Showing posts with label organic housekeeping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label organic housekeeping. Show all posts

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Coffee

Making Great Coffee
A Great Cup of Coffee

Coffee, if you are a coffee drinker then you probably reach for it first thing in the morning. If you are a coffee lover then making a great cup of coffee and choosing the right flavor is important to you. A clean coffee maker is essential to making great coffee as well as great coffee beans. 

About the Bean

Great coffee beans don't have to be expensive, but they do need to be fresh and well cared for. Coffee grows from a plant, which means it has an expiration date. You want to buy coffee in an airtight bag and check the freshness date on the package, the fresher the better. Check the freshness date even in a pricey coffee shop. I once paid fifteen dollars for a pound of specialty coffee only to find stale beans when I arrived home.  You can spot a stale bean very quickly, it will look dry and it won't smell fresh. Good coffee beans should look moist and shiny and smell amazing.

I've ordered directly from coffee roasters and purchased at specialty stores, and although these coffees were delicious, there are some really great brands on the store shelf as well.  Also, if you look at the package carefully it will tell you the boldness of the particular beans. For really great coffee it is important to grind the beans yourself. An inexpensive grinder can be purchased at a discount store, and then you can find a variety of beans at your local grocery.
Starbucks Flavor Breakdown

Espresso Roast:  Espresso Roast is a classic and it's the roast from which all lattes and fancy drinks are made.  Espresso Roast maintains strength of coffee character and goes down smooth every time.  Espresso Roast is not bitter nor is it sweet; it maintains the perfect balance between the two.                                                                                   
Italian Roast:  Italian Roast is the kissing cousin to Espresso Roast. Italian Roast is the extra bold version of Espresso Roast. They are so close in fact that, in a pinch, one can fashion a grand latte or macchiato from Italian Roast. Italian Roast is one of my personal favorites; it is very bold yet not bitter and very smooth.  

Gold Coast:  Gold Coast is an excellent blend that is roasted to extra bold.  It is smooth and balanced.  Gold Coast is a great morning cup of coffee.
Sulawesi:  Sulawesi is an extra bold roast with an exotic flavor.  It has a bite, but gives your taste buds a tang without the bitterness.  It still goes down smooth and is great with a flavored creamer.
CafĂ© Verona:  Verona is an extra bold flavor that is sweet and smooth.  It is understated and reminiscent yet leaves no memory on your taste buds.

Sumatra:  Sumatra is an extra bold flavor that is dark and earthy and has nutty undertones.  It is not as exotic as the Sulawesi but goes down just as smooth. 
Komodo Dragon:  Komodo Dragon is extra bold and it is by far my all time favorite Starbucks flavor.  Komodo Dragon is tropical at first and then it hits you with a spicy undertone.  I love this flavor with the special coconut flavored creamers from the grocery.  It is really great over ice on a hot day; the ice really brings out the spicy flavors.


Ethiopia Sidamo:  Ethiopia Sidamo is an extra bold flavor that is smooth and almost has a thick quality to it.  Like the Sumatra it has an earthy tone to it but still goes down smooth enough for me.  Ethiopia Sidamo is enjoyable with creamer as well.

French Roast:  French Roast is extra bold.  It is my least favorite flavor, in fact I detest it.  If you like your coffee bitter and pungent, French Roast is the flavor for you.  It is so bitter you cannot detect any flavors and it goes down just as rough.  French Roast will leave a bitter taste on your buds long after you have finished the cup.

Kenya:  Kenya has to be my second favorite extra bold flavor next to Komodo Dragon.  Kenya is very tropical and smooth.  It is great with flavored creamers and also great over ice.  When you drink this coffee over ice you will detect the fruity undertones.  It is very smooth and yummy.  
Water
Another important ingredient, to a great cup of coffee, is filtered water.  The better the water tastes, the better your coffee will taste.  Filtered water not only tastes better, it keeps your machine cleaner and a clean machine is ingredient number one.

I have found that the ratio of coffee to water is much more of a personal preference.  Just like you have to try different preparation methods of eggs, you have to try different types and strengths of coffee.  Experimenting is part of the fun. Read the directions on the coffee bag for a starting point.

A final tip for those of you who enjoy espresso, when we purchased our first espresso machine, we stopped by that local Starbucks where they taught us how to use it even though we didn't buy it there. They also gave us a recipe for a fancy drink as well.  They didn’t mind doing this because they new that we would return to buy more coffee.  It never hurts to ask, many of the coffee retailers love to talk about their coffees.  Each shop manager or owner is the best one to describe the different tastes and flavors that the coffees have to offer.



