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Cleaning with Essential Oils

So here’s a total deviation from my usual posts: some cleaning tips I’ve discovered!

If you’ve known me for any amount of time at all, you know that I’m pretty crunchy, as in, I love to keep things in my life as natural as possible. OK, yes, I do have an issue with refined white sugar, but one thing at a time, right?  Since we have three young kids, and I have asthma, we try to stay away from harsh cleansers (although this isn’t always possible). Enter (dum-duh-da-daaa!) Essential Oils!

I was introduced to essential oils when I was a kid and my parents became Young Living distributers. Young Living sells therapeutic-grade essential oils, meaning that they extract their oils in such a fashion that it can be used in clinical settings, on the skin, and, in some cases, can be ingested. The benefits of using essential oils for home remedies quickly became apparent, and I was the resident oil expert in our home, pulling out my oily first aid kit at the first sign of any injury, ache or complaint. However, the cost of Young Living’s oils made me cautious to use them for any other purpose than on humans, although I did see that they could be used as household cleansers.

When we arrived in Arizona, my brilliant cousin pointed out that, when using oils for housework, you don’t have to use the high-end essential oils, the cheaper quality oils work just fine. Now why didn’t I think of that?

So, off she went to Sprouts Farmer’s Market, and returned armed with empty spray bottles and Lemon and Citronella essential oils from the inexpensive (but non-therapeutic-grade) Aura Cacia line.  We mixed 50 drops of Lemon with 25 drops of Citronella and added it to the almost-full spray bottle and used that mixture to attack the smokey smelling walls and blinds in our new apartment.  Now, this wasn’t a cure all, but after two applications of spraying and wiping down, the grime was dissolved and the smoke smell was significantly lessened. Now I keep a bottle with this same mixture under the kitchen sink, and use it to spray down the table and counters. The oils do a great job of loosening grease and sticky stuff, so I’m hardly ever needing to scrub at stubborn spots; they’re already being dissolved by the oils! The other perk is that I’m not worried about my kids getting this stuff on their skin, so I’ve been able to make cleaning the table my 2-year-old’s morning chore. Obviously, she still needs supervision, but she loves to spray and wipe!

The other blend that I use every day is my linen spray.  I added 75 drops of Peppermint, 25 drops of Rosemary and 25 drops of Eucalyptus to the water in the spray bottle and use it to spray down the beds before we make them every morning. The wonderful thing about this blend is that it smells so fresh and lovely, I generally want to get back in bed after I’ve sprayed! Plus, this blend is specifically hated by bed bugs (not that we have those). Also, I pour a little of this blend in the medicine cup of the kids humidifier at night, since all three of these essential oils are known to be beneficial to the respiratory system.

My third bottle contains a 50/50 mixture of water and white vinegar.  Although not an essential oil, I figured I couldn’t leave out my other secret weapon.  I use this mix to wash windows and do my FlyLady Swish and Swipe of the bathrooms.  It isn’t a lovely smell like my other sprays, but it cleans marvelously, and I just turn the fan on before I leave the bathroom and the smell evaporates quickly. White vinegar is known for it’s awesome powers as a “green cleaner“, and I can get a gallon of it for about $1, so it is totally worth checking out!

What tips have you discovered when cleaning with kids in the house?


The Discipline of Writing

I get into this entitlement mode a lot. It started with cleaning. I would bust my butt to get, say, the kitchen cleaned. And I would totally go for it, all the dishes, the fridge, sink, floors, microwave, stove, the whole bit. But then, I would be so exhausted from all my work, that I would feel entitled to not touch the kitchen (other than make meals in it) for a week. By then, the kitchen would be so messed up, that I would HAVE to do a deep clean that would then wipe me out… you get it.

I just realized last night that I’ve totally done this with my writing. I graduated in June, but spent most of the summer revising my senior project so that it could be perfect when I submitted it. I was so sick of writing by the time I turned it in, that I gave myself permission to stop writing for a while. OK, I’ve also had a few really good excuses (Jonathan, Hannah and the birth of Joshua), but still, if writing is going to be my profession, it would probably be a good idea for me to keep working on it, right?

Five minutes into “Julie/Julia” last night, I was crying my eyes out as I totally identified with Julie, the almost-30-year-old writer of half a novel (OK, I’d had a rough day, Josh had screamed every time I tried to put him down, and I had just drank a beer a little too fast). Anyways, in my identifying with this Julie character, I realized that her solution could work for me, too. If you haven’t seen the movie, basically, she decides to cook through Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in a year. That’s not what I’m going to do (although Anthony thinks this would be a great idea). The second thing that she did was that she would blog every day about her cooking adventures. Every day, for a year, she sat down and wrote something. Hmmm.

When I was in Creative Writers at Cal Poly, one of the guest authors who talked with us mentioned a writing exercise that he had found helpful: he would set a timer for 15 minutes and write anything that came to his mind for that 15 minutes. Sometimes he would spend it on an actual story he was working on, and other times it would just be whatever he was thinking, but the point is, he would write.

Now, I’m a HUGE fan of timers. I use mine all the time (otherwise I’d totally forget the laundry in the garage until we were out of socks). I think I might have adult ADD, because as a flit through the house, intent on getting one chore completed, I get totally distracted by other things. But, if I decide to focus on one task, I set my timer and stick with it until I hear the buzzer.  It’s a trick I’ve learned from the FlyLady; I can do anything for 15 minutes. Including writing.

I don’t currently have any stories to work on (I’m waiting for God to give me a Stephenie Meyer-type dream – you’ve read her inspiration story, right?), but I’m gonna start disciplining myself to write for 15 minutes a day. I probably won’t blog every episode (you’d probably not want to read all my ramblings everyday), but I certainly will be blogging more.

This has been day one!

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