Cooking Up Household Stuff!

It makes me feel good to put together or create the items I use everyday for personal care, cleaning, and the like. I appreciate using products that have no added chemicals in them and the only way I know to ensure this is to make them myself. And it’s fun! There are some products I purchase because they work better, or sometimes it is just too much work to make them regularly. Each of us has to decide what works for us then pick and choose our favorites.

Today I am focusing on household products, but I also make an array of personal care items (lotion, body wash, shampoo, toothpaste, and lip balm) and I am happy to share the recipes, just write to me!

I was pleasantly surprised to discover over 11,000 views on my Facebook page (Sandy’s Food For Thought) for my Solar Honeysuckle Mist. It’s so easy to make with Spring honeysuckle and I love the smell. It works nicely as a room freshener or a body spray, provided you don’t have an allergic reaction to it.

Beeswax Refrigerator Wraps

1/2 yard or more thin organic cotton fabric
Pre-grated Beeswax or grate it yourself (see note on clean up*)

Preheat oven to 185 degrees.

1. Cut cotton fabric into the sizes you will use most
2. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and place cotton pieces so they are not touching each other
3. Sprinkle a thin layer of beeswax on one side of each piece of fabric, OR grate the beeswax directly over and on the fabric
4. Bake until beeswax melts – about 10 minutes – watch it carefully
5. Remove from oven, and carefully spread melted beeswax evenly on fabric and to the edges (I used a disposable foam paintbrush)
6. Set aside until beeswax cools
7. If you need to reheat it and spread it further, no worries, you can do that
8. Repeat procedure until you have all pieces of fabric coated with beeswax
9. After they cool, they are ready to use

*CLEAN UP – I learned that using pre-grated beeswax is the key because although grating a block of beeswax is easy, cleaning it off your grater or utensils is tough. If you choose to grate the beeswax, you might consider having utensils just for this project.

When you use your wraps, the heat from your hands slightly melts the beeswax so that it clings to your glass surface or to itself when folded. I also made string ties to use in some cases.

One thing I have wanted to try for a long time is Beeswax Food Covers to use for refrigerator food storage instead of plastic. So here’s my first attempt. I will report back later after I see how well they work and if they can be cleaned easily. I am hoping, when necessary, they can be re-coated with new beeswax.

One of the most important parts of this is to create the size wrap you will use the most, based on the type of leftovers you generally have or the size of the storage containers used. I personally love leftovers, so I sometimes have plenty to store.
For my first try, I purchased a 1/2-yard of organic cotton fabric and new (sharper) pinking shears. From that 1/2 yard, I cut 11 pieces in these sizes: 6×9, 5×9, 5×11, 8×8, 11×11, and 9×11.
I can see already that the square pieces will be most useful to me because I can use them on round glass bowls or cups. If you want to wrap sandwiches or other foods directly in the beeswax wrap, then perhaps you will like the rectangular shapes also.

For many years I have been making and using this laundry soap. One batch lasts me a year or more because I only use 1 tablespoon per load – so it is very cost effective too!

[Foodie Tip: Like honey, beeswax is antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic and antibacterial]

Window Cleaner: Probably everyone knows that white vinegar mixed with water makes a great window cleaner, but I find adding a drop or two of dish soap makes it work even better.

Speaking of dish soap, I have attempted many different recipes for it over the years and have yet to find one that really works well. Do you have a dish soap recipe that works? Can you share it with me?
Ants and fruit flies attempt to invade my house each Spring and Summer, so I admit that if they don’t listen after my talking “firmly” to them, I resort to stronger measures!
To deter the ants and some other insects, try these:

• Peppermint and mint essential oils top the list of scents they dislike.
• Try planting mint plants (in pots as they spread rapidly) around the outside of your home.
• Or you can try using mint oil to wipe down the areas where you see the ants trailing indoors.
• Cayenne pepper, lemon water and cinnamon will not only stop them from entering, but will disrupt their sense of smell.
• Coffee grounds are another scent they don’t like. You can place the grounds in areas around your home where ants are entering and it will help keep them at baay.
• Bay leaves, apple cider vinegar, and whole cloves are still more scents that ants won’t cross.
• Try using food grade Diatomaceous Earth (made of ground, fossilized sea phytoplankton) as deterrent against a number of different pests in your garden and home. (And I use it for keeping fleas off my dogs!)

OMGosh – Did you know? “They [bugs], also get inside manufacturing plants, so chances are you may be unintentionally eating insects in some of your packaged foods. For this reason the U.S. Food and Drug Administration makes allowances [ugh] for a specific amount of bug or bug parts you may find in your food. For instance:
• Ground cinnamon can contain up to 400 insect fragments per 50 grams
• Ground marjoram can contain up to 1,175 insect fragments per 10 grams
• Crushed oregano can contain up to 300 insect fragments per 10 grams
• Canned tomato juice can contain two whole maggots and not more than 15 fruit fly eggs per 100 grams”

One of my favorite cleaners is this simple one. I use it regularly and it’s so easy to make. Let me know what you think.
Do you have any recipes that you use as cleaners, room fresheners, or bug deterrents? Write to me!

Solar Honeysuckle Mist …

Pick from honeysuckle vines when flowers are fully opened but still fresh and not wilted.

Run your fingers along the stem to remove flowers and leaves. Pick leaves out and put flowers only in a glass bowl. Cover flowers with twice as much clean water as flowers. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap.

Set bowl outside in direct sunlight for 10-12 hours.

Remove plastic wrap and strain flowers out. Pour liquid into spray bottles. Use as body spray or room freshener. Smells Heavenly ¬– truly Brightens My Day!!!

Lavender Laundry Soap
Makes 4 1/2 cups

8 oz bar soap (grate in food processor)
2 c borax
2 c washing soda
2 T baking soda
(Opt) 1 t lavender, lemon or grapefruit, or tea tree essential oil

Combine baking soda, borax, and soap flakes. Add essential oil and mix with a wire whisk. Use 1 T to 1/8 c per load.

Cassia All-Purpose Cleaner

1-1⁄2 cups vinegar
1-1⁄2 cups water
1 1/2 t washing soda
30 drops cinnamon essential oil

Put all ingredients in a quart mason jar, shake until combined and use it from a recycled spray bottle. Perfect!

Here’s a simple, effective powdered cleanser that I also use regularly.

Powdered Cleanser
1 cup borax
1 cup baking soda
½ cup sea salt (If using scrub on fiberglass tubs, omit salt to prevent scratching.)
6 drops of your essential oil for fragrance (optional)
Mix dry ingredients. Store in shaker for easy use!!

Sandy McCall’s day job is working as the Broker/Owner of Southern Life Realty. When she’s not being the “mad scientist” in the kitchen or loving-up her cat and dogs, she enjoys being the Food Editor for WNC Woman Magazine and volunteering in the community.
Check out my Blog on Facebook: Sandy’s Food for Thought!

Sandy McCall
Written by Sandy McCall