As mentioned in a previous post, vinegar has many great cleaning qualities, and makes an excellent natural all-purpose cleaning solution. In a spray bottle mix 1 part water to 1 part vinegar. For a little added cleaning power, add a squirt of liquid dish detergent.
Vinegar is also effective when mixed with baking soda or borax. Mix a 1/2 cup vinegar with a 1/4 cup baking soda, or 2 teaspoons Borax into 2 liters of water. This solution can be stored to be used at a later date. This solution is effective to use on hard water deposits, bathroom chrome, windows, mirrors and glass.
Baking soda or vinegar with lemon juice are great natural deodorizers. Place in small dishes around the house to absorb odors. Cooking odors can be avoided by simmering 1 TBSP of vinegar in 1 cup of water on the stove while cooking. To remove odors from cooking utensils and cutting boards, wipe with vinegar, and wash in soapy water.
Washing soda is another great natural cleaning solution. It cuts grease, removes stains, softens water, and can be used to wash walls, and clean bathrooms. NEVER use on aluminum.
Cornstarch is another item which can usually be found within the home, and is great for cleaning. It can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, and shampoo carpets and rugs.
Lemon juice, also found in most households is effective in dissolving soap scum and hard water deposits. It can be used to clean and shine brass and copper. It can be mixed with vinegar and/or baking soda to make a natural cleaning paste. As with vinegar, lemon juice is acidic, so do not use on marble, and always test on an inconspicuous spot before using.
Another household item that is great for natural cleaning is baking soda. Baking soda cleans, deodorizes, softens water, and scours. You can use it to scrub surfaces on which you would normally use a commercial abrasive cleaner. Please keep in mind that baking soda can be abrasive, and use with caution on any surface that might scratch.
Unscented liquid soap, flakes, powders or bars are biodegradable, and will clean many surfaces. Avoid soaps that contain petroleum distillates.
Borax is another great cleaning product. It cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, and can be used to clean painted walls and floors.
At Lindas Cleaning, we are committed to using predominantly non-toxic, natural cleaning solutions. I’m sure many of you spend time touching up your home in between cleanings provided by a cleaning service. I’d like to share with you some of the many inexpensive, easy to use, natural solutions you can use in place of the usual commercial products.
One of my favorite household products to use when cleaning is regular white vinegar. When mixed into a solution of one part water and one part vinegar, it makes an excellent all purpose cleaning solution. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and deodorizer, and is quite inexpensive. It cuts through grease and sticky messes, removes mildew, odors, and some stains. It’s excellent for cleaning windows, floors, bathrooms, and the nursery. If you have a favorite non-toxic commercial cleaning solution, try adding a little vinegar to the mix for added cleaning power, and to disinfect. Don’t worry about the smell of the vinegar, it dissipates quickly once dry.
Please be warned that improperly diluted vinegar is acidic and can damage certain surfaces if improperly used. When cleaning tile grout, it’s important that your solution is properly diluted. NEVER use vinegar on marble surfaces. As with most cleaning solutions, test on an inconspicuous spot first.
At Lindas Cleaning Specialties, I get to observe the amusing antics of my client’s pets. As the months and years go by, I get to know these furry creatures, and they come to recognize me, greeting me excitedly when I arrive. Some of my furry friends can barely wait until I enter the door, jumping up and down in their excitement. Others wait until I’m working on a task, like cleaning the kitchen counters, before choosing to consistently place themselves right under my nose, demanding my attention. Then there are the little dogs, who find it entertaining to charge at the vacuum cleaner as I’m vacuuming the floors. I have no idea what they think they are going to accomplish, but the sight is quite hilarious. Some of my furry friends find it entertaining to steal a brush, or some other item from my cleaning kit while I have my back turned. Since some are stubborn about giving the item back, and I have to get creative in distracting them, giving me an opportunity to take back the item. A couple of my little friends are very persistent in giving me big hints regarding exactly what it is they want from me. This brings to mind a furry friend who follows me around with her ball, dropping it right at my feet. If I ignore her or move away, she nudges the ball closer to me, keeping it up until I finally reach down and throw it for her. Such personality, and so amusing! My furry friends and their antics have the ability to bring a little brightness to my day. I’m sure all you pet lovers can relate.
At Lindas Cleaning Specialties, one of the joys of spending time in client’s homes, is meeting and getting to know their pets. I like to jokingly refer to them as the welcoming committee, since that I’m often met at the door by my furry friends, who excitedly greet me. They all have their own unique personalities, and their antics provide me with amusement, causing me to laugh out loud. I must admit I can’t resist spending a few minutes during my time there to give my little (and sometimes big) friends some attention. Whether I’m throwing a ball, dangling a cat toy, or giving a pat or two, my furry friends are happy for the attention. Some follow me around as I do my job, curiously watching me, hoping I’ll take a few more minutes to give them some attention. Some wait patiently, while others demand my immediate attention, knowing I find it hard to resist their funny and cute antics. My furry friends keep me company as I work, I talk to them and they respond back with a tail wag, a bark, a purr, etc. For all you pet owners and animal lovers, check back often as I post more stories about my furry friends in the upcoming weeks.
Today’s Christmas treat recipe is for my favorite ginger cookie. My Grandma made them often, and not only at Christmas. I have very fond memories of sitting at her kitchen table, eating ginger cookies that had been dipped in my glass of milk. They smell heavenly when baking. Make a batch, invite a friend (or friends) over for tea, cookie dipping, and great conversation.
Grandmas recipe for Ginger Nuts (cookies)
3/4 cup butter, margarine, or shortening
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp. molasses
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. salt
Cream shortening and sugar together. Add egg and molasses and beat well. Sift dry ingredients together, and add to wet mixture. Mix until mixture forms into soft dough. Breaking off small amounts of dough, roll into 1 inch balls. Roll one half of ball in sugar, and place on greased cookie sheet, sugar side up. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Make yourself a mug of something hot, or pour a glass of cold milk and enjoy cookie dipping!
For those of you who like shortbread, here is a recipe for melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies. This is another recipe that has been passed down from a Grandmother. They are delicious!
Nana’s Shortbread Cookies
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup butter
Red or green glazed cherries
Sift dry ingredients together, then cut in butter with pastry blender. When mixture resembles coarse crumbs, use your hands to form crumb mixture into ball of dough. Pulling off small amounts of dough, roll into 1 inch balls. Place on UNGREASED cookie sheets. Using fork dipped in hot water, slightly flatten balls. Cut glazed cherries in half, and gently press half cherry into each unbaked cookie. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes or until slightly browned around edges. These cookies crumble very easily, so it’s best to let them cool before removing from cookie sheet. Enjoy!
Today I’d like to share my butter tart recipe with you. This recipe was passed down from my Grandmother, who often baked them for her family. In addition to the filling, she would also make her own pastry. I’m not nearly so ambitious, and find bought pastry tart shells taste just fine, and they save so much time. I promise you won’t be disappointed with these absolutely delicious tarts. They are not difficult to make, and your company will rave over how wonderful they are!
Grandma’s Butter Tarts
1/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
1/4 cup raisins
1 beaten egg
1 Tsp. vanilla
Melt butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, and stir in the remaining ingredients. Put over heat once again and bring to a slow boil, stirring continuously (it burns easy). Once mixture has been brought to a slow boil, and is thickened, spoon mixture into tart shells. Bake according to instructions on tart shell package. Allow to cool and enjoy! These freeze well, so maybe make some extra to put away for the holidays.
With Christmas fast approaching, my thoughts turn to past and present Christmas traditions. My kitchen turns into something resembling a small bakery, with wonderful smells of fabulous Christmas treats filling the air. With fondness I think back to how these traditions became a part of my life.
Decades ago I was a young married woman, looking forward to spending the first Christmas with my in-law family. Just starting out in married life, buying expensive gifts for everyone wasn’t an option. What do you buy for those who already have everything anyway? They didn’t need anymore “stuff”. I loved to bake, family and friends seemed to enjoy my creations, so I got busy baking Christmas goodies for my new family.
The response to my homemade gifts was overwhelmingly enthusiastic, and thus a tradition was born. As the years progressed I fine-tuned my tradition, baking treats to give away each Christmas. I learned which treats were the favorites. Sometimes, I added homemade jams and jellies in decorative jars. Some of my favorite Christmas recipes are family favorites that have been passed down through the generations. These recipes bring back fond memories of childhood holidays, spent with family.
In the weeks preceding Christmas, I’d like to share some of my favorite recipes with you. I hope you gain as much enjoyment from creating these treats as I have. Today’s recipe is delicious and very simple to make.
1 pound white chocolate melting wafers
2 heaping tablespoons peanut butter
Approximately 1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Pour white chocolate melting wafers into glass dish with lid (casserole dish). Place in microwave and melt chocolate at high setting for 2 minutes (check often as the chocolate burns easily). Stir melted chocolate until smooth. Mix in peanut butter and stir until chocolate mixture is smooth. Pour out onto cookie sheets lined with wax paper. Spread out over waxed paper to about 1/8 of an inch thickness. Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips in microwave and stir until smooth. Drizzle or drop small amounts over white chocolate mixture on cookie sheets. Using knife, swirl dark chocolate mixture through white chocolate, until desired effect is achieved. Let chocolate harden. Cut into squares when hardened.