fall? We’d love to see pictures!


Dry Cleaning: Discover a Greener Clean

20 Jun

We were a little late on the spring cleaning this year. And I guess I tend to do a year long cleansing of the house when I get time here and there. Who has the time to actually do a deep spring cleaning of the entire house in one fell swoop anyhow? Not me. So a few weekends ago I tore apart the bedrooms and did a serious cleaning of pretty much all of the fabric in each room. I washed curtains, sheets, duvet covers, mattress pads, and took the special little vacuum attachment thingy to clean anything else, like throw pillows and the bed skirt. I probably could have washed the bed skirt, but the thought of ironing that bad boy sounded awful at the time.

One thing I didn’t want to wash in our own washing machine was the pillow top we have on the mattress in our bedroom. We have a large wash machine, but even our washer couldn’t fit our queen size pillow top. Plus, I was worried about how it would come out of the washer and if I would even be able to dry the thing without it getting lumpy and weird. Pillow tops are not cheap items and the last thing I need right now is to have to replace it because I messed it up trying to do a little spring cleaning. We have more important things to spend our money on…like bathroom renovations…

This was a job for the dry cleaners.

So I hit up the Google machine to find an eco-friendly dry cleaner in our area. What do you know? There is one right up the street from us!

Natural Cleaners is a certified Green Earth Dry Cleaner. They do not use the traditional perchloroethylene (known as “perc”) solvent which is petroleum based and is known as a hazardous air pollutant. It is considered by the EPA as something that is “known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects.” Not a good thing for workers at dry cleaning facilities or for those who frequently wear clothing cleaned at a dry cleaner.

Instead of toxic chemicals, Natural Cleaners uses liquid silicone…it’s like a mineral bath for your clothes. Sounds nice, huh? I was thinking that I didn’t want our pillow top to be bathed in chemicals and for my family to sleep on something that was cleaned with a product that is considered an air toxin. Natural Cleaners and other dry cleaning facilities offering another options sounds like a better alternative to me.

We don’t have a lot of things dry cleaned. I actually avoid buying clothing that says “dry clean only” on the tag like the plague. Too much work. So I honestly don’t have a good idea on price comparison for conventional vs. a green dry cleaning company. I spent $45 getting our pillow top dry cleaned at Natural Cleaners. It’s for a queen sized bed and it’s pretty thick and fluffy. I called a conventional dry cleaning place and they could only give me a quote for what they called a mattress pad (our pillow top is much thicker than most mattress pads) and they said it would cost $30 to dry clean. My guess is they would have quoted me higher if they had seen this thing. From the research I did, it sounds like the eco-friendly dry cleaning facilities do cost more to run because of different equipment and products they use but some are able to avoid passing on those extra costs to their customers. Dry cleaning companies that aren’t using perc and use the biodegradable silicone product are paying less each month in toxic waste removal which balances out the cost. Click here to find a healthier dry cleaning option in your area.

Our pillow top came back from the dry cleaners clean, fluffy, and not smelling like a gross dry cleaning place. You know that smell, right? If I did have to pay a bit extra for a green kind of clean, it was worth it.

Food Container Cleansing

7 May

My motto in this house is “the less stuff, the better”. When I say that, I mean cleaning supplies, closets full of clothes, clutter around the house, the list goes on. When Nic says he “needs” to go to Menards to get another tool for something, I ask him is it possible that he already has another tool that can do the job? That man has a lot of tools. The words “multi-purpose” on cleaning products makes me smile. Going through my closet on the hunt for clothes that I haven’t worn in a while is a monthly must-do. I am constantly scouring the house for items that we don’t use anymore or décor items that I’m just not in love with any longer and add them to the rummage sale pile in our basement.

So when the cabinet that we keep our food storage containers in was obnoxiously overflowing, I jumped at the chance to empty that baby out. I wish I would have taken a before picture of what that cabinet looked like, but I’m kind of glad I didn’t. Embarassing.

My other reason for wanting to do a deep cleaning of that cabinet was to be sure that any storage containers for food that we have were BPA free. For those not up on the lingo, BPA stands for bisphenol A and is a chemical that has been used in the industry for years to produce plastic products and is put in the linings of metal products…like those cans of diced tomatoes or black beans you bought the other day. According to the Mayo Clinic, the National Toxicology Program at the Department for Health and Human Services is concerned that BPA can have negative health effects on the brain, behavior, and the prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children. The best option is to use glass or metal containers, but if you don’t want to go that route or using glass just isn’t practical for use with little kiddies or transporting food, plastic might still be the way to go.

