Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tightwad tuesday: hard water, clean dishes

I've been using my homemade laundry soap for over a year now and I love it. I love how I'm still on the same box of Borax and the same box of washing soda because the stuff is so darn inexpensive and a little goes a long, long way. Jim was a skeptic at first, but quickly became a convert. Recently he said, "Say, do you think you could find a recipe for dishwasher detergent, too?"

Right around that time I discovered Pinterest (which is a whole other post) and one of the first things I pinned was a recipe for dishwasher detergent. It did a great job getting the dishes clean, but I was less than thrilled that my glasses were left cloudy. In multiple test batches, I tried adding different ratios of Kosher salt, Kool-Aid and Fruit Fresh, as well as adding white vinegar as a rinse agent at various points in the wash cycle, but nothing seemed to make any difference.

So after several months of cloudy glassware (and a brief return to expensive store-bought detergent) I googled "DIY dishwasher detergent hard water". I found this recipe, which is essentially the same as what I had tried before, except it uses Lemi Shine instead of Fruit Fresh or Kool-Aid. Works like a charm--and the glass stays sparkly.

DIY Dishwasher Detergent for Hard Water

1 cup washing soda
1 cup Mule Team Borax
¼ cup Kosher salt
1 cup Lemi Shine

Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl, then whisk to break up lumps and combine thoroughly. Store in an airtight container with a small silica packet, as even in an arid climate ANY moisture will cause this harden into large clumps (I like to use the little silica packs that come in shoe boxes, and an old peanut butter jar for storage). Use one tablespoon in each soap compartment (1 T for a light load, 2 T for pans and really greasy dishes). Add white vinegar to your rinse agent dispenser as a low-cost alternative to Jet Dry.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

NaPoWriMo #1: tempus fugit

My Nana used to say, "Tempus fugit." It's Latin for "time flees"--which over the years has turned to "time flies". Once again, she's provided me inspiration to write.

Tempus Fugit

I woke up this morning
to the day already gone
held in my arms
my son of seven months
so aware of how few days
I have left to feed him
from my own breasts
before he pushes me away
and turns to more grown-up fare.

It is the same hand pulling him close
that holds the spoon, the cup
teaching him to feed himself
the same heart wanting him
to stay small just a while longer
that will let him go
one day at a time
that will still be letting go
long after he has little ones of his own.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tightwad tuesday: cheap cat odor removal

A few years back our cat Fiona urinated on our down comforter when I left it in a basket in our laundry room. I tried washing it myself and when that didn't work I sent it to the dry cleaners. Still stinky. Quite a few dollars later I found (via the internet) a rather pricy chemical that did a fair enough job of removing the odor that the cats didn't pee on it again when I put it back on our bed--but it still left brown stains that never came out.

Our spring break was last week, and to wrap it up right, we went over to Seattle to take in the Pacific Science Center and the Easter egg hunt at Woodland Park Zoo. After two busy days and a return drive during which Joseph cried all the way from Snoqualmie Pass to Ellensburg (that's over an hour, folks--the boy's got staying power!) I was looking forward to falling into my own comfortable bed. When I tried to do just that, I realized it was damp. And smelly. Like cat pee. Apparently Sid was letting me know he didn't appreciate I was unavailable to let him outside--I say me, because Jim's side of the bed was dry and fragrance-free.

Even though it was past bedtime, I fired up Google and found a variety of DIY methods for removing cat urine from furniture, most of them utilizing some combination of vinegar, peroxide and/or baking soda. The methods that used only vinegar had mixed reviews, as did those with just peroxide and baking soda, but I finally found a recipe and directions--the only one combining peroxide, vinegar and baking soda, courtesy of Cats of Australia--which had universally positive reviews. The post on their website specifically addressed removing cat urine from a mattress, but many of the testimonials were from people who had successfully used the same method on other furniture and carpets.

Not only did I have all the necessary ingredients under my sink, in my pantry and in my medicine cabinet, but for just a few pennies, it worked. I treated my mattress that night, layered towels and a trash bag over the wet spots so I could sleep on it, and then stripped the bed and let it air all day the next day, and the urine odor and stains were gone.

Instructions for Cat Urine Removal from Your Mattress

1. If the urine is recent, blot up as much of it as you can using paper towels or a sponge. Apply plenty of pressure to reach the dampness deep down. Stand on the paper towels for more pressure if necessary. If you own a wet/dry vacuum cleaner extract as much of the moisture as you can. If the urine has dried proceed to step two.

2. Mix a solution of 50% vinegar and 50% water in a jug or other container. Pour a small amount of this solution over the area of cat urine. Then begin blotting as described above to soak up this solution.

3. Sprinkle a good handful of baking soda over the area.

4. Mix a quarter of a cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide with a teaspoon of dishwashing detergent and drizzle it over the area where you have sprinkled the baking powder and work it in using your fingers or use a brush. Allow fifteen minutes for the solution to work and then begin blotting again.

5. The mattress must now be left to dry thoroughly. A good indication is when the baking soda feels completely dry. Then vacuum up the baking soda thoroughly. Use a hard bristled brush to loosen up the baking soda if necessary.

Caution: Do not use hydrogen peroxide that is stronger than 3%

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Ah, NaPoWriMo...

...I will miss you this year. My creative energies are otherwise (and quite happily) engaged. With some luck, perhaps I'll post a poem or two this month, but I make no promises other than:

I'll see you next April.