The Ministry of Scents of the Home

I have always been rather sensitive about smells. When I was pregnant, those sensitivities would escalate to the point I wanted to crawl out of my skin to even take out the trash. Once when I was pregnant, we had dead possum under our porch. The horrible smell leached into our basement and then into the entire house. I found it unbearable to the point I packed up the children and left the house for the day. When my sweet husband came home and saw my distress, he removed the porch floorboards and shoveled out the rotting possum. Then he poured bleach over the entire area. Without the consuming horrid smell, my heart was again at peace.

Smell has a greater affect on our hearts than we realize. Potent, stifling smells can be very stressful and make us want to run as far away as we can. Warm, welcoming smells of stewing applesauce and fresh bread, vanilla and spices, or even a clean, crisp lemon scent can set a tone that makes our hearts be at peace and want to stay a while.

Within the home, creating inviting scents and working to keep unpleasant odors under control is therefore essential in preparing a platform for ministry to happen within our walls. The sense of smell, is therefore a wonderful tool I can use in my pursuit of creating a home environment the welcomes spiritual growth and joy in God.

Pay attention to the smells of the home. So often we become accustomed to smells within our walls, that other people might find foreign or uncomfortable. As much as I enjoy fish, I am careful to chose the nights I will cook it. If I am expecting company after dinner, fish will not be on the menu. Although it does not have an odor I find appalling, for many people, the smell of fish is extremely potent and unpleasant.

Animals that live in the home can also make a home smell. It is important to keep indoor dwelling creatures clean and the places they hang out washed and freshened regularly. We do not have an indoor cat, but have kept ours indoors during certain stages of his life so I know that if there is a cat in the house, the kitty littler should be in a room that is tucked away from the rest of the living space…a laundry room, sun-room, or closet where a door can be shut on the ever present odor.

There various are smells that are built into the walls of our home and therefore a constant that we must work to mask or continually re-eliminate. We lived in an old farmhouse for a few years and it always had a very musty smell. In the room above the wet basement, was a den with wood paneling on every wall. I found rubbing that wood paneling down with a mixture of cinnamon oil and coconut oil made the house smell fabulous for weeks.

Carpets and walls may hold in smell from ourselves or even previous dwellers. while fresh paint often takes care of the walls, carpets can be far more difficult to deodorize. Despite the wide market of products on the market, the smell will keep coming back. I recently invested in a carpet cleaner for our current home and it has made a big difference in freshening up the carpets on occasion. Baking soda sprinkled on the carpet and left overnight can be helpful. But powdered products are awfully hard on the vacuum cleaner, so they shouldn’t be used except in extreme cases. For me, just keeping a regular carpet cleaning is the best move. I have sprinkled peppermint or lavender oil on the car carpets and car-seats from time to time. That doesn’t eliminate bad orders, but can cover them up in a natural and pleasant way.

If at all possible use natural scents in the home. This is an area that is still in progress for me. I love to burn candles, but finding candles that are safe to breath hasn’t always been a priority because of the cost and accessibility. But after having a guest with sensitivities to a candle I burned, I will at least do my best to burn a naturally scented candle when we have visitors.

I already clean with natural products as I discussed in the post, Household Cleaning on the Cheap, Practical, and Natural. Cleaning products are certainly a vital area we homemakers need to watch. Many products we use daily and  weekly, are not only toxic to breathe, but can cause severe allergic reactions to some people. I want a home that has air as safe to breathe as I can am able to create.

Chemical scents are often loaded into laundry as well. Guests with allergies would be unable to stay with us if I wasn’t careful about the products I use in laundry. My husband is also one of those who is sensitive to laundry softeners. So, if I must include softener in my laundry, I am careful to get one that is natural and hypoallergenic…yes…and unscented. But laundry doesn’t have to be boring. A few drops of lavender oil on a rag can brighten up the smell of hot clean clothes tossing in the dryer. I also LOVE a laundry line. Read about that more in my Laundry on the Line post. Nothing has a more amazing scent than line dried sheets and clothing!

I am very opinionated on the subject of plug-ins and sprays that are made to make a room smell good. They can be incredibly overpowering and in fact even though they might not stink like a dead possum, they make many folks…like me…gag. I find the artificial smells overpowering and believe many others do as well. Instead a diffuser with a favorite blend of essential oils, a few spices in a pot of simmering water (or mini crock pot), a naturally scented vanilla candle, fresh flowers, potted plants, or even a batch of freshly baked bread can make a home smell incredible without concern of causing anyone discomfort.

Cleanliness is vital to maintaining a home without bad odors. One of the most effective ways to keep a home smelling pleasant is simply to keep it clean. Some of the most notorious bad smells in the home are poopy diapers, kitty litter, and un-emptied trash cans.

My children collect trash throughout every room in the house on a daily basis. I empty those baskets in the kitchen trash, and take it out to the trash bins outside. Baby diapers get wrapped tightly in a special bag to lock in the smells, or they get put in a diaper bin. Kitty litter should be changed daily to prevent it from any odor. I already discussed carpets, but carpets and wood can absorb smells.

