All about the bucket

Thank you to my SIL Susie for having this cool bucket in her home!
Thank you to my SIL Susie for having this cool bucket in her home!

One of the things that Dana and I have noticed about being sparkly Queen of the Castle moms who happen to make a lot of our food and cleaning supplies from scratch, is that if we say that we order pure goat milk soap from this awesome homeschooling family in Pennsylvania, people will automatically assume that we’re crunchy. Or if I talk about canning jam and baking bread, or Dana talks about homemade deodorant—maybe this one most of all—we can almost see the mental eye roll.

There is nothing wrong with being crunchy. But we aren’t. We both drank a Diet Coke on Sunday.

Our approach is more big picture. We accept that there are only so many days in the week and so many hours in the day. We don’t want to be tied down to our sewing machines and stoves and ovens and laundry trees for most of our day. There are for sure times when we cut corners, from Happy Meals to Maybelline mascara. Sometimes for the convenience and sometimes because the homemade stuff flat doesn’t work.

This is the way we see it. A Diet Coke is not going to kill anyone. Shampoo with pthalates is not going to kill anyone. A juice box or applesauce with artificial sweeteners is not going to kill anyone. Wearing lipstick with lead on a big night out is not going to kill anyone. But when we start piling Diet Cokes on top of shampoo on top of juice boxes on top of lead lipstick every day, then the danger piles up too. If that’s all we eat or drink every day, then we are living a pretty toxic lifestyle. And that is not crunchy drama. That is scientific fact. You can double check me here and here.

So we think of our intake like a bucket and we watch what we put in there. We try very hard to make sure that we are not putting toxins in our bucket. And when we do, we try to make sure that we balance that with something that we know will act as a cleaner in our system. We drink lots of water. We read labels. We don’t keep soda in our homes. We make our food from scratch whenever possible and we’ve taught our kids to believe that homemade treats from scratch say we love them way more than any store bought cake ever could.

Just kidding. Kate had a store bought Frozen cake from Stater Bros for her birthday and it was good, scary blue frosting and all.

What we’re fighting here is accumulation. We don’t want to accumulate toxins in our bodies. That’s why we visualize the bucket because it helps us see what’s in there. If we drank soda and Starbucks and ate GMO and fast food every single day—and lots of people do—then our buckets would be full of chemicals and toxins and hormones. We don’t want that, not with our family histories of cancer. If we eat fresh food, organic food, homemade food and low salt food, then our buckets are not as full and they kind of get bigger too. Think about it: one mini-Snickers, or a whole half pint of fresh, ripe, sweet raspberries.

Lots of times, I have chosen the Snickers. Just not every time, or even every three times. We each have a guilty confession, too. Mine is non-dairy creamer, vanilla flavor. Which is straight up fake. And yes, I’ve tried making my own, and I’ve tried half and half and even heavy cream and it just isn’t the same and yes, I need it. Dana’s is that she uses Cascade dishwasher detergent and Finish, because the homemade stuff makes the dishes look awful and she has a discerning mother-in-law.

Our point is that we aren’t perfect when it comes to this healthy lifestyle thing, but we know our environment is dirty and big corporations are not looking out for us, so we have to balance the crap we can’t control with good stuff that we can. We aren’t judging anyone else and we try not to preach.

Although, I may need to work on this part because just a few weeks ago my dad turned to me in exasperation and said “I’m 68! I don’t care anymore!”

Fair enough.



Scouring the Sink ~ Dana

Well, for those of you who are hoping that title is a metaphor, you are sadly mistaken.  It’s time for another recipe for our Footloose and Chemical Free page.  I have been in a stalemate with adding new cleaning and beauty products to my cabinets, but I am reinvigorated and renewed and finding lots of new great cleaning products!

I’ve always used scouring agents in my kitchen sink and in my bathrooms. But last week, when I dropped the Comet in the bathtub and inhaled a nice green dust cloud, I knew it was time to start looking around for an all-natural alternative.  I came across this recipe at, which is quickly becoming a great resource that I turn to for information on essential oils.

I already had all of the ingredients on hand for my other all-natural cleaners (like laundry detergent, all purpose cleaner, and hand sanitizer), so it was no problem to measure them out and mix them together in a mason jar.  No more green dust.  No more harsh chemicals.


Powdered Sink Cleaner

½ cup Borax

½ cup super washing soda

½ cup baking soda (set aside 1 Tbsp if you will be using essential oils)

½ cup salt

15 drops essential oil (I used lime for my first batch, but lavender, lemon, or grapefruit would also work)


1.  Combine Borax, washing soda, baking soda, and salt in a (preferably glass) container with 2 cup capacity. If using essential oils, keep 1 Tbsp baking soda aside.

2.  To add the essential oils, mix 1 Tbsp baking soda and 15 drops essential oils together with a mortar and pestle for several seconds until well combined.  Then add to the other ingredients.

3.  Cover container and shake well to thoroughly combine all ingredients.

4.  Use as you would any store-bought abrasive cleaner like Ajax or Comet.  Sprinkle a small amount over desired surface and scrub with a damp cloth or sponge.  Rinse well.

I’ve also started using that AWESOME hand-crocheted dishcloth, pictured above, that my mom’s cousin, Reenie, made.  Homemade, sustainable, wonderful!  In case you are interested in making your own, I found this tutorial online.  You’re welcome.

Natural All-Purpose Cleaner ~ Dana


After I started making my own laundry detergent, the homemade, all-natural bug bit me.  I researched basic kitchen and bathroom cleaners and found that the chemicals used for the production of non-natural cleaning products include neurotoxins, carcinogens, heavy metals, and depressants.  They are great at cleaning up messes, but can also cause respiratory problems, allergic reactions, cancers, trigger asthmatic attacks, and reproductive problems (   Ew.  I don’t want that stuff in my home, around my kids, and touching our food.

An easy non-toxic cleaner I use every day is this simple all-purpose cleaner from   It’s a great kitchen cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and can it even disinfect toys after the kids have been sick.  And unlike its commercial counterparts, you do not have to rinse it off of the countertop. That little-known nugget is in the fine print on most cleaners.  Yikes.

If you’ve made the laundry soap that we posted last week, you already have a couple of the ingredients.

In a spray bottle, mix:

1 tsp borax

1/2 tsp washing soda

1 tsp liquid castile soap

Essential oils – I use 4 drops lemon (antiseptic), 4 drops lavender (antiseptic and anti-viral), and 10 drops orange (antiseptic)

Add 2 cups of warm water.  Distilled is best, but any water that has been boiled will work. Cover bottle and shake well. Use as needed.

The essential oils can be purchased at most health food stores, like Clarks Nutrition or Sprouts here in Southern California.  Sometimes if I’m not going to make it to one of these stores for a while, I order the oils on, too.

One thing that I am discovering with most of my homemade cleaners is that I need a bit more elbow grease when using them than when I clean with chemical cleaners.  And that makes sense, doesn’t it?  So by using it, you’ll be healthier and your arms will be toned.

For tougher jobs like the stovetop and microwave, I keep a spray bottle filled with half distilled or boiled water and half white vinegar.  The acidity of the vinegar breaks down grease better than the all-purpose cleaner.  And don’t worry; the vinegar smell doesn’t last long.  I promise.