Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Power of White Vinegar

We have.been making some small-scale renovations to The Little Stone House, initially because we wanted to make sole changes to suit our tastes, but now, because we will be selling it soon.
Part of this process--most of it, in fact--has been a makeover of our two bathrooms.

What we have below is the results of an experiment.  Part of the bathroom makeovers has been cleaning up the sinks and replacing the hardware, rather than replacing the whole sink.  (We shopped around.  Sinks aren't cheap, and we both have kind of "chi-chi" tastes!)  Over the Holiday weekend, we went to pick some things up at the hardware store, including a new j-trap (the piece below.)  The products on the market now in the big hardware stores are unbelievably flimsy feeling!  Even the "metal" pieces feel like they will crack and fall apart rapidly.  This piece was crusted about an inch deep with...drek!  When we couldn't find an acceptable replacement, I said to my boyfriend, "Let's try this."

I came home, took the old piece of pipe, and submerged it in white vinegar. We just left it there. Yesterday, he was able to scrape out the crud, and look at this piece now! Just white vinegar. Nothing else. No toxic chemicals. Nothing went into the trash that didn't need to. The monetary savings were nominal, but the savings in headaches and needing future replacements, I'd say, were immense!

Next time you need to replace something in your house, take a moment or two to think about alternatives: Can it be cleaned up instead?  Can you make do?  Is there a low-or no-waste way to make the repair?  (etc.)  Obviously, you always want to make sure you are not cutting corners and doing things that are unsafe, but there is a wealth  of DIY information out there these days.

Happy fixing!

Quick Share: Weeds


I thought some might be interested in this article over at Mother Jones about incorporating weeds into our diets.

As my readers know, my BF and I do some of this.  We don't forage much, because our knowledge is limited, but we are educating ourselves.  We do cultivate both English and black seed plantain, dandelion, and wood sorrel and frequently use them in salads and on sandwiches.  Our dandelion does not get out of control and take over our yard, either.  We have a patch here and there, and I have not seen it spread.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Rags: A Beautiful Thing! (Part 1)

Why is this a beautiful thing to me? Rags drying on the line. So I've recycled a few pieces of clothing. Big whoop, you might be saying.

Maybe it IS no big deal. Maybe I get too excited about this kind of recycling. After all, our ancestors did it way back when. Well, I think it is high time we all started doing it again! We generate way too much trash!

These rags are beautiful to me, because each one represents hundreds of paper towels I am not throwing away and, by extension, hundreds of rolls of paper towels I am not buying.

I can't completely stop buying them, because of the cats. For most of our messes, the rags work just fine, but for cat urine, I need to use something disposable to clean up. Fortunately, we have fewer and fewer of those messes to deal with. Every once in a while, someone will miss the box. That's just life with cats.

We also use the paper towels for dealing with work on the car and home improvements. There are, again, just some substances that are too toxic or just won't come out.

I buy three rolls of paper towels about every two months, always recycled. This all results in our putting our trash out at the curb only about every two weeks--and that is with six cats in the house!

I do these kinds of things and write about them, not to brag, but because preserving the planet is very important to me, and it is easier than most people think. I hope that, by sharing what I do, I will teach and motivate others to give it a try.

Happy Memorial Day to those of you here in the U.S.!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sage in bloom.

This is our sage bush. As you can see, it will be going to seed soon. I think we have saved some from previous years, but I am going to double check and make sure. This plant clearly comes from very good stock!


Sage smoke is one of my very favorite things.  My boyfriend has made a number of large smudging wands. I have only had the chance to make one so far, and it did not come together right, so I need more practice.

See, we have so much that I'm giving away some fresh sprigs, but I am also now hoping to perfect my wand making skills, so that I can give away and sell those, too. (Blessed or not blessed, depending on what people want.)

All of that aside, I love this plant, and I use it in many aspects of my life. It has a hearty, positive spirit!