9 Things You Shouldn’t Do When You Live Alone

When people live alone they are free to do whatever they wish and nobody can restrict them. There are also lots of people who live alone due to different circumstances. For example, they are single because they can’t find their love or they have divorced. Freedom is something that we all need from time to time. So, it can be a nice idea to move out and live apart from others. I think it is really good for young people who have just graduated from the university and want to start a new independent life without parents. However, before taking this decision you should consider certain bad habits that may spoil your life. Here is the list of some bad things which you have to avoid by all means.

1. Not washing your dirty dishes
Sure, it doesn’t mean that all people who live alone don’t wash their dirty dishes regularly. First of all, it depends on your personality. But if you don’t share your apartment with anyone else, you’ll be relaxed and let your dirty dishes pile up. This is one of the worst habits you should be aware of. If your dishes stay dirty for one day or even more, it will be difficult to clean them and you’ll have a big amount of work to do. That’s why you’d better wash up right after eating. It will be a great shame when your friends come to you and see dirty dishes in your kitchen.

2. Eating or drinking directly from the container
Those who live alone usually tend to eat various foods directly from the container and they almost never use glasses to drink beverages like wine or beer. To my mind you’ll look disgusting when drinking straight from the bottle. Try to get rid of this negative habit in order to look more attractive in the company of others. I’m sure you’ll get more pleasure from your food when eating it from your favorite plate.

3. Leaving up decorations
Most of us have a terrible habit to leave up decorations after Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Birthday Parties and other holidays. Definitely, we like that festive atmosphere in our home and bright decorations are the only way to prolong those happy moments. But at the same time it may be annoying for everyone who visits you. Your guests will not understand you if they see your Christmas decorations a few months after the holiday. Thus, you ought to take down all decorations when the festivity is over, otherwise you will never do this.

4. Eating too much food
If you live alone, you will constantly lack communication with other people and you can even be bored sometimes. In this case watching television and eating food are the easiest way to entertain yourself and feel a bit happier. Every time you have a desire to talk to someone you go to your kitchen and eat tasty foods which are generally high in calories. For many people this is a substitution of live communication. We rarely think that this satisfaction is dangerous to us and very often it leads to overweight.

5. Not changing your bed sheets regularly
Whether you live with your family or alone, you must not forget to change your bed sheets. There aren’t any excuses for you, except you are ill or injured. Make it a rule to change your bedclothes once a week. Moreover, it would be good if you wash your pillowcases more frequently as they get dirty very quickly.

6. Not cleaning your kitchen and bathroom
The places in your home such as kitchen and bathroom are used every day, and consequently, they need to be cleaned regularly. Sure, it won’t be pleasant for you to cook your dinner in the kitchen where everything is covered with mold or take shower in a messy bathroom. No matter how busy you are, you should always find time for cleaning these special rooms in your flat.

7. Being too lazy
Undoubtedly, you’ll have a great temptation to sleep more in the morning, especially on weekend. There are some days when you want to pamper yourself, though you should bear in mind that sleeping too much is the first step to your laziness. You can do plenty of interesting activities instead of having a nap. Life is so colorful and exciting that you can’t waste your time for sleeping.

8. Being a hermit
Once you have moved out, you will highly appreciate your own space and freedom. From the first days of your independent life you will be happy to stay at home at every possible opportunity and relish your solitude. As a rule people who spend much time at home give preference to watching TV or surfing the Internet and these activities alienate them from the real world. If you don’t want to be a hermit, you should break this bad habit immediately. Go out with your friends and play your favorite sports for a change.

9. Hoarding
Don’t be lazy and always keep your house clean. In order to avoid heaps of trash around your home, you are to take out all unnecessary things several times a week. Living in a mess is not comfortable. So, why not throw out your garbage and make your room the best place to live in? Stop hoarding things and you’ll be amazed how much space you have in your home.

Living alone is an excellent experience that can be useful for everyone. Nevertheless, it is important to pay attention to your lifestyle when you move out since you’ll be subjected to numerous bad habits that may complicate your life. Have you ever lived alone? Which bad habits did you have?

7 Must Have Kitchen Items for a Homemade First Aid Kit

Accidents can happen anywhere in the home, but after burning my hand fairly badly on the stove recently, I decided having a homemade first aid kit would be essential. I searched online to find homemade burn treatments and found some very interesting ways to help with a burn. These items not only help with burns, they have other benefits that would be great in a homemade first-aid kit.

This was one of the first suggestions I found online for treating burns. Yes, it helps ease the pain. Vinegar is a great tool to have in a first-aid kit because it can also treat the following ailments:

Ringworm

Heartburn

Insect bites

Athlete’s foot

Head lice

Any fungal infection

I have tried apple cider vinegar to treat acid reflux, but it can also be used for numerous other ailments.

Sore throat

Remove warts, acne, and skin tags

Sunburn

Stuffy nose and allergies

Bad breath and teeth whitener

Honey was another home remedy I found to help with burns. Here are other ways to use it in a first-aid kit.

Treats nausea and digestion issues

Reduces allergy symptoms

Sore throat

Boosts antioxidants

Eases coughs

Reduces tooth pain

Reduces acne

I used coconut oil to help heal my burns and blisters. It is an antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory weapon you can use for other reasons.

Heals burns, cuts, bites, blisters, stings, and other skin problems

Treats itching

Removes warts and moles

Treats athlete’s foot

Eases tooth pain

Head lice

Aloe vera was mentioned in every search I did online to treat a burn. Aloe vera can be used for multiple issues. Its major properties are like coconut oil and can be used for the same issues.

Skin irritations and ailments including eczema

Sunburn and other burns

Dandruff

Athlete’s Foot

Rashes

If you do not have a small stash of essential oils in your kitchen or bathroom, I suggest you start one. Many essential oils have healing properties. In my search for burn pain, I found lavender oil, tea tree oil, and frankincense mentioned the most. Here’s how each of these oils can help with first-aid issues:

Lavender oil eases, soothes, and calms burn pain, itching, prevents scars, treats earaches, anxiety, and symptoms associated with anxiety, treats headaches and more.

Tea Tree oil has antifungal and antiseptic qualities that make it very useful. It can be used to disinfect anything, treat stings, and help clear acne.

