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Green Cleaning for Dummies - Week 6: Wood Wonders

**Green Cleaning for Dummies is an 8 week program
WEEK 6: Wood Wonders with Oil!

The Furniture Needs Love Too!

You've probably run out of spray bottles by now, so decide how many you want this week based upon the new recipes you want to make.

You can use a regular size spray bottle for the cleaner and duster, but for the furniture polish recipe, I suggest buying a small spray bottle.  You don't want to mix too much and have the oil go rancid.   Halve the recipe if you don't have a lot of wood furniture.   Don't forget to label the spray bottles!

If you are worried about the olive oil going rancid (though if you don't use too much and wipe it off well that shouldn't happen), go with jojoba -- it won't go rancid because its really a wax.  Almond oil has its own cent -- use your nose and decide what you want.   You don't have to use lemon...lime, orange, and grapefruit work just as well.

Recipe:   Lemon Fresh Furniture Polish

1/2 cup olive oil/almond/jojoba oil
1/4 cup lemon juice

Shake well before each use.   Spray a very small amount on (a little goes a long way) and wipe with a cloth, or spray or dab on the cloth then wipe.    Test in an inconspicuous spot before doing the whole piece.   (you can also throw in zest pieces to get a deeper infusion)

Recipe:   Lemon Fresh Light Furniture Duster

1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp olive/almond/jojoba oil

Shake well before each use.   Spray on and wipe with a cloth, or spray or dab on the cloth then wipe.    Test in an inconspicuous spot before doing the whole piece.    (you can also throw in zest pieces to get a deeper infusion)

Recipe:   Wood Cabinet and Paneling Cleaner

2 cups hot water
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil/almond/jojoba oil

Shake well before use.   Wipe on and wipe off.  Test it in an inconspicuous spot first.

Ask A Pagan: What is Paganism and how is it different from paganism?

Q: What is Pagan and how is it different from pagan?

A:  It's important to note first that in many ways the terms are one in the same. Pagan (capital P) is a person belonging to a form of religious belief system known as Paganism. Pagan belief systems fall in to one of three categories:  Nature based, Pre-Christian Reconstruction or Pre-Christian Holdover, meaning it's a religion which existed in pre-christian times just as it does today.

Pagan (little p) is the a common term used for those who lived in Pre-Christian times. However the actual meaning was/is closer to "country dweller" which is actually what the word means.

Now, as I said they do tend to be one in the same. The reason for this is because many Pagan religious beliefs are at least loosely tied to the common beliefs of those who were in fact pagans...  So, here's what it boils down to, when you hear the term Pagan used in a religious context, think of it as describing a nature based or pre-Christian style religious belief. When you hear the term pagan in a historical context, think of it as peasant from a Pre-Christian time period, or at the very least from a time period before our modern time period.

Storm Moon

March rolls in like the proverbial lion, and if we're really lucky, it might go out like a lamb. It's the time of the Storm Moon, the month when Spring finally arrives, around the time of the Equinox, and we see new life begin to spring forth. As the Wheel of the Year turns once more, heavy rains and gray skies abound -- the earth is being showered with the life-giving water it needs to have a fertile and healthy growing season. This is also a time of equal parts light and darkness, and so a time of balance.

  • Colors: Green, yellow, light purple
  • Gemstones: Bloodstone, aquamarine
  • Trees: Dogwood, honeysuckle
  • Gods: Isis, the Morrighan, Artemis, Cybele
  • Herbs: High John, pennyroyal, wood betony, apple blossom
  • Element: Water
Use this month for magical workings related to rebirth and regrowth. New life is blooming during this phase of the moon, as is prosperity and fertility.

Also Known As: Seed Moon, Lenten Moon, Crow Moon

Green Cleaning for Dummies - Week 5 Citrus Cousins

**Green Cleaning for Dummies is an 8 week series
WEEK 5:  Introducing Salt and Lemon (and Citrus Cousins)

Lemon and Salt

This week is really simple.  You can substitute lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit for vinegar in any recipe thus far.  Though it is much better to just add lemon to the vinegar cleaning products you've already made for a fresh citrus scent addition.   Oh, they are also very tasty -- I love lemons!

