Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Vinegar ain't so bad...and baking soda is even better

So this cleaning with vinegar business isn't as stinky as I thought it'd be. And my favorite part? When I clean stainless steel or faucets, it resists water spots later in the day and week. It's amazing!
According to Wikipedia: 
"Among the items tested, vinegar (5% acetic acid) showed the strongest bactericidal activity against all strains tested, which was attributed to its high acetic acid content."
I thought this to be amazing. I have two bottles with vinegar. One with full strength, one two parts vinegar, one part water. I use the diluted vinegar for quick clean ups, on Luca's high chair and counter tops and such when I don't want the strong smell.
I use the full strength for everything else. Bathroom, kitchen, floors, cutting boards, rinse cycle in the washing machine for Luca's cloth diapers, anything gross or disgusting.
Also - vinegar is safe to use on paint, so I can use it to wipe down the walls, which is a common practice around here.
Please note - vinegar and bleach SHOULD NEVER be mixed. It creates toxic fumes that are likely to kill you. Nice, huh? I learned this from when I worked at Fridays. A cook knocked over a jug of vinegar while the cleaning crew was bleaching the floors. We all had to immediately leave and wait for the all clear.
Now to baking soda. I use it to pre-scrub the tub, shower, and pretty much anything gross in the bathroom. After that, I spray on the vinegar and scrub away. Note: it will fizz. And it will smell. And if you're sensitive to strong smells, then this may not be for you. Just stick with the vinegar. I have the exhaust fan on and another fan blowing when I do this. It's a very sour smell and extremely strong. But man does it ever do the trick. My shower stays cleaner, longer. I find that it seems to resist mildew and other gross happenings in the dark, moist areas.
I won't lie. I am the worst at scrubbing showers and such. So I am even happier that I can do it just as often as I typically do, and it stays clean!
Bestest, best part of all?!? There are no harsh chemicals that are bad for the kids, so I don't have to wait until they're napping to clean. Plus, I can clean pregnant. AND it's better for the environment. All things that make me happy.
So today, while the pizza was cooking in the oven, I cleaned with vinegar. Claire was a mere 10 feet away from me working on a puzzle and Luca was always within two feet. In that time, neither complained of a smell. And my fridge has never been whiter. And bacteria-free.
I'm so happy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

PB2. Hmm...

PB2. I'm still on the fence about you. It still, to me, doesn't satisfy like Jif can. HOWEVER:

I found that baking with it is delicious. It doesn't make your product all oily and it isn't quite as filling. I had made some peanut butter cookies a while back with just PB2 and I couldn't tell a taste difference, just that it didn't leave me feeling slowed down and fat.

I'm starting with baby steps. Yesterday I made Peanut butter blondies with milk chocolate frosting. Thanks, Joy! It was flipping amazing. However, I made a few changes, just to make it not so bad for me. I mean, it's bad for me, but anything to curb a few calories, right?

Here's Joy's ingredient list for the blondies:

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 5 cubes
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup smooth and natural peanut butter: I used 1/2 cup regular peanut butter and 1/2 cup reconstituted PB2
 2 eggs: I used egg beaters
2  teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour: I used half white/half whole wheat
1 teaspoon baking powder
Now, it's still absolutely evil and bad for anyone, but it still tasted flipping amazing. My husband and daughter couldn't even tell the difference. And holy crap is it rich. I mean, I had half a square and that was enough for me. Matt and Claire, too. 
I didn't change the frosting recipe. However, if you're like me, I could have done with less frosting. I'm not a big frosting fan, just enough to add a little somethin' somthin'. I loved it, though. Joy's my new baking hero. No lie.
My husband is a sweet-aholic. I'm OK with that. I guess, this just shows that you can take something terrible and make it not so much. It's amazing how simple swaps can make a small difference. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I was searching through some old photos the other day on my computer and found some from when I painted a mural on Claire's wall.

I had purchased some 'decorative stickers' from Ikea and after a few weeks, they had begun to peel off the wall. It got to the point where Claire would wake up from a nap and be covered in a stem or a petal from the sticker flower. I figured then, that enough was enough.

Painting murals don't have to be difficult. You don't even have to be artistic, really. It does help, though.

Fortunately for me, I do have a small (very small) background on art and was able to make a pretty neat, and involved, wall mural for Miss Claire.

Here's how it went down:
What you need:
1. Acrylic paint
2. Tape and more tape
3. Poster board or thin cardboard
4. Small paint brushes, varying in size
6. Chalk

I sent Claire to my Mom's for the day, so I would be able to finish it without wanting to hurt myself.

The rest is based on your creativity and ambition. I'd post a step by step guide (and I had started to type it) but to be honest, I did most of it free handed. I did, however, tape out the stems.

The birds and 'happy sun' (as Claire calls it) is courtesy of Noggin's music video for Bob Marley's "Three Birds." Again, free handed.

The best part? When Claire gets sick of it, all I have to do is take a 240 or so piece of sand paper, gently sand the top of the paint and then paint on over. That's why I chose acrylic paint.

When Luca moves into his new room once the baby is born, I plan on giving him something too for his walls. I'm still kind of up in the air, since I tend to refuse to do anything 'cutsie' or seen on Nickelodeon. (Other than something related to Bob Marley.) I'm more into the whole contemporary and modern notion. It seems to me that it's more timeless.

Where was I going with this post?

Oh yah. Murals. Matt likes it because he says it's one less hole in the wall. I like it because I made it. Claire likes it because it makes her happy. All in all, I say, if you own your home, have some free time and are feeling extremely creative, go for it!

Any questions, I'm happy to answer them.