Wood is like skin, when it is warm and humid it opens up and releases all those lovely or less lovely smells. Wood floors and paneling can be cleaned with a gentle soap and water (I favor Murphy’s oil). Then the wood can be nourished with a simple blend of a cheap oil like sunflower oil and a few drops of an essential oil. I like to rub oil into the wood just after it has been cleaned with warm water.

Dust has a smell. Have you ever turned on a heater the first brisk day of fall and smelled the dust getting hot? Well, imagine a layer of dust on blinds, furniture, or framework. Being faithful at wiping off the dust can be very helpful in keeping a room smelling fresh.

Appliances can hold odors as well…dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, and washing machines need to be cleaned as well. Appliances should all work without producing any bad odors. For tips on how I clean, check out how I use baking soda and vinegar in my home in My Household Friend: Baking Soda and The Role of White Vinegar in My Home. And just a thought…if you have a vacuum cleaner that has a dusty smell even after it has been emptied, it is time to ditch it and get a new vacuum. A vacuum cleaner should function without any smell.

Fresh air is a wonderful way to keep a home smelling good. Open the windows in the spring and fall can really help air out the house and keep fresh air rotating. The smell of fresh air naturally soothes my mind and a the smells of flowers, soil, and trees give my heart thoughts of God’s goodness.

Prepare for bad smells. The bathroom is a place where bad smells occur. It is a great idea to keep a plan on hand to mask unpleasantries to noses. A bathroom spray or a match are very effective and should be kept available for guests as well as ourselves to use as needed. When we have guests, keeping a candle burning in the bathroom is an easy way to remove the potential of embarrassing smells. If possible one should also make sure there is a way for air to circulate within a bathroom by keeping a vent or window open a crack at all times.

Bad odors can also occur in the kitchen. Even kept clean, a fridge can breed odor. A box of baking soda is a helpful odor absorbing product to keep in freezers and refrigerators. I simply punch a few holes in the top of my baking soda box and put the whole box in the back of the refrigerator and freezer. The kitchen trash should be emptied daily. Our trash is emptied more like 2-3 times a day. Burnt foods should be disposed of outdoors as quickly as possible. If you are planning to do a project inside the house that will involve paints or chemicals, plan those projects on warmer days if possible so windows can be opened for ventilation.

The sense of smell enhances all of our other senses. Because of smell, food has taste, flowers have freshness, and a walk in the woods is so refreshing. Smell is like salt to our sense of sight, hearing, touch, and taste…perhaps it could be lived without, but life is far better with a sense of smell! As a homemaker, I certainly try to put smell to good use to enhance the overall flavor of my home into a place that nurtures our souls and opens pathways for our heart to rejoice in our Creator.

Some Liver with My Butter

Calf liver is pretty high on my list when it comes to nutrient density. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals.

When I nursed my babies, if my milk needed a boost, liver, was my go to source. Liver not only increased my milk supply, but gave my milk a buttery yellow color. I found I had more cream on top as well.

I serve my children calf liver for lunch, about once a month. Despite it’s strong taste, I have never had a major issue getting them to eat it. A favorite? Probably not. But for children, it is a very tender meat to chew and they are still developing tastes for things, so it is a taste to which they becoming accostome.

As a child my mom would cut liver into strips, roll it in cornmeal or flour and fry it in butter. We then would dip our liver in generous amounts of ketchup…shivering as we swallowed.

A dear motherly friend of mine from the former Yugoslavia taught me to soak liver a 6-24 hours in milk before cooking it.

That little trick makes a big difference in reducing the bitterness of the meat. So now, when I bring a package of liver home from the store, I usually open it up, and put it in a ziplock bag with some milk. After a day in the fridge, I drain the milk, potion out the liver for lunches and pop it in freezer bags. So it is ready to cook for lunch.

When I want to serve liver to my children, I put a pack of meat in the fridge first thing in the morning. By lunch, the liver has thawed, but not completly, making it the perfect consistancy to cut into strips. Then I fry the liver for about 7-10 minutes, in nearly a half stick of butter. I turn the meat a bit while it cooks to insure it is cooked on all sides. A bit of salt, and the meat is plated with some veggies.

When shopping for liver, it is also important not to confuse calves’ liver and cows’ liver. Liver from a calf is much more mild than an organ from a full grown creature.

Liver is a very inexpensive cut of meat and makes an easy to include for a nutritious lunch.

I like to serve liver in the winter. Served with a side of homemade saurkraut and broccoli that has been drenched in the same butter with a bit of salt and garlic makes an excellent immunity boost for my little people.

A serving of liver is so nutrient dense it is a complete multivitamin. And truly, it does not deserve the bad report. It can be cooked to be something delicious!

Vinegar Rose Toner

I use toner rather unfaithfully. It is more as an “as needed” product for me. But it could be used on a daily basis. I keep vinegar rose toner as one of my on hand as part of my homemade skincare products. As I age, I am getting a few sun-spots, and find regular use of this toner helps lighten them. I tend to use vinegar rose toner most in the summer when I notice more oil and skin discolorations. It also brightens and tightens my skin.

Rosewater: Helps to reduce skin inflammation and aid in healing. It heals acne quickly, and helps prevent it by purifying the skin’s pores. Rosewater contains antibacterial components that aid in healing and preventing scarring. It is also a great tonic for aging skin because it slows free-radical damage. I also use rosewater in making cold cream.