First, purchase yourself a little palm sized grater for zesting if you don't already have one: 

Use Lemon and/or Salt to:
  • Scrub your cutting board:  Pour on salt and scrub with half a lemon.
  • Freshen the disposal:  The lemon you just used?  Throw it in the disposal.
  • Clean Copper:  Pour on the salt and scrub with the lemon or lemon juice.
  • Remove wine/grape juice stain:  Pour salt on the stain, let sit to absorb, vacuum
  • Stubborn grape stain on the counter:  Let a disc of lemon or lemon juice sit on the stain, cover with baking soda and then scrub it away.
  • Natural Sunny Bleach:   Add lemon juice to the rinse cycle of white clothes instead of vinegar then hang out to dry.  The lemon juice acts as a bleach booster for the sun.  (also works to lighten your hair)
  • Grapefruit and Salt:   Dip half a grapefruit into salt and scrub your counters free of stains.
  • Cold Garbage Disposal Cleaner:   Freeze used lemon bits into ice cubes and throw a few in the disposal and turn it on.   It cleans the blades and freshens (its kind of noisy!)    If you want the cubes to do double duty, you can make them water, lemon juice, and lemon zest so they can be plopped into an iced tea or other refreshment.
  • Groady Fixtures and Shower Head:   Make a paste of 3 parts salt, 1 part baking soda, and enough water to make a paste.  Schmear it on the fixtures and let it sit for a while then rinse away with vinegar.  Shiney!
  • Citrusy House:  Peel the lemon or lime before using (I prefer a knife to get nice thin slices of all zest and dry them out in the oven).  The house will smell good and then you can take the dried pieces, cut them into smaller pieces and put them in your vinegar solutions to scent them over time.

Recipe!   Baking Soda Carpet Deodorizer

In a jar with holes punched in the lid or in a Parmesan cheese dispenser, fill with baking soda and add lemon zest, or orange zest, or lime zest, or dried lavender flowers, or mint, or cinnamon, or potpourri of your choice.     

Sprinkle on carpet, let sit for a few hours if you can, then vacuum.

SMART TIP:  To keep the smell contained and prevent spills, cover the jar mouth with a round piece of paper, foil, or plastic before putting the lid on for storage.

Ask A Pagan: Wicca and Paganism, What's the diff?

Q:  Is there a difference between Wiccan and Pagan? And what is it if so?

A:  I get this question a good bit. Most people are familiar with Wicca as a religion, but when someone claims Paganism as their faith things are a little foggier. But in reality it's really easy to understand. I like to explain it this way... Paganism is to Wicca what Christianity is to Catholicism.  In other words, ALL Wiccans are Pagan, but not all Pagans are Wiccan.

Wicca is a single branch of the Pagan tree. And the branch of Wicca is then broken up in to different sects as well.  However, each of these branches are based on the same basic beliefs of Wicca.  They each have the same basic understandings of the world, the universe and energy. And they each tend to have the same or similar traditions.

Paganism holds within it literally hundreds of religious pathways. Each of these can be similar or completely different from each other. Wicca is but one of these branches. Others include, but are far from limited to, Norse Paganism (Asatru), Celtic Paganism or Druidism, Shamanism, as well as all types of Native American, African, Asian and other belief systems, and variations on each... The list truly is endless!

So, while the term Pagan can be used to describe any number of a thousand or more different religious paths, Wicca is a title used to describe one of these paths.  All Wiccans will follow at least the most basic beliefs of the Wiccan religion. Yet the only thing that Pagans need have in common with one another is that they do not follow Islam, Judaism or Christianity - although SOME Christo-Pagans, Jewish-Mystics or Sufis (Islamic Pagans) do combine both Abrahamic and Pagan beliefs.

Pagan Parenting: Good Night Earth Prayer

The earth is big and fat and round,
I love the sky, the sea and the ground,
I love the birds and dogs and sheep,
and all the animals that fall asleep,
I love the flowers and rocks and trees,
I love the Earth, and it loves me.