Frankincense oil is a natural pain reducer that reduces inflammation. It can also be used for reducing anxiety. It helps treat headaches and Pre- and Post-Menstrual issues including pain and mood swings. It boosts the immune system and has been known to have anti-aging benefits.

My pain did not ease up with any of these home remedies, and I was thinking it was just about time to go to the ER. However, in my last-ditch effort to avoid the trip, I found that mustard was an item many people found to be a miracle-worker with burn pain and blistering. So, I thought I would give it one last try.

Your kitchen sponge could have more bacteria than a toilet seat

It’s probably best to replace sponges like this weekly, especially if you live with children, sick people or old folks.

Pixabay

They are often damp, continuously introduced to new microbial cells, and are one of the biggest reservoirs of active bacteria in your whole house. And they aren’t even located in your bathroom.

We are talking about kitchen sponges.
The very thing that you use to “clean up” after a meal or snack contains the second highest load of coliform bacteria in the whole house, after your drain traps. A new study by researchers at several institutions in Germany investigates the role of kitchen sponges and their capability to collect and spread bacteria, even pathogens.

Study author Markus Egert of Furtwangen University says the group collected sponges donated from private households in the Villingen-Schwenningen region of Germany and analyzed the DNA and RNA of the microbes that made their homes in those common cleaning tools.

“We detected 362 different bacterial species in the 14 investigated sponges,” he told Popular Science in an e-mail. “Locally, the density of bacteria reached 54 billion per square centimeter of sponge tissue, which is similar to the microbial density of stool samples.”

Basically, he says, one square centimeter of sponge tissue contains seven or eight times more bacteria than the number of human beings living on earth. Two square centimeters of sponge tissue contain as many bacteria as the number of human beings that ever have lived on earth so far.

“Three trillion human beings put into Grand Canyon would create a similar concentration of ‘biomass’ as bacteria in a used kitchen sponge,” Egert says.

The study shows that five of the ten most abundant species detected are categorized as potential pathogens, meaning they could cause infections in humans, particularly in those with a weak immune system like old people, sick people, and children.

And to make things worse, cleaning your sponge might not be making anything better. The study reports that two of the ten dominant bacterias, which are closely related to potentially pathogenic species Chryseobacterium hominis and Moraxella osloensis, showed greater proportions in regularly sanitized sponges.

“We assume that typical sponge cleaning techniques do not kill all bacteria inside,” says Egert. “The remaining species, which are, for unknown reasons, more resistant to the cleaning methods than the ones that get killed, proliferate again and grow up to higher shares than before. It might be similar to the use of antibiotics, where some bacteria can survive due to resistance against the drug.”

One these abundant and cleaning-resistant species, Moraxella osloensis, is known to cause stinky laundry, which may be why sponges smell so gross after a while, Egert says. The study also shows that since these bacteria tend to multiply upon sanitizing, the more times the sponge is cleaned the more pungent it becomes.

Next steps for the researchers include investigating the actual pathogenicity of the kitchen sponge microbiome and looking into different sponge-cleaning techniques and their effects. For now, the moral of the story is replace your sponges regularly to avoid getting sick.

Egert recommends replacing your “dirty old friend” weekly, especially if you live or work in a hygiene-sensitive area, like a hospital or cafeteria, or if you have sick or older people in your home.

If you are having trouble parting ways with a yucky old sponge, he says that cleaned sponges could be used in a place that is less hygiene-sensitive, like a garden.

“Don’t be afraid of your sponge, but be aware that it contains billions of potentially pathogenic germs,” Egert says.

Stocking A Real Food Kitchen

Keeping a well-stocked, real food kitchen is essential for sticking to a healthy lifestyle. If you’ve got healthy foods at your finger tips all the time and no processed foods to fall back on, you won’t be tempted to reach for the cereal on a busy morning.

For me, keeping a kitchen well stocked and meal planning have been the two biggest factors in keeping our family eating real foods! I’ve had several readers request a list of the foods I keep stocked in my kitchen, so today, I’m welcoming you into my kitchen (please excuse the mess!)

Stocking A Real Food Pantry

Keeping large amounts of non-perishables on hand and buying them in bulk when they are on sale is a great way to save money and always have these foods on hand. I have really limited pantry space, so instead of all my non-perishables being in one big closet, they are spread out all over my kitchen. I cook with a lot of fresh or frozen ingredients though, so this hasn’t been too much trouble.

These are the foods I keep stocked at all times in my pantry:

Coconut Products: I keep a lot of coconut oil, shredded coconut, coconut flour, coconut cream, etc. on hand. We go through these things quickly, and they are great snacks to have on hand for the kids in recipes like the Chocolate Coconut Clusters. My kids even eat coconut oil off the spoon. I buy most of my coconut products from Tropical Traditions, though you can order them from many different places. Just look for unrefined, organic, cold pressed versions.

Olive Oil: I keep olive oil on hand for salad dressings and adding to foods once they are cooked. It is a great source of monounsaturated fats, just don’t use it for cooking or it can oxidize!

Other Fats and Oils: I also keep Lard, Tallow and Ghee on hand for cooking. I either make or order these in big quantities and store in 1 or 5 gallon buckets. US Wellness Meats has grassfed, organic Tallow (high in CLA) in bulk for a great price

Vinegars: I keep White Vinegar on hand for cleaning and other vinegars like balsamic and apple cider on hand for cooking. I use apple cider/balsamic/red wine for salad dressings and marinades and drink a couple TBSP of Apple Cider Vinegar in water if I feel a cold coming on.

Nuts: For on-the-go snacks, I try to keep walnuts, cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts etc. on hand. If I can, I soak and then dehydrate these before storing to reduce the phytic acid. (P.S. Macadamia nuts dipped in 90% dark chocolate and then cooled are one of my favorite treats)

Canned Fish: Though not the perfect choice, canned fish is a way to pack protein on the go, or a fast meal in a pinch. I keep sardines, tuna, wild caught salmon, etc. on hand to make tuna salads, salmon patties, etc. There are even organic sustainable tuna options.

Self Canned Veggies: I’ve been canning most of my own veggies and sauces to reduce our BPA exposure. Many store bought canned vegetables, and all tomatoes (as far as I know) have a BPA lining in the can. It is certainly more time consuming, but I can make ketchup, tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, hot sauce, tomato soup, etc. from the tomatoes in our garden. If you don’t have this option, look for these foods in jars not cans.