Apple Cider Vinegar: I add a little to the rosewater to boost the antifungal/viral components of the toner. It has many of the same benefits of rosewater, but is too harsh to be applied directly to the skin on the face. It does help lighten and brighten skin, so is helpful in evening a complection. It can be left out of the toner if desired.

Vitamin C: Since we all get sun, vitamin C is essential to help skin resist the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation. It is more important to eat vitamin C rich foods than to put C on the skin. But a little C can be absorbed into the skin if the PH is low enough. Since the vinegar and rose are low PH, I add a tiny bit of vitamin C crystals to the toner.

This toner is incredibly easy to make. I only use three ingredients:

Apple Cider vinegar, Rosewater, and vitamin C crystals.


To Make:

3/4 cup rosewater

2 t. apple cider vinegar

1/2 t. vitamin C crystals

Mix it up until the crystals dissolve.

To Use:

Dab a bit on a cotton ball and sponge on a clean face. Follow with a moisturizer.

Cold Cream

I use this cold cream mostly as a facial cleanser, but my mother prefers it as her night cream. Either way, our faces are super soft in the morning as the nutritive oils soak into our earthly pores. I make a batch every three months or so. I make more around the holidays so I can gift it.

How to Make Cold Cream

1) Gather ingredients


  • Coconut oil:

Why use Coconut Oil? Coconut oil is laden with antioxidants, antimicrobials, and antifungals. It also contains vitamin E. So it is not only nourishing for the skin, but healing and protective from environmental residues.
Note: Coconut oil does have molecules that are too large to be absorbed into the skin easily, so mixing it with other oils and using warm water to wash it off is important.
What I use: I use refined coconut oil for cooking and baking; so it is usually on hand in my home. I purchase Golden Barrel brand in bulk. I pay about $2.50 per 16 oz. jar because I buy it by the case. An Amish grocery or food co-op is a great source to buy bulk foods.

  • Grapeseed oil:

Why use Grapeseed Oil? Grapeseed oil is made of fine molecules that absorb into the skin well. Grapeseed oil also has Omega 6 and vitamin E. So, like coconut oil, it nourishes the skin and helps prevent damage and heal damaged skin.
What I use: I don’t typically cook with grapeseed oil. It is more expensive than other healthy oils. I will use it in a pinch for cooking on occasion. But in general I purchase and use it to make lotions. I buy the Carlini brand from Aldi. It costs about $4 for 25 fl. oz..

  • Lanolin:

Why use Lanolin? Lanolin is a fatty oil produced by sheep. It is harvested from their sheered wool. Lanolin has been used to moisturize and protect human skin for hundreds of years. Lanolin helps skin to stay moist for a long period of time by creating a natural protective barrier between the skin and the environment. A lot of chemotherapy patients find lanolin helpful in treating their burns from radiation. Like many mothers, I have used it while nursing babies for the first couple weeks. It helps in healing and binding moisture in the skin keeping skin soft and young.
Note: Some people have found lanolin is irritating to their skin and are allergic to this product. It is also an oil from sheep, so if someone is desiring vegan beauty, this ingredient will not work. It can be skipped if desired.
What I use: Since some sheep are sprayed with pesticides to keep their wool bug free. Lanolin can be a pesticide riddled product. I buy from sellers on Etsy who claim to have organic or pesticide free lanolin. I know there is no certification to know for certainty, but that is the best I have found to date. I recently bought a 8oz bottle on Etsy for about $14 including shipping. Since I only use 1 teaspoon per recipe, this bottle will last for years. I keep it in the freezer between uses to preserve it.

  • Beeswax:

Why use Beeswax? It holds everything together! Without beeswax, once my oils and water bases are mixed, they would separate when they settle. The beeswax acts like glue and binds oil and water ingredients together so the cream stays creamy. Other waxes will work, but beeswax is cheap and natural, so that is my choice. Beeswax also contains some of the same benefits of honey. It helps heal skin through. It also contains vitamin A and antibacterial properties.
What I use: I bought a 2 pound cone of beeswax at a farmer’s market four years ago. It cost $7 at the time and I still have about a year’s worth left. I do freeze it between uses to preserve it. If a farmer’s market is not convenient, I would probably buy it on Etsy.

  • Rosewater

Why use Rosewater? Rosewater is nothing new for skin care. It has been used since ancient times as a skin freshener and healer. It helps healing and balancing the skin’s pH to reduce acne. It smells amazing too. It contains antioxidants. So like all of the other ingredients in this cold cream, rosewater will help the skin fight inner and outer oxidation from stress, UV, and harmful microbes. So rosewater is an important ingredient to helps skin stay youthful and healthy. Rosewater also helps inflamed skin calm down. So skin that is sensitive or rashed with eczema will benefit from regularly using rosewater. Rosewater helps slow down extrinsic skin aging by preventing the degradation of the skins collagen and elasticity due to the natural tannins, vitamin C and pectins roses contain.
What I use: I generally use Heritage Store rosewater, but recently purchased a food grade rosewater on Amazon from Alive Herbs. It cost $15 for 17 fluid oz. compared to the $6.25 per 8 fl.oz. from Herbal Store from Thrive Market. I am happy with either.

