Happy New Year!!!

I am  going to jump  right back in. With the weather so cold, windy and miserable, there is not much else to do but peruse seed catalogs and clean. Believe it or not, I am still working on the kitchen, not because it is so dirty but because it has so many spaces and functions, getting it organized is a huge undertaking. The cabinets are all done as are most of the drawers. I still have to work on the free-standing cabinet that hold my cookbooks and serves as the bill paying station, Yesterday it was that space under the kitchen sink.

First up was to check on the child safety latches. Mine had loosened up so Bruce reset them so the held better. I mind my two-year-old grandson on Tuesdays and I need to be sure he can’t get under there. The next thing I needed to see to was the space where the pipes enter the house. I had some spaces there. Not large but big enough to let in drafts and be a mousey welcome mate. For a while I had relied on stuffing the holes with steel wool but Bruce had an extra can of spray foam and I had him use that. It will seal better and not leave little piles of rust behind. After wiping out the bottom I put things back, paying close attention to what I had, what I needed and what had to go.

Cleaning products are hazardous to our health. Just look at the ingredients on the average spray bottle of all-purpose  cleaner. It is enough to give you the wicked heebie-jeebies. Getting rid of them saves money and reduces tha amount of waste that heads for the landfill. It protects your septic tank and keeps the water ways healthier. I gave up most of my cleaners years ago and have not missed them at all. I have a copy of The Naturally Clean Home and I use the instructions there to make most of my cleaners. Baking soda, vinegar and peroxide will do most jobs just fine. I also use castile soap, washing soda, Murphy’s Oil Soap and a few of the all natural cleaners for specialty things like dish washing that are expensive but difficult to formulate at home. We have a store called Deals and Steals in our area that is clearing house for organic food, toiletries and cleaners. I stop buy and stock up on the Eco brand of dishwashing detergent every few months. I also use Mrs. Meyers brand when I can find it. I am anxiously awaiting a class on making essential oils as these are lovely additions to your cleaning supplies.

Having some good quality spray bottles is essential if you are going to make your own cleaners. You can’t reuse the ones that held other cleaners for any length of time as they are generally designed for single use and tend to stop working. You also need a few good lidded containers for powders. This might be a good use for some of the plastic tubs you don’t want to put food in. The trick is the labeling. You need labels that will not wash or peel off easily and you don’t want anything to look like something yummy to a toddler. I use clear medical adhesive tape and write on it with an indelible marker. I also keep  nothing under the sink that is edible. I don’t reuse containers that ever held food either.

I keep some plastic bags under the sink too. This is a tough one for me. We take our trash to a compactor they want the trash contained. Most of the bags won’t biodegrade for thousands (millions?) of years. I have sound some biodegradable bags for small waste baskets but not for large ones and they are really expensive. I thought about using the small ones and emptying them into the trash compactor myself, reusing them as often as possible but I can see a problem with odor and bacteria for the kitchen trash. Paper gets wet and soggy. I suppose I could forego the liner altogether and just clean the waste basket each week. It is a lot more work. Just once, I wish doing the right thing was easy and cheap. The take home message for me is to generate as little trash as possible and compost what I can.

I plan to grow loofa this year and get rid of cellulose sponges. I use a lot of rags. I made them from old towels and flannel sheets. I wash these after each use and no longer buy paper towels more than once or twice a year. It is a good idea to have some on hand for specific jobs like wetting down and using like a magnet for picking up shattered glass on a hard wood floor. The only other thing I keep under the sink is a basket for all of my adhesives and tapes. I used to keep the tape in my tool drawer but the rolls kept getting stuck and the drawer was really crowded. When I rearranged, I moved the tape and the glue and now have plenty of room in both areas.

This may not seem like it has mush to do with preparedness and while I agree that should a tornado come screamng through my living room I will not be worrying about the shine on my faucets, hygene during a crisis is really important. You can not afford to get sick because of a lack of soap. More than anything, good hygene has led to a better quality of life for much of the world. It is a shame the chemical companies got a hold of the franchise.

One final note. I am sending in my registration for the NOFA (Northeast Organic Farmers Association) conference being held in Worcester on the 16th. I hope to meet some of you there. The offerings look wonderful. Bruce and I will each attend 3 workshops so we will come home with a lot of information.

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