Archive for Eco-friendly kitchen

Spring Cleaning the non toxic way

It appears we get to open our doors and windows a few weeks earlier than usual this spring. With the mild winter we experienced as well as the unusually higher temperatures the last several weeks, transitioning into spring is on everyone’s mind. Not only does that mean searching for lighter clothing options, but in many households with colder winters it means cleaning the home to welcome the warm temperatures.

One might be tempted to reach for cleaning products off of grocery store shelves. That’s okay, as long as they are not the toxic/chemical laden products that shout out to us with promises of doing this and that. By purchasing some basic ingredients at the grocery store you can make all of the recipes to follow to create natural cleaning products for your home. You might also find them to be more economical as well. I have selected some of the following recipes from Natural Home and Garden’s March/April Issue.

house clean

Ingredients for creating your own cleaning products:

  • baking soda – bicarbonate of soda can be found in the baking supplies aisle
  • citrus seed extract – powerful antimicrobial agent, often sold as grapefruit seed extract, available at most health food stores
  • essential oils – available at health stores, my favorite oils are Young Living Essential Oils. (contact me if you would like to purchase this brand). Make sure that you purchase pure oils and only use what the recipe calls for,  do not add more – it will not make the formula stringer, if anything it may cause skin irritation. Common ones used for cleaning are citrus (grapefruit, orange, lemon or lime), rosemary, eucalyptus, tea tree, thyme, citronella and peppermint.
  • lemon juice – available at grocery stores
  • liquid castile soap – this is an olive oil based soap available at grocery stores or health food stores
  • salt – kosher salt for scrubbing
  • vinegar – purchase vinegar labeled grain alcohol or neutral grain spirits, you want to avoid buying one with petroleum byproducts.
  • washing soda – sodium carbonate or soda ash, can be found in the laundry detergent aisle
  • plastic or glass spray bottles – you can purchase 24 oz. plastic bottles at Staples or smaller one are available online
  • plastic squirt bottles – reuse from another product or can be purchased online

orange oil

Let’s start in the kitchen –

Sink Cleanser for Stains

  • 1/4 cup washing soda
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 8 drops of essential oil – rosemary, eucalyptus or tea tree
  • 3/4 cup vinegar for rinsing

Combine washing soda, baking soda and essential oil in an airtight container and shake well to blend. Sprinkle a small amount in the sink and scrub with a damp sponge. Rinse the sink with vinegar, then with hot water. For stubborn stains, allow the formula to sit on the stain for several minutes, then scrub and rinse with vinegar and hot water.

Citrus Dishwashing Blend

  • liquid castile soap
  • 20 drops lime essential oil
  • 10 drops orange essential oil
  • 5 drops citrus seed extract

The wonderful lemony/citrus aroma is not only great to smell but it has benefits as a natural degreaser. Fill a clean 22 ounce bottle with castile soap (dilute according to directions if using concentrate). Add the essential oils and extract. Shake bottle before each use. Add 1-2 tablespoons of liquid to dishwater and wash as usual.

Automatic Dishwasher Powder

  • 3 cups washing soda
  • 1 cup baking soda

Combine all ingredients and store in a sealed container. To use, add about 2 tablespoons to the soap compartment of your dishwasher. If you find your glassware has a residual buildup, reduce the amount in each use to 1 1/2 tablespoons.

Herbal Disinfectant

  • 2 cups hot water
  • 10 drops thyme essential oil
  • 1/4 cup washing soap

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray on surfaces and wipe clean with a damp cloth or sponge.

Kitchen Wipes

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 ounce liquid castile soap
  • 6-8 drops of favorite essential oil

Instead of using paper towels to wipe up spills or clean counter tops, store multiple squares of cotton cloth (old T shirt or pajamas). Fill a container with all of the ingredients (you may want to use a large glass jar), shake when ready to use, pull out a cloth, ring excess liquid back into jar and wipe surface. The cloths can be washed and returned to jar for reuse. Cap jar between uses.