  • Aloe Vera Juice

Why use Aloe Vera? Anyone who has slathered on aloe vera gel after a sunburn, knows that it has soothing, anti inflammatory and healing properties. Aloe is notorious for helping the skin heal, not only from sunburns, but scars, acne, and eczema conditions. Aloe, like lanolin, blocks in moisture and provides protection to the skin from polluting elements. Aloe contains antioxidants and vitamin C and A. I use it on sunbuns, burns, as an occasional face mask on its own, and even drink it.
What I use: I buy the food grade Aloe Vera juice from the cheapest source I can find. A local health food store is a great spot, but it can be purchased on Amazon. I currently have a gallon of Lilly of the Desert in my cupboard. I purchased it from a local health food store for about $20. It will last me a couple years. I recently discovered that Walmart sells 2 quarts of Fruit of the Earth Aloe juice online for less than $8.

  • Evening Primrose

Why I use Primrose: I add primrose to my cold cream to boost it’s anti-aging properties. Like rosewater, primrose fights the breakdown of elasticity and cartilage of the skin. It also contains Omega 6 acids which help nourish aging skin and prevent flaking. It can also be taken as a supplement. I see it as an anti-aging boost in my cold cream. Primerose helps my skin to remain healthy as the years take their toll.
What I use: I usually buy it in supplement form from CVS or Walmart. I just get the Spring Valley or Nature’s Bounty. It runs around $6 for a bottle of 75 capsules. Currently I have a bottle of Jarrow Evening Primrose from Thrive Market. I puncture and squeeze about 3-4 in each batch of cold cream.

Those are the basic ingredients I use in cold cream. Essential oils can be added if desired. Tea Tree oil helps dry out and prevent acne, so it could be added to cream for those with acne troubles. Frankincense oil also has benefits in preventing skin aging, so I might add a few drops of that sometime.

Truly, the possibilities are versatile and fun to tinker. I would be cautious to read pros and cons about every product I use. I like to use old, time-proven ingredients in my products and am cautious about the long term side effects of various ingredients. I also like to use products that are food grade and safe to eat if possible.

2) Measure

3/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/3 cup coconut oil

1 teaspoon lanolin
1 tablespoon grated beeswax: press it tight in the spoon20190627_071922

3-4 capsules primrose oil
2/3 cup rosewater

1/3 cup aloe vera juice

3) Put it Together: step by step

1. Measure grapeseed oil, coconut oil, lanolin, primrose oil, and beeswax and put in glass measuring cup.

2. Melt oils and beeswax together. I use a glass measuring cup in my microwave for a couple minutes. A saucepan on a stovetop at low heat will also work. The oil only needs to be warm enough to melt the beeswax completely.


3. Give it a stir and set it aside to cool. (This can be done quickly in the fridge or freezer, or slowly on the counter.

4. Once the mixture is cooled sufficiently, it will be thick and foggy.


5. Measure the rosewater and aloe vera juice together and pour into a blender.

6. Turn the blender on high speed and SLOWLY very SLOWLY add the oil mixture. Mayonnaise is made this same method. If the oil is added too quickly it will not adhere to the water mixture and the batch will be ruined.

7. Empty the entire oil mixture into the blender bit by bit.


The mixture should look white and fluffy like hand cream.


That is is!

8. Pour the cold cream into jars and pop in the fridge.

9. Most of the cream should be stored in the fridge because there are no preservatives and the oils will go rancid over time. I usually take about 4-6 ounces out at a time for use. It lasts me a good month or more.

4) How to Use Cold Cream

I use Cold Cream as my evening facial wash. I rub it all over my face, eyes, and neck. Then, I get a washcloth as hot as I can stand. I lay the cloth on my face and let it set there about a minute. Then I wipe my face clean. That is all I do at night. The cold cream removes make-up and moisturizes my skin in one step. It works on my skin all night long. Every morning I wake up, my skin feels AMAZING.

My mother uses cold cream as her nighttime cream. She washes her face with a face-wash and then applies a thin layer of the cream all over her face and neck before bed. Unlike me, she leaves the cold cream on and does not wash it off.

The cream can be applied all over the body as well for extra moisture. It can leave a greasy feel at first because the natural oils do not penetrate pores quickly. Honestly, I find it works best for me if I moisturize BEFORE taking a shower instead of after. The hot water helps my pores expand and soak in the natural nutrients better than on my cold tight pores. It is a flexible cream and can be used multiple ways to meet each person’s taste and needs.


Depending on the temperature the cream is stored it will be thick or runny. That does not affect it’s effectiveness. I often like a soap dispenser to store mine outside the fridge.

Check out what other home-made product I use on my skin in the article:

Homemade Skincare: Natural, Simple, and Completly Affordable

Homemade Skincare: Natural, Simple, and Completly Affordable

The day my mother introduced me to make-up, she invited a professional beauty consultant into our home to give me a facial. It was a special event. We had tea and cookies. We laughed and had fun. My mother purchased a set of skincare and quality make-up for me. She continued to provide me with skincare products until I was on my own and purchased skincare myself.

