Category Archives: home economics

Kitchen Kibitzing

My kitchen often feels like a personal temple. It’s where I can pour glass of wine and pray that  dinner will made before my family throws a hunger strike. My kitchen is where we exchange our daily stories. It’s where I reflect on my day or plan for the next as I try to maintain chaordic balance


Tools for the task at hand are critical, and Hubby’s Mama is famous for her “magic sponge.”   Probably just out of habit, I’ve always used a unnaturally bright blue sponge/scrubby. Lately I’ve been trying out some more natural alternatives:

  • Twist’s natural loofah sponge – it’s plant based and totally compostable.
  • Twist’s euro sponge cloth – it’s like a sponge the size of a paper towel, you can reuse it about a thousand times instead of just once.
  • TJ’s natural pop-up sponge – small and simple, but does a great job cleaning
  • OXO soap squirting brush – couldn’t find any eco-features about this one, but I think it does cut down on the water needed for scrubbing down high-chair trays and pots
  • Plastic scrapper – I remember being skeptical when I first came across one at a kitchen store checkout “what are they trying to sell now?!” – but these are indispensable for removing food scraps (into your compost or worm bin, of course!)
These trusty tools can really help you save water and reduce landfill waste for a minimal “investment.” Plus, each time you use them you’ll be reminded that you are living your values! 

For Portlanders, I bought the Twist products at Portland’s new One Stop Sustainability Shop. I also stocked up my one of my all-time favorites, Dr. Bronner’s castile soap. Here is a great recipe for making your own dishwashing liquid.

Lastly, I’ve been loving an easy kitchen counter cleaner that I made myself! Find some terrific and easy recipes “Never Pay for Household Cleaner Again!


What are your favorite green kitchen cleaning tools?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.


“Spring” cleaning

So I know it’s June already, but the rainy Portland weather has me “spring” cleaning into what ought to be summer. Plus, as a working Mama, it really does take me the whole season to get through the basics and by the time I’m “done” it’s almost time to start again…


My dirty secret is that up until last year, I used a disposable “Swifter” mop and duster. While it probably wasn’t the most toxic habit out there, it sure was wasteful and costly! 


I’m happy to share that I have found two alternatives that actually do a much better job cleaning:

  • Shark – I was tipped off about the “Shark” steam mop system by my Grand-mama who swore by it. I love the fact that it simply heats water, and uses micro-fibers to lift off sticky messes. No cleaning residue or smell. I’ve been really impressed by how well it works on different surfaces, and our home is almost all hardwoods.
  • Mystic Maid – My favorite reusable microfiber duster is by a Portland-area company, bought at another local store, Kitchen Kaboodle. It does a terrific job picking up dust and when it’s freshly washed, our Girly loves dusty the baseboards and radiators.

When I add our new beloved Simplicity vacuum to the mix, it makes cleaning in the rain a little less of a dreary task. 


There are a ton of green cleaning tips on the Green and Clean Mom blog, but I hope my “secrets” will inspire you to make the switch. 


What are your green cleaning secrets? 
How do they save you money?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Grocery List: Apples v. Oranges

Family grocery shopping always feel like a paradox. You want to save money, but stock up. You want to buy quality without going in debt.


Lately I’ve grown very used to our organic grocery delivery from Spud, and enjoy spending my precious time any place but the check out line with kids! We’ve also been saving a lot. The minimum delivery is for $33, and most weeks our order is under $40. Before every time I hit the store I was dropping $60-80, often more just to stock up.


A family cannot survive on greens along though. Once I realized that we were out of cereal, lunch fixings, and dog food, I knew where my afternoon was going to be spent: Costco.


A Green Mama friend of mine shared a hilarious and insightful article about Costco from Family Circle. I love how he describes the psychology of the store layout, and how it is simultaneously intended to make you feel like an entitled consumer and financially inadequate. There are also several wonderful tips to make sure that you actually save your family money and don’t end up with a whole bunch of stuff you don’t need.


What’s your experience on saving money with home delivery or buying in bulk?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Great & Grand Green Mamas

Happy Almost Mama’s Day!


I’ve shared inspiring Green Mama stories all week, but I’ve been saving the best for last. My own Grand-Mama and Mama inspire me daily, and help shape my green ethics and family values.


When I was a kid I remember thinking that our Grandma was a bit extreme in her frugality, and I bet that I rolled my eyes back in junior high when she insisted that I patch the holes in the knees of my jeans.  

Despite having a prosperous nursery business, she’s never been frivolous in her spending.  While influenced in part by her experience as a young woman during the Great Depression, frugality often contributes greatly to reducing ones footprint even if that’s not your primary intent.

Our Mama has quite the green roots.  She lived in the most sustainable of ways, by moving off the electrical grid for a decade, where I was fortunate enough to spend my youth.  She knows what it is like to live off the harvest and lightly on the earth. She was even a Green Mompreneur in her hippie days, and actually had a small business where she sold handmade leather garments – think moccasins, buckskin jackets.


Decades later, she now teaches home economics at a small school, where she’s led an effort to become a certified Oregon Green School. She’s not only a very Green Mama, but a leader in her community.


Aside from my own Green Grands and Greats in my life, there are many other that inspire as well. I was thrilled to find a Hippy Grandma Eco Love blog! Check out the Green Grandma’s blog for a taste of how to Live Green & Live Smart. 


Was your Grandma Green?  Has she taught you how to live more lightly on the earth?



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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Home Wish List

Our family is very fortunate, since we live in what I consider to be our dream-come-true house. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s our home and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But as any homeowner knows, there are always desired improvements no matter your satisfaction level.


When we moved in almost two years ago, my mind went racing with all kinds of ideas and creative household project possibilities. Yet, there’s only so much time, money and energy to go around. In order to prioritize our precious resources, I developed a long-term wish list on Google Docs. My Twin Sis also turned me on to a fun way to save idea articles and product research using Clipmarks, like everything else these days, you can share with your friends. 

My wish list is both qualitative and quantitative with things like “year-round organic harvest” and “energy-efficient refrigerator.” There are practical items, like repairing our old windows and covering bare CFL light bulbs in our entryway. There are also items for pure fun, like building a play fort and adding more garden art.


This wish list is a touchstone in several ways. I now have items that we’ve already created, designed or bought highlighted in green. This helps to show me how much we’ve accomplished in two short years, which makes all of the dangling “to-dos” a little less urgent. If I can live without something for two years, how critical can it really be to our daily lifestyle? They are really icing on the cake.


As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve always been very thoughtful about our household purchases. Our list helps us keep our eyes on the prize by only wishing for things that truly increase our quality of life without causing environmental harm. By being patient about when we may (or may not) get something, it makes it more likely that we’ll be able to find it used or from an eco-friendly local business.


When I occasionally revisit my wish list, it makes me smile within to reflect on how we are reaching our goals. Envisioning my ideal home relieves any angst about the imperfections that exist at the moment.


Do you have your own wish list?
How has it influenced your perspective?

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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.