Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Curse of a Busy, Busy Bee

Hello folks! Sorry that I'm a bit behind. It's a been a very busy week. Here's an idea of all the places I went to in one week. Unfortunately, it was not in consecutive order. I traveled well over 1,000 miles.
The green checks mark the places I visited last week.
I've been so busy in fact, that there is no way I can get an adequate blog written in enough time. But I have a bunch of good ideas to come! 

One of those ideas just happens to be about one of the few things I love about my homeland: wind farms.
Boy, I love me some wind turbines!
Why do I love wind farms so much, you ask? You'll have to find out next week!

Oh and for an update on other projects: please, please, please send me recycling photos! For I have none. I'm still waiting on the alcohol to fully evaporate from the orange peel essential oil. And I hope to have a major fundraiser to announce next week. So stay tuned, because we have plenty of fun ahead!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On The Road

Hey folks! Sorry the blog is a bit late, but believe me, there is a legit reason.

I'm on vacation... well, kinda. I did hit the road and I'm about 6 hour away from home. Look, I even took the orange peel-oil-in-progress with me!
Don't worry. I didn't drive this way!
I'm in my home town and things are busy! I'm currently trying to clear out my old room, and this time, it means taking down the wall paper. It's at least 15 years old and peeling. But I will miss it. I'm hoping to paint too, but we'll see how that goes.
Taking down wall paper can be liberating and frustrating all at the same time!
After I get all the wall paper off, I get to help set up for two amazing friends to get married! Throw in some boxing old things and driving all across central Illinois to see friends, and you have a.... vacation? It's a bit nerve racking, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Next week I'll have more about the orange peel oil. I'm waiting on all the alcohol to evaporate before continuing the project. I will also share one thing that I love about my hometown along with a big project I have worked on this year. Oh, and don't forget to send me your pictures of recycling!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A DIY Way to Spoil Your Dog

When I started Limelight Musings, my target was to show people how easy it is to help the enviroment. We've covered homemade laundry detergent, all natural cleaning supplies, green cookouts, but there is one aspect that I've left out so far: animals. Being a DINK (Double Income, No Kids), our cat Cricket & dog Katsumi mean the world to us.

So needless to say... they are a little spoiled.

Cricket Lazing About & Katsumi Enjoying A New Rawhide
With that being said, we are always looking for new ways to spoil them even more. So, the other day, I found a lovely little cook book for dog biscuits! Even better, it's organic and promotes ingredients that are friendly on my dog's tummy.

A Match Made In Heaven
Upon first reading the book, I was shocked to see my vendetta against big name pet food companies is well deserved. Years ago, I started to give my pets food that did not have corn, wheat & soy. That decision was based on learning those ingredients are only used as to fill up your pet, especially corn. It's hard for dogs (and cats) to digest, and they normally get no nutrition from it. But now, several sources are claiming corn, wheat & soy are behind the majority of food allergies in dogs. So lesson to be learned when it comes to your best animal friend, avoid food that has corn, wheat, soy, or any kind of by-product listed (at least) among the first five ingredients. Pet food companies lists the main ingredients first. In case you're wondering, Katusmi eats Blue Buffalo and Cricket devours Newman's Own.

I'll get off my soap box, and back to the biscuits. I couldn't stop reading! I wanted to see all the different biscuits I could make for my favorite dog and how the different ingredients benefit my dog's tummy. It wasn't until Monday that I finally got around to deciding on which recipe I wanted to try first and start baking.

I chose the Snickerdoodle-poodle-poos. It's more of a dessert treat, and is an easy recipe for beginners. But still had a few difficulties. First off, my local grocery store does not sell the two main ingredients (oat flour & brown rice flour). They are also essential to make the majority of the treats in the book. You obviously need a kind of flour, but wheat based flour goes back to the issue of not being puppy-tummy-friendly. Thankfully, I decided to try a small, local organic store; and sure enough, they sold what I needed!
Lined Up All the Ingredients for Sinckerdoodle-poodle-poos
I'm not sure how much I can legally go into a company's recipe but it was pretty easy to follow the directions. Get all the ingredients, then mix.
Looks Like Regular Cookie Batter!
If anything, the biggest problem I had was dispensing the dough onto the cookie sheet. Thankfully, this kind of flour does not expand, so I could line the biscuits close together. But for decorative sake, I was supposed to use a fork to "press down on the biscuits, flattening them and adding decorative lines on the tops." Yeah... that didn't go very well as you can see. It wasn't until after the biscuits were done that I realize... they appear to be made of dog sick rather than what my dog is supposed to eat.
Not the Best Looking of Dog Biscuits...
But they still went into the oven, and my home was filled with the wonderful aroma of baking! And as if she knew, our dog waited in anticipation.
"Wha- Whatcha' Making?"
I couldn't wait to see what Katsumi thought of my creation; and without fail, she thoroughly enjoyed it.
What's Better Than a Katsumi Collage? Nothing, that's what.
And since my husband tried out the squirrel repellent, he was up for trying the biscuits too! 
After a point of time, I took a nibble myself. It was good, add some sugar, and it would be a delicious snickerdoodle on human terms. But this dog doesn't need any sugar!

I'm so happy with how the biscuits turned out (minus their shape) and can't wait to see what my fellow canine friends think! I might even try out a few more recipes. If you are interested in making your own dog biscuits, I have now posted a series of links, including green dog treat recipes.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Squirrel Be Gone

So this week is a bit of a lull. I guess that's what happens when you live a "normal" life. But I did start a few interesting projects.