My mother was probably more brilliant than she realized. Beginning my skin-care routine at a young age was valuable guidance.

As my babies were born, I began searching for inexpensive and natural methods of skincare. I tried various drugstore brands and online companies. But good skincare, whether it is natural or not, is not cheap. So, I found myself at a loss.

One evening, my mentoring friend came over for a visit. I will never forget the moment she pulled out her big binder full of various recipes. I went from sitting on the sofa across from her, to sitting next to her with that notebook in my lap. She had not only made and used the recipes in her book, but passed on to me her rich of knowledge of each of the ingredients she used in the recipes.

I still use her recipes for cold cream, healing salve, and bee balm, and have also springboarded from those basic recipies and built a skincare routine that I love.

I am absolutely amazed how my skin looks and feels now that I make my own skincare. I honestly have never have had such amazing results from bottled products. I also like knowing each of the ingredients that I am putting on my skin are wholesome. And of course, making skincare at home comes with a very reasonable price tag.

I have passed the home-made lotions onto family and friends and they rave about them. I make my own mother a quart of cold-cream every year. It is what she uses on her skin now too.

The only skincare product I purchase is a SPF CC cream. I do not use foundation, but love a tinted SPF protection. I currently am happy with a product called Supergoop. I use it daily for SPF coverage and tinted moisture. I know people do make their own sun-screens and foundaitions. But have decided I am not going to tamper with that. It is a little too much chemistry for me to feel at peace doing from my home. So I will leave the sunscreen making to lab profesionals.

I have immensely enjoyed the skincare products I make from my kitchen and love knowing that the ingredients in each bottle are so safe I could spread it on toast and eat!

I am going to post this week specifically how to make and use each skincare product. The following list is a quick snapshot of the products, ingredients, and uses.

Cold Cream

Ingredients: Grapeseed oil, coconut oil, rosewater, Aloe Vera, lanolin, beeswax, primrose oil

Uses: Oil Face wash – gently rub on face, get as washcloth as hot as you can stand, place hot washcloth over face for about 30 seconds, then wash face-this one step will remove make-up, cleanse, and moisturize. Face and body lotion-best after a hot bath or shower to help moisture absorb into skin.

Vinegar Rose Toner

Ingredients: Rosewater, apple-cider vinegar, Vitamin C Crystals

Use: antioxidant facial toner, lightens sun-spots and tightens pores

Honey Sugar Scrub

Ingredients: Coconut oil, grapeseed or almond oil, raw creamed honey, granulated white sugar, vanilla essential oil

Uses: Face scrub-gently rub on face and wash off with a hot washcloth, Face mask-gently rub on skin and wash off after 10 minutes (this can be done in the bath or shower), Body scrub in the shower

Bee Balm

Ingredients: Grapeseed Oil, Coconut Oil, Beeswax, Cocoa butter, Shea butter, vanilla essential oil

Uses: Lip balm, chapped skin balm, diaper rash cream, under eye balm before bed, or foot balm (after bath or shower, or before bed, rub over feet, put on socks and let the balm soften dry feet)

My Household Friend: Baking Soda

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, has far more uses than baking in my home. Baking soda has proved itself to be invaluable in my home for years. Sodium bicarbonate is more than safe. A study from the Journal of Toxicological Pathology demonstrates how baking soda is effective in treating radiation exposure. I find baking soda to be one of my favorite cleaning agents around the house because it is not only very cheap, but also effective and natural.

There are multiple ways to use baking soda. I primarily use Baking Soda in my home for cooking, cleaning, and deodorizing.

Bathroom cleaner: Baking soda is a gentle scrub and soap scum remover. I use it to clean the bathtubs, toilets, sinks, and counters. I also sprinkle baking soda on wet shower walls, and then spray with vinegar. The baking soda and vinigar combinatiin cleans the shower and bathtub very effectively. My article about The Role of White Vinegar in My Home, also discusses this method.

Personal Cleaning: I don’t regularly use baking soda in baths, but it can be used as a health soak, body wash, and hair wash. It takes about ½-1 cup disolved in baths. I like to put it in baths after known exposure to radiation like x-rays, CT scans, and sun. I have often used baking soda as a shampoo for my hair. I sprinkle about 4-5 tablespoons on my damp hair, scrub it in, and then wash it out. It seems to remove any buildup on my hair and leave it very soft. Baking soda can also be used as a dry shampoo in a pinch to absorb excess oil. It can be used as a body exfoliating agent by gently scrubbing a water and baking soda paste on the skin. I find it particularly effective on rough feet. Baking soda, although gentle, is still a fine scrub and can cause skin irritation for those with sensitive skin, so I don’t use it regularly in contact with skin, but use it on an “as needed” basis.

Kitchen Fire Extinguisher: There have been a couple occasions in my lifetime when something in the oven or stove-top caught fire. Every time, I grabbed my box of baking soda and poured it all on the fire. Not only does sodium bicarbonate quickly put out a small fire, but it aids in cleaning up the mess. It absorbs grease and residue and helps me scrub it all away. Baking soda is also safe on electric fires. Since I always have some in my kitchen cupboard, it is a fast grab and dump on small kitchen fires.

