Saturday, September 27, 2008

More Canning Jar Labels

These are vintage labels found over at the Library of Congress which are free to use.
Click on images to enlarge and copy.

More here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Update: Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap in the Dishwasher?

Well, I tried it tonight. I used Dr. Bronner's Castile Liquid Soap in the dishwasher. Last night I use Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds with great results.

I was too lazy to make up the recipe(see original post), so I placed a few squirts of my 50/50 Dr. Bronner's Castile soap mixture which I use for the bathroom in the dishwasher's detergent dispenser. I refilled the rinse dispenser with vinegar, and the dishes came out fairly clean. I had more plastics than glass this time, but the few glasses that were washed came out clean without any film, and no spots. I did find one glass bowl in the back which still had a bit of oatmeal film. I plan to add more castile soap(70/30) to the mix in order to see if this improves the cleaning power. It still did a good job.

I just got an awesome new dishwasher, so that maybe a contributing factor to the great results here. It's not an expensive one, but it's a nice new Kenmore with lots of fancy jets. I run my dishes on the ecocycle, so it's less water than the normal or heavy wash cycle, and still they look great.

I think what I'll do is use the Sal Suds for the really greasy jobs, and continue to use the castile soap for everyday dishes. I'll keep using these products because of their cost effectiveness and eco-friendliness, not to mention other factors which made me feel good about this product. Dr. Bronner's is certified organic and fair trade, American made, and is still a family owned business that has not sold out to big corporations. A company with integrity, a rare gem, and I'm happy to help them with my purchases of their quality products.

Note: Don't try regular liquid soap, it will bubble too much and possibly break your dishwasher.

Plain and Simple: Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking Recipes

Wonderful good! This cookbook is free and in public domain here. Downloadable and readable online. Wonderful hardy recipes including those for Fastnacht, Shrove Tuesday. Check out the recipes for traditional Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas cookies.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Review: Dr. Bronner Eco-Friendly Sal Suds in the Dishwasher

I picked up Dr. Bronner Sal Suds at a local health food store primarily to use on the floors, in the kitchen, and as an eco-friendly replacement for dishwasher and laundry detergent. So far I'm loving it as a laundry detergent, and tonight I tried it in the dishwasher. I had been mulling over the idea of using Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap in the dishwasher until I discovered his Sal Suds which is a better grease cutter, more effective on greasy dishes. From the bottle:

Super-concentrated organic cleaner. 100% biodegradable. It is equally effective in hard or soft water and will rinse freely, hot or cold. Excellent for hard water shampoo, dishes, laundry, floors, rugs, cars, boats: All household uses!

Sal Suds is a balanced formulation of naturally derived surfactants with pure fir and spruce essential oils: it cleans and rinses with exceptional power, yet is mild and gentle on the skin. Sal Suds is not soap-based and is formulated especially for all-purpose hard-surface cleaning.

--Perfect for general household cleaning: dishes, floors, laundry, etc.

--Equally effective in hard or soft water, rinsing freely, hot or cold.

--Concentrated and self-preserving: no hidden preservatives or ingredients.

--No synthetic dyes or fragrances: all ingredients fully disclosed and described.

--Biodegrades rapidly after doing its job. Pure high-quality fir and spruce essential oils: no cheap harsh pine stump oil.

--No animal testing: Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics certified

Ingredients: Water, sodium lauryl sulfate, coco-betaine, lauryl glucoside, fir needle oil, spruce oil.

Free Of Harsh Chemicals, Phosphates, Silicates, Sequestering Agents or Other Strong Alkalies.


1. A few drops in a gallon of water removes all sprays from fruits and vegetables.

2. 1/4 oz. does a sink full of dishes.

3. 1/4 oz. in a basin of warm water cleans all your undies.

4. 1 oz. in a pail of water will clean your house and car from top to bottom.

5. For extra heavy jobs, cut it in half or use it straight.

6. Pour some on a fabric stain and watch it disappear.

7. Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds will also disappear-naturally-after it has done its job, without affecting nature's balance.