The Worlds View Of Paganism and How To Change Them

Many people in the Pagan community remain in the "Broom Closet." Even going as far as to not tell their own friends and families about their true beliefs. I even knew a Pagan woman who continued to sing in her former churches choir simply so no one would know where her true beliefs lay. These people fear ridicule, loss of relationships, harassment, and sometimes even physical harm. Unfortunately their fears are not unwarranted!

Many people still react to words such as Pagan and Witch in negative ways. They still cling to the middle aged beliefs that Pagans sacrifice babies and that Witches are in league with the devil. Terms such as Wiccan or New Aged tend not to draw on the same reactions mostly because these terms are newer representations and don't have the same history as words like Pagan. However, I have heard terms such as "immature," "childish," and even "ignorant" when outsiders are reacting to terms such as Wiccan.

But why is this? Why do people in a world with so many Pagans, Wiccans and Witches have these misguided fears or beliefs? Well, there are a number of reasons. The first and most widespread is that people simply don't understand what these terms really mean. When a loved one says "I'm Pagan" people picture orgies and blood sacrifices to Satan. When they say "I'm Wiccan" people get this picture of some 1960's throwback, tree hugging, non-shaving eco-terrorist who wants to change society. With images like this being conjured who can blame them for not supporting their friends, family and neighbors who hold these beliefs. Just like if you felt your love one was joining a cult, you would want to step in and say something, out of concern. So these people feel the same way. They don't understand that Pagans are not dangerous or evil. They don't understand that Wiccans or Witches aren't out to hurt anyone or to reject society.

The second reason is that they are mislead mostly by their religious leaders and the overly evil depictions of Pagans and Witches through popular media. OR they believe their loved one to be mislead by similar influences. When you have the idea of the "Evil Witch" pounded in to your head through everything from horror films to bible camp to the Smurfs it's hard to change your thinking. Many Christians look to their Bibles for answers and guidance in their lives, and this isn't a bad thing. BUT, many of them take what they read at face value rather than being willing to explore the reality behind what they are reading. Because of this when they read a scripture stating "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" they don't try to understand that there is a big difference between a "witch" then and a "witch" today. In fact the word used is better translated to "sorceress" than to "witch." But, mistranslated or not, many Christians see this as a direct commandment to kill witches. So it's easy to see how having a loved one claim to be a Witch and having such a belief could be quite the internal conflict.

The third reason is, unfortunately, the only Pagans, Wiccans or Witches you hear of are the "crazies." The lady that claimed she didn't have to obey the speed limit because she's a witch OR the guy who was taking money for spells OR that kid who killed his girlfriends parents because he was a "vampire." All of these people, truely Pagan or not, are the examples that those outside the Pagan community are seeing. If the only examples of Christians you saw were criminals or mentally ill chances are you wouldn't want one living next door. And the same can be said of those who are only seeing these examples of Pagans.

I don't blame those who distrust Pagans, Wiccans, Witches or the like. With all these factors compounding one on top another, how could anyone have a positive view of us? I don't think I would either if I were one of them.  BUT, the truth is Pagans are generally, good and decent people. Most live by the idea that if they cause harm they will only harm themselves... And who with that belief would actively harm themselves? Not me, I know that!

So, the question I have to pose to you today is this, HOW do we alter this view? Well, one main way is to make even more positive waves in this world as we do negative ones. For every "crazie" out there, for every negative portrayal, for every over zealous preacher, we need to have five or ten positive examples out there, unfortunately we do not!  In recent months I have been searching for Pagan based Charities. However, of the TWO that I have found neither are currently functional. As I drive down the street I see signs stating "This road adopted by *insert Christian group*". And as I look for children's groups I find large nationwide groups like the Boy Scouts which are in fact Christian based... 

