Vinegar: My Best Friend

When it comes to cleaning my house, I choose pure and simple.   I guess you can say I’m a naturalist.  As natural as it gets is vinegar.

My husband thought I was crazy, that when we melded our two living quarters in marriage, I came armed with vinegar and baking soda, and he with traditional cleaners.  In the battle of the cleaners, vinegar won, and my husband has been converted.  Vinegar is just better, much safer.  It’s better to land on your skin, to soak into your hands, and safer to breathe. With my little ones around, I feel they are safer around vinegar-based cleaning too.  That is important to me.

Vinegar has thousands of uses! I love it!  I’ll list my favorites here:

Toilets:  recreate that 4th grade volcano science project! The volcano in the toilet is effective.  Don’t worry, it doesn’t have a volcanic overflow. I put about two tablespoons of baking soda in, followed by about a 1/2 cup of vinegar. (These are estimates. Usually I eyeball it.)  Then it foams (the fun part!), and I brush it clean.

Disinfecting: I soak a rag and wipe down kitchen counter tops, especially after preparing meat dishes.

Mirrors: A paper towel moistened with vinegar is excellent for cleaning mirrors!  Sometimes, I wipe down the mirror with a dry bath towel, but typically, that’s not needed. Vinegar dries streak free.

Coffee cup stains: If you have a coffee cup that is plagued with coffee stains, fill the cup with 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water.  Let it soak overnight.  Stain is gone. Voila!

Bad odor: For a bad smell in the kitchen sink, pour 1/2 cup or 1 cup of vinegar down the drain.  Let it sit for at least 30 minutes before running the water again.

Sinks: Again baking soda and vinegar are teammates.  Put a small pile of baking soda in the sink.  Add vinegar to make a paste then scrub away.  I rinse it off with more vinegar or just water.

Toothpaste holder:  Sprinkle baking soda all over the holder then add vinegar.  Let it sit.  Return to rinse it off and find all of the crusted, dry toothpaste remnants gone!

Floors: Fill a bucket with hot, steaming water.  Add 1 cup vinegar per 1 gallon of water.  Use your mop of choice to clean kitchen and bathroom floors.

Simply said, vinegar is my best friend, my best cleaning friend.  It’s safe because it’s simply so natural.  For heaven’s sake, vinegar is edible! I use the same huge jug of vinegar in recipes.  Finally, vinegar has been very cost-effective for our family.  What’s easier than a household cleaner that’s natural, safe, cheap, and has so many uses in just one bottle?



Preschool Snack Challenge

We started preschool mid-year.  Well, my daughter did, but I might as well have started too.  I had so much to learn…along the lines of snack preparation.

Being stringently gluten-free and mildly dairy-free, we often snack on nuts as an alternative to traditional snacks.

Almonds, peanuts, raw brazil nuts, and cashews–any of these nuts combined with raisins fill our snack baggies often. Of course, a favorite is almond butter on apple slices.  Larabars tend to be our easy, already-packaged snack. Simply one of our favorite snacks and the quickest, easiest one to pack.

So, to my surprise, I see a “No Nut” sign as we enter the preschool building.  It was then that my wheels started turning. I had to learn a new approach to snacks and packing them.

First of all, I bought small plastic containers with an attached lid at Office Depot (of all places).  These were in the lunch box section.  They snap closed and are easy for little fingers.  I bought three to rotate and wash throughout the week.

I had fun figuring out what to fill these handy containers with. Here is a list of gluten free, occasionally dairy-free snacks, I came up with for my daughter. (Some of these we already ate as snacks at home and others are new, I just had to learn what to pack instead of being so used to grabbing mini-Larabars):

GF pretzels

Carrot sticks and hummus

Cuties (perfect for little tummies)

Grapes (and any easy fruit like berries)

Cheese sticks (I had to find some other source of protein.  We have these occasionally and she LOVES them. She feels so grown up eating them 🙂

Rice or corn Chex

Raisins, dried apples, or craisins

Sweet potato sticks as featured in my previous post:

Kale chips (homemade)

My daughter’s favorite snacks are a Cutie with a cheese stick or sweet potato sticks with grapes or raisins.

This preschool snack challenge was excellent: we found new snacks and a new way to pack them.  It made me more intentional in finding variety for my daughter, and…myself.  Challenges are good.  They keep us on our toes, and, if we choose, can make things better.

The. Best. Snack.

I’ve discovered the best snack.  Kid-approved. Homemade.  Easy. Healthy. And…gone in the blink of an eye (it’s that good…)

All you need are sweet potatoes, coconut oil, and cinnamon.


I cut the sweet potatoes into sticks.  Drizzle with coconut oil. Sprinkle with cinnamon.  Cook at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes (timing depends on how thick your sticks are).  Stir the sticks half way through cooking time.

I will prepare six sweet potatoes, and between the four of us we will finish them off in two days.  They’ve been a great finger food for my baby and an excellent school snack for my daughter.  We eat them with our lunches too.  I told my husband that I’m making a ton of these and freezing them when sweet potatoes are on sale during the holidays.

What I love about this snack is it’s full of nutrition.  Sweet potatoes beat out white potatoes.  Cinnamon is excellent for blood health and gum health.

I’ve tried over the years to make crispy sweet potato fries…even coating them with egg whites to achieve “crispiness.”  Nothing has worked.  I gave up.  But, I’m very pleased with my new invention: sweet potato sticks!  Enjoy!