Vegetables: Some vegetables that don’t need to be refrigerated can keep in the pantry for a long time. We keep sweet potatoes, onions, winter squash, garlic, etc. on hand in the pantry and they always get eaten before they spoil.

Herbs and Spices: I keep so many of these on hand that I have a cabinet specifically stocked with medicinal and culinary herbs and spices. In my opinion, good spices can make the difference between a good meal and a great one. I use these to make iced herbal teas to keep in the fridge, for spices on food, for making tinctures, and for medicinal use if one of us gets sick. These are the herbs/spices  I currently have on hand:

Culinary:

Basil
Thyme
Oregano
Rosemary
Garlic (powder, granules, minced, salt)
Turmeric
Cayenne
Cinnamon
Sea Salt (Himalayan, Black Lava, Smoked)
Cumin
Chili Powder
Celery Salt
Savory
Dill
Onion Powder and Salt
Mint
Bay Leaf
Caraway
Cardamon
Marjoram
Parsley
Pepper
I also keep medicinal/tea herbs and spices on hand

Alfalfa
Nettle
Dandelion
Peppermint
Spearmint
Red Raspberry Leaf
Chamomile
Ginger
Activated Charcoal
Elderberries
Bilberry
Black Walnut
Calendula
Catnip
Coltsfoot
Echinacea
Fennel
Fenugreek
Ginko
Ginseng
Goldenseal
Hops
Horsetail
Lavender
Lemon Balm
Licorice
Oatstraw
Red Clover
Spurlina
Stevia Leaf
Kelp
I order all of my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs and have been really impressed with them. They offer bulk discounts depending on how much you order, so if you decide to order from here, I’d recommend ordering in bulk and stocking up.

Baking Ingredients: Almond flour, baking powder (aluminum free), baking soda, cocoa powder, vanilla, almond butter, dark baking chocolate, etc.

Stocking A Real Food Fridge

The fridge is harder to keep stocked, at least around here. As fast as my kids go through eggs, bacon, apples, and cucumbers, it never seems to stay full! (that picture was taken as soon as I got home from the store!)

These are the things I always (try) to keep stocked in my fridge:

Vegetables: We keep sliced cucumbers, carrots and celery on hand for snacks. I also keep lots of lettuce and spinach for salads and cabbage to make sauerkraut (which is usually in some stage of fermentation on my counter). To mix things up, I try to also keep artichokes, leeks, peppers, tomatoes, avocados, cauliflower, broccoli, greens, squashes etc. on hand.

Fruits: We try to stick with season fruit, but I usually keep apples and oranges around for the kids. If they are in season, we usually have citrus fruits, if not, I just keep lemon and lime juice for adding to water.

Coconut Milk: There is always at least a gallon of homemade or store bought coconut milk in the fridge for smoothies and drinks for the kids.

Yogurt: Though we don’t eat much yogurt, I keep the full fat organic kind on hand to separate to make whey for fermenting and cream cheese for cooking and veggie dips.

Meats: These are kept in the fridge or freezer and I usually don’t keep more than a day or two’s worth of meat defrosted at once.

Eggs: We go through at least a dozen eggs a day, so keeping these around is tough. If I can stay on top of it, I try to keep 5-6 dozen cartons in the fridge, including at least a dozen already boiled ones for snacks.

Condiments: I’ve resorted to making most of my own, but the following condiments are usually in the fridge: mustard, homemade mayo, homemade ketchup, homemade tomato sauce, homemade hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, chlorophyll, homemade pickles and relish, etc.

Other Places We Keep/Store Food

To be able to purchase in bulk, we have a stand up deep freeze and an extra fridge in our shed. We also keep a garden and cold storage. The deep freeze is full of a 1/4 cow that we purchased from a local farmer, and some frozen veggies from last year’s garden. I also really stock up on nitrite free bacon, sausage, and hot dogs when they are on sale.

During the summer months, most of our vegetables come from the garden, which helps the food budget a lot!

On my counters is always an array of foods in various stages of prep and fermentation including:

Water Kefir

Natural Kitchen Cleaning Checklist


Of all the rooms in my house, the kitchen has to be cleaned the most often, is the most difficult to clean because of the variety of surfaces, and because they come into contact with our food (and vice versa) so not cleaning it well has the most potential for harm.

It is also a place where harmful chemicals often lurch, despite the fact that this is where they are the most dangerous. I’ll share my best tips for cleaning the kitchen naturally, and please share yours in the comments!

Cabinets

At my house, cabinets get food, fingerprints and wall art (mainly the lower ones) from my aspiring Picassos, and these can be a pain to clean. I’ve become hooked on microfiber to clean these with just water, but another great solution is a natural all-purpose cleaner and a clean rag (I use cut up old t-shirts and towels).

Counters and Table

My All-Purpose Cleaner also works great on countertops and tables. I’ve used it on granite and formica and it doesn’t leave residue. I would not recommend specific granite cleaning sprays, as these are some of the worst offenders in the chemical department. Do not use vinegar/lemon or anything acidic on granite as this can erode the finish and wear down the stone. You can also use a homemade alcohol based cleaner for tough messes and great shine, but I wouldn’t use it everyday.

Floors

Depending on your floors, the type of cleaning will vary, but any floor can be cleaned naturally. For laminate, ceramic, etc., a mixture of 1 cup vinegar in a gallon of water on a wet mop will clean really well. You can use the All-purpose cleaner to pre-treat any tough stains. There are also other options for carpet and hardwood.

For tile and grout, I sprinkle with baking soda and then spray with hydrogen peroxide and leave for a few minutes before scrubbing and then wiping off. This is the only way I’ve found to keep grout white.

I’ve switched to microfiber on this and am looking forward to my microfiber mop coming in, but in the meantime I just clean the floor by hand.

Dishwashing

For natural dish soap, I use Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castille or the Dishwashing Liquid from Tropical Traditions. I’ve tried many natural variations of homemade dishwasher detergent, but usually default to Tropical Traditions Dishwasher Soap since it is the best natural option I’ve found.

To clean the dishwasher itself, I put a bowl or two on the top shelf of the dishwasher right side up and fill it with undiluted white vinegar. I then just run the dishwasher as usual (no other dishes in it) and this removes soap scum and makes the dishwasher run more efficiently. This is on my once-a-month to do list.