First, the squirrel repellent. As many of you know, a bunch of horrendous squirrels ransacked my beautiful tomato plants. All of our tomatoes vanished overnight! Thankfully, there are some blooms in progress, but I'm not about to let those varmints get those too! So my father-in-law suggested I try this green pest repellent.
What you'll need: Cayenne pepper powder, jalapeño pepper, white onion, hot sauce, coffee filter (to strain) and cheap water bottle
It only took a few ingredients: a white onion, a jalapeño pepper, cayenne pepper powder, and a 2 ounce bottle of hot sauce! You might also want to get a cheap spray bottle, because you will not want to put anything else where the spray was.

The process is pretty easy, just a bit painful to the nose & eyes. First, start a pot of boiling water. While the water is heating, cut up the white onion and pepper. Once the water is boiling, slide the onion & pepper in then add cayenne pepper powder. Let it sit for 10 minutes. 

Brewing Squirrel Repellent
 Apparently during these slow 10 minutes, my husband decided to try the repellent because is smelled like a "kickin'" hot sauce. Here's how that went.

Loving that "Kickin'" Hot Sauce!
After that comes the grueling process of straining the concoction into a bowl. I used a coffee filter and it took forever. I was coughing the entire time. A cheese cloth maybe better. After you strained, mix the entire bottle of hot sauce into the liquid.

After that, I used a funnel to pour the mixture into a spray bottle. We are now ready and armed to repel squirrels! 
Armed & Dangerous!
So far, I have not seen any squirrels lurking about, but there's not really any tomatoes left to tempt them. And the spray is not doing any harm to the tomato plants. I was advised to re-spray after each rain. I will let you know how well it works after a few new tomatoes grow. For one last kick here's my (poorly drawn) interpretation of the demon squirrels that stole our tomatoes.

That's prime Photoshop & drawing skills there!
Another project in the works is some essential orange oil from an orange peel. It is not quite as easy as my other essential oils, so we shall see how it goes! 

I have one last shameless plug for this week. I finally surrendered to the social media war and joined Twitter! Now you are free to check out my random thoughts and links on my twitter account. And please, please, please help me out by sharing your thoughts. I want to read what you like or hate about Limelight Musings or what you would like the next post to be! So pretty, pretty please talk to me, world!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Natural Cleaning Around The House

Let's hit the ground running and start: I am continuing my series to help green your home. This week, we'll be looking into all purpose cleaners to use around the house!

First off, I want to say that minus homemade cleaners, I am a proud consumer of Green Works. It is made by Clorox, but they offer great, natural, and safe products that are sold in most big name stores. The cleaning wipes are compostable, and they list all of their ingredients to each product. I personally love their dish soap, cleaning wipes, multi-purpose cleaner & glass cleaner.
All of the Green Works products
Now, I know some people swear by Seventh Generation for their cleaning, but the last time (and its been awhile) that I looked at a Seventh Generation bottle of cleaner, it didn't list the ingredients. I was not a fan of that, and chose the Green Works which did and I've been happy ever since! Looking now, Seventh Generation does offer a full ingredient list on their website.

So with that being said, I thought I would try out my own homemade household cleaner! It was not as difficult as I thought. I found a great recipe thanks to this website
Cleaner Ingrediants: Spray Bottle, White Vinegar, Borax, Dish Soap, Essential Oil & Some Rags!
So I basically filled up my spray bottle (from the Dollar Tree) to about 16 mL with hot tap water. Then added the 2 Tablespoons of white vinegar (also Dollar Tree), 1 teaspoon of Borax & a few drops of my Essential Lavender Oil into the mix. I later realized I forgot to add the dish soap to the mixture, but it worked just as well. After you add everything thing, shake the bottle so everything is mixed, then get to work!

So here's the part where I admit how dirty my house gets. This our bathroom sink after a week of abuse.
Hair (including Husband's facial) everywhere, soap stains, hard water stains: icky!
So... not the most pleasing. But I was able to clear everything off, spray everything down & got to work wiping down the sink. You will be spraying a lot to get that satisfying "wet" feel when wiping & scrubbing the surface. I also noticed that with tough stains, you need to let this solution set on the stain for awhile before you can scrub it off the surface. I also went with using old rags instead of paper towels- a few extra rags in the wash is not the end of the world.

So the result? Ta daaaaaa!
It's a bit exaggerated since the sink it still cleared & the lighting is somehow different.
You get the idea, though
I know the lighting is a bit different, but you can see the cleaner still got the job done. I was very happy with the results. And the ingredients are very simple compared to buying expensive products.

As for cost, I already had all these ingredients at home. The Borax is left over from the laundry detergent, the white vinegar was $1 a bottle, the spray bottle was $1, and the essential oil came from my garden so it's pretty cheap.

As a side note, I think I'm going to try to make my own dish soap to add to the cleaner. There is something about adding a company dish soap to my "homemade" cleaner that I don't like. But dish soap will help tackle down grease stains.

I also plan to make essential orange oil soon to add to the cleaner. The essential lavender oil did take over the strong vinegar smell while cleaning, but it's not what you would expect as a "clean" fragrance. Oh, and for those worried about the vinegar smell, there was no left over odor from this cleaner. Just cleanliness!

I think I'll keep up on my making my cleaner, even if it means giving up the Green Works.