Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Green (and budget!) carpet cleaner recipes

Nobody likes a sick child. And nobody likes the aftermath.

After my daughter threw up on the carpet, the recliner and a multitude of blankets last night, I realized something. As we came out of the bathroom, we were met from a chemical stench of Woolite carpet cleaner, which had drifted upstairs, overpowering everything else. Yuck.

This morning, I decided things needed to be different. I went to work trying to find a homemade solution that would be less fragrant.

Here are a few options I found online that hopefully wouldn't require a trip to the store for that 2 a.m. pinch:

Dry Carpet Cleaner (from easy-homemade-recipes.com)
2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup cornstarch
4 to 5 bay leaves
1 tablespoon cloves

Spot test a small, inconspicuous area of your rug first to test for color stability of the fibers. Put the ingredients through a sifter until blended. Sprinkle lightly on your carpeting and allow to sit several hours overnight. Sprinkle lightly on carpet and let stand for a couple of hours. Vacuum up and enjoy your fresh fragrant carpet. Store dry carpet cleaner and deodorizer in a coffee can.

Homemade Spot Remover (from frugalliving.about.com)
Mix white vinegar and baking soda together to form a paste. Then, work the paste into the carpet stain with an old toothbrush, or something similar. Allow the paste to dry; then vacuum up the baking soda, and the stain should be gone.

Green Carpet Cleaner (from thedailygreen.com)
Spots in carpets often remove with a simple dilution of one part vinegar, one-sixteenth part lemon juice and eight parts distilled water.

There are hundreds others that include essential oils, borax or other ingredients. But when you're tired, simple is the way to go!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Praying for an iPad

This is the saddest confession of my life. I actually prayed for an iPad.

You see, I was at a conference last week, and more vendors than not were doing a giveaway of a new iPad. And I was hooked.

And I actually prayed for one, because in just a few ways it'd make my life easier in the coming months. Sad, huh? But with my job I feel like I need some kind of mobile device (I'm in web communications after all!) and with our negative budget it's just not happening.

Not to mention the appeal of being able to log on to do my email by my kids, while they're playing, instead of traipsing to another room to boot the PC and monitor. (I could even argue it'd be an environmentally friendlier option!)

Sadly, it's not meant to be. But it would have been a great idea...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Halloween costume swaps in Indianapolis

Finding a Halloween costume without breaking your budget can be a challenge. I've been fortunate in five years of parenting to be able to have found a suitable costume out of our closet, hand-me-downs or just a small purchase of accessories (dog ears and tail) at a shop.

This year was the first time we actually bought a costume, but for a combined $15 at the resale shop, I'm not complaining too much.

Wish I had waited, though. This year, several costume swaps in Indianapolis are scheduled. Here's a few:

Carmel: Re-boo! Re-wear! Re-Scare! Oct. 9 from 1 to 3 p.m. you can green your Halloween at the Cool Creek costume swap. Bring an unwanted costume and swap it for another.

Franklin: Respook Rewear, Rescare" Oct. 14 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Johnson County Solid Waste Management District office. Simply bring in a gently used Halloween costume and swap it with one of our other gently used costumes. Open to Johnson County residents and families.

Not in Indy? Find other costume swaps closer to home.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Garlic mushroom soup

The other day, I was dragged out to lunch for a pick-me-up at a Greek restaraunt. There, I had the most fabulous garlic-mushroom soup. I've been thinking I should make some ever since.

While I haven't yet found one with that creamy consistency, I think I could settle on this recipe, and will be happily tormenting my husband with fungus soup sometime this week!

Garlic Mushroom Soup
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
20 cloves garlic, peeled
1-1/2 pounds fresh mushrooms, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups toasted bread crumbs
1 bunch fresh parsley, stems removed and finely chopped
10 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper

In a food processor or by hand, finely chop the garlic and 1 pound of the mushrooms. Cut the remaining 1/2 pound mushrooms into thin slices. In a 4-quart saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and saute the garlic and mushrooms for 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan and saute the bread crumbs. Add the mushroom mixture to the crumbs, stir in the parsley, and saute for 5 minutes. Add the broth and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I deserve better

Two hospitalizations ina week can really get you thinking. Especially when the heart in question is someone you love.

And so the last week or two, I've been thinking. I deserve better.

I've been diabetic for more than a decade. And I deserve to keep my blood sugars in tight control, even if it means turning down the random treat in the office.

