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Friday, November 30, 2012

The Many Wonders of Baking Soda

I don't claim to be any kind of domestic goddess. My house USED to stay clean with minimal effort on my part because thanks to my OCD tendencies, things were put back where they belonged right after use, I could finish things completely, even when multi-tasking. Then we had a kid. Now it's not like it was unexpected because I underwent a few years of fertility treatment hits and misses. The degree to which it changes your life is what is shocking. There's a reason those little bundles are so stinkin' cute when they're little. It's so you won't noticed that your life has been turned totally upside down until it's too late to do anything about it! But I digress. For the first few years I was able to hold it together. I was blessed with a kid that slept through the night from that very fist night in the hospital, ate good, was a happy good-natured baby that rarely even fussed or cried. I was able ot do chores while he slept of played. I don't know when or how it happened, but all that ended (well he still sleeps good and eats us out of house and home!) But as time has passed, things don't get put away, toys litter the house and there are always piles of laundry in the bathrooms and bedrooms. Vacuuming has turned into a challenging sport involving getting under and around some things while trying not to suck the curtains right off the rods! There should seriously be an Olympic Games of Housework. Parents from across the Globe could compete for the gold in laundry, stain removal, dishes, cleaning the kitchen, cleaning the bathroom, mildew removal..  Ahh there I go again.  So as the years have passed, like a lot of people I have learned more about what is harmful and what not, what works and what doesn't. I have known about baking soda for years, known it was used for odors in the fridge, and in other places, known to use it to freshen laundry, have known people that use it to brush their teeth (couldn't quite bring myself to do that), and of course you hear about other companies teaming up with Arm and Hammer to add baking soda to other household products with claims of brightening, whitening and freshening. what I am finding is that baking soda works great all on it's own! I make my own laundry detergent and in my last batch I added some baking soda to the mix. I didn't notice much difference. I did rub some of my detergent directly into a white ball cap that was very grungy and it did come out bright again. I put baking soda straight into a load of whites and got noticeably whiter whites. I next used it in the kitchen. I make our tea and put it in glass jugs (moonshine style!). For those that don't know, tea leaves a film on the inside of the container. you can stave it off by rinsing it very well as soon as the jug is empty but you eventually have to use something that creates a scrubbing action to fully clean it. I usually wash the jugs fully after every other time they are filled. To do this, I put a soapy textured kitchen wash cloth into the jug with a little water and swish it around until my my arm hurts, I am about to drop the jug or it looks clean. Last week after having used baking soda around other areas of the house, I was doing dishes when I notice my glass measuring cup looked dingy from using it to transfer the tea into the jugs... I grabbed the box of baking soda and sprinkled some into the cup. My wash cloth was already soapy so I stuck it into the cup and to my amazement, the film inside just vanished! With no scrubbing on my part! The measuring cup looked as good as the day I got it, about 18 years ago! I immediately though of the tea jugs, wondering it if i dared hope that it was that easy. I used a funnel to put two spoonfuls of baking soda into the jugs, squished the washcloth through the opening, and held my breath. I shook the jug just enough to make the washcloth swirl around the glass a couple of times and them looked to see if it was doing any good. Holy moly! The glass was crystal clear once again! And I didn't have to keep doing shaking until my arm hurt and it WAS clean! Since that day I have been using baking soda in place of other stuff and I am loving it! Wiping the stove top down, hand washing dishes, in the dishwasher...I had two boxes and used them! I plan to buy more when I go to the store. I am going to look to see how large a box is available, but even if I have to get several small boxes I don't care. That stuff is great! When I do get more, I am going to tackle a discolored shower floor and see what happens.....I am excited by it because it means there are a few more things around the house that will get cleaned in a much shorter amount of time. I still can't being myself to brush my teeth with it though. :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


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Thursday, November 22, 2012

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Kitties, Puppies and Fleas! O MY!!

     I don't know about you, but as much as I LOVE our animals, I absolutely HATE fleas equally as much. This year we went from having two indoor bunnies and a couple outdoor cats to adding two indoor cats and two outdoor dogs.
     We acquired the cats through a complicated series of events, but at an opportune time... We live in a rural are that was hit by early morning tornadoes on April 27th, 2011. Most of the chicken houses in the area were completely leveled or so badly damaged that they were later torn down. An unpleasant result has been that after 15 years of mouse-free country living, we now have to deal with them trying to occupy the house with us. NO THANK YOU. So when the opportunity to bring the two kittens inside, we thought maybe they would help catch the little critters. I promptly bathed them with flea shampoo, got them some trinkets to play with and showed them their litter box.
Spot & Yeller
Brotherly Love


Hubby had been wanting to get our son a dog for awhile now and someone he knows had a dog that had puppies; part lab, part retriever. They were exactly what he had been looking for - good-natured, kid friendly dogs. And they were FREE. So they left one day to go get one. When they returned home, I was surprised with TWO 7 week old puppies...... that were roughly the size of miniature ponies! :) It was instant love for all of us! They are the friendliest dogs! I started training them right away and was surprised again by how fast they learn and how well they obey.

Cotton & Rusty
Happy Dogs!

     This being one of the worst years for fleas in recent years (at least according to our vet), we had an all-out infestation not long after the arrival of kitties and puppies. Hubby took the kitties to get their first shots and some flea pills, which helped get the majority of the fleas off the cats, but did nothing for the ones on the floor and in the carpets. I try to use natural cleansers around the house to limit our and our pets exposure to the harmful effect, but I was ready to use the most toxic bug bombs in the world! We began a ritual of spraying with some stuff a friend had given mu husband that was safe around pets and food. It was a small bottle of a concentrate that normally sells for hundreds of dollars for a bottle. It helped noticeably, but not enough. When we ran out of that, we used another pest spray we had, but because it was mainly for outside, I did not like using it in the house. We did some research on the internet found all kinds of different remedies from DE (Diatomaceous earth) to stuff so toxic, it is suggested you leave your home while treating.... Ummm.. NO.
     One day Hubby's work led him to be at the local Animal Shelter. He overheard an employee tell a customer that was upset at having spent over $100 because they cat they had adopted had fleas, that salt worked and was way cheaper and that it was what they used. SALT? Regular old salt? The kind that is under a buck? When hubby got back to his office he did some research and found several articles and references to salt being used for fleas. It apparently works by altering their PH, working similar to DE. He emailed the article and after reading it, I grabbed the salt from the cupboard and got to sprinkling! I put it everywhere the cats had been sleeping and playing. In the carpeted areas I made sure to sprinkle all along the base boards and in lower traffic areas just sprinkled it all around liberally. I then gathered up the cats for a salt water bath. It did not take long to notice a change. The fleas seemed to disappear very quickly and I am thrilled to report that this has worked wonderfully!  No more fleas jumping on us and happy cats! And salt is WAY cheaper and safer than flea shampoos, chemical sprays and carpet powders!


Directions for using salt to eliminate fleas: Sprinkle salt liberally on floors, rugs and carpets. Make sure it gets to the edges by the baseboards, even on the baseboards. As long as it remains dry it won't hurt anything. Leave it for at least a  few days ( I left it in our lower traffic areas for a couple weeks to ensure they didn't have hiding places). Then just vacuum up the salt. It is that simple! If you see them in your house again, just sprinkle some salt again.

How I bathed our cats: I have a pitcher I use to rinse our kitties. I do this in the bathtub so I filled the pitcher with warm water and added a generous amount of salt. I poured this over them to wet their fur (avoiding the face), working it into the fur. I then washed them with a gentle soap. I rinsed the soap off then refilled the pitcher and added salt again for a final rinse, again working the salt water through the fur. :)