Saturday, 21 September 2013


None of us are immune to all the hype around our chemical laiden good 'ol North American life.  While I've never actually undertaken any scientific studies on the subject, growing up on a mixed farm, I daresay the food found on our table was a speck healthier than that found on many of today's tables.  Sure my mom cooked with white flour, bought 10 loaves of white bread on a weekly basis and canned millions of jars of fruit in heavy syrup, but I still lean towards the belief that the white flour of that era was not made with GMO grains, and the fruit canned never came into contact with pesticides.  Our diet consisted primarily of food either raised on our farm, or by one of our neighbours.  My mom had a big garden which kept the entire family busy for much of the summer and all, harvesting it.  While we didn`t always butcher our own animals, we knew exactly what those animals ate because our pork, chicken, and beef caIme from our barn and pastures.  We also knew where our food supplied within the community came from because most of us, at one time or another, farmed together, shared strategies or we were actually witness to their farming practices.

And it`s not just about what we eat; our childhood was brim full of active living.  There was no such thing as a gym except the one at school which we played in every noon hour or when we had that bi-weekly 40 minute gym class.  It was hard to paste ourselves to the television all day if only because that one channel didn`t offer all that much in the form of entertainment.  Trust me, nothing irritated my mother more than when it was either too cold or too wet to spend long outside and she found three children hanging around her feet, lamenting about their boredom -- at which point out came all those board cames or, perhaps a little baking lesson.

In my family, I now hear the generation that followed discussing all their sensitivities and allergies.  In one family, it's almost impossible to cook a family dinner since one child is eating gluten free, another is dairy free and the third is sugar free.  although the fourth hasn't specifically eliminated any particular food group her family is concerned about the level of pesticides and herbicides used, not only in the immediate yard but also in the surrounding crops.  I'm not suggesting that these diets aren't necessary, I'm suggesting that perhaps, all of our easily prepared processed diets and lack of any serious exercise has ultimately caught up with us and is showing itself in our children.

While we don't seem to have any of those issues in our home, I now find myself tring to leave a little less of a footprint.  It certainly won't hurt and, who knows, it might even help.  In the process, I also find I'm saving money -- not tons of money but money all the same.  There's a certain satisfaction to making your own products, similar to growing your own food.  Below is a few of my favourite things to make.  If you are on well water, as I am, you may have to experiment a bit to get the proper balance of ingredients.  Good luck and, more importantly, have fun!

Laundry Soap
Thoroughly stir together for 5 minutes and enjoy the results! That’s it folks…seems too good to be true, but it is true indeed!  1 Tbsp per load (or 2-3 Tbsp for large or heavily soiled loads).  For tough stain removal, I also rub that bar of Sunlight Laundry soap on the stain and wash as usual.

All Purpose Liquid Cleaner
  • orange peel
  • vinegar
Fill a glass jar with a tight fitting lid about 2/3s  with vinegar.  Save your orange peels and drop them into the vinegar.  Let the solution percolate for about 10 days, or until the solution is quite orange colored and smelling.  Transferit into a spray bottel and Viola!  You're done.  I still fall back on some of the stronger solutions for heavy grease stains but for general purpose, it's everything I need.

Window Cleaner
  • 1 c vinegar
  • 2 c water
  • 1/2 tsp corn starch
Shake well before using.  I have NO IDEA what the purpose of the corn starch is but it seems to work so what do I care?

Sticky Stuff Remover

I had one of those sticky fly catchers in our porch only to find it pasted to the window glass and sill one morning.  I tried all my regulars:  vinegar, dish soap, nail polish remover -- and then I tried olive oil. I soaked a bit of paper towel and left it sitting on the stain 

Furniture Oil/Polish

Twice a year, my mom would go through the house cleaning everything and i mean EVERYTHING.  Everything would come out of every closet and every cupboard in the house, some things would be tossed and the remainder would be reorganized.  As part of this ritual, anything made from wood, be it furniture, cupboards, baseboards, etc. would be wiped down with Liquid Gold.  While I don't go quite as crazy as my mother, I have a few old pieces of furniture that I like to treat the same way, only I no longer buy Liquid Gold.  Instead, I use:
  • 1 tblsp. Olive Oil
  • the juice of 1 Lemon  and 1/4 c Lemon Juice
  • 1 tblsp. Water
Shake well, put it on a microfibre cloth and have at it;  works like a charm.  I woudn't do this too often though as, if the wood doesn't absorb it, it will attract dust.  Twice a year is plenty unless the wood is really dry, then judge accordingly.

While I probably originally sourced these recipes, I've been using them for a long time.  The only one I know for sure is the laundry soap because I've only made a couple of batches of it.