Planning a Green Baby Shower

It’s easy to throw an eco-friendly baby shower with a few quick adjustments to the usual routine. Start off right — go paperless! The pre-designed cards at Punchbowl ( are cute and easy to manipulate — five minutes from start to send. Comparable services exist at and Your matching set of custom save […]

Review: Lucid Food

Lucid Food arrives, already a present, gorgeous with scrolling artwork and vibrant images, wrapped and ready. I am enamored. Also, I am hungry. Thumbing past photography for Chickpea Cakes with a verdant green Cilantro-Jalapeno Sauce, Fall Fruit Focaccia succulent with apple wedges, Crispy Yuba Rolls that look toasty brown and crunchy, ready to dip, I […]

Review: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

I read Blue Like Jazz, Miller’s first and wildly successful memoir, in what seems now another life and another frame of mind. But Donald Miller is travelling with me in a freakish parallel universe. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years tracks Miller learning to view his life through a camera lens. This hook, life […]

Review: Good Mail Day

Innovative, bright ways to re-invent your junk mail and build relationships via the old-fashioned art of correspondence wait for you in this book. Gone are the days of the pony express, sadly. Yet we humans still loiter around the mailbox, rallying our hopes if the postal worker’s bundle looks interesting. If I received any of […]

Review: Green Mama

A compelling, well-written book for aspiring environmental mommies, Green Mama manages to fulfill its “guilt-free” promise with solid, simple advice that’s easy — for even the busiest moms! — to implement. “Leaving things better than I found them even started to seem, well, a little like something Jesus would do,” says Bianchi. Bianchi’s appealing slice-of-life […]

FURemover: Pet hair removal without waste

Furremover Last week I found this FURemover, a zippy brush that promises painless pet fur removal, for sale at my local Walmart for $4.99. I was skeptical. I’ve been promised results before. But, aware that my foot-long lint roller with sticky sheets made for pet hair removal was using 8-10 sheets on a single couch, I thought it was probably worth a try. I have three couches (well, two plus a loveseat), and several pet beds throughout the house that need a good once-over after a hot summer with two dogs and cat nesting in them.

Typically, I buy replacement rolls several times a year. My usual method is to vacuum each couch first, removing the easy, surface fur with the vacuum’s brush extension; then, I use the lint roller to nab embedded hair that needs extra prodding. I’m not a fan of spending $8 for a single bout of hair removal, so I crossed my fingers and bought the thing.
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Paper Towels — Necessary Evil or Expendable Disposable?

There’s a war going on between my husband and I about the importance of paper towels. Occasionally, I’ll admit, it’s a relief that he wipes his grimy car-parts hands on the disposables rather than my fresh white linens. Even when he’s washed them three times, he leaves a gray trail of grease after he changes the car’s oil. Ew. I reach for them myself, too, after weeding the garden or planting a few things, using the edge to dig dirt from under my nails. And there’s nothing better for gross cleanups like pet mistakes — not using cloth for that!

While there many reasons I like to use paper towels, I realize it adds a bit of volume to my trash over the course of a year. I’ve done a few things to cut down on that without erasing paper towels entirely from my grocery list.
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White Vinegar and Baking Soda

Vinegar is a natural sterilizing agent, and white vinegar’s clarity is preferred for cleaning. With similar acid content and purpose, it can replace lemon juice in most cleaning solutions, and essential oil may be added to mask the scent. Vinegar has thousands of household uses. Visit to see some of them.
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Non-toxic Products—Worth the Scrub?

With spring around the corner, I find myself stuck aboard the cleaning wagon. When I first started making homemade cleaning products, I’d occasionally find it challenging to get an area completely spotless. It can be frustrating to scrub twice as hard, when a chemical-laden spray used to eat through the grime in seconds. Using all the tips I’d learned, I was always able to get it clean, but not without some effort.

The good news is that there’s an easy way to spare myself the intense, muscled scrubbing:  the monthly onceover. When I stay on top of things, revisiting each room weekly, the cleaning isn’t more than a basic wipe. Such a relief.
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More Cleaning Essentials

Nontoxic recipes for home-cleaning come together easily for daily use. You may already have most of the ingredients on hand, as well as various re-usable bottes, spray-top bottles, glass jars with screw-top lids, salvaged old t-shirts and sponges. Add a little elbow grease, and your home is sure to shine.

Some newer ingredients now available to homemakers are tea tree and essential oils, both used in the disinfectant spray recipe below. Many local co-ops, apothecaries, and organic foods stores are now selling a variety of these strongly-scented oils for both homeopathic and everyday use. Tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant with antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Essential oils are costly, but just a drop or two adds a lovely scent to any cleaning supply recipes, entirely masking the use of vinegar. Oils range in scent from classic lemon to cinnamon to summer berry.
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