Oven Cleaning

I have a self-cleaning oven but don’t like to use that feature, unless it is an especially cold day in winter, because it heats the house up a lot. The easiest way I’ve found besides using the self-clean is to spray water over the bottom of the oven and dump on a lot of baking soda (about 1/4-1/2 inch think) and then spray with more water to make a paste. Then, I leave it overnight. In the morning, I scrape out all the baking soda mixture (which is brown by this point) and then use a wire brush to scrub any tough spots. After all the baking soda has been wiped off, a vinegar and water rinse will leave a spot free shine.

Garbage Disposal

I use my garbage disposal a lot and sometimes it gets that not-so-lovely odor. To combat this, there are a couple of options:

  • Cut a lemon in half, shove in garbage disposal and grind (with water running) for 10 seconds
  • Freeze lemon and orange peels in ice cube trays with vinegar or water and throw these in and grind for 10 seconds
  • Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda in and then 1 cup of distilled white vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes before running the water and and the disposal

Cast Iron

This won’t be in everyone’s kitchen, but we use cast iron a lot (haven’t had trouble with anemia during pregnancy since we started that). I try not to use soap on cast iron since it ruins the seasoning that takes so long to accomplish. Instead I use a steel scouring pad and some regular salt and scrub. This usually gets them clean without any trouble.

Paper Products

We’ve finally transitioned to paper free in our kitchen, and I won’t ever go back. We actually bought several hundred cloth napkins for our wedding years ago, and we still use those, though if I ever replace them, I’ll replace them with a darker color to hide the stains they have now. A couple of dozen cloth napkins will last a family between washes and will save a lot of money and waste in the long run.

We also use extra dish towels instead of paper towels and just replace them every six months to a year, which is still cheaper than buying paper towels.

Produce Washing

The way I wash produce largely depends on where it came from and what it is. For stuff from our garden, it gets a light wash in water before use. For store bough produce with tough skin, I soak in vinegar for about 10 minutes, and then lightly scrub with my hands after I’ve dipped them in baking soda. I do this before placing them in the fridge so that the chemicals don’t transfer to the fridge and so the kids can get their own fruits and veggies for snacks. I’ve also tried a hydrogen peroxide and water spray, and this seems to work for softer skin fruits and veggies like peaches or grapes or berries (1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide in 2 cups of water – stored in a dark bottle!).

What is Under My Sink

I keep it simple with kitchen cleaning. Under the sink, I have bottles of white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, Dr. Bronners, baking soda, my homemade cleaner, microfiber cloths and assorted cloths and scrubbing brushes. I’m yet to find a mess I can’t tackle with this regimen. (On a related note, I keep everything under my sink in a boot tray that typically goes by the backdoor so that I can remove them all at once to clean under the sink).

Kitchen Cleaning Checklist

Today, let’s all get our kitchens naturally clean! Take the chemicals to a hazardous waste disposal place and stop using them!! I’ve found this checklist from Real Simple helpful to clean the kitchen from the top down. You can also download my personal organizing printable that have  my chore lists, room-by-room checklists and daily to-do lists to help make the process easier.

Save Money in the Kitchen with Cloth

One simple change in the kitchen can make a big difference in reducing waste and saving money: switching to entirely to cloth instead of paper.

This is one easy change that I resisted for a long time but wish I had made the switch much earlier. I think the idea of removing paper products in the kitchen is much more daunting than it actually is to switch.

I have many friends who cloth diaper but who still resist the idea of using cloth instead of paper towels and napkins in the kitchen (kitchen messes are less gross than poopy diapers in my opinion… at least most of the time!).

If you’ve never considered the idea of using cloth in the kitchen before, I’d encourage you to give it a try. Not only does it save money and reduce waste, but I actually find that it isn’t much extra work at all (and we cook 3x a day).

What Kind of Cloth?

I think the two biggest factors that make using cloth in the kitchen easy for us are:

  1. Picking the right kind of cloth
  2. Having enough of them on hand

To go paper-free in the kitchen, you have to replace paper napkins, paper towels and other disposable products like cleaning wipes. I’ve found that there isn’t necessarily a single solution that replaces all of these, but that there are very effective replacements for each category. For instance:

  • Instead of paper napkins use cloth napkins or microfiber cloths
  • Instead of paper towels use huck towels or microfiber cloths
  • Instead of regular dish towels use huck towels

Hypothetically, all paper products could be replaced by huck towels or microfiber cloths if you didn’t mind the how they look as napkins. I’ve found that both of these are more absorbent than paper towels or regular napkins and surprisingly easy to use.

If you haven’t heard of huck towels before, I can’t recommend them enough. We got a few from a friend for our wedding and I searched for years in home stores and couldn’t find them. Then, I noticed them in an odd place: in the hospital! Turns out that these are the type of towels they use in the hospital for absorbing blood and other fluids during/after surgery.

You can order huck towels online and they work wonderfully as regular kitchen towels and in place of paper towels.

For microfiber, I like these because they are naturally antibacterial and seem to last forever (I’ve had mine over a year), but even the big economy packs in the auto section at stores like Sam’s and Costco work great for kitchen messes.

We actually had a big supply of cloth napkins already since we bought them instead of renting them when we got married (It was a lot cheaper!) They were all white though and have gotten stained over the years, so I’ve occasionally replaced some of them with colorful napkins like these or mismatched ones from thrift stores and yard sales.

Setting up the System

If you’re just switching to a paper-free kitchen, setting up a good system for using cloth greatly simplifies things. I have cloth napkins, microfiber cloths and huck towels in easily accessible places around the kitchen so that even the kids can use them. I also have a place where used towels go so they can be washed.

We keep cloth napkins by the table in a cabinet and huck towels and microfiber in a drawer by the sink.

The kids are responsible for setting the table before meals and cleaning up after so I’ve made sure that they can easily reach the napkins and the microfiber cloth to clean the table after meals. When they are done, used cloths go in to a small basket under the sink. With our family size, I’ve found it helpful to have on hand:

  • 2 dozen or more huck towels
  • 1 dozen microfiber cloths
  • 3-4 dozen cloth napkins
  • Other assorted cloths for cleaning and picking up spills including cut up old shirts, old cloth diapers/inserts or old socks (for younger kids to use in cleaning and polishing)

The assorted other cloths are especially helpful in really big messes that create a cloth that is easier thrown away than washed.

