Erica's Blog

The Try Something New Everyday experiment

Today I cleaned the Keurig

Today our area got a taste of spring…bright, sunny day in the 70s.

What’s the best way to spend a freebie spring day?!  Spring Cleaning!!

And to fuel this spring cleaning, I need coffee!

I brewed up my energy in a cup and as I took the first sip, I thought about it….I’ve owned this machine for a year now, but have never cleaned it…Well, there ya go!  My first spring cleaning project!

But how do you clean this contraption?!  Do you dismantle the whole machine to it’s innards?

First stop, youtube!  Surly someone else has tackled this before.  Sure enough, Cusinart actually provides a video on exactly how to do it.

Come to find out you clean the Keurig just like you would have an archaic coffee machine…just run vinegar through it.

I followed the instructions:

  1. Empty water reservoir
  2. Remove filter
  3. Refill reservoir with white vinegar
  4. Place a large mug under spout
  5. Run vinegar through the machine using the 12 oz cup size and Hot Water option.  Discard mug contents* and repeat process until the message “Add Water” appears (6 run throughs).
  6. Now, let the machine sit with the remaining vinegar for 4 hours
  7. At 4 hours and 1 minute, empty water reservoir, rinse well and refill with water
  8. Place the large mug under spout
  9. Run water through the machine using the 12 oz cup size and Hot Water option.  Discard mug contents and repeat process until the message “Add Water” appears (6 run throughs).

Now…here are my variations to the instructions..

Step 0…Scrub the outside of the machine.  No sense in cleaning the inside of the machine before cleaning the outside of the machine.
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At step 5, I did NOT discard the heated vinegar.  Heated vinegar makes for THE best cleaner!  Why would you just pour it down the sink?!  Wasted gold I tell ya…wasted gold.
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(By the way, you may be wise NOT to stand very close to the vinegar steam during this process…steamed vinegar can be quite potent…NOT that I learned this the hard way or anything…NOT that I was scrubbing the counter behind the machine while the vinegar was brewing…NOT that I got such a large whiff my eyes instantly teared and I looked like I had watched Beaches twelve times…NOT that Bette Midler singing Wind Beneath My Wings played incessantly in my head all…day…long.  Yeah, no…not from experience…)

I reclaimed the “gold” in a bucket and used it to clean the fireplace brick that can be seen in the kitchen.  Well, this heated vinegar works so well, it stripped some of the paint from the fireplace ledge!!  Man, this heated vinegar makes Mr. Clean look like Wimpy from Popeye.
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No worries…nothing a little wine can’t take care of…
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Step 9…I did twice.  I’d rather not have vinegary-coffee. If once is good, twice has to be better!

Step 10…take whatever parts that can be removed and run through the dishwasher.

Now my keurig is all prepared for making tomorrow’s warm treat.  Tomorrow’s weather: Temps in the 30s with snow and freezing rain!!

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Today I tried to remove mold stains from the shower curtain

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Problem: There are ugly black spots on my shower curtain.

I have a bathroom that has poor ventilation and sometimes, even with the exhaust fan running during showers and regular cleanings, these black ickies appear.

I’ve tried the lazy way…just throwing the curtain in the washer, adding vinegar and hoping for the best…oddly enough, that didn’t remove the spots.

Today, I’m gonna step my game up.

I researched some ways how to remove mold from fabric.  Every site mentions bleach right from the start but I’d rather not turn my stripes into spots.  One site recommended using a lemon+salt paste.  Hey, I’ve got those ingredients.  Let’s try it!

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I added the two ingredients to make a paste and grabbed an old toothbrush.  I took the curtain down from the rod and applied the mixture to the spots.  Then scrubbed.  First, the mixture didn’t even seem to phase the spots.  Second, it’s not wise to attempt this procedure in a freshly cleaned, from top to bottom, bathroom…I’m not saying I learned this the hard way…I’m just giving you a heads up.

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So…outside, I continue the scrubbing.  It doesn’t take long for the toothbrush to become impacted with the salt.  As such, the mixture flies everywhere.  Good thing I’m outside…

I give up on this method.  Too messy…too long…and did I mention, too messy…

Another site recommended the good ole sunshine.  Of course, it doesn’t mention how long to keep it in the sun…and it’s 2:30 pm so I’m not sure if I’ve missed my sun bleach window…but I’m already outside, covered in flung salt…I have nothing to lose.

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There…all spread out…now sun, get to work!   please…

****Insert time warping music here****

Fast forward to 6 pm…the sun has fallen behind my trees for it’s evening slumber so I’m sure no more bleaching will take place.  I retrieved the curtain from the grass and inspected the spots…I maybe think they have faded just a bit…a teensy weensy tiny bit…but nothing too spectacular.