Oven Cleaner: I have not purchased oven cleaner since a dear mentoring friend of mine told me how to use baking soda and water to clean my oven. Using baking soda as my oven cleaner saves the electric and gas from using the self-cleaning feature, as well as my lungs and grocery budget from buying a harsh chemical. To clean a nasty, greasy, and baked on burnt oven I plan what day the oven will be cleaned. A week before I plan on cleaning it, I make a paste of baking soda and water and rub it on the walls, floor, and ceiling of the oven, being liberal in the worst spots. I use the oven as normal for a week or so, and then wipe out the oven. By then, the baking soda will have crusted with the water and nasty residue on the oven and it can be easily wiped out. It may even just crumble to the floor on it’s own. Honestly, I find keeping up with an oven and quickly wiping it down with a wet cloth after each use has virtually eliminated any need for me to ever spend time on severe oven cleaning. If I want to clean my oven thoroughly, it is never a serious task and I can easily use the baking soda paste to wipe off the baked on grease without giving it time to set.

Deodorizer: I store a perforated box of baking soda in my freezers, refrigerator, bottom of certain garbage containers, and in the family car.

On occasion I sprinkle baking soda on stinky rugs and carpets. I leave it for a couple hours and then vacuum. I also sprinkle baking soda on the van floors and car-seats the day before I am planning to clean the car, and vacuum it up later.

Hard Surface Whitener: To remover stains on counter-tops from tomato, food coloring, turmeric, or paint, a paste of baking soda and water can be made and left on for a few hours. The paste absorbs the stain and can be wiped away. It is how I whitened counters and ceramic surfaces before the availability of Magic Erasers.

Laundry: I have use baking soda on occasion to remove orders from clothes. It is especially effective if the garment is soaked in tango with vinegar. I have successfully removed sweat, smoke, and sulfur orders with a good soaking of the offending clothing item in a baking soda, vinegar, and water solution.

Appliance Cleaner: I dump half a box of baking soda into the washing machine or dishwasher and run an empty load or cleaning cycle to help remove soap scum and orders. I clean my washing machine weekly; usually after my last load of laundry on Friday or Saturday.

I have read about dozens of other uses baking soda has. I have even tried other applications. But those are the tried and true methods I have found that work for me. Baking soda is truly a compound for which I am grateful!

Hydrogen Peroxide: My Gentle Disinfectant

I use Hydrogen peroxide to disinfect. It is a gentler disinfectant than bleach, so it takes time to do its work rather than having immediate bacteria killing powers. I do purchase Clorox wipes and bleach on occasion when I know I will need something powerful and quick to nip something. For instance, in the old-farmhouse where we lived, the bathroom had very poor ventilation. So, black mold continually appeared on the walls and ceilings. I purchased bleach to clean it. I found the bleach not only quickly killed the mold, but whitened it so the spores no longer showed. I also used bleach to clean my toilets because we had unfiltered well water which I think promoted growth of a fungus in the toilets. Only the bleach worked to whiten and kill those spores. I also buy Clorox wipes on occasion. For instance, when we moved, we had a lot of cleaning to do, both in the old home and in the new, so I bought Clorox wipes to hasten those wipe-down jobs. Although I prefer a safer, gentler approach to sanitize my home on a regular basis, I have been known to use chemical methods as needed. Chemicals are only used after my gentle, natural methods are proven ineffective.

I get the diluted form of hydrogen peroxide from the first-aid aisle in a pharmacy. It is a 3% H2O2 solution, which from my reading has been proven to be more than enough to destroy harmful microbes. It comes in an opaque bottle because hydrogen peroxide is light sensitive and easily dissipates. As this link states from the CDC hydrogen peroxide turns into water and oxygen– a good thing when it comes to the environment and health safety. There are those who would disagree with me, but I do not believe hydrogen peroxide is safe for internal consumption. It is poorly absorbed by skin and safe to inhale, so I am comfortable using it to clean my home. I usually leave hydrogen peroxide in its original container, and squirt it out as needed. However, it could be used in a dark, opaque, spray bottle as well.

Hydrogen Peroxide is effective at whitening, killing most unfriendly bacteria, and is odorless, which is great for sensitive airways.
How I use Hydrogen Peroxide:

Bathroom Cleaner: I squirt a dry thin rag with hydrogen peroxide until the rag is well soaked. Then I wipe down my counter-tops, sinks, and sometimes even the floors in my bathroom. I squirt a few drops around my toilet rims, and use toilet paper to wipe it around and away. I do not use it in the shower currently, but if one feels the shower is in need of disinfecting, it could be used there after the shower or bath as a daily shower cleaner, or it could be used as a rinse after the soap scum and minerals have been scrubbed away.

General Sanitizing: In the same way a Clorox or Lysol wipe could be used, I use a cloth squirted with hydrogen peroxide to wipe down computer keyboards, remote controls, cell phones, door-knobs, and light switches.

Kitchen Uses: Hydrogen Peroxide can be used to clean up after cutting raw poultry. A small squirt on a counter or cutting board will disinfect. It can also be used to disinfect sinks, floors, counters, cupboard handles, and appliance surfaces. I just use a cloth with a good amount of hydrogen peroxide poured on it.