I've been a parent for five years. And I deserve to eat and drink things without worry about how they will harm my health - not to mention help me stay strong enough to keep up with my children.

I've been stressed at work and at home for longer than I care to admit. And I deserve to take the time to get the sleep at night I need, and start my day in a reasonably good, well rested mood.

Frankly, I deserve better. Maybe it's time I start showing it...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Was my conference green or just cheap?

This week, I got a break from the office and was able to carpool up to a conference for work. It was a wonderful break, I learned a lot, but I began to wonder: The conference touted itself as green, but were organizers just being cheap?

Check out my post at the Green Phone Booth.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Raspberry dessert - for diabetics!

One of the biggest treats during summer trips to Wisconsin was enjoying my grandmother's raspberry dessert. And while I remember it, I also remember her kindly setting aside a bowl of raspberries and whipped cream for my mother, a diabetic.

Years later, I realize why. The recipe was great, but it's also loaded with sugar.

This summer, I retooled the recipe with a little less sugar and a little more raspberries (taking into account a fortunate finding of a bag of frozen raspberries in our freezer).

So here is a diabetic-friendlier (albiet not perfect) recipe. I hope Grandma would approve!

Raspberry Dessert (Revisited)
1/2 cup margarine
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups flour

Mix until crumbly. Pat into 9 x 12-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until light brown.

While baking, make topping:
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups Spendla
1/4 cup cornstarch

Cook until clear in saucepan. After it is clear, remove from heat and add 1 small box sugar-free raspberry Jello. Cool.

On crust, spread 1 1/2 quarts fresh or frozen berries. Pour Jello mixture over berries. Refrigerate until set and top with whipped topping.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

More fun with less

The Conscious Shopper posted the other day about having more fun and less stuff. And there's a lot of truth to that ideal.

You have less stuff, there's less time cleaning, and more time to play.

You have less stuff, there's more room for the imagination to grow.

You have less stuff, there's more appreciation of what you have.

The challenge is getting your kids to play along.

My kids have toys. Not huge amounts of toys, but there are days it feels like it. And they don't quite understand why their friends have more electronics, more dress-ups, more Barbie accessories, more movies than they do. I try to explain it's fun to play with different things at different friends' houses, but sometimes my oldest doesn't quite get it.

The idea of sharing our blessings, too, is a tough lesson to swallow. Lately I've been back on my cleaning-out kick, and we've been rustling out baby towels to toys. But any seldom-touched toy becomes "special" in a moment's instance the minute that the idea of sharing with another child comes up. Heck, we have two Chutes and Ladders games, both given as gifts, and we're having problems getting one out of the house to give to an underpriviledged child.

But at the end of the day, despite our clutter, we can - and do - have more fun with less. At the end of the day, there are but a few treasured toys that are played with each day. At the end of the day, it's those trips to go hiking or get the rare ice cream or go to a local festival that are remembered, not the days spent shopping or watching movies.

At the end of the day, we can have more fun with less. And it's just up to us as parents to sell it.

Fall in love with gardening again

While some of the women I work with are busy ripping up their dried-up gardens, I vote it's time to start again. This weekend, I'm busy doing another round of planting (and hoping that it finally rains). On the Green Phone Booth today, I share with you a few tips on how you can fall into fall gardening - and get results.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Save the world, one drink at a time

I saw this at Fake Plastic Fish today...All I have to say is...

Who buys one glass of wine? Save the world... buy a whole bottle!!

Wednesdays and weekends

Welcome to Wednesday. Thank God the week is half over. After being sick for five days and a parent in the hospital, here's hoping for the better half!

Thought I'd key you into my new schedule. Yes, I'm officially gearing down for awhile. I'm tired of apologizing for a crazy life. And I'm sure you're tired of reading said apologies.

Instead, I promise you'll see me here on Wednesdays and weekends for the near future.

The reasons? Work. I've been blessed with one of the biggest challenges of my career, and it eats a lot of off hours as well.

Health. Seriously. My tendonitis is flaring up, the worst it's been since my reporter days. Pain is not a call to creativity.

Family. Because they count too.

So that being said, see you this weekend!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hungry in America

Wanted to share a great post at Greenest Dollar on hunger in America and the many small ways you can help. Donations to pantries are down everywhere, and the need continues to grow. Please consider helping your fellow neighbor.