Don't drink!. Keep out of eyes!. Sal Suds is an all-purpose cleaner, and is not intended for everyday body-washing use.

Results: Excellent! I winged it on the amount to add, and squirted about a teaspoon and a half into the detergent dispenser, then I filled the rinse dispenser with vinegar. The dishes are as clean as if I had used Cascade. There was no film on the dishes or glasses. I'm not even sure they needed the vinegar rinse, but it can't hurt. I'll try it without next time to see if there is a difference.

An excellent place to buy Dr. Bronner's online is Vitacost. Their shipping is a flat fee of $4.99 within the Continental U.S. only, excluding Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico. I noticed that they ship Internationally as well.

Here is the link for finding Dr. Bronner's products outside of the U.S. It is sold by distributors in the U.K., Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Norway.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Earth Friendly Flea and Tick Lawn Treatment

Ticks and fleas love shady areas, and we've got a lot of it in our backyard. This year has been particularly bad for fleas and ticks. The pets need to be dosed with Frontline Plus every three weeks, or they get reinfested. Of course this doesn't help me any. I get ticks on my legs just going to hang the laundry on the line.

The problem is our lawn, it's full of fleas and ticks, and I didn't want to use any harmful chemicals , so we are trying natural food grade diatomaceous earth(DE) as an organic flea and tick killer. It works as a dehydrator and asphyxiator, eventually killing pests. The only downside of using DE is that the small dust particles can be hazardous to breath, so a mask would be necessary in order to sprinkle the stuff on the lawn. It also needs to be reapplied if it rains.

I've read that you want to find a natural food grade form of DE, not the one sold for swimming pools. The swimming pool grade DE is very toxic to pets and people. Reportedly, the food grade DE can be used directly on pets and carpets to kill fleas and ticks; however, I'd verify this with your vet. Here is the Material Safety Data Sheet on DE(PDF). Planet Natural has got a 1.5 pound box for $6.50.

I'm also considering an Organic Lawn & Garden Spray with Clove, Thyme, and Sesame Oil. Supposedly it kills fleas and ticks dead, and is safe around pets and children. Planet Natural sells a bottle which covers Covers up to 5,000 sq. ft. for $11.95 bottle.

Dirtworks sells huge bags of DE and other natural flea and tick killers for pets and lawn.

Garden centers are likely to carry DE as well as True Value and Ace Hardware stores, and places like Home Depot. I know Ace will order items for free delivery to the store if they don't stock an item. We use Ace Hardware for many of our organic gardening needs.

I'm trying the DE first; if it works I won't be purchasing the oil spray . I'll update this post soon with the results.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Bon Ami: An Old Fashioned Favorite and Non-Toxic All Purpose Household Cleaner

Bon Ami is non-toxic, allergy and earth friendly made of mild natural abrasives: sodium carbonate(washing soda), calcium carbonate and feldspar. Non-abrasive Bon Ami cleanser can be used for all household cleaning. First made in 1886, it has been a household staple for many years. Check Bon Ami's availability at stores here. Prices average about $ 1.50 for a 14 ounces can.

More information for multiple uses for this green product here. There are two products, the original 1886 formula( no detergent or bleach) and the polishing cleanser( biodegradable detergent and no chlorine). These products are phosphate free. The polishing cleanser is easier to locate in brick and mortar stores.

Collection of cute Bon Ami vintage advertisements.

Health and safety information on Bon Ami, rating of one.

A October 31, 2007 interview with Lynn Tondat Ruggeri, Ph.D. via, author of "Safer for Your Baby: A Guide to Living Better with Fewer Chemicals: When asked what parents should do to handle serious cleaning situations, such as blood, bathroom substances and raw poultry, Ruggeri said, "Between Bon Ami, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and castile soap, you can clean most everything from pans and ovens to countertops, walls and floors." Bon Ami, French for "good friend," is a 120-year-old powdered cleaner made from the mineral feldspar. Read more here.

