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Organic Cleaning: how to spring clean your home the chemical-free way

Spring is in the air and while I don't daydream about cleaning I do love a clean, fresh-smelling home! I grew up using several "homemade" cleaning products and in the process saved money, didn't harm the environment, and didn't harm ourselves! All you need is a few key ingredients (most likely already in your pantry) to get you started with greening your cleaning.

Go put on some Beatles, Elvis, or whatever gets you motivated, throw open your windows and have at it! You're home will be smiling in no time!

No-Streak Glass Cleaner 1/4 cup undiluted white vinegar, 1 quart water. Divide into spray bottles. Dry with a sheet of crumpled newspaper or a coffee filter.

Tile and Grout Paste 1 cup water and 3 cups baking soda mixed into a paste works great for cleaning tile and grout. Use a toothbrush to scrub the paste into grout.

Furniture Polish Mix 1 cup lemon juice with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp water; lightly apply to furniture using a soft cloth. Let sit for a couple of minutes, then buff.

All Purpose Surface Cleaner Mix together equal parts white vinegar and salt. Scrub surfaces with a natural cleaning cloth.

Here are a few recommended books with tips on "Green Cleaning" if you're looking to dive deeper:

Mrs. Meyers Clean Home

Green Cleaning

Better Basics for the Home

Tasty Mac and Cheese

Some say that macaroni and cheese is the ultimate in comfort food. While I agree, this old-time favorite makes a special appearance  just a few times during the year in my household.  As well,  holiday meals are simply incomplete without this cheesy indulgence.  Just a few years ago, I remember making a special trip to the grocery store on Christmas morning because this all important dish was not included on the menu -- the family was in uproar!!

Try it out and you may never go back to the 'box'!

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups organic whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ - ¾ cup Sautéed Onion & Garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Cheddar (about 6 ounces)
  • ½ cup Asiago Cheese
  • Tex-Joy or season salt

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.
  • Sauté onion and garlic in the remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the flour, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown.
  • Using a whisk, add the milk in a steady stream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth, 4 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat.
  • Add the salt, pepper, Tex-Joy or Season salt, and 2 cups of the cheese, and stir well.
  • Add the noodles and Asiago cheese and stir well.
  • Pour into the prepared dish.
  • Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese evenly over the macaroni and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.