At some point I’m gonna want to shower tonight and I’ll need to get the curtain back on the rod.  Time to get the washer involved in this mission.  One of the last recommendations was to use Borax.  The instructions are to dissolve the powder into hot water before adding to the wash.  Hmmm…lets think this through…I’ll throw the curtain into the washer, throw the Borax powder on top, set it to hotter than Alexander Skarsgard hot, and by the time the water has filled, surly the powder would have dissolved, right?!  I think so…therfore I’m eliminating that middle step.

****Insert True Blood theme song…just cause now it’s stuck in my head****

Well…washing with borax failed to change the black spots.  I concede maybe if I had dissolved the borax and applied directly to the fabric I may have gotten a better result.

At any rate, I’m calling a recess and will resume this game tomorrow.

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Today I cleaned a water bottle with rice

Specifically, I cleaned my bunny’s water bottle with rice.  The good news is you don’t have to have a bunny to do this yourself.  You can use this technique with any water bottle that’s tough to clean.

After about a month, my bunny’s water bottle starts to look alittle cloudy and can even get some green junk growing on the inside.  I use bottled spring water for all my pets so not really sure how this can happen but nonetheless…it needs to go. Ewww!!!

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Bunnies are very sensitive to chemicals which means one cannot use bleach or household products to clean their cages (I don’t usually call mine a cage…my bunny lives in a condo) and items.  I believe vinegar would be ok but even that I use sparingly.  So onto the web I went in search of a better way and found the rice technique.

Start with some dry rice and add maybe a tablespoon into the bottle.  You don’t need a ton but enough to give good friction when swishing. (The little yellow ducky is a floater which shows you the water level…when there’s just water in the bottle, it can look deceivingly full when it’s tragically empty)

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Next add some water…probably2-3 times the amount of rice you added.

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Then cover the top with either the water bottle’s cap or just your hand.

And here comes the fun part…SWISH!  Get vigorous with it…throw in your hips…do the solo cha cha with it…swish it high…swish it low…swish it to the right, to the right, to the right…swish it to the left, to the left, to the left…take it back now y’all…one hop this time…right foot lets stomp…left foot lets stomp…cha cha real smooth…

Oh opps…sorry!  Got sucked into the Cha Cha Slide……

…..happens to me all the time…

So, back to bottle cleaning…now you have some milky looking rice water and what you think could be a sparkling clean water bottle.  Well, let’s just see how well you swished.  Pour out the rice water as best as you can.  You may want to get a strainer so the rice doesn’t end up in your drain…or like me, let your sink drain do all the work.  I guarantee you some stubborn rice stayed inside the bottle.  Just add a bit more water, swish a bit (staying away from the party dancing) and dump.

Now, let’s rinse the heck out of this bottle so no starch is left behind.  I used the hottest water my spigot could produce and filled the bottle half way, swished good then emptied and repeated about 10 times.  You don’t necessarily have to do it 10 times.  I have OAD (a self diagnosed condition called Over Achievers Disorder).

Now, lookie there…a sparkling clean water bottle!  (just a note…I also took out the little ducky and scrubbed it with a toothbrush)

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And a happy bunny!

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Today I’m solving the sock problem

One of my hopes with this blog is to improve the world.

So far, I’ve only offered some humorous ramblings of my life.  Nothing really Noble Peace Prize worthy…

Today though, someone may need to contact the committee…

In my house, socks overwhelm the laundry.

Here’s some scientific statistics about the socks in my house:

They multiply.  Spontaneously.
At least one sock disappears on a weekly basis.  Maybe it’s turned into a dalek, maybe it’s returned to the wild, or eaten by some domestic monster (ex. one of the pups).
If lined up toe to toe and they would wrap the circumference of Saturn 12.47 times.   Really…I’ve measured.

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And while I have a copious amount of socks, when I go to find a match, finding a matching pair inevitably eats up at least 5 minutes of my day.

5 minutes!!  Do you know what could be accomplished in 5 minutes?!  I could load the dishwasher (like Jesus on adderall), I could cook a meal, I could win a game of Uno, I could solve a sudoku puzzle, I could knit a scarf, I could cure cancer…well, if I knew how…

Anyhoo, this universal problem MUST be solved!

So in order to conquer such a problem, the solution:
* Should only take one time to match all socks.  Then the pairs must remain married.  Divorce is not an option in sock world!
* Should be easy enough even a caveman can do it…i.e. all household participants will actually participate!
* Once matched, the pairing should be able to withstand the laundry cycle

I put my thinking cap on… (insert Jeopardy music here).  If only there was a way to connect the socks together…something easy to obtain…something cheap…something easy to use.

And then it hit me!!  Clothespins!

