Green Tip of the week #13 – The power of baking soda

Baking soda – it’s not just for baking!

If I could only have one type of cleaning product for my whole house, it would be baking soda – pure and simple. Non-toxic baking soda has so many practical uses without the worry of harsh chemicals. Here are just a few:

  • Safely clean baby or pet toys – Use 4 tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in 1 quart of warm water. Wash toys with a clean damp sponge or cloth, rinse and dry.
  • Clean baby equipment (stroller, high chair, changing table, exersaucer, swing, etc.) – Just sprinkle baking soda on a clean damp sponge and rub the item clean. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry.
  • Freshen and deodorize carpets – sprinkle baking soda on the carpet, let sit for 15 minutes, then vacuum it up
  • Cleaning bathroom tubs, tile and sinks – even shiny fiberglass and glossy tiles- sprinkle baking soda lightly on a clean damp sponge and scrub as usual. Rinse thoroughly and wipe dry.
  • Freshen sponges – Soak stale-smelling sponges in a strong baking soda solution to get rid of the mess and bring in the fresh (4 tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in 1 quart of warm water).
  • Clean your produce of dirt and other residue – Just sprinkle a little baking soda on a clean damp sponge, scrub and rinse.
  • Clean your counter tops – Sprinkle baking soda onto a clean damp sponge or cloth and wipe clean, rinse thoroughly, then dry.

What else do YOU use baking soda for?

Thanks to Arm & Hammer for many of these great tips.

Have any green tips you’ve recently learned? Please email them to me and I may include your tip with a link to your site or blog in a future post. :)

And the money goes to…

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I posted about the new Mothers Milk Bank of New England’s quest to win $10,000 from Ideablob? Guess what! They won!!

Thanks to everyone who voted and posted about it elsewhere. Your willingness to vote and spread the word will make such a difference to many babies and families in the New England area! :)

You can read more about the big announcement over on Ideablob and here’s a link to the Mothers Milk Bank of New England.

Happy Valentine’s Day from the IRS

On Wednesday Jody and I got a surprise letter from the IRS, an early Valentine if you will, stating we owed $2,000 in back taxes from 2006. Isn’t that the sweetest thing?

Apparently we made an error in filing our 2006 taxes and failed to include some stocks Jody received through work. He was under the impression that taxes were already deducted; they were not. It was an honest mistake on our part, but a mistake nonetheless and the IRS has come a-knocking to claim what is theirs – with interest.

The shock of finding out we will need to part with $2,000 by March 15 has put a damper on the love-fest that should accompany Valentine’s day. Thankfully, we have the money to send, but it was earmarked for paying down debt and preschool tuition, and will pretty much wipe out our savings account.

I’m trying to take it all in stride, but it’s hard and I admit I’ve been in a funk most of the day. It messes with our short- (debt) and probably long-term (moving) goals, but I know we will make the money back eventually.

This has made me consider returning to photography, perhaps just for the spring and summer, when it’s optimal to work outside with natural light anyway. We shall see.

For now I’m going to try to forget about it for at least an hour while I go eat a brownie and watch LOST. So there. ;oP

Last-minute Green Valentine’s Day Tips

green heartInspired by Crunchy Chicken’s recent funny posts – Planning a Green Valentine’s and Sex is Greeny, I assembled my own green list for last-minute Valentine’s day preparations.

  1. Chocolate – In my opinion you can never do wrong giving chocolate as a gift, just make sure it is the fair trade (slavery-free) variety. Here’s a list of companies known to sell fair trade cocoa products:
    • Clif Bar
    • Cloud Nine
    • Dagoba Organic Chocolate
    • Denman Island Chocolate
    • Gardners Candies
    • Green and Black’s
    • Kailua Candy Company
    • Koppers Chocolate
    • L.A. Burdick Chocolates
    • La Siembre
    • Montezuma’s Chocolates
    • Newman’s Own Organics
    • Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company
    • Rapunzel Pure Organics
    • The Endangered Species Chocolate Company

    — Slavery Free Chocolate?

  2. Candles – Candles are great for setting the mood for a relaxing, romantic dinner and evening, but there’s nothing sexy about the smoke and strong odors given off if they are petroleum based. Instead look to soy candles as a natural alternative to light up your life. Soy candles burn cleaner and last longer than petroleum wax. Soy is a renewable resource, is biodegradable and is non-toxic and non-carcinogenic. There’s a great local company here that makes wonderful soy candles called Naked.
  3. Cards/love letters – Save the trees and send a Valentine e-card or write a love email instead.
    • Care2 E-cards – For every eCard sent, Care2 makes a donation to an environmental nonprofit to save a square foot of rainforest. How cool is that?
  4. Charitable giving – Show your loved one that you care for them and others by giving to the charity of your loved one’s choice. Network for Good allows you to choose the amount to give, and your Valentine can select the charity of their choice.
  5. Sweet Treats – If you want to tint your cookies and treats shades of red, skip the artificial food coloring (Red No. 40) and unwanted side effects – hyperactive kids, anyone? – and go with a natural coloring instead. Check with your local health food/natural grocer.

However you celebrate this Valentine’s day, hope you have a good, green lovin’ one!

Photo credit: Tim Brown Photography

Wordless Wednesday – 2/13/08 – I heart brownies

Check out the heart that showed up in my first batch of brownies made from scratch. It’s like they knew Valentine’s day was right around the corner (oh, and how much I love brownies too)! :) Seriously, I didn’t alter the brownies or the photo at all. This is how they came out of the oven. Jody declared them “Valentine’s brownies” and I said, “I have to take a picture of that!”

Brownies with heart -2/7/08

More Wordless Wednesday.