If you didn't know anything about Christians and these were the examples you were seeing - Charities, Children & Family Services and Activities, Volunteer Groups and other seemingly positive examples and groups you certainly would feel as if these people are blessings to the community and the world as a whole. Well, I say we need to be doing the same! You don't have to give all your time or money, nor do you need to scream your beliefs from the roof. But, for those of you who are open with your beliefs, be active, take initiative to donate your time, used clothes and extra food, organize a clothing drive or collect money, even start a charity of your own. Have a business? Charitable donations are great tax deductions and make a statement about the owner! BE SEEN! And moreover, be seen being good!

More than anything, live by example! Do people know you're a pagan? Then they should also know you're the kind of person who wants to make the world better, not just for yourself but for everyone. Don't have time or money to do good with? That's okay, get involved with a charity that you can do part time, make a point to recycle and live as waste free and green as possible. You could even just hang flyers for a local food kitchen or offer to deliver food if someone else collects it... The little things make a HUGE difference when lots of people ban together... Remember, a million $1 bills is still One Million Dollars!
My final suggestion is find local Pagan groups and contribute to their charity activities. Most Circles, Covens, and Events at the very least have collections for local Good Will organizations. Not only do I make a point to give to these organizations, but I make a point to collect for them. what I mean by this is I ask my friends and family if they have anything they can donate, and I make a point to let them know I'm going to "Pagan Pride Day" (or whatever event it is) and that I would like to donate to their clothing or food drive... This not only shows them MY actions as a Pagan for the community, but that the group as a whole is doing it's part. The other "little" thing I have done is make it known openly that these groups and events have charity opportunities available. For example, our local news Station has a Facebook, so when I hear of opportunties for people to give I always make sure to post it there, even if it's not from a Pagan organization. Again, it's one of those - Be seen being good - moments...

Anyone can help positively influence how others see us. It takes minimal effort but makes maximum impact when we all ban together. And the best part is it eases the pain and burden that so many are living with...

Green Cleaning for Dummies - Week 4: Grime Fighting

**Green Cleaning for Dummies is an 8 week series
WEEK 4:  The Triple Threat and Sidekick Fight Grime

Let's face it, sometimes that greasy, grimy, gummy gunk is really hard to get off of the stove hood and the refrigerator.  Instead of reaching for the Formula 409, make your own all-purpose-grime cutter. 

Your Second Recipe!
Get one of those extra spray bottles and mark it as:  
All Purpose Cleaner.

This is for "spot cleaning" for those extra tough stains that not even more elbow grease can take care of.  It's not meant to be used in place of the baking soda and vinegar you are already using.  Some types of soap will require start with a couple of drops and add more if you think it is needed.  Before you reach for these recipes try reaching for the hydrogen peroxide instead.

Combine and Shake It Up:

    * 2 cups hot water (to make dissolving easier)
    * 2 teaspoon baking soda
    * 2 teaspoons borax (try the cleaner without it first, add only if it doesn't work)
    * upto 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap

Do you need something with a little more disinfecting power for those tough bathroom grossosities?  You should have an empty spray bottle left.

Your Third Recipe!
Get that last spray bottles and mark it as
Disinfectant, Germ Eraser, or Mrs. Clean

Combine and Shake It Up:

    * 1 cup hot water (to make dissolving easier)
    * 1 cup vinegar
    * 1/2 cup alcohol
    * up to 1/2 tsp liquid dish soap

BOOSTER TIP:  An easy way to boost the power of your hydrogen peroxide spray bottle (make sure it is a non-clear bottle -- hydrogen peroxide breaks down in light) that you already have handy in the bathroom is to add a few drops of tea tree oil.   Tea tree is a mold eater.

Please take a moment!

Today I awoke at 3:45 as I do every day to wake my husband for work. When my alarm clock goes off it not only wakes me, but my 10 week old baby girl. And of course, whenever she wakes up she wants to eat. So, I turned on the Early morning news and nursed her – again, like every other day... Today, the difference was that when I turned on the news I didn't hear about crime, overnight fires or even local weather... No, what I saw on the television took away my breath!

The Wall of Water

At just past 1am (est) an earthquake of 8.9 magnitude struck just off the coast of Japan. This earthquake triggered a massive tsunami of nearly 20 feet in some areas. The tsunami damaged oil refineries and factories causing untamed fires and even damaged Nuclear Plants. All this in addition to killing untold amounts of people. Destroying MILLIONS of homes, businesses and lives!