Here’s the procedure:

Spend one afternoon…ok, well, weekend, matching up socks.
Instruct sock wearers to remove clothespin before wearing socks.  (This should probably be a given but the scientific method makes NO assumptions…)
When removing socks from wear, reattach clothespin and toss the pairing into the hamper.
Pinned socks will go on a wild water ride and the sauna toss and then will be returned (still matched) to the designated sock drawer.
Repeat procedure as needed.

Easy enough, right?

Today, I located all socks and laundered them.  I’m not messing with hazardous materials or stinky footsie covers!

I ran out to Walmart and purchased 2 bags of old school wooden clothespins ($3).

Next I spent hours…yes, HOURS…several sets of 60 minute intervals…matching socks.  The consoling factors (1) if my plan proves worthy, I should only have to invest this time to this task this one time and (2) I can catch up on some Masterpiece Mystery episodes.

Can I just vent?!  Black socks SUCK!  Matching black socks to their intended party requires close inspection…under bright light…and even then may need DNA fiber testing to determine their proper mates.  Ok, end of rant.

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I tested the clothespin procedure by tossing a matched, pinned pair in the wash to ensure the pins would stay in place.  Good news…they do!

So, there you have it.  My solution for the sock conundrum.

I’m not much of a bragger…but I feel like I just solved world peace.

And I’m not one to count my chickens before they hatch…but I will make sure my calendar is free the week of October 10 and I can get travel to Oslo in a moments notice to properly accept the NPP (that’s what we in the peace biz call the prize).

pp

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Today I cleaned a copper bottomed pot

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My dear grandmother passed down this little pot to me ages ago.  I never thought to clean it because growing up, all her pots looked like this and I figured with copper this is just how they end up.

I’m researching how to easily clean my shower that has rust stains and stumbled upon how to clean a copper pot.  I thought “Hey! I have a copper pot I can experiment on!” so viola!  Today’s something new!

The cleaning recipe calls for salt and vinegar.  Technically the original called for red wine vinegar and technically I have some but technically I don’t waste wine, even if technically it’s vinegar, and technically I already had the white vinegar out so technically I decided to use it.  Technically, I’m such a rebel!

I covered the bottom with salt.  (Like my little finger swirls?)
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Then added the vinegar
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Then waited…not so patiently though
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Wow!  What a difference!  Look!  There’s words!!  Who knew?!

But now I’m wondering about the red wine vinegar…could it have made a difference?

So, I try it again…but with the red wine vinegar
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And the result:
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Ok…using the red wine vinegar isn’t wasting it!

What a difference!  I’m impressed!!  And this all took like 5 minites!

Awesome peeps!  If you have copper bottomed pans, don’t let them look ugly!  There’s no reason!

Now…I wonder if the pot will cook differently after so many years of gonk has been removed?  Hmmm…we’ll just have to see…

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Today I washed dishes – rustic style

I’m spoiled rotten…it’s ok…I own it 🙂

I love my dishwasher.

I used to think hand washing dishes got your dishes the cleanest.  I always used scalding hot water and ole blue Dawn soap.  And no gloves…I needed to feel the dishes to ensure no crusty food particles (example: dried cheese grits!) When drying, I performed the squeak test to ensure cleanliness and sparkliness (word invention?!)!  My dish cabinet gleamed when you opened the door!

In my first house, the remodler asked where did I want the dishwasher.   I responded “I don’t need no stinky dishwasher…I AM the dishwasher.”

He put it right next to the sink.

I skeptically used it once.  I loaded the dishes,  poured in the solution, shut the door and told the machine “Good luck sucka!”

I stood over it as it wished and washed and made all kinds of watery sounds.  Then the button popped indicating the machine was done.  I opened the door and heat and steam enveloped me.

Woah!  This thing does facials too?!

Now, I use very hot water but my dishes have never coming steaming hot from the dish water.  Then, I performed the squeak test and the dishes passed with flying colors.  And I had no dishpan hands!!

Ok, I concede…a dishwasher CAN clean better than I…

Since that day I no longer wash dishes by hand.  In fact, I won’t buy any dishes, cups or bottles that aren’t dishwasher safe.

So, what happened today you ask?  Well, since our beautiful snow the septic system has been struggling.  I’ll spare you all the fun details but this week it got to the point I couldn’t do any laundry or dishes.

I lasted 3 days and finally I couldn’t take the dirty dishes laying in the sink any longer!

They taunted me each time I walked by saying things like “Try to squeak us now!” and “Aren’t we just gleemy?!”.

I devised a plan!  I used my super huge popcorn bowl to make dishwater.  I took another serving bowl and made rinse water.  I grabbed my cleaning gloves…surprised ya huh?  I told ya I’ve become spoiled!  And started tackling the dishes.
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I bet you think the next step is drying and putting them away.  Nah nah!  They went straight into the dishwasher for an official cleaning (when the septic system is back online)!