Fruit and Veggie Wash: Soaking fruits and vegetables in a water and hydrogen solution will help kill harmful bacteria. I use this method to clean my produce, especially, if I am doing bulk, food prep for canning or freezing. It takes about 10-15 minutes to adequately kill bacteria, so I let my veggies and fruit soak in the solution for that time, and sometimes even a bit longer. After a hydrogen peroxide soak, I rinse off the produce and scrub with a brush before preparing the food.

I know there are many more ways to enlist Hydrogen Peroxide in the home, but I tend to stick to what works for me at present. I am happy with its results. I bounce between my used of H2O2 and white vinegar as needed. I do believe vinegar has similar properties and can be used to help sanitize. But I am uncertain that it is quite as effective as hydrogen peroxide. And vinegar does have a potent smell, for those like me who don’t want their house to smell like pickles after they clean.

For more study on the scientific research done with hydrogen peroxide, I have posted helpful article from various state cooperative extensions and the CDC below:

Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities (2008)

Cleaning & Sanitizing the Kitchen
Using inexpensive household food-safe products

Medical Management Guidelines for Hydrogen Peroxide

On-farm Food Safety:
Cleaning and Sanitizing Guide

The Role of White Vinegar in My Home


I know I do not use white vinegar to it’s full extent. To be perfectly honest, it isn’t my favorite cleaning agent because I do not like the smell. I know some folks add essential oils and water to their vinegar to change the smell, but oils don’t get rid of the acidic vinegar smell, they only change it slightly. However, I reason that I have used cleaning chemicals in the past that are so strong, I had to hold my breath while I scrubbed; then leave the room periodically to get a gasp of air. White vinegar might stink, but it isn’t doing my body harm, it isn’t going to cause birth defects or hormone disruption, and is so safe, I could drink it. So, I can get past the temporary smell in light of vinegar’s good traits. And since vinegar seems to clean, and deodorize effectively, it is my current choice to do certain jobs.
These are the ways white vinegar comes into play in my home:

Shower, Tubs, and Sinks: I use white vinegar in combination with baking soda to clean areas in my bathroom that get a buildup of soap and minerals. I have dealt with hard water stains, and other than getting a good water softener system, I do not know of a natural method to remove those stains.

  1. Start with a wet surface, either just after the shower has been used, or I spray/wipe down the walls with water to get them wet, this moisture allows the baking soda to adhere.
  2. Dust the shower walls and sinks with baking soda. The soda can be left for a time to absorb any hard stains.
  3. Spray the baking soda dusted shower and sink with vinegar. A slight fizzy action should occur. The reaction between the two agents softens soap scum and breaks down the hard water stains allowing me to gently wipe the walls down with my long handled shower scrubber or a cleaning rag.
  4. Rinse out the shower and sink with hot water.
  5. To disinfect, finish off with a spray of hydrogen peroxide.

Appliances: Most manufacturers recommend maintaining appliances such as a washer and dryer with regular cleaning cycles. Products can be purchased to do the job, or it can be done by adding two cups of white vinegar or bleach to an empty cleaning cycle (check manufacturing instructions to confirm). My washing machine and my dishwasher both recommend using vinegar, and they both have a self-clean setting which I also engage. I usually clean both my washer and dishwasher at least once a month by adding vinegar to an empty cycle.

Laundry: Vinegar breaks down long set orders in clothing. If a garment is harboring an unwanted odor, even after a regular wash, an overnight soak in white vinegar is the cure. Then I just throw it in a regular load of wash to get rid of the vinegar odor. It comes out fresh.

Wrinkle Removal: While working as a seamstress in a tailoring and alteration shop, I learned that a spray of white vinegar works magic on removing stuborn creases and fold lines left from lengthening garments. So, I spray a little on garments when needed to help remove tough wrinkles or unwanted folds.

Pet Oder Neutralization: This is a role that I recently discovered about vinegar. We have a cat. He spends the night inside a shed and the days outside in the sun. The shed took on a peculiar odor since he moved in there. Even after I cleaned the cat litter, the odor remained. I found by spraying the walls and floors with white vinegar, the odor disappears. I also soak anything with cat odor in vinegar, and find vinegar eliminates the animal smell. So, vinegar is effective at neutralizing pet odors.

I do not use vinegar as an all-purpose cleaner, window cleaner, or disinfectant. I do not find it does those jobs suitably on its own. In my post, “Household Cleaning on the Cheap, Practical, and Natural,” I discuss the various products I use to keep my house clean. Vinegar does have its vital role in my home and I am grateful for it.

The Second Life of Grandma’s Old Hankies

Old things have gradually found a place in my home. I have a great appreciation for rekindling a period of time when life moved at a slower pace than today. Grandma’s old handkerchiefs have replaced boxes of tissues many times. I keep a hankie in my purse, apron pocket, and bed stand. If my children have rubbed their little noses raw with paper tissues, grandma’s hankies never fail to soften the blow of a cold. The soft batiste cottons of times past are easy on the nose, the economy, and my budget.