The Laundry Aspect

My biggest hesitation in switching to cloth was the extra laundry, but just as with cloth diapering it really isn’t a big deal once you get in the habit. I’ve found a few tips that have made things easier though:

  • Use separate loads for microfiber and towels/napkins so the microfiber don’t pick up the lint from the others.
  • Run a rinse cycle with some baking soda first to cut any grease
  • Run an extra rinse cycle with vinegar at the end if needed for extra cleaning/deodorizing
  • Using this BioKleen oxybleach occasionally to get rid of stains or odor (I also use this on cloth diapers occasionally)
  • Wash every other day and teach younger kids to fold the loads (easy thing for them to learn how to fold on)

The Savings

I wish that I had kept up with how much we spent on paper products for the kitchen when we used them so I could give a good estimate for how much we save. Maybe some of you can chime in below with averages of how much you spend on paper products.

I do know that for under $60 you can get a good supply of all of the cloth replacements for paper products in your kitchen, and based on the prices of paper products in the stores, I would think these would pay for themselves within a few months.

What’s In My Kitchen

After I wrote about what I keep in my purse, I’ve gotten several requests for a similar post about what my kitchen looks like and what appliances/health tools I keep there. Below is the list I wish I’d had before I got married so I could have put most of these items on my wedding registry.

Natural Kitchen Items

I feel that it is important to note that I cook 2-3 times a day and we don’t have or use a microwave. All of the items I have in my kitchen now are heavy duty and have multiple uses. Many of these items are pricey but we carefully budgeted for them and most have extended warranties. I should also note that because I am constantly experimenting with new recipes for the blog, I have some appliances and tools I would not have originally thought to register for.

1. Appliances/Big Items

Besides the usual refrigerator and oven/stove, I have a variety of small appliances that I use on a regular basis.

Vitamix: We have had a Vitamix since early in our marriage and it has been used multiple times a day for years! We use it daily for smoothies, sauces, blending coffee with healthy fats, chopping, etc. If I could only have one of the appliances on this list, I’d keep the Vitamix.
Food Processor (I have this one) I didn’t put this on my wedding registry because I thought “how much would I really use a machine that just chops and mixes?” Turns out, I would use it a lot. I thought it would be fun to chop everything by hand, which was true for a couple of years, but a few kids later when I often only have one hand to cook or I have a baby on my back, I don’t like using a knife and the food processor is really helpful. I also use this often for chopping items for soups, slicing cabbage for sauerkraut, pre-chopping salad items for the whole week, etc
Mixer (I have this one): Another one I didn’t get early on because I didn’t think we’d use it much (especially since I don’t bake much). While it is still not my most-used kitchen too, I do use it pretty often for blending things like homemade marshmallows or the dough for coconut flour biscuits, etc. Before we got this mixer, I just had the hand-mixer version and it worked really well too.
Dehydrator (I have this one): We went through several of the cheaper plastic type dehydrators but the Excalibur is considered the gold standard of dehydrators. Dehydrators are great for drying fruits and veggies, making beef jerky or salmon jerky, and more. My kids especially like apple chips made from dehydrated apples and strawberries. This appliance mainly gets used in the summer when there is excess produce that needs to be preserved.
Ice Cream Maker (I have this one): Not something I thought I would use all the time, but surprisingly we do. We do make actual ice cream recipes like this strawberry gelato, or butter pecan ice cream, but this is also just a great way to get extra healthy fats and nutrients  to my kids without a fight. I can even just blend watermelon and pour in to make a sorbet. For ice creams, I try to add coconut oil, egg yolks, and butter for good fats.
Crock Pot/Slow-Cooker (I have this one): This is one Item I had from the beginning. I’ve actually gone through several cheaper ones that wore out before I finally sprung for a high quality one. This particular crock-pot is also supposed to be tested to be free of lead (which is supposedly present in the crock of some slow-cookers).
Immersion Blender (I have this one): I use this all the time for pureeing soups in the pot, mixing batters (like almond flour pancake batter), etc
Berkey Water Filter (We have the crown size): Not an appliance per-se but we use this daily to filter our water for cooking, drinking, etc, as it is the best water filter option I’ve found.
2. Cookware

I cook all the time, so quality cookware was really important to me. I only use cookware that is natural/eco-friendly and also pretty easy to clean. This left only a few options, but my few versatile pieces get used all the time!

Ceramic skillets: (I have these) These cook evenly and are really easy to clean. The only downside is that they are breakable so I have to be careful when cleaning them. I use these especially for eggs as they don’t stick, but also for foods like stir frys or meats. [Note: Ceramcor has offered to give WM readers a 10% discount on all orders. Here are the details]
Cast Iron: A few good cast iron skillets can last forever. I use these for anything that has to go from stove to oven or for meats, bacon, sausage, etc. Another advantage is that trace amounts of iron are left in food to boost the body’s iron levels.
Enameled Cast Iron: I have a dutch oven and soup pot that are coated cast iron and use these for stove or oven roasting or cooking.
Large Stock Pot: I have a restaurant grade 5-gallon stock pot that I use for bone broth and for pre-cooking large batches of food.
Glass baking dishes– for everyday cooking and baking.
Steel Food Service Baking Pans (I have these) Since we try to cook in bulk when possible and since I now often have to cook large amounts even for single meals, these come in handy. I use them for roasting veggies, cooking large amounts of foods, and serving to large groups. They can also double as a roaster for large cuts of meat.
3. Kitchen Tools

Besides the bigger items like the appliances above, I have a variety of smaller kitchen items that I use all the time. I actually had a lot more of these smaller items and have weeded out single use items, especially those that took up a lot of room. The ones that made the cut and that I still have:

A french press (I have this one) is great for making coffee or tea without them coming in to contact with plastic like they would in many coffee makers. I also find that I like the flavor of coffee and teas made in a french press much better and this is much smaller to store than a full-size coffee pot.
A fermentation crock (I have this one) There is usually something in some stage of fermentation on my counter and a crock like this makes fermentation much easier. I use this most often for sauerkraut.
Quality Knives (I have these) Knives are still one of the most used items in my kitchen. From chopping veggies for omelets to meat or veggies for dinner, these get used all the time.
Tea Kettle (I have a glass one, a cast iron one and a steel one): We drink a lot of herbal tea in our house and I also just love the look of a tea kettle.
A Julienne Peeler (I have this set): which I use to peel carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, etc in to noodle shapes to use in place of regular noodles in recipes. This is also a job that my older kids can help with in meal prep.
A Crinkle Cutter (I have this one) Not too sharp and makes fun shapes so my kids can use them to help with meal prep. I keep this and a bamboo cutting board and the kids get to take turns helping cut veggies for meals. They also are able to get this out and a carrot or cucumber and cut slices for a snack whenever they want.
A Mandoline (I have this one) When I don’t feel like using the food processor, this is great to grate, slice, or cut.
A kitchen thermometer (I have this one) For testing temperature of meats, etc.
A candy thermometer (I have this one) For testing temperature of mixture for marshmallows, cough drops, etc.
Bamboo cutting boards (I have these) An eco-friendly alternative to plastic cutting boards and a less breakable alternative to class cutting boards. I use these daily.
Bamboo Cooking Utensils (I have these): for use in anything I’m cooking.
4. Random Items

Cloth Napkins (I use these): I’ve written about how we don’t use paper products in our kitchen and we use cloth napkins at every meal.
Huck Towels (I have these): I use these in place of kitchen towels and paper towels. They are super-absorbent and are even used in hospitals as surgical towels.
Large steel bowls (I have these) For mixing and serving.
Lunch Bots (We have these): for use packing lunches or meals on the go. The big ones are also great for food storage.
Stainless steel straws: Eco-friendly options for drinking smoothies and other drinks.
Metal Water Bottles (We have these) for use in sports or when away from home.
Glass water bottles (we have these) for use with smoothies, drinks, etc when not away from home.
5. Jars

I use jars for everything so they have a category of their own. We use them for storage, drinking glasses, fermenting things like beet kvass, water kefir and salsa, as well as for second ferments of kombucha. I love glass jars and have a collection of sorts in my kitchen:

Quart size & Pint Size Mason Jars: Use for drinking glasses, storing food in the fridge, packing salads and foods for lunch, etc.
Cuppow Lids (we have these): Convert mason jars in to drinking cups for hot or cold beverages.
Plastic storage lids (we have these) for use when metal lids are not recommended like when fermenting.
Pour cap lids for mason jars – often use for drinking or for liquid storage in the fridge.
Sprouting lids for mason jars – great for covering open ferments like water kefir and ginger bugs
Gallon size jars for fermentation and storing drinks in the fridge.
Large spigot jar for continuous brew Kombucha.
Storage jars with glass lids (I have these) – Many items in my pantry and on my counter are stored in these jars.
6. Other Items

In addition to these kitchen items, the following unusual items can often be found on my kitchen counter:

Assorted fresh herbs in pots.
Fermenting water kefir or second ferment to make soda
Continuous brew Kombucha
Some sort of vegetable fermenting
Ginger bug and ginger ale
yogurt in the yogurt maker

How to Grow Sprouts In Your Kitchen

“A total hippie food”… that was what I thought as I looked down at the turkey, sprouts, and avocado sandwich on flax bread that my friend had insisted I “had to try.”

This was well before my transition to real food and I wasn’t enthralled with the rather dry sandwich, but I really liked the texture of the sprouts.

These days, if sprouts are hippie food, I must be a hippie because I have some growing on my counter right now.

Turns out, sprouts have a lot of health benefits and are an inexpensive and easy-to-grow local superfood.

Why Grow Sprouts at Home?

Sprouts are soaked and germinated seeds, nuts or grains that are full of beneficial enzymes, vitamins and amino acids. They are also incredibly easy to grow at home on a kitchen counter with plain water and minimal equipment.

I prefer to sprout any beans or grains that I consume to make the nutrients more bioavailable and to reduce lectins and phytic acid. I also like sprouting certain seeds and nuts for adding to salads and stir frys.

Sprouts are incredibly nutritious and inexpensive, and take only a few days to grow. Sprouting increases the nutrient content of seeds and legumes and makes them easier to digest. If you’ve never tried to grow sprouts at home, you are missing out on an easy way to have fresh food year round.

The most common seeds used to grow sprouts are:

  • Alfalfa
  • Broccoli Seeds
  • Red Clover Seeds
  • Lentils
  • Mung Beans
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Chia Seeds

Supplies to Grow Sprouts

There is equipment specifically designed for sprouting, like sprouting trays, which make sprouting easier and allow for more growth at once, but all that is really needed are:

  • A wide-mouth quart size or half gallon size mason jar
  • A Sprouting lid or a piece of cheesecloth and a rubber band
  • A bowl or box to help the jar stand upside-down at an angle
  • Organic Sprouting seeds (I buy mine in bulk here) – Make sure they are specifically labeled “sprouting seeds” and “organic”

How to Grow Sprouts

 

  1. Wash hands well and make sure that all equipment is clean and sterile.
  2. Pour one type of seed into the jar. Use about 1 teaspoon of small seeds like alfalfa or broccoli or 1/4 cup of beans and lentils (for a quart size jar).
  3. Cover with 1 cup of filtered water and put lid or cheesecloth over the jar.
  4. Allow to soak for up to 12 hours. It is often easiest to do this at night and soak overnight.
  5. In the morning, strain off the water. This is easily done with a sprouting lid. If you are using a cheesecloth, strain through a fine strainer and return to jar.
  6. Rinse well with filtered water and drain again.
  7. Place upside down at a slight angle so that excess water can drain off and air can get in. I find a dish rack or medium size bowl is perfect for this.
  8. Re-rinse the sprouts several times a day with filtered water, returning to the tilted position each time.
  9. You should see sprouting in a day or two and most sprouts are ready to harvest in 3-7 days.
  10. When done sprouting, rinse thoroughly in cool, filtered water and store in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week.

There are some important notes about growing sprouts. Please read this article for cautions and specific instructions. Some seeds (like walnuts and pecans) do not sprout and some beans (like Kidney beans) are dangerous and should never be eaten sprouted. Also, special care should be taken to avoid bacteria growth in sprouts.

14 Unusual Kitchen Gadgets I Use Daily

The other day, I was informed by my four-year-old that I am “so old” now. Granted, she gives this label to anyone over the age of 12, but it made me think about how things have changed since I “got old.” I realized that I’ve simplified so much of my life over the last decade. I use the same ingredients like bentonite clay for washing my hair, detoxing my armpits and making tooth powder.