What do I look like?!  The dishwasher?!

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Today I freshened my house with lemon

I’m in Christmas baking preparation mode.

Before I can get into a serious baking mode, I have to ensure my house, especially my kitchen, sparkles from the cleanliness.  Today, floors are my focus.

My goal: my feet to squeaky when I walk across the floor.

This means some serious elbow grease, on hands and knees to scrub every nook and cranny until I feel confident you could literally eat sweet potato casserole off the floor.

But please don’t…I’ll be happy to give you a bowl!

I normally use Mr. Clean and Pine Sol.  I obtain that squeaky clean and get the added bonus of a pleasant smell through out the house.  Today, I’m trying something new…more of an experiment for a future post I’m pondering.  I’ve been exploring ways to use natural products rather than commercial cleaners and decided to try white vinegar to clean the floors.  Now, I know I could dilute the vinegar it to get a nice clean…but I want a deep clean…reference the sweet potato casserole…so I’m using it full strength.

The vinegar worked great!  I swear the floors have lightened up a couple of shades!

Literally!

(I striped them in a few areas…)

I’m happy with the clean…

but the smell…

yeah, not so much.

PHEW-EY!!

Back to the internet.

I’ve seen recipes for simmering a pot of fragrant items, such as cinnamon sticks, oranges, rosemary, etc to freshen the house.  I wanted a recipe like that but I wanted to use lemons.  I love the smell of lemons!  And I lucked up on a good deal at Sam’s last week for Meyer Lemons which would be perfect for this use.  I couldn’t find exactly the recipe what I was looking for so…sit down for this…I made my own!

And it’s so complicated:wpid-20131216_160354.jpg

A pot of water
4 lemons

Bring the pot of water to a boil.  Slice lemons.  Once the water is boiling, add in the lemon slices.  Reduce to a simmer and leave simmering all day.

I know…I know…I should probably patent that recipe or something but I will just consider it my Christmas Gift to vinegary smelling houses everywhere.

It worked : )

The lemons fought the battle for the house smell and the vinegar lost.   Boo-yah vinegar!

The bright, sunny, lemony scent has permeated all the rooms.  All with natural ingredients! : )

Baking season…here I come : )

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Today I defunked my microwave

Day 2 of war against germies…they have won some battles…however I’m committed to win this war.

Today I decided to up my game.  I went to the store this morning to stock my arsenal.  First stop, the cold medicine aisle.  Yesterday when I took a daytime medicine, within 45 minutes I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I figured maybe a different medicine wouldn’t have that affect.  So in my cart went a new daytime medicine.  Next stop, soup aisle.  The time has come for the big guns…Campbell’s Chicken and Rice soup.  Some swear by the noodle soup and sure, that may work for those little sniffles but this is full on war.  Bringing noodles to this fight is like bring a lasso to a gun fight.  I need rice…that’s like bringing hand grenades to said gun fight.  No germies can withstand the chicken and rice combo.

I took the new medicine when I came home and low and behold it knocked me right back into my bed.  I have no idea why this keeps happening but it only feeds my determination.  When I awoke at lunch time, I knew it was time for my next attack: SOUP!  I open the can, pour into the bowl and add just a little bit of water.  I carry my weapon to my microwave, pop open the door but was greeted by a yucky odor.  The smell was a cross between bacon, a ravioli Lean Cuisine, bacon, pork fried rice, bacon and bacon.  As you can tell, I zap my bacon.  I could not cook my next attack in that mess.

No big deal…just a little wipie wipe and all will be well.

I wiped the microwave from top to bottom.  I washed the round plate and even the little plastic wheel thingy that the plate rests on.

Alright…ready to go.  I placed my weapon in the microwave but I could still smell the odor, even through my half stuffy nose.

Something more needed to be done. 

Now, let me caveat here…this is not the first time I have ever cleaned my mircowave…Ewww gross!!  But this is the first time I have had to take such extreme measures to exterminate yucky odor.  Ok, on with the show…

Onto the internet I go to look for a recipe to defunk the microwave.  I found several which recommended vinegar and decided to give it a whirl.  One rIMG_20131003_195050_538ecipe called for 1/2 cup distilled vinegar with 1/2 cup water.  Well, I figure for a big funk 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup water would work better.  You know, more is better right?!  So I poured my cleaning solution in a bowl and nuked that bad boy until the bowl rocked from the boil.  Then I let the mixture just sit in there for a few minutes.

I popped open the microwave door and viola no smell…well, the odor had been replaced with a very pungent vinegar smell.  The kind that twinges your nose and curls your toes.  But in comparison, I could live with that.

I wiped all the sides, roof and floor of the microwave and stood back to admire the sparkle.

Mr. Clean would have given me a high five.

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