Oil Refinery Fire Burns Out Of Control
This blog is rarely rarely a portal for news. If you want world news, read ABCNews. But with the great amount of loss this earthquake and tsunami caused, I felt it only right to take a moment to ask you all to send your blessings, positive energy or prayers – whatever it is that you do! 

Airport Remains

Candles... A Natural Choice!

The majority of all candles are made with paraffin wax, a petroleum based by-product of refined gasoline. Many candles also have a zinc core wick that increases the release of black soot. Studies have shown that carcinogens released by paraffin wax candles can be as dangerous as second hand cigarette smoke or diesel fuel being burned and can cause harm to the heart, lungs, circulatory system, and nervous system. It has as many as 11 carcinogens, and is equivalent to having a miniature 18 wheeler in your home.

A recent article in “The Environmental Magazine” stated that a study of residents in both rural and industrial areas were found to have high levels of chemicals in their “subjects” bodies. Indicating they had received doses of pollutants in their homes, five to 70 times higher than the highest outdoor levels to ever have been found. It said to be true, that burning candles are listed as one of the top contributors to indoor pollution.

So obviously a much wiser choice to burn in your homes would be the natural candles. Such as beeswax, soya, and palm oil candles.

Beeswax actually stimulates the pituitary gland, increasing intuition, creativity and heightened dream activity. Some people claim that burning beeswax candles before bed helps them to achieve a more restful nights sleep.

If you have ever looked into the flame of a beeswax candle burning, you will notice the wonderful amber glow that the candle gives off. In fact, based on light spectrum, light emitted from a natural candle such as beeswax is the closest to sunlight. These candles burn up to 50% longer then the common toxic filled candles, making them a much wiser choice for health reasons and for the long lasting burning times. They remove toxins from the air while burning and remove viruses that may be linger in the air as well.

Soy candles are made from a soya-bean based wax, and are generally vegan, soot free, and biodegradable. They also burn up to 50% longer then paraffin laced candles If spillage occurs these candles can be cleaned up with soap and water. Because soy wax is soft, they are usually encased in a glass jar or tin.

Palm oil candles are another natural candle. Made from palm oil wax that comes from coconuts ( the fruit of the palm trees) so no plants die during the harvesting. Palm oil candles are clean and long lasting burners as well.

Watch out for the mixes: read all the labels. As some companies advertise that they are 100% paraffin free, when in fact, some of these companies add a little paraffin wax to their mix.

Avoid lead: lead based wicks are very common in regular non- natural based candles. This common ingredient can be extremely hazardous to your bodies health. So watch for this when making your next purchase. Some natural candle companies still are using stearic acid- an animal-derived fat from the meatpacking plants.

Go scentless: those alluring scents and colors may make for a less healthy choice when choosing your candles. Synthetic fragrances are often added to the candles and are identified as VOC- emitters.

To ensure you are protecting your health and those of your family, buy 100% chemical free candles made from natural ingredients. Paying a little extra for your product guarantees you a non toxic candle in which to enjoy hours of enjoyment from. One other alternative would be to create your own natural candles by making them at home. You could check out different internet sites that supply all the needed ingredients and tools to get you started today!

Green Cleaning for Dummies - Week 3: The Sidekicks

**Green Cleaning for Dummies is an 8 week program
WEEK 3:  The Triple Threat Requests Worthy Sidekicks

Disinfecting Dynamo

Step 1:  Week one we made friends with vinegar and you should continue to use it as normal.    But when you want a means to give the bad nasties a disinfecting kick in the kiester follow up your vinegar cleaning immediately with a spray of hydrogen peroxide.   It will also give bathroom mold a run for its money.  It's just as effective as Clorox and it won't kill you.   So, get your extra spray bottles and lablel them 3% hydrogen peroxide (two is sufficient -- one for the kitchen and one for the main bathroom or heck, go all out and put one in each bathroom).   Keep the bottles out of the light or use spray bottles that aren't clear or are covered with paper to keep the light out.