I use coconut oil for practically everything. I’ve also simplified my wardrobe and my kitchen tools lately (now to just simplify the shoes…)

When I first got married, I practically collected kitchen gadgets and dishes because I was just learning to cook and I loved experimenting. Now, I have worked to simplify and reduce the number of tools and gadgets in my kitchen and I’m left with wonderfully half-empty drawers and cabinets that only contain the tools I really use.

These are 14 of the kitchen gadgets and tools that made the cut and that I use daily, take on vacation and couldn’t cook without… In fact, I could probably cook practically anything with just these items:

Stainless Steel Table Pans

When we had our third child, regular baking sheets started becoming too small. I found these stainless steel table pans that are used for catering and in restaurants.

They are perfect for everything from roasting a turkey to preparing pounds of roasted vegetables to making a 12-pound meatloaf to serve 30+ people (did that last night).

I can prepare an entire meal with two of these by making meat in one dish and roasted vegetables in another and they are ready at the same time. I typically also use these to make double of a meal so we have another meal of leftovers.

These are steel, not aluminum like most baking pans, and have a much deeper lip so spilling isn’t an issue. I’ve donated all of my other baking pans and ONLY use these now. Even better, they stack and store very minimally.

I even bring them when we go on vacation. Best $20 I’ve ever spent.

Kitchen Shears

Kitchen scissors are much more useful than they get credit for. Besides opening packages and cutting up a chicken, they make preparing food for small children so much faster. I use them at every meal to cut up meat and vegetables for my babies and toddlers.

Tongs

Kitchen tongs are another multi-use kitchen gadget. They can be used for stirring, tossing, salad serving, grilling, sautéing and so much more.

Immersion Blender

A good immersion blender replaces a blender, whisk and various other kitchen tools. It can be used to make butter coffee in the morning, whisk foods or blend sauces, or even make homemade whipped cream. It also stores easily in a small drawer (unlike a blender). We still have a Blendtec and love it, but I use the immersion blender more often.

Oven Gloves

These oven gloves replace hot pads and kitchen mits and store very minimally. They also work for grilling and are perfect for wearing while cooking with a cast iron pan.

A Great Knife

A friend introduced me to Wusthof knives. They are pricy, but these three knives have replaced my entire knife block and they also store minimally in a single drawer.

Mason Jars

As drinking glasses, food storage, vases, candle holders, for canning, salad in a jar, and so much more… mason jars can replace so many other kitchen containers.

Cuppow Lids

Cuppow lids turn mason jars into an easy no-spill drinking cup.

Cast Iron Skillet

It would be possible to cook almost every meal with just a cast iron skillet if needed. It can be used stove top, in the oven or even on a campfire. Once you season it correctly, a cast iron skillet is relatively non-stick and lasts forever.

Huck Towels

These huck towels have replaced all of my kitchen towels and napkins. They are much more absorbent than regular kitchen towels, easy to wash and work as cloth napkins as well. They even use these in hospitals to clean up blood because they work so well.

Steel Bowls

A set of stainless steel bowls replaced all of my glass, plastic and silicon bowls that I used to use. They stack and store together and since they have a lid, they work for food storage as well.

Stainless Steel Dishes

With kids, glass dishes never work well. We’d broken about half of our glass wedding dishes when we finally switched to stainless steel dishes for the kids. Now, we have a stash of steel plates, bowls and cups that we use daily. They are dishwasher and oven safe and don’t break!

Bamboo Utensils

Our simple set of bamboo utensils replaced all of the plastic utensils we used to have and they work so much better.

Crinkle Cutter

An unusual kitchen tool and one of my favorites. A crinkle cutter is safe for the kids to use to help me chop vegetables for meals, which helps keep them involved and makes them more likely to want to eat what we’ve made.

9 Ways to Use a Himalayan Salt Block in Your Kitchen

I’ve been a fan of Himalayan Salt and salt lamps for a long time, and in the past few months I’ve also come to love cooking with a himalayan salt block or cooking tile.

Here’s why its awesome:

Salt has been used  and valued throughout history and was so valuable in the 1800s that it was worth 4 times as much as beef on the frontier. Thankfully, salt isn’t as (comparatively) expensive now, since every cell in the body contains salt and it is essential for life.

Plus it tastes good. We all add salt to foods (and even sometimes drinks). Now, there’s an even better way to get the benefits and flavor of salt. Salt Blocks.

What is a Himalayan Salt Block?

As the name suggests, a Himalayan Salt Block is a large block of pink salt. Why would one want a large block of salt, you ask?

Here’s why:

Salt Blocks are one of the best cooking and serving surfaces I’ve found. They provide a complex and amazing salt flavor without being overbearing.

They are easy to use and maintain and they make you look really sophisticated when you serve food on them.

Where to Get One:

Himalayan salt blocks are widely available now. These are the one’s I’ve personally tried:

A 2-inch thick block (great for grilling and gas stoves)
A larger 1.5 inch thick block with a frame (great for electric stoves and serving)
This is also a great cookbook on salt block cooking if you get really adventurous. Now that you’ve got a huge chunk of ancient salt in your kitchen, here’s how to use it:

Tempering a Salt Block Before Using

Salt blocks can be heated or cooled to extremely hot and cold temperatures and are versatile for this reason. Since they are a natural product with imperfections and lines, it is important to do this slowly. Heating a salt block too quickly can cause it to crack or otherwise break, but if cared for correctly it will last a really long time.

It is especially important to heat a salt block carefully, especially the first few times it is used. This ensures the strength of the salt block over the long term and improves it as a cooking surface. This process is called tempering and is simple to do:

How to Temper a Salt Block:

Place block in the oven on a low rack
Turn oven on to lowest setting (usually 170 degrees)
Leave it for 30 minutes at this temperature
Increase temperature by 50 degrees and leave another 30 minutes
Repeat this process, raising 50 degrees every 30 minutes, until it reaches a temp over 500 degrees
Turn the oven off and leave the salt block there, with the door closed, until it completely cools to room temperature
My salt block made some crazy cracking sounds and developed visible lines when I tempered it. Apparently, this is normal.
Congrats! Now your salt block is ready to use!

How to Heat a Himalayan Salt Block

When ready to use, it is important to heat the salt block correctly. Heating it is slightly more complicated than just turning on a burner and cooking in a pan. It isn’t difficult though and with a little prep, a salt block becomes a simple way to cook.