After pulling all of the containers out of the cabinet space we were using to store things, I realized that we had a ridiculous amount of containers. At any given time, there is no way we are storing that many leftovers in our fridge and freezer. So I started tossing. And tossing. I love throwing things away. I think I drive Nic crazy sometimes. And that little voice that some people have…”I might need this someday?” Yeah, I don’t have that little voice.

This is what I tossed.

This is what our cabinet looks like now.

And here are Lyla’s cute little baby food freezer trays and storage containers. Love.

Pared down to BPA free containers, all of which we will use. After doing an inventory of what shapes and sizes of containers we had left, I did make a sweet purchase of Kinetic Go Green Premium containers pictured here. We actually have more containers in here than what we use on a daily basis. We have a small stockpile of BPA free containers to freeze our yearly batches of spaghetti and pizza sauce from the tomatoes in our garden.

I think that clutter in your own living and work space can clutter your mind as well. I believe everyone is better off living with a little bit less and enjoying the tranquility of living simply. I hope I don’t sound like I’m getting really deep here. I do realize that the topic of this post was about cleaning out a cabinet of containers. But I really think that when you spend your day walking around a home or office constantly looking at, or opening up storage areas that are crazily overstuffed with junk, it is not a good thing for your emotional health.

What areas of your home did you attack and de-clutter during your spring cleaning process this year?

Window Pane Refurb

30 Apr

We are still alive, I promise! I’ve been packing way too many things into my life. Between taking a cooking class, a child language class, our group Bible study group getting together, and focusing on family time, it’s been busy the last couple of weeks. Joanna is finishing up school this semester and working at the same time, so between the two of us with overloaded schedules, the blog has been neglected. Sorry about that, folks.

Way back, sometime this winter, I posted on WGL’s facebook wall that Nic and I were purchasing some old windows off of Craigslist. I feel like we got a pretty sweet deal on them, $10 per window frame. Of course, it was Pinterest that gave me ideas to turn them into something to hang in our foyer. We have a BIG empty wall in there.

Since we had Lyla last August, our super ambitious project timelines haven’t come to a total screeching halt, but we have been tapping the breaks, for sure. Fitting in projects during nap time just doesn’t always happen like I have planned out in my head. So that’s why I’ve been just looking at these windows in our basement for the last few months.

My goal was to use these window frames to display photos in our foyer area. I like the ability to change out the photos often. With our baby girl growing like a weed and our extended families multiplying by the day it seems, I like to keep our photo displays flexible. I posted recently about the use of bulletin boards in our house to do just that.

If you’ve visited our house, you know that I like white trim. It’s crisp, clean, and seems to look fabulous next to most any color of wall paint. When we moved into our house, the trim was natural wood. It was in need of a little TLC, so our options were to re-finish it or paint it white. Guess what I chose? All baseboards and window frames are now white. White baseboards also serve as a great reminder that they need dusting…often!

So, I loved when I found these windows on Craigslist and they were painted white on one side and were finished wood on the other. That way I could bring them home and decide which side looked best hanging from the wall.

As you can see from the photos, I chose to hang the white side facing out. To get them prepped to be hung indoors, I gave them a quick wash off with the hose to get rid of any dust and debris. After letting them dry in our three season room for a few days, I did a little bit of sanding on the face of the window frames to give them a bit more of a distressed look. I love that the paint color underneath the white was a nice shade of earthy green – gives it some extra character. I also made sure to sand the edges to make them smooth and easy to handle. I’m not really into getting slivers, thanks. Then I vacuumed them off and used good ole water and vinegar to clean the panes. If I’m going to be hanging pictures in them, they need to be sparkly clean.

To hang these bad boys, we bought some eyelets heavy duty enough the hold the weight of the window frames. To add some additional detail, we used burlap rope to hang the frame from the eyelets and a nail in the wall. Nic found studs in the wall to make sure they were hung securely. As you can see, I haven’t dressed them up yet with pictures. I have seen some ideas where people use fabric behind some of the panes to add a pop of color, which I love. Or some string twine across the window and hang pictures from clothes pins or paint a pane with chalkboard paint. All lovely ideas.

I will plan to post updates when I have spruced these windows up a bit. For now, I’m just glad they are out of our basement and there is something filling that big wall space!

Have you done any repurposing in your house with old window frames?


January 2013 Update

I finally remembered to take a picture of what these window panes look like now that I added pictures to them! I decided to add old family photos to these panes, which I think turned out really nice.

DIY Window Pane Frames |WholeGreenLove