A Clean Coffee Maker

If your coffee maker is dirty, your coffee will taste dirty. If your coffee maker is old, or you suspect that it is dirty, cleaning it is simple. A cup of white vinegar and a gallon of distilled water is all you need to spruce it right up.  Run the vinegar through the coffee maker first and follow it up with the distilled water.  You may want to run a couple of cycles of clear water before you attempt to put the coffee maker back in use.  The vinegar is going to break up the mineral deposits in your machine.

Coffee is something that is important to buy fair trade because much of it is grown in third world countries. Starbucks is an ethical company where you can often find fair trade labels. You can read more about Starbucks ethical practices in Considering frugal Starbucks Ethical Pic.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Making Your Home an "Allergy Free" Zone

Allergy Free
Make Your Home an Allergy Free Zone
Even if you don't have diagnosable allergies, rising pollution is causing respiratory problems in every large city across the United States as well as many other countries. Allergies can be both indoor and outdoor and even if your allergies are to outdoor items you will want your home to be as allergy free as possible to provide an oasis. Although there is no cure for allergies, there are a number of steps you can take to make your home a cleaner environment to live in.

Purify the Air in Your Home

Invest in a good quality air purifier and use it. A model that covers a large area and doesn't have a filter to be changed will give you the best air quality. Air purifiers have become very common and you can find a reasonably priced model at any discount retailer. In addition to purchasing a good air purifier, change the filters on your existing heating and cooling system every three to four weeks and consider purchasing a filter that claims to reduce allergens. These special filters don’t work for everyone, but can be helpful for some. You may also consider purifying the air in your home with houseplants. Experts have found that the average houseplant can clean up to 10 square feet of indoor space.

Install a Water Filtration System

The skin is the largest organ in the body making pure water extremely important. Consider a whole house water filtration system. This will reduce skin allergens while bathing, and also improve the quality of your drinking water as well as prolong the life of any pipes and fixtures in the house itself. If a whole house system is not an option, there are many models that fit under your kitchen sink. Many home improvement stores sell shower heads that contain a filter as well.

Invest in a Good Vacuum

A vacuum cleaner with a hepa filter is a must. Get rid of the broom, dustpan and feather duster. They just push the dirt around the room. Use your vacuum to do all preliminary cleaning. Vacuum window blinds, the tops of cabinets and in-between fabric cushions. Vacuum any crevice where dirt and dust mites can hide.

Use Natural Cleaners

One of the best ways to fight allergens in the home is with good old soap and water. Keep everything clean, but not with strong chemicals, use natural cleaners instead. You may even want to start making your own; white vinegar and lemon juice works great on floors and counter tops. Lavender soap can be purchased at organic markets and is a great disinfectant in the bathrooms. Lemon oil works well for wood furniture. Good housecleaning products do not have to be the most expensive or the most popular. They need to be the right products for the job and they need to do the job for you. 

Use white vinegar in place of bleach for sinks, counters and floors. Use baking soda in place of scrubbing bubbles in the bathroom; when mixed with vinegar, baking soda provides the same effect. Mix white vinegar with water and place in a spray bottle in place of glass cleaner and recycle old newsprint in place of paper towel for a streak free finish. Avoid anything in an aerosol can.

Clean and Replace Certain Textiles

Textiles such as carpet, upholstery and bed linens can harbor dead skin, dust mites and pet dandruff. Upholstery can be replaced with vinyl or leather and fabric curtains can be replaced with wood or vinyl blinds.  If you must keep upholstered furniture, consider slipcovers. These can be washed regularly and extend the life of your furnishings as well. Invest in washable bed linens, such as cotton, and wash them in a gentle detergent at least once a week.

Replace existing carpet with easily cleaned wood, tile or vinyl. Carpet is impossible to clean and will harbor dirt for a lifetime. Consider the fact that carpet is nothing more than fabric that we walk on and rarely wash and you will see the point. Not only is wood and tile easier to clean, but also it will have the added bonus of reducing your heating and cooling bill.

You may also want to read...
Houseplants Purify Air and Provide Sustainability
Water
Money Saving Natural Oder Killers

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Natural Bug Removal

natural bug removal
 
Living in Arizona, pests are a part of everyday life with particular worries about spider bites and scorpions. An exterminator visit can be both pricey and leave your home full of obnoxious chemical smell. We fight back and save money with natural bug removal as part of our green living
Diatomaceous Earth

100% Natural, Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth product can be dusted around the outside of your house, in cement cracks, gardens and behind major appliances. Diatomaceous Earth will detour pests such as spiders, scorpions, roaches and crickets from entering your house.

Homemade Spray Deterrent

Because Diatomaceous Earth is dangerous to inhale, it cannot be put down around furniture and beds. A homemade natural bug deterrent can be made of water, lavender oil and vinegar. Shake the solution up in a spray bottle and squirt it on the baseboards and around sleeping areas.