Grandma has passed a few stacks of lovely old hankies on to me. Some hankies were folded neatly in a tissue box and paper, with a note about who embroidered them and who they belonged too. My Grandmother is a great family historian. I have found her old handkerchiefs to be a treasure. It is like having a little history in my pocket. I think about my grandmother, aunt, or great-grandmother who finely embroidered the hankie every time I blow my nose, or wipe a tear. Using old handkerchiefs brings me warmth and thoughtfulness for a brief moment. Not one of those hankies can be bought in a store today. I truly cherish them. In a world where paper has replaced finery, I like to bring a little charm back into my life, by incorporating practical pieces of history. For me, grandma’s old handkerchiefs are great additions to my daily life and add a personal touch in a sweet and easy way.

I do not like all things old, for me, it has to save me money, be practical, and it is nice if it belonged to someone I knew. Some other heirloom items I enjoy using in my home are old recipes, furniture, books, and dishes. I don’t keep something for the sake of keeping it. Although, there are a few exceptions to that rule. Overall,  like to be able to use a vintage item, not tuck it away in a chest. My grandmother’s old hankies are certainly one of my favorite keepsakes.

Pursuing Health for God’s Glory

My first reason for perusing health is that I have been given stewardship over my body and home. My body belongs to God and to my husband. As a believer I seek to be faithful in all God has entrusted to my care. My stewardship entails a great many things: finances, education, children, ministry, and boy, that is just a few. A good steward wouldn’t squander money wastefully on cheap trinkets, but would save and invest and make wise purchase. Just the same, I should not squander my health by eating unhealthy, smoking, or not being disciplined to exercise. My body belongs first to God. I care for it, for Him, not for myself. By caring for my body, I am enabling myself to serve God better and longer than I would if I did not care for myself and was sickly, weak, and tired. I understand, there are diseases and illnesses we endure, but I am still responsible to care for the body God gave me, not matter what its physical condition is.

The second person I am steward of my body for is for is my husband. On my wedding day, I pledged to be his until death parted us. I am doing my husband an injustice, by not caring for the body I gave him that day. Out of love for my husband, I need to tend to myself so I can think clearly, rest as needed, be as attractive as I am able, and eat, drink water, and exercise in order to be strong and healthy for his sake.

I have also been given stewardship over my household. Since I am the homemaker (a steward of the home), I am responsible for feeding my family and caring for them. Proverbs 31:14-15 “She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.” As the virtuous woman prepared food with thought and care, I feel it is my job to care about what I feed my family. It takes effort and I need to apply myself to knowledge about nutrition and make wise decisions for the health of my family. Even if that means bringing in foods from afar. I cannot adequately meet the nutritional needs of my family if I am ignorant how to do that. I want to know the ingredients on packages, vitamins in various vegetables, concerns of various unhealthy foods like sugars and fats. It is my job to know what food is in my home, not just blindly trust manufacturers, trying to sell me a product. So, if I don’t know what an ingredient is, I will look it up and learn about it. I am the one responsible for feeding my family, I need to be knowledgeable on nutrition, ingredients, and the nutrients a human body needs to prepare balanced, wholesome meals for my family.

Food is a ministry to others. Having knowledge of ingredients and nutrition has opened doors for me to have people in our home or take meals to people with specific dietary needs and restrictions. Without that knowledge, I would find it intimidating to make a meal for a diabetic friend, and would be far more likely be inclined to do nothing. If I am unable to work with various ingredients, recipes, or create balanced meals for others, I hinder the ministry of my home. Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Even at home, I am better able to minister to my family by knowing ingredients that will comfort and heal. Such as being able to cook a bowl of bone broth with garlic and turmeric for my sick children, or being able to know what supplements to give my daughter with poor vision development, to help give her the best start in life I am able to give.

Discipline is a crucial part of a life that brings God glory. To be able to be controlled in my personal eating habits or exercise is very important, but I am also training children who have no concept of what to eat and why. I not only teach my children discipline by example, but by limiting their indulgence. If they had their way, my children would live on candy and ice-cream. I must teach my children to be faithful stewards of the earthly bodies they have been given. I want my children to have an idea of when it is time to stop. So, like most mothers, my children have boundaries and limits when it comes to food. I also must take care not to allow myself to be enslaved to anything…even coffee or chocolate. I must be in control of what I eat. “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything” I Corinthians 6:12.

Eating for God’s glory means I don’t eat carelessly. I don’t put food in my mouth for myself, but for His glory. That means I will not overeat, I will not indulge my flesh on tasty things for my sake. And with a grateful I will also enjoy the food God has given. I will not be a food snob. I will use food as a tool to minister to others. And I will also refrain from eating and drinking certain foods if it will cause offence to other Christians. So, absolutely, I will eat foods I don’t believe are healthy, out of kindness to others and for the gospel sake. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” I Corinthians 10:31-33.

Now a brief disclaimer. I very much understand that a certain body image is marketed in our culture. That “perfect” image should never be goal of Christian women. We simply do the best we have with the body God has given us. Being skinny is not the point. Being pretty is out of the question. We are responsible to the best we can with the body God gave us, even if we have a slow metabolism or diseases that hinder us from our idea of a healthy look. Perusing health to bring God glory is all about the heart, not the body.