To keep or to purge, that is the question

To Keep or To Purge - 5 Questions to Ask

I’m over at The Art of Simple today sharing the 5 questions I’ve been using to purge 30 boxes worth of stuff from our house. From the post:

I will fondly remember the summer of 2014 as a season of purging. Just off three moves in three years and finally settled into a more permanent home, I’m finally ready to sell, donate, and gift many of the possessions I’ve carefully stored.

I was so determined to simplify that I literally went through every item that came through the door. Each one was evaluated with a few mental questions to decide whether or not it would stay.

Come on over and visit to read the rest!


Homemade Carpet Cleaner

homemade carpet cleaner

I’ve had this embarrassing stain hiding under my couch for three months. When it happened, I quickly cleaned it with some water and a towel. I clearly did not use the right tools and it’s slowly become this deeper and darker stain. Over the weekend, I finally got a few things out of the kitchen and made it go permanently away. Here’s how:

Homemade Carpet Cleaner



  1. Sprinkle baking soda over the