Happy New Year! Plans for 2011

There are many things I want to accomplish during this coming year.

Of course, I want to get the Meniere’s under control.

I want to figure out what is going on with my gut and get that fixed, including taking off this weight I’ve gained.

I want to exercise more.  I love to work out in a pool.  I just ordered some of the equipment that we used when I had physical therapy in a pool so I could do the exercises on my own.  (a flotation belt so I can exercise in the deep end without sinking, webbed gloves for resistance, and weights for my ankles to help with aqua walking and toning.)

I also ordered a heart rate monitor so I can keep up with that when I’m working out other ways.  (my heart tends to beat a little too fast too soon, so I have to keep an eye on that.)

Stuart and I have decided that we want to start living more in line with our beliefs.  Stop buying so much stuff we don’t need.  Start buying things that are used instead of new.  Stop creating so much trash.  Start buying closer to home.

We are going to try very hard to not buy anything new in 2011.  I’m looking at it as a smaller goal, I plan to say – Nothing new in January, then if I can do that, then Nothing new for the next 2 months, and build up.  I’m afraid if I say, Nothing new for a whole year, I’m just dooming myself to failure.  (of course, this doesn’t include food, necessities like soap and stuff, and we’ve agreed if we need underwear it will be bought new.)  It also doesn’t include services we may need, or the raw materials I need for my art.  I am trying to create recycled art, but there are still some things you just have to buy.  (I’m hoping to find some of this on Craig’s list, or Free Cycle.)

I hate to admit that we did go on a spending spree at the end of the year in anticipation of this upcoming year.  I’ve been wanting a new vacuum cleaner for so long, and I wasn’t going to wait another year for it!

Buying nothing new is going to be hard.  But I think we can make a good go of it.

I also want to eat healthier.  I need to get my cholesterol down (well my triglycerides, the rest is fine).

As most of you know I’ve taken on the challenge to make at least one meal a week from S.O.L.E. (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical) ingredients.  This has been a challenge during the winter months, there just isn’t that much local produce at this time of year.  But I’m enjoying the challenge.

Next, I’m taking on a challenge of going Vegan or at least Vegetarian for 21 days starting January 3rd.  I’ll take it one day at a time, but cutting out a substantial amount of saturated fat from my diet should lower my triglycerides.

I want to spend more time with my friends, and I want to make more friends who have the same interests I do.  It’s hard for me sometimes to go to parties and see how much is being wasted, and so many people don’t bother to recycle.  We are the only people in our group of friends who have a composter.  I also think it’s important to use cleaning products that are safe to the environment.  I feel like many of our friends do some things, but when it’s not convenient they don’t try.  I feel like we’ve fallen into that trap sometimes too.  For example, getting take-out.  What could be more wasteful?  At least when we eat at a restaurant they reuse the dishes and utensils.

We would rather spend our money on visiting friends and family.  Or giving to the charities we believe in.  We are tired of being wasteful.

In a nutshell what we have planned for the New Year is:

  • Get Healthier.
  • Stop being so wasteful.
  • Don’t buy anything new.
  • Make more time for our friends and family.

Are you making any resolutions or plans for the New Year?  I’d love to hear about them.

Happy New Year to one and all!

Green Cleaning

As I was cleaning today I was thinking about how differently I clean now than I used to.  I grew up with all sorts of chemical cleaners.  If there was a cleaning problem you used some cleaning product to fix it.  We had window cleaner, toilet cleaner, kitchen surface cleaner, bathroom cleaner….

Did we really need all that those chemicals to clean our homes.  Nope.

Now I use microfiber towels for a lot of my cleaning.  There are different types of microfiber towels, there’s a multipurpose one, one for glass, one for polishing…  I bought a group of these a while back.  I thought it really didn’t make much difference which towel I used where, but I have found that some of them are really good for cleaning, and some are really good for polishing.

I usually wet a multipurpose cloth with water (cleaners will reduce the effectiveness of these cloths), ring it out, then I wipe all my counters down, my stove, my microwave….Then I go back over the areas that show streaks with my blue polishing cloth.  It is wonderful for my black appliances, they just sparkle.

The multipurpose kitchen cloth is normally all I need to clean the grease and grim from my kitchen.   However, if I need more cleaning power this is what I use:

  • Lemon juice – cuts through grease, removes stains, and deodorizes. One example of using lemon juice is on wooden cutting boards: cut a lemon in half, sprinkle generously with salt, and scrub the cutting board with it. Another example is cleaning your kitchen sink, just sprinkle baking soda in your sink then use part of a lemon as a scrubber, then rinse and your sink will sparkle and smell great.  If you have a garbage disposal make sure to put the used lemon in there and run it with water for a little while to keep it fresh and clean.  Using lemons in your cleaning routine leaves a fresh, natural citrus scent.  Lemons or lemon juice does wonders in the bathroom too.
  • Baking soda – all-natural sodium bicarbonate is an excellent all-around cleaner that you can use all over the house. Use it to polish surfaces such as stainless steel without scratching. It also softens hard water and removes acidic stains. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer, and is great for use in the fridge, basement, or litter boxes, to name a few places. Sprinkling it over the carpet before vacuuming is also useful in absorbing odors. Mixing baking soda with water and spreading this mixture in the oven will loosen baked on grease and grime. Simply spread over soiled areas, let it sit overnight, and wipe clean. Safe to use around food, a baking soda and water paste is also ideal for cleaning the refrigerator.
  • Distilled white vinegar – about as multipurpose as baking soda, vinegar is a natural deodorizer and disinfectant, and breaks up grease and dirt, lifts out mineral deposits, and helps cut through mold and soap scum. Use it as a spray, mixed with water, to clean windows, and even as a natural spider-repellant. Use it straight in a spray bottle to combat mold and mildew. Vinegar is also excellent for use in shower stalls and bathtubs, where soap scum is a problem. Mixing vinegar with organic salts will give it extra power and provide scrubbing action. Vinegar mixed with hot water is also an excellent floor cleaner for mopping. Vinegar is also an excellent glass cleaner.
  • Olive oil – an excellent, all-natural treatment for wood. Use alone, or mix it with lemon juice for a safe and effective furniture polish.

With just a few items that you probably already have in your pantry, you can safely and easily clean your home.

Remember, if you decide to use some of the “green cleaners” on the market there is no standardization for terms such as “non-toxic”, “all natural”, “biodegradable”….  Many of these terms are simply useless, be sure to read the ingredients.  If they are vague, don’t buy it.

Be careful when buying “organic” cleaners.  In the food industry organic means grown or raised without pesticides.  However, with household cleaners it simply means that all the ingredients are carbon based, which includes some harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that release dangerous fumes.

For more information on more green cleaners, making your own, what to look for in products, and what terms really mean; check out The Greener Choice.  I was very impressed with the information I found there.