Natural Mosquito Repellent

If you are having trouble with mosquito's on the back porch, there is a money saving Amish remedy you may want to try. Take an empty 2 liter bottle and add one banana peal, one cup of vinegar and one cup of sugar. Mix up the concoction and hang it outside on the porch. It won't be long and it will begin to act as a natural bug trap.

Natural Bug Repellent

If all else fails, Burt's Bees makes an affordable natural Herbal Insect Repellent that can be worn.



Monday, August 6, 2012

Money Saving Natural Oder Killers

tomato sauce
A recent "oopsa" when home canning a couple of jars of chicken soup left a smell previously unknown to man in my newly refurbished kitchen cabinets. I tried a string of natural odor killers and one chemical concoction before finding a cure. Here is how they sized up from start to finish.

I started by washing the area with soap and water to no avail.

Then I tried a natural paste of baking soda, dish soap and water. Still no help.

Next I tried strait lemon juice.

After that a paste of lemon juice and baking soda as a scrub.

After which I peeled off the contact paper lining.

The cabinet still stunk like a skunk...so in desperation, I sprayed it with a chemical concoction you may have heard of...Fabreze. Save your money...the cabinet still smelled bad if not worse!

So, I left more baking soda in the cabinet over night and woke up to the same smell the next morning.

Remedy 2:  The next morning I discovered an all natural skunk smell remover in my cabinet called Nature's Miracle.  I am happy to report that after two applications, the smell began to lift slightly however it was still there! Yes, after using skunk smell remover...it still smelled like a skunk!

As my mind drifts to episodes of Seinfeld...I begin to wonder if tomato juice really works on skunk...

I reach for the can of tomato sauce in my refrigerator and begin to clean the spot in the cabinet...within five minutes the smell that I had been fighting for a week was completely gone!

Remedy 1:  It is true! The number one money saving all natural odor remover that I recommend is tomato sauce!

I also blogged about Natural Bug Removal.
And Setting an Atmosphere with Scents.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Organic Bedbug Removal

organic bedbug removal
Bedbugs Aren't Picky About Where They Stay
 
We have been seeing it on the news for weeks; bedbugs are making a comeback across the country.  The FDA is warning people not to use strong outdoor chemicals in their home to treat bedbugs. I've searched all over the web and the reality is, the information about how to remove bedbugs is very ambiguous.  Some websites say throw your furniture out, some say you can spray it.  Some say call an exterminator while others say an exterminator is pricey and may not help.  All this information can leave homeowners and apartment dwellers alike very confused.  So, in an effort to ease reader frustrations I have compiled a list of dos and don'ts complete with several helpful links.

#1 Don't panic:  Although bedbugs are a pest as well as a nuisance, but they are not poisonous and are not likely to carry serious disease.  Neither do they spread quickly.

#2 Do address the problem quickly:  the most important thing to do is identify where the bedbugs are nesting.  LEARN WHERE BEDBUGS CAN LIVE.  Chances are someone brought them into furniture, or perhaps you took a vacation and they jumped into bed with you.  Examine your furniture thoroughly until you find where they are nesting and then DO REMOVE the furniture that they have called home.

#3 Do clean and vacuum your home from top to bottom.  Pay special attention to carpet corners; use the edging attachment on your vacuum to clean these corners and sideboards and then empty your vacuum promptly in your outdoor garbage receptacle.

#4 Do examine any hotel rooms you may stay in BEFORE you bring your luggage in.  If would bite to pay for a hotel room and take bedbugs home with you.

#5 Don't try to treat bedbugs with outdoor chemicals...this could become more harmful than the bedbugs themselves.

#6 Do know what bedbugs look like.  To the right is a picture of some bedbugs although the bites may look different depending on reaction.  Bedbug bites do usually appear in threes (breakfast, lunch and dinner).

Helpful video on Bedbugs

Friday, July 29, 2011

Organic Cleaning Products in Your Pantry

Organic Cleaning Products
Find it in Your Pantry First
Good housecleaning products do not have to be the most expensive to be organic. They need to be the right products for the job and they need to do the job for you. Always make sure the following list of products are in your cabinets. Once you have these goods and products at your disposal the task of cleaning should be a breeze.

The Cleaning Products:

White Vinegar works great for sinks, counters and floors. I like to mix a bit of Seventh Generation lavender dish soap with this for a really great smell. White vinegar also makes a great fabric softener in the laundry. 

Baking Soda is good for scrubbing bubbles action when mixed with vinegar. This will work in the shower and bath or you can use a natural all purpose cleaner.