Tough jobs:

  • For very greasy dishes, add 1/2 cup vinegar or lemon juice to dishwater.
  • To loosen baked-on foods from pots and pans, immediately add some baking soda to the dirty dish and wait 15  minutes before cleaning. If the pan has cooled before you have had a chance to add the baking soda – boil a solution of 1 cup water, 5 drops cedar (or other essential oil), and 3 tablespoons baking soda directly in the pot or pan. Allow mixture to stand until food can be scraped off easily.

Controlling Kitchen pests:

  • Ants – wipe cabinets with a damp sponge and 6-8 drops of peppermint or citronella essential oil. Then place 3-5 drops of the same oil on window sills, doorway cracks and in the corners of cabinets under the kitchen sink.
  • Centipedes, Earwigs and Silverfish – Place several drops of peppermint, eucalyptus or citronella essential oil in the areas that collect moisture – basements, garages and cabinets with plumbing fixtures.
  • Mice – place sprigs of fresh peppermint between pantry items in your cabinets, or make a solution of 2 cups water and 3 teaspoons peppermint essential oil and spray it wherever you find mouse droppings.
  • Mites and Weevils – Place a few whole nutmegs in flour containers.
  • Other insects – place loose bay leaves in kitchen cabinets.
Moving on to the bathroom –

Germs-Be-Gone Toilet Cleaner

This antibacterial spray cleaner is specifically formulated for cleaning the general surface area of the toilet, and under and behind the seat.

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup liquid castile soap
  • 1 teaspoon tea tree essential oil
  • 10 drops eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray on toilet surfaces and wipe clean with a damp cloth or sponge.

And Let’s Not Forget The Laundry Room –

Talk about chemicals and artificial ingredients – let’s talk the laundry aisle at the grocery store! I can not walk down it without a sneeze attack. The fragrances alone trigger a reaction in me. I began using fragrance and dye free laundry soap years ago. I don’t use fabric softeners nor dryer sheets with fragrance. Here is a simple recipe for washing powder and some additional tips.

Simple Washing Powder

This recipe makes enough powder to last a typical family of four for one year. You can easily reduce the amounts to make a smaller quantity for your use.

  • 16 cups baking soda
  • 12 cups washing soda
  • 8 cups castile soap
  • 3 tablespoons lavender, lemon or grapefruit essential oil

Combine baking soda, washing soap and soap flakes. If using, add essential oil and mix with a whisk. Use 1/8 cup per load.

Helpful tips

  • Eliminate the use of fabric softeners by using 1/2 cup vinegar in the rinse cycle.
  • Pre-treat stains with a combination of washing soda, water and baking soda.
  • Forgo dryers sheets. For fragrance, add a few drops of essential oil to a damp rag and throw it in the dryer with laundry. Use dryer balls (www.ecosisters.com) to reduce drying time, wrinkles and static.
  • Make sure your dryer vents outdoors and clean out the vent periodically.
  • Rid the washer of bacteria, soap scum and grease by running a cleaning cycle with white vinegar and hot water.
  • NEVER combine bleach with vinegar or ammonia – it produces a toxic chlorine vapor.
  • line dry your clothes. They smell great and don’t use any energy!

laundry

If you don’t want to make your own recipes for cleaning products, there are several nontoxic lines that you might want to try:

Keep things simple and healthy – we are bombarded by so many chemicals and toxins, keeping our cleaning products as natural as possible within our living space is essential. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at design@lmkinteriorsltd.com or 978.335.1140. Happy Spring!

 

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Commercial Kitchen Gone Organic

I have retained a new client. She came into my office a few weeks ago with a signed contract and retainer and said, “I can not wait to get started working with you on designing my dream kitchen!” How exciting, so far this New Year has brought three kitchen renovations into the office. I would like to explain how I met this woman and also how she has come to be a client.

    Wicked Local Photo by David Sokol 04/03/10 A child reaches to touch the foot of a new born chick during a "Meet the New Baby Animals" event held at Green Meadows Farm.    sheep   chickens              

                          green meadows farm                             

Eight years ago, I became acquainted with Green Meadows Farm in Hamilton, MA. It had just become a certified organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and they were seeking members. I noticed that they offered a work-for-share membership in addition to a paid membership. It excited me to know that I could work four hours per week in exchange for organic produce that could sustain my family for that week. From April through October, I worked in the fields for our weekly produce pick up. I arranged my business schedule to accommodate this addition to my work day. It really wasn’t a problem, except for the days when I had a client meeting scheduled on an afternoon after working the fields and couldn’t clean the dirt out from under my finger nails! After three years of field work, I was promoted to working on the retail side. I worked and continue to work in the farm stand on Saturday mornings to better fit with my design business schedule. It has been a great experience. I have learned a lot, met some interesting people and made some lasting friendships.

One of the friends I met was the organic baker, Kim Gregory. She had previously owned a cafe that provided organic foods and baked goods to her customers. She had scaled back her business and was now providing local establishments with her wonderful baked goods. Whoopie pies, chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies, scones, brownies, etc. All made with 100% organic ingredients. She provided baked goods to Green Meadows Farm for the first several years I worked there. She then took her business in another direction and we would occasionally run into one another around town.This past spring while Juli, Matt and I were manning our Connect-The-Dots booth at the Hamilton Wenham Green Living Fair we reconnected and had time to talk about the changes she had made within her life. She had known about my business, but hadn’t really thought about how I might be able to help her until she saw several images of kitchens I had designed posted at the Fair.

She shared with me that she had recently obtained approval from the town of Beverly to build a commercial kitchen at her residence. She had pages of ideas, but needed assistance to make it all happen. Between myself and a trusted contractor, we agreed that we could construct her kitchen. She had one major requirement for going forward – to use as many reclaimed, recycled, repurposed and eco-friendly materials as possible in this design. The space she planned to use was her existing four car garage that had been originally built to accommodate her ex-husband’s custom bike shop. The structure was sound and the space was large enough to allow for a functional and creative environment.

We have had our initial meeting with the contractor and I have taken measurements of the space. I will begin design development in the coming weeks along with researching equipment, cabinetry, flooring, counter surfaces, lighting, and various other requirements. Currently from her rear windows, there are views of her backyard where there is a micro apple orchard, honey bee hives, egg laying chickens and a sustainable garden filled with vegetables, herbs, fruits and edible flowers. She would like to continue to grow her business by providing her delectable creations to restaurants and local businesses as well as provide a unique environment for offering cooking/baking classes sharing her skills with the local community.

My goal over the coming months is to share through my blog the progress of this project, including the trials and tribulations of creating an eco-friendly kitchen with Kim. It is interesting for me to reflect back eight years ago when I began my residential design business. I don’t think I ever would have envisioned designing an eco-friendly commercial kitchen for a friend! How fortunate to have this opportunity and experience.

With thoughts of kitchens, cooking and baking, what better way to end this blog than by sharing a family favorite recipe. My mother-in-law would make this wonderful strawberry pie as soon as the first strawberries of the season were ready for picking. It’s great to have at home or to bring to a pot luck. Enjoy with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipping cream!

    pie with cream           strawberry pie

FRESH STRAWBERRY PIE

EASY AND GOOD PIE CRUST

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 2 tblsp. milk

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients and mix in an ungreased 9” glass pie pan. Flute edges. Prick shell with a fork and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes until lightly brown. Let cool while making the filling.

STRAWBERRY PIE FILLING

  • 1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and cleaned, keep whole or slice
  • 5 tblsp. strawberry jello
  • 4 tsp. corn starch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 handful of cinnamon heart candies

Boil until thick: cornstarch, water and sugar. When thick add candy hearts and jello. Stir well until all are incorporated. Cool glaze, on counter or place in refrigerator for 20 minutes. Arrange strawberries in cooled pie shell and pour cooled glaze over entire pie. Place in refrigerator for at least an hour or more, serve with vanilla ice cream and/or fresh whipping cream. 

Here’s to a wonderful summer season! If you have any questions about eco-friendly kitchen inspiration, please feel free to contact me at (978)335-1140 or email at design@lmkinteriorsltd.com

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