crafts · knitting · Life

Mega post: Thoughts on being green and a book review

I’ve completed the left front of my Printed Silk Cardigan. I love this pattern! The diamond pattern took longer than I thought, but it’s really an enjoyable knit so far!

Life feels a bit more normal this week. We had an open house on Sunday, and it went well, although I do find some of the feedback we heard (through our agent) strange. I get the impression that some people want to live in this area for the convenience of being near everything, but aren’t aware of what it’s really like to live in an historic building. Plaster walls aren’t perfectly flat, you know? Everything isn’t square, and yes the bathroom is old (but with new sink and vanity,) but look at the original hex tiles and the subway tile! Someone also complained that our baseboards didn’t look clean enough, which… first of all, I have done nothing but clean for weeks, and second – aren’t you ever going to clean them yourself? Why do you care? Ah well… it could be worse. The house we are buying had a previous offer that fell through because the buyers were scared of the lead paint addendum and insisted that all the lead paint be removed. Like, seriously? Every house in this part of town has lead paint somewhere, that’s the nature of old buildings!

Since I don’t work during the day I am frequently having to exit for house showings. There are 2 today. During the first I went to the natural foods store down the street – I wanted to walk, but I had Leon the cat with me. I don’t like him to be there for showings because he is so super friendly – anyone who is not a cat person might be freaked out.

I considered the green cleaning products while I was there. Since I have been having to keep the house so clean I have really started to be concerned about using chemicals to clean. I no longer use commercial floor cleaners, and I long ago switched from 409 type sprays to Method Brand. I’m interested in making the switch to almost totally natural cleaners. I bought a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s because I love the smell and it can be used for so many purposes. I’m going to dilute it and see how it does as a general purpose cleaner. It’s also a peace offering to Marc, because when I cleaned out the cabinets I threw away lots of old scary chemical cleaners, including his bottle of Spic & Span. Apparently the housekeeper in his house growing up used Spic & Span for everything, and he is very enamored of the idea of using it. Does anyone else have this sort of argument with their significant other? He’s a hoarder and I’m someone who is trying to live a more minimalistic lifestyle. He gets really upset when I throw anything away, and I get upset when there is too much “stuff” around. I want everything put away, he is happy when things are out where he can see them etc. How to resolve this conflict?

I’ve been on a bit of a craft book buying spree. I bought Abode A La Mode (love the projects, highly recommended – I’m making the domino backsplash!) The Big Ass Book of Crafts (not as recommended, lots of things which are not to my taste at all,) and Retro Knits (again, not so much recommended, I have lots of the patterns in their original form, and most of the resizings here will not fit me at all.)

But my favorite purchase was a last minute impulse buy: The Complete Book of Retro Crafts.

I love this book because it celebrates the kinds of crafts we did as kids, and somehow manages to make them all look fresh (and yes, a bit kitschy.) There is talk about setting up your craft space and discussion of materials, as well as a look at how to live a crafty lifestyle that I enjoyed. But of course we’re all in it for the projects… and they do not disappoint!

Whether you will like this book or not probably depends on how likely you are to decorate your house with something called “Reinbeers.”  I, of course, love the unexpected, and so I will be making some for next Christmas.  I’ve also always wanted a starburst clock, as well as one of these Christmas tree centerpieces (my grandma had one.)

On the downside, some of the projects are a little bit too much like crafts I made in girl scouts.  The biggest success comes from projects with a 1950s vibe.  I’m planning on my kitchen in the new house being very retro (working with, rather than against the old cabinets, and staving off a remodel.)   I’ve seen some lovely retro kitchen treatments with cabinets of this sort (1940s/50s, plain white with copper handles.)  We have a formica kitchen table (white and silver) and a working Chambers stove from the 1950s, both of which I love but we don’t have room for them in the condo.  They will go in the kitchen, along with a new retro floor which I will install myself (it has yucky beige vinyl tile now) and I think I will be very happy with the results.

I have also become obsessed with paint colors, since I love to paint.  I’ve been stalking my local Benjamin Moore store, planning what colors I will use to cover the icky pink walls.  That will be for a later post, when I get less scared of jinxing myself (although we do have a back-up plan in the even that our condo does not sell quickly or the house gets another offer without a contingency, that is not ideal and I’m hoping we don’t have to go there!)

11 thoughts on “Mega post: Thoughts on being green and a book review

  1. I have been making the switch to non-toxic cleaners and have found it to one of the best things. I now use a water, vinegar, baking soda, washing soday, Bon Ami, dishsoap and borax for everyday cleaning. They are all cheaper than commercial products and work just as well.

  2. I just bought a house and as a closing gift, my real estate agent got me a copy of the book “Who Knew? Formulas and Solutions for a Naturally Clean Home.” It’s great. Almost every cleaning solution includes white vinegar, baking soda, and maybe some hot water. Those three things will seriously clean anything! Good luck with the houses- old and new!

  3. We do all non-toxic cleaners. One of the most versatile is a good sub for Spic-N-Span: you just mix baking soda with enough Dr. Bronner’s to form a nice frosting-like paste, and you can use it to scrub sinks and showers clean. Love it. My favorite book is called Better Basics for the Home. It has recipes for natural cleaners of just about every possible kind.

  4. I’m switching over to all homemade “green” cleaning stuff too, and the biggest surprise is how well it works. And my eyes don’t sting!

    The rein-beers are awesome! They’d make great xmas tree ornaments 🙂

  5. Oh I love that Retro Crafts book! It looks really fun.

    Yes, my hubby is the same way….he likes to have everything out so he “knows where it all is” and I like thing “put away”. He claims he can’t find things when they are put away. It is definitely a challenge.

    Your Printed Silk cardi is looking great. Love the color!

  6. Can’t believe there’s another hoarder-minimalist couple in the universe. Since my husband also loves to have extra $$$, I get to sell stuff on eBay AND de-clutter. A bit of work, but definitely worth it. And don’t even worry about picky criticisms of your house; the perfect buyer will never notice and will be along soon!

  7. I think my husband really doesn’t notice all the things he leaves laying around. It drives me crazy! I’m trying to instill my habits into my two boys, but I’ve almost given up on changing the hubby.

  8. The Printed Silk cardigan is looking lovely.

    My husband & I found a balance by each having one room of the house that we keep exactly as we want (in his case, with piles of stuff everywhere!), and compromising on the rest. And yes, we even disagree about cleaning products, so I let him have his industrial-strength ones knowing that he’s almost never motivated to actually use them.

  9. I’m a devotee of bleach. My family calls me “the Clorox queen.” I’m sure that’s probably the most eco-unfriendly thing I could use, isn’t it?

    My husband likes to leave things out, too. I can’t stand clutter. I like everything put away where I can’t see it. After 15 years, I’ve pretty much won (if, by “won”, you understand that I mean, I do all the cleaning and tidying, so I get to have it the way I want it). But you might consider open shelving for some of the things you use a lot, and that look all right on display. That might make your husband feel a little better.

  10. I totally hear ya on that one! My husband is such a clutter bug. . .which is genetic I think. He complains about his parents being this way but does it himself without noticing. I purge when he is gone. . .I find that if I don’t tell him. . .he doesn’t notice. The cleaner has got to go though. . .I try and pick my battles and that is one I refuse to lose. These things are just not good for you. I use a company out of Burlington, VT called 7th generation. . .it’s great! Good luck on the house. . .we have been in contract for a year on a house and I understand the frustration and anxiety. Its brutal!

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