Step 2:  This week you should concern yourself with evicting your normal liquid soap and detergent and get rid of the chemical cleaning products stuffed in your cabinets.  I know, I know, you may have still some left.   So you can wait, but there is no time like the present!  You shouldn't have much trouble pawning them off on family or donate them somewhere.  At the very least, buy the replacements so that as soon as you run out you aren't tempted to buy something handy while you are too busy to "look for the good stuff."

Brand doesn't really matter, go with what is on sale or easily accessible.  When I started out Ecover was the only one available to me and but other brands like 7th Generation are available more and more.  I recommend free and clear, but there are some kinds that have orange or lemon scents.  

REMEMBER:   Last week we include in sodium per-carbonate to the laundry room.   It is normally found in pool supply or hardware stores, but Ecover makes a "non chlorine bleach" that is pure sodium per-carbonate.  All sodium per-carbonate is, is a mixture of washing soda and hydrogen peroxide making it essentially a dry version of hydrogen peroxide!   I bet you didn't know that the mystery amazing cleaning agent in Oxyclean is simply sodium per-carbonate and washing soda!   Washing soda is also known as Soda Ash.

Purchase environmentally sound:

1. Dish soap
2. Laundry detergent
3. Regular soap (yes, the kind you wash with...go with Castille Soap A castille soap is soap made with olive oil or another vegetable oil.  I think it is the best kind. )

**You should be able to identify all ingredients in a quality soap!   You might see something like:  saponified oil  OR  olive oil and lye/NaOH/sodium hydroxide.   They all mean the same thing.  Soap is a mixture of lye and oil/fat, nothing more.**

Your First Recipe!   Dishwasher Detergent Replacement

Mix 3 cups baking soda with 3 cups sodium per-carbonate in a jar or container (make as much or as little as you like...equal parts.  For something stronger do 3 cups baking soda and 4 cups per-carbonate for something less strong do 3 cups baking soda and 2 cups sodium per-carbonate.  (Some people add a bit of borax for more power which is really unnecessary...I don't recommend borax for everyday cleaning as I've stated before...but if you do be sure you use very little and that it rinses thoroughly).  If you don't need it don't use it.    Proportions depends on if you have hard water or a particularly nastly load to clean.   Use in place of dishwasher detergent (keep a spoon or little scoop in the jar for convenience or alternately you can use a bottle instead to control the pour).  Yes you can BUY essentially the same thing in the store.  So if you are so inclined read the labels and you should be able to identify the ingredients.

Deodorizing and Cleaning Your Dishwasher

To clean and deodorize the dishwasher:   sprinkle baking soda on the bottom and run the dishwasher through a short cycle on the hottest setting.  You may need to apply some elbow grease to clean out the corners of the door, gasket, and drain.   Then pour a cup of white vinegar in the bottom and run it through another short cycle.   (To wash a really musty smelling dishwasher -- mix baking soda with borax and run an empty cycle and double rinse to remove any residue)

Disinfect those Baby Toys

Soak your baby's toys in straight vinegar and then follow up with a spray and wipe down with hydrogen peroxide.   Clean and safe!

To Make Your Glasses Sparkle and Deodorize at the Same Time

Add vinegar to the "jet dry" reservoir in your dishwasher.   If you don't have this feature, pour 1/4 cup of vinegar into the dishwasher just before its rinse cycle.

COOL TIP:  Use a marker to date the products you buy so that you know how long it takes you to use them up.

FRUGAL TIP:  Because you are using laundry boosters you can use HALF or less of the detergent amount you usually do.  I recommend starting with 2 TBSP of your liquid or dry detergent and see how that works.    You want to see some bubbles but you don't want so much that they hide your clothes and are still quite frothy in the rinse.

BUILDUP TESTING TIP:  How do you know if you are using too much detergent or you have buildup?  Wash you clothes in plain water.  If you see suds you got residue!    If you get to the rinse cycle and you STILL see bubbles, you really have some residue issues!  Cut WAY back.

Check out what else I'm writing!