Scot Guards, Auld Alliance

An interesting historical tidbit, link via Tea at Trianon:

"The friendship between France and Scotland was well known; indeed there had long been an alliance between them more popularly known as the Auld Alliance (Website in French : *Vieille Alliance*). This friendship was forged because the two countries were at war with England though for different reasons. Charles V was the first king to employ Scotsmen in his bodyguard, but it is principally with Charles VII that the alliance was properly employed by the creation of the first elements of Scot Guards who were maintained by tradition in the King’s Household until the 18th century and again under the Restoration." More here.

These brave knights accompanied Joan of Arc into battle.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Going Green with Facial Products

I had mentioned (here) that we are phasing in greener cleaning and personal care products. A little at a time seems to work better for us. This week I experimented with using Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap as a facial wash. I need a daily pore cleanser or I get breakouts, so I added baking soda. So far so good. I use a little 50/50 Bronner's and water on my face, and then sprinkle a little baking soda in my hands, applying it to my face over the soap in a circular motion. This is replacing my all time favorite, Clean & Clear Pore Cleanser(bad for fish) which works great, but is a pricey chemical cocktail. Clean & Clear is not super expensive, but it is pricier than baking soda and diluted Bronner's.

I've been using a 50/50 pure glycerine(available at drugstores or Walmart type stores) and water as a hair mist moisturizer for about a year now. When I switched to Bronner's for my facial wash, I also switched to glycerine as a facial moisturizer. It worked great on my hair, so I figured it was worth a try on my face. It's a bit thick, so I wet my fingers before applying and it smooths on nicely. It's doing the job, and I'm not breaking out. It stays a little sticky, so I've been using it at night only. I still need a sunscreen during the day, so I've been using Olay daily moisturizer for sensitive skin SPF 30.

Beyond being a good steward of the earth, I think much of my need to go more natural has to do with my aging body. As we age, we no longer process things as well; toxins are cleared out more slowly. I'm not even sure if this is true, but I notice that any kind of load, chemical or allergy is not as easy to bounce back from, and I tire more easily. I figure why weigh down my body with more things to clear out. I need all the energy I can get!

Next week I try Bronner's as a toothpaste for a week.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Dr. Bronner's Soap in the Automatic Dishwasher?

Has anyone tried Dr. Bronner's Castile soap in their dishwasher? I was thinking of trying just a smidgen with some baking soda.

Wait! I finally found a recipe after searching Google forever:


2 cups liquid Castile soap(Dr. Bronner's)
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 drops tea tree oil
1/2 cup white vinegar


Stir all ingredients together until blended. Store in a squirt top bottle. Use 2 tablespoons per load of dishes, shake well before use.

*A similar recipe from Flylady(see link below) lists 1/2 cup of castile, not 2 cups. I'm not sure which is appropriate, so I'd experiment with less rather than more.

Also, there are some great Dr. Bronner's recipes for shampoo in the comments section.

Although I've read some criticisms of Dr. Bronner's All-Purpose Castile soap as a shampoo, mainly that it left the hair with a greasy film, one very interesting comment mentioned that Dr. Bronner's may work best as a shampoo on curly haired folks. Hmmm, maybe that's why it's been working well on my curly top daughter. I just began using it on my curly hair as well - no greasy film. I liked the tip about adding tea tree oil(blemishes, oil control) and/or glycerine(moisturizer). I've got both on hand, so I'll try this.

Here's another Bronner's Natural Dishwasher Soap Recipe , and check out her Natural Carpet Cleaner Recipe using Bronner's!

I also saw the recipe over at FlyLady.

We've been phasing in Dr. Bronner's All-Purpose Castile soap for our household and personal cleaning needs some time now. The children use it for their hair and body, and my son cleans his bathroom with it. I'll be adding it to the liquid soap dispensers after I've used up my soft soap.

I'm going to try this recipe for the dishwasher just as soon as I get a chance. See update.

See more tips at Work-for-me Wednesdays.

Guide to Less Toxic Products

Click on title.

About Me

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I'm a homeschooling mom of two, a teen and a little. I hope this collection of mine helps you as much as it has helped us. I have an Etsy shop here: And a blog: