Monthly Archives: June 2010

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?

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?

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


Do you know anyone with affluenza? 
Can you relate to the symptoms of affluenza?
Do you suffer the consequences? 

Here’s a preview trailer for a documentary on the epidemic:

How do you think we can shift from affluenza to sustainable abundance?

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

Free Parks!

As the summer rec season is (finally!) beginning, I was excited to be tipped off about several free park days! The National Park Service, BLM and National Wildlife Refuges will have free admission during several summer weekends, starting June 5-6 ! The free days are thanks to Obama’s “America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.” 

Hubby is a self-proclaimed “parkie”, which means our family often along for the ride.  Before kiddos we visited over twenty national parks and monuments together. Before the age of three our BigGuy camped and hiked in Yosemite, Rainier, and North Cascade National Park.  His new favorite blog Your Parks Go Guide from Oregon State Parks which is also offering free admission this weekend.

While many benefits are intangible, getting outdoors with your family is good for your health and your wallet. Not all parks are includes, so make sure to check your park agency.

Here are some things we typically budget for at park trips:

  • Admission
  • Food
    • A picnic and trail snacks is cheapest
    • Consider logistics of what you can bring and/or buy along the way
    • After some hikes you may want to treat yourself
  • Gear
    • You don’t need expensive gear – just make sure you have sturdy shoes, first aide needs (sunscreen), ample water, hat/sunglasses
  • Gas – most park excursions do require a tank of fuel, so budget per mile

Are you planning to visit any “free” parks this summer?
What are your favorite parks?

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

Worthy Worms

We set about making our family’s first worm bin over the weekend. Thankfully, Hubby took initiative after being motivated by an article he’d read recently that included a quick and easy how-to guide:

Wiggle Room: Set up a bin and bedding to worm your way to healthier soil .

The project didn’t take much time at all, and the only real expenses were tubs and worms. Our garden will no doubt reap the benefits with the castings. Plus, the bins are located on our back porch, which will be much nicer than dashing through the back yard during the NW’s wet weather season (which doesn’t seem to want to leave us yet!)

The instructions were straightforward, and there was plenty of opportunity for kid-help.  I thought shredding newspaper was the most fun, and when I asked our BigGuy about his favorite he gave a huge smile: the worms! One of his pastimes happens to be garden worm hunting, so he will no doubt be in little boy heaven with his own worm pets. 

There’s one caveat though, we actually haven’t bought our worms yet. We figured that it would be best to actually get the bins set up so that our worms would have a home! I’ve been searching online, but haven’t quite decided which company to buy from. Do you have any you’d recommend?

On a related side note, we have composted for years, but I’ve always been really disappointed with the soil results. I researched and tried to problem solve, but we simply don’t have enough leaves to get rich abundant compost. From my initial research on worm bin composting, the maintenance is a lot less tricky.

Here are a few kid books about worms:

Wiggling Worms at Work (Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out Science)

Wiggly Worm: A We-Wiggle Book of Colors and Numbers

Do you have worm bins? 
Are you happy with your “return on investment”?

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