Relax it’s the holidays

I could share a great side dish with you on today’s blog post, but I’d rather show you how I unwind, detox, and relax this holiday season. It can get pretty manic around this time of year — meal preps, holiday parties, gift shopping and in our household trying to determine who will host this year’s festivities.
You may know that I’m a reporter for a local newspaper and this time of year is VERY busy and stressful for me. I have deadlines and projects that must be done. So suffice it to say there’s few nights when I get adequate sleep and plenty more groggy mornings.

I’ve taken to bathing away my stresses. When I was pregnant I took baths all of the time because it eased my sore back, tired feet and most of all it made me feel relaxed afterward. It was my way of ridding my body of all the stress, sort of a detox.

Now don’t misunderstand, the body has a way of naturally detoxifying, specifically through the liver. The liver flushes toxins from the body, which eventually is expelled through urine or our bowels. But, we are subject to more and more toxins every day so why not do a little to help your body?

So here are a few recipes to detox your way to a little less stress, but first the benefits.

Detox bath benefits

  • Reduces stress
  • Relieves sore muscles
  • Flushes toxins
  • Relieves headaches
  • Improves sleep and concentration

Basic ingredients

Essential oil
Epsom salt
Baking soda
Popular ingredients are: Epsom salts, essential oils, milk, ground or fresh ginger, honey, green tea and apple cider vinegar.
keyingredients

baking soda, Epsom salt and essential oils are three of the basic ingredients in a detox bath, but certainly not the only ingredients. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Directions

1. Draw a hot bath. As hot as you can take because you really want to sweat here. Fill the tub.
2. Add a few drops of essential oil. I really like lavender.
3. Pour in baking soda, immerse yourself and sit for at least 20 minutes.
4. Close your eyes and sit back. Maybe do a few deep breathing exercises
5. Rinse in a cold shower
6. Apply a natural moisturizer like shea butter or coconut oil

 

Important: Do not eat immediately before or after, but be sure to drink plenty of water before and after. Baking soda helps neutralize chemicals and aids in mineral absorption as well as softens the skin. Stand up slowly because you may feel drained or light-headed.
detoxrecipecard

epsom salt, baking soda and essential oil make for simple and relaxing detox bath. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

detoxrecipecard2

Add distilled vinegar, sea salt and ground ginger to a basic detox recipe. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

detoxrecipecard3

This detox is more of a hydrating bath, but the benefits are the same as a traditional detox bath. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Let me know via the comments below if you’ve ever tried a detox bath or on facebook, instagram or twitter if you try one of these recipes. Share your own recipe below.

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Spring Cleaning: The Forgotten Clean Up

There’s so many ways to clean, products to use and lists about what to clean from the floor to the toilet. No matter how much I clean there’s always something I’ve forgotten. I’m probably not the only one who forgets those nooks and crannies throughout the house. I’d say the kitchen and bathroom are the two rooms in my house that have to be clean. In this post I’m focusing on the kitchen.

I mean think about it — the kitchen is where meals are prepared but it’s also where food is splattered on the wall, crumbs get swept under the rug, your husband washes the raw chicken on the counter.

Here’s my top 6 forgotten places to clean and how to clean them:

  • Top of the fridge. The top of our refrigerator holds party trays and of course some dust and nastiness. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I dusted up there. The easiest way to clean it is to dust it with a microfiber cloth and use a second cloth with hot, soapy water to wipe it down. Need to clean it in a hurry then swipe it with a baby wipe and keep it movin.’
  • Walls or backsplash. No doubt you remembered to wipe down the counter, but what about the walls or backsplash? The wall nearest the trash can gets hit with all sorts food particles so give it a cleaning with a mix of one cup of warm water and half a cup of baking soda. Combine the cleaning solution into a bucket and give the painted walls or even wallpaper a wipe down. Don’t have time for a bucket and rag then put 1/2 cup of warm water, 1/4 cup of baking soda and a 1 teaspoon of Dawn dish detergent in a spray bottle.
  • Can opener. My husband always washes the manual can opener after he uses it. I never did, but it makes sense, right. You use your can opener to open tuna, canned vegetables and everything in between all the while spreading bacteria from can to can and back into your kitchen drawer. Simply wipe the blade with hot, soapy water or toss it in the dishwasher.
Just give the handle and blade a wipe off with hot, soapy water. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Just give the handle and blade of your can opener a wipe off with hot, soapy water. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