How to Heat a Salt Block on the Stove

Make sure it is completely clean and dry and that it has been at least 24 hours since it was wet.
Place the salt block over a gas burner (or over an electric range, but place a metal ring or grate of some kind in between to allow air to flow between).
Turn the heat on low and set a timer for 15-20 minutes (depending on size- larger blocks take longer).
Increase the heat to medium and leave for another 15-20 minutes.
Turn up again to medium/high for another 10-15 minutes.
If you have one, use a laser thermometer to make sure the block is around 500 degrees. Don’t have one? Splatter a few drops of water on the salt and make sure they dance and evaporate immediately. Be careful not to touch it (seems obvious, but very important as it will maintain heat for a long time).
At this point it is ready to use. See instructions below for cooking instructions for various foods.
How to Heat a Salt Block on the Grill

Salt blocks can be used on gas and charcoal grills.
On gas grills, start with low heat just as you would on a gas stove and work up slowly.
With a charcoal grill, put all the charcoal on one side and the salt block on the other.
Watch the temperature carefully to ensure it doesn’t heat up too fast.
The thickness and strength of a salt block make it an amazing surface to cook on and once heated, it will hold temperature for quite a while without a heat source. When you use it on a grill, it adds a delicious smoky and mildly salty flavor to vegetables and meats.

How to Cook on a Himalayan Salt Block

Once the block is preheated, you’re ready to cook! The long pre-heating time is a great time to prepare any meat, vegetables, seafood, or other foods you are cooking on your salt block.

The most important things to know when cooking on a salt block are:

The block must be fully heated before using– A block that is not hot enough will actually over-salt and under cook food (not a good combination).
Fast-cooking foods are best– You wouldn’t want to make a roast or any foods that take a long time to cook on a salt block. Typically, the faster the food cooks, the better it works on a salt block. Steak and thin cuts of meat work well. Seafood is another good option and quicker cooking vegetables like asparagus and zucchini are also great.
Don’t use oil on the block– The oil will work itself into cracks in the salt and eventually go rancid if it doesn’t catch fire first while you are grilling/cooking.
Keep on cooking– Once you preheat the block, you can cook on it for several hours. Plan to cook your whole meal and dessert on the salt block to maximize its use. Create a hibachi night on the salt block or grill steaks and veggies.
See the recipes in the bottom of this post for specific suggestions.
How to Care for Your Salt Block

The first rule of salt blocks is that you don’t talk about salt blocks:

Just kidding:

The first rule of caring for a himalayan salt block is let all temperature changes happen slowly. And DO NOT put it in a dishwasher. Ever.

This rule applies to all salt products you may use in your kitchen including salt glasses, etc. Guess what happens when you put a big piece of salt in constantly moving water (dishwasher) for an hour?

That’s right… no more block and a really salty dishwasher. Just don’t do it.

Now that we got that out of the way, remember these simple steps in caring for a salt block:

Let it cool naturally and completely after cooking. It must be completely cool before cleaning.
Salt is naturally antibacterial and easy to clean. Do not use soap and use as little water as possible. The more water you use the faster the salt block will wear away since each washing takes away a tiny layer of salt.
Scrub down with a scouring pad or sponge to remove any food residue.
Do a final wipe with a clean, slightly wet sponge.
Towel dry with a clean towel and allow to air-dry for 24 hours before use.
9 Ways to Use a Himalayan Salt Block

Now that you know how to care for a himalayan salt block, there are so many ways to use it in your home! These are my favorites:

Make Delicious Grilled Vegetables

My personal favorite way to use a salt block! The salt perfectly seasons the vegetables and the high heat creates delicious flavor.

What to do: Heat the block over the stove or grill as desired. Brush 1 pound of fresh asparagus (or other vegetable) with a tiny amount of olive or avocado oil and sprinkle with a little garlic powder and white pepper (or other spices). Remember to brush the oil on the vegetables and not the block itself.

Grill a Perfect Steak Indoors

Don’t feel like lighting the outdoor grill? Salt blocks are a great way to grill indoors and get a perfect steak!

What to do: Preheat the salt block as explained above. Sprinkle the steak with pepper and garlic and onion powders. Place the steak on the block carefully. Leave for 3-5 minutes per side depending on thickness and desired doneness. Flip once and cook until done.

Add Flavor to Baking

I wouldn’t have personally thought of using a salt block for baking but a friend mentioned that she loves using it this way. It imparts a delicious mild salt flavor to baked goods and even cookies!

What to do: Preheat the salt block as normal. Transfer carefully to a 350 degree oven. Bake cookies, scones or other baked good recipes directly on the block.

To Add Minerals To Food

Himalayan salt contains many minerals besides just sodium and when you cook with a block of it, these minerals end up in your food.

Keeping Foods Cold

A thick himalayan salt block will stay warm for hours for cooking and it will also stay cold for hours. This makes it perfect for serving cold foods. This is why I keep small soap-size salt blocks as ice packsin the freezer. Serve cold foods like fruit, salmon, or cheeses on a chilled salt block to keep them cold for hours.

Cure Foods

Salt is used to extend the shelf life of food and salt blocks are a great way to cure some foods. The Meadow explains how salt blocks are a perfect way to cure salmon to make Gravlax and how to do it.

Amazing Seafood

Salt blocks make great steaks. They also make amazing seafood. My favorite way to use salt blocks for seafood is to marinade fish, scallops or shrimp in a lemon juice, fresh ginger and coconut aminos overnight and grill on a himalayan salt block. Perfection.

Fancy Way to Serve Food

Even at room temperature, the salt block makes a fancy serving platter and conversation piece. It also adds a delicious flavor even at room temperature. Serve foods like chocolate and strawberries on it for a fancy look or cover with cured meats and cheeses for a party.

Make Poke

Poke (poh-keh) is all the rage right now and with good reason. It is delicious! If you’ve never made it at home, it is worth it (here’s a great recipe). I add a step of curing the raw tuna on a salt block in the refrigerator for a few hours before using it in the poke. This gives it a partial cure and adds depth of flavor.

Himalayan Salt Block: Bottom Line

A salt block certainly isn’t one of the kitchen item I can’t live without but it is a versatile and fun way to cook and add flavor to food. It won’t replace my Instant pot any time soon, but I do enjoy cooking and especially grilling with salt.