All purpose cleaner is a little stronger but it is really necessary for toilets, and some baths and showers. I like Green Works all purpose cleaner.

Lemon Oil is really what is best for the care of wood furniture and it also shines up old aluminum trims without harsh chemicals.

A stack of small old hand towels is a must; always recycle old bath towels and underwear this way. T-shirts are great for streak free glass.

Green scrubbing pads made from recycled materials or organic fibers are sometimes necessary for tough spots. Make sure you spray harsh bathroom stains with all purpose cleaner first, let it sit for 15 minutes and then come back with the scrubby; you shouldn’t have to use too much elbow grease.

More tips to help you keep a green/organic house...

The Organic Housekeeper's favorite products


 
There are several products on the market that make organic housekeeping an ease. Below is a list of just a few of my favorite organic housekeeping products.
 
There are several new countertop composters on the market that are both affordable and odor free. Making biodegradable waste into compost for houseplants and fertilizer for outdoor flowers and container gardens is a great way to recycle when you live in an apartment. At the top of each blog post you can note my Amazon store link and there you will find a very good deal on my favorite countertop composter.

Houseplants are a great way to improve the air quality in your living space. Did you know that one houseplant can purify up to 10 feet of living space. The Aloe Vera plant is my favorite pick for air purifying; not only does it remove quite a few carcinogens but it serves as a natural healing balm as well. You can also use Aloe Vera as a natural body product.
There are several new herb gardening kits available on the market that take up less space while providing you with wonderful kitchen herbs as well as purifying the air in your living space. Most come with pots, soil and herbs starts and easy instructions for growing a garden in your apartment kitchen. There is at least one herb gardening kit in my Amazon store as well.

Finally, I absolutely love Seventh Generation household cleaning products. Every time I purchase a new Seventh Generation product it becomes my favorite. The smell of each product is fragrant and the cleaning power amazing. When I first started purchasing Seventh Generation I found it to be a little pricey however Target has started carrying the entire line of products and it is priced to sell. Sometimes it is even more affordable then the store brands and you can find coupons on their website.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Houseplants Purify Air and Provide Sustainability

Purify Air with Plants
Purify Air with Houseplants

Nothing is more sustainable than clean air and houseplants are a great way to beautify your home while purifying the air.  Houseplants are also a money saving way to create a mood.  Both green and flowering plants can add a great splash of color to any area of your house or apartment.  If you have an empty corner that needs filled you may consider placing a dwarf palm tree in the corner.

It is estimated that placing a houseplant plant in every ten feet of your home can have the same effect as an electric air purifier.  House plants that make great air purifiers include English Ivy, the Peace Lily, the Dwarf Palm and the Boston Fern.  Some flowering plants such as the Chrysanthemum are on the list as well.  The aloe vera plant is another great choice because it cleans the air so well and also has useful homeopathic nutrients inside.  Try growing an indoor kitchen garden and you will have a sustainable food source as well. Many people have successfully grown cooking and naturopathic herbs such as basil, thyme, rosemary, dill and lavender in thier kitchen or sun room.

How I became Considering frugal

Fueled by the growing list of pollution related allergies my family suffered from each day, and inspired by my 97 year old grandmother who could recycle ANYTHING before recycling was cool, back in 2011, I decided (in the spirit of the Julie/Julia Project...) to embark on a journey to see just how much one family could do to change our planet. I didn't consult any other parties before I launched this idea. Thankfully my husband, daughter and son are usually my biggest supporters. Here is the catch; as I'm normally very thrifty (you can note from early blog posts), I was looking for ways that I could reduce our carbon footprint and make socially responsible purchases without increasing our spending. Mmmmmm. We succeed in changing some of our habits a bit and finding ways to reduce our footprint. There were lots of fun epic fails alone the way too! But the biggest change we have made over the course of the last six years, was to move from the mega city of Phoenix to Wyoming. You can read my full bio on my About Me page.

Legal Disclaimer

While it is true that I am working on a PHD in Psychology and very smart and frugal, I am not a medical doctor, criminal, personal or accident lawyer. I do not sell insurance nor am I an accountant or mortgage advisor. While some of my posts may offer good ideas on home, health and business solutions, I am not personally responsible nor is Considering frugal for any advice, ideas, recipes or menu plans that you decide to use. This blog is intended to be helpful and fun. Any products you purchase from my Amazon store or any other retailer advertised on my blog must be returned to them. I may sometimes endorse a product that I love. This is simply my opinion, you must try all products at your own risk. While I personally do not use tracking cookies or share information, my affiliates are third parties and they may do so. Please click, travel and purchase at your own risk.

frugal advice

"...for your Father knows what you need before you ask." Matthew 6:8