  • Trash can. It’s the home of every imaginable nasty, dirty, stinky thing in the kitchen and for our family some dirty diapers. I clean our trash can with a mixture of white vinegar, Dawn dish soap and warm water. I estimate I clean the trash can every couple of weeks. But if you don’t want to go all natural I like Spic ‘n Span or Lysol wipes for a quick clean.
Here I've just taken a Lysol wipe and quickly wiped down the outside of the kitchen trash can. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Here I’ve just taken a Lysol wipe and quickly cleaned the outside of the kitchen trash can.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

  • Baseboards. I use the dryer sheets that come straight out of the dryer or an unused one and wipe the dust and then use a Magic Eraser to wipe down the baseboards. Or in a pinch just use a Lysol wipe.
Here I used an unused dryer sheet to remove dust from my base boards. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Here I used an unused dryer sheet to remove dust from my baseboards.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

  • Burner grates, under the stove top. This wasn’t easy to clean after grease and burnt food build-up but a paste of baking soda and vinegar did the trick to loosen up the grime. I did have to resort to a Brillo pad to get some of this off. Don’t forget to lift the stove and wipe underneath the grates.
Baking soda and vinegar loosened up this grime on the burner grate. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Baking soda and vinegar loosened up this grime on the burner grate.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

*Bonus: The Brita Pitcher. Wash the pitcher in warm water with a mild dish detergent and wipe the lid in a solution of warm water and distilled vinegar.

What are some items in your kitchen that you neglect to clean, but that should really be cleaned? Leave them in the comments below or tweet me your cleaning tips using #walkerspringclean so I can find it.

Spring Cleaning: Baby Edition

So as a new mom I admit sometimes I don’t have time to clean as thoroughly as I’d like and most days all I have time for besides work, dinner, baby and hubby is some laundry or the dishes.
But there’s just something about spring that gets me in the mood to clean and purge.

So that said I’m going to commit to another series. I know I’ve got the Tip Tuesday and for now I’ll share my spring cleaning tips with you over the next couple of weeks. I’m a big fan of diy projects (as you can tell from my Tip Tuesdays) and I do like to try to make or buy natural products, if I can. If I can save a dime and the environment, then why not?

So in honor of Earth Day I’m cleaning up, recycling, reusing and overall lessening my carbon footprint. I took an online quiz through the Nature Conservancy, mostly because I was curious and researching carbon footprint. But I wanted to understand how much of what my family actually does hurts the environment. I discovered that although our carbon footprint is less than the United States average we could still be doing a whole lot more to make this world better and cleaner.

So I give to you the first in a series of natural (or as close to it as possible) spring cleaning projects. Now that said, I haven’t gone the way of composting and buying only organic meat (which by the way would lessen your carbon footprint), but even the smallest of changes like recycling or buying less chemical-laden products helps. By the way, if you want to try the quiz you can find it here. No, this is not a sponsored ad or an affiliate link, just an FYI.

As the weather in North Carolina has gotten warmer I’ve been slowly transitioning my daughter to much cooler clothing. I’ve washed all of her winter items and packed them away. I’ve set aside several items to consign and I’ve even given away some clothing that is too small. Those small baby clothes I still want to see go to a “good home” so gave away quite a few pieces.

My first in this series is cleaning the baby items. My daughters’ bottles, clothes, toys, bedding and other items are high on my priority list. Having a child spend nearly a month in the NICU gives you a new perspective on what’s clean. When I say they CLEAN, they really clean.

Spring “Baby” Cleaning Tips

  • Make a list. I love a good check list and creating one keeps me organized. It also let’s me know what I’ve accomplished and what I have left to do.
  • One day at a time. Don’t feel as though you have to go through your list in one day (unless you want and in that case, you go girl or guy!)
  • Love it or lose it. If you simply can’t part with an item then keep it, but truly consider whether your child will continue wearing an outfit, will play with that particular toy or needs 24 baby bottles.
This pile of baby clothing will be consigned or donated to a friend. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

This pile of baby clothing will be consigned or donated to a friend.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Cleaning Products

Here are some of my favorite go-to “natural” products:

  • Distilled vinegar
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Baking soda
  • Lemon juice
These four products can clean just about anything. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

These four products can clean just about anything. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Favorite DIY All-Purpose Cleaner

Fill a spray bottle with half distilled (white) vinegar and the rest with warm water. This can be used on carpet stains, no-wax floors, windows, remove soap build-up in bathrooms, prevent mildew on shower curtains, clean kitchen counters, stovetops and the fridge; use on cutting boards, make brights brighter with a half cup in the rinse cycle, remove onion or other food odors from hands.

Baby Plush Toys

I don’t recommend washing plush toys or stuffed animals, but what you can do is use baking soda, vinegar, a baby wipe and dish soap.

Place the toy in a brown paper bag or just reuse a plastic grocery bag, put in baking soda and give it a shake for 2 minutes. Use an old toothbrush to wipe off the excess or use the vacuum attachment for larger toys. You can wipe plastic toy parts with hot water and vinegar or dish soap and a wash cloth or just use a baby wipe.

This is my daughter's most played with toy. Just sprinkle in some baking soda, wipe the hard parts with vinegar and hot water. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

This is my daughter’s most played with toy. Just sprinkle in some baking soda and give it a shake, wipe the hard parts with vinegar and hot water.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Quick ‘n Easy Clean Baby Bottles

I promise this won’t be hard. All you need is baking soda, dish soap and hot water. We like Dapple, which is a fragrance-free, plant-based dish soap that cleans bottles, pacifiers, sippy cups, baby bowls, spoons and breast pump parts. Soak the bottles and voila! Take a bottle brush to loosen any stubborn milk. Now if you use Dapple like we do then you don’t need baking soda because it already contains baking soda.

Hot water, baking soda and dish soap is all you need for a quick clean for baby bottles. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Hot water, baking soda and dish soap is all you need for a quick clean for baby bottles.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Organize/Declutter

Organizing and decluttering is simply the easiest way to a spring clean a house. Period. After I’ve washed all my little lady bugs winter clothes I’ve created a donate pile and packed up the rest, which I’ll save for a friend or family member when the time comes. The items in the winter container are organized by size. We’ve been gifted some items that little mama can’t wear yet, but by the time fall and winter roll around, they will fit to a T.

I’ve gone through and organized the T-shirts, pants, socks, headbands and onesies. When I ran out of space to put all of little ones clothes into, we used cloth-lined baskets. Really any open bin for shelves would make the space look neat while “hiding” your clothing and other items.

No parent really wants to throw all of their child’s art work or crafts out, but in my household we really don’t have the space for it all. So it’s time to purge. I’ve taken pictures, made a collage, which I’ll then print out and save in a file folder or frame.

Just organizing winter clothes and putting them away or donating them is one way to a clean house. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Just organizing winter clothes and putting them away or donating them is one way to a clean house.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

I’ve also cleaned out the diaper bag of duplicate items and made sure we have all the essentials – wipes, burp cloths, bib, changing pad and of course the Aquaphor.

Spreading out all the contents of your diaper bag will help you figure out what's needed and what can be purged. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Spreading out all the contents of your diaper bag will help you figure out what’s needed and what can be purged.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Are you spring cleaning for your household or just your little one, what are your favorite diy or store-bought natural cleaning products?

Tip Tuesday: Achoo! DIY Allergy Relief

It seems as though my allergies hit me earlier this year and I’ve been trying to find relief for weeks. I could easily reach for a little pink pill but it always makes me feel foggy-headed and “dried out” so I hit the internet to see if I could find some natural remedies. I decided to share the best three I found.

The first is a cough syrup from Instructables. This season I’ve had so much sinus drainage that I constantly cough, especially at night.

Cough Syrup

What You Need:

mixing bowl

resealable container

honey

spoon

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

8 TBS honey

3 TBS warm filtered water

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together and take 3-5 tsp a day, but take as little or as much as needed. Honey helps soothe and coat irritated membranes while ginger (either fresh or ground) works as an expectorant as well as loosens and expels mucus from the lungs. Pepper helps with chest congestion and thyme (fresh or ground) has anti-microbial properties and opens up the airways.

*Note: If the taste bothers you, add a few squeezes of fresh lemon. This will keep for several weeks in a well sealed container in a cool, dry location.


 Tea

Warm tea like chamomile  will break up the mucus in your airways and chamomile in particular, will relieve allergy symptoms. Chamomile is an antihistamine and can provide immunity toward many common allergens.

Chamomile tea is a natural antihistamine. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Chamomile tea is a natural antihistamine.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Bonus: The tea bag can be made into a compress for swollen, red eyes.

Directions

  1. Steep a tea bag in water for three minutes.
  2. Dump the water and squeeze out the excess water from the tea bag.
  3. Refrigerate the tea bag for 15 to 30 minutes and remove from the fridge.
  4. Hold the tea bag against your eye for up to five minutes at a given time.
  5. Wait an hour before reapplying a new compress and always use a new tea bag.

*Note: Chamomile has proteins that are similar to proteins found in ragweed so those who are allergic to it should be cautious.


DIY Allergy Relief using cough syrup, nasal saline spray and tea. Don't forget the tissues. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

DIY Allergy Relief using cough syrup, nasal saline spray and tea. Don’t forget the tissues. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Saline Nasal Spray

Over-the-counter saline sprays and rinses can help remove pollen from the nasal lining if you’ve been exposed to pollen. Most people often use the spray at the end of the day. Saline nasal sprays also add moisture if your nose feels dry from winter weather.

Directions

Mix two to three heaping teaspoons of non-iodized salt to one quart of water and add one teaspoon of baking soda. It is best to use salt that has no additives. Store the nasal solution in a nasal sprayer, which can be purchased online for less than $1. Store the solution at room temperature and mix before use. If the solution stings when you use it, just use less salt.

Other Tips: Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine and be can found in oranges and grapefruit, clean linens in hot water weekly to get rid of dust mites and steaming or a hot shower breaks up congestion and flush out mucus if only but temporarily. The easiest way to steam is to pour boiling water in a bowl and drape a towel over your head like a tent. Breathe in the steam through your nose for about five minutes.

 

Tip Tuesday: DIY Room Air Freshener

A stinky room doesn’t always have to end with you choking down an overpowering aerosol spray. So instead of using a commercial product I’ve created a two-ingredient, easy to create natural room air freshener.

This air freshener requires just baking soda and an essential oil of your choice.


 

Two ingredient DIY air freshener using baking soda and essential oil. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Two ingredient DIY air freshener using baking soda and essential oil.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

*Bonus: the air freshener doubles as a carpet deodorizer once the scent runs out.

Tip Tuesday: Baking Soda as Mouthwash!?

I guess I have my mom to thank for this latest Tip Tuesday because she asked me about using baking soda as a mouthwash after seeing a segment on the Dr. Oz show. I was at work when the episode aired, but once I Googled it there were of course thousands of entries on the subject.

At first I thought why would anyone want to rinse their mouth out with baking soda. It tastes horrible. But then again sometimes so does the manufactured store brand of mouthwash. In my experience there are certain brands that either taste like straight alcohol or bubble gum. So why not add baking soda flavor, it couldn’t hurt right?

So I thought I’d do some research and give it a try. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, which comes from soda ash. Soda ash is refined from trona ore, a natural deposit in the earth. Essentially the trona ore is mined and processed until its make up is that of the baking soda we are familiar with in powder and other forms. Now that I’ve gone all Bill Nye Science Guy on you, what can’t you use baking soda for? The answer is nothing really.

Baking soda as mouthwash!? It can be done. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Baking soda as mouthwash!? It can be done.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

It has a slightly salty taste, is used in baking and mostly household cleaning. But over the years I’ve used baking soda to freshen stinky shoes, to get teeth squeaky clean, as an antacid, to clean the bathroom, freshen smelly towels, on the carpet, etc. I could go on, but maybe I’ll save some for a future Tip Tuesday. So it’s easy to see that using baking soda as a mouthwash could be the ticket to fresher breath.

Well when I decided to make my own I hit up Google again and this time went to the brand most people trust — Arm & Hammer and wouldn’t you know they had a “recipe” for the mouthwash.

All you need is a teaspoon of baking soda mixed into a half a glass of water until the baking soda dissolves. Swish it around in your mouth and spit it out. It’s important that you don’t swallow it. I mean if a little goes down, it won’t taste good, but it won’t kill you. That’s it. Odors are neutralized.

Mix half a glass of water with a half a teaspoon of baking soda and there you have it. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Mix half a glass of water with a half a teaspoon of baking soda and there you have it.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Pour into a container with a lid and the mouthwash is good for 24 hours. I wouldn’t use it beyond that. Plus you can easily make another batch. This mouthwash is good for the whole family. It’s safe for your child that’s just learning to brush his or her teeth. Just swish it around for 30 to 60 seconds and spit. They can follow the mouthwash with some plain rinse water (Note: if your child isn’t old enough to swish then just put a little of the mouthwash on a soft toothbrush and brush their teeth, gums and tongue with it).

Just pour a half a teaspoon into your water and you have mouthwash. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Just pour a half a teaspoon into your water and you have mouthwash.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Now if you want to take it a step further to kill some bacteria and possibly prevent bacteria and gum disease just add a pinch of salt.

You can see in my photos I didn’t use Arm & Hammer, but I say use what you’ve got on hand. If you are wondering if I tried it. Yes. I did and it didn’t taste at all like salt, just plain water. However, when I ran my tongue over my teeth there was a slightly salty taste there. Now here’s to a clean, freshened mouth. Say cheese!

As always if you like this tip or have your own tip using baking soda, tag me using #TipTuesday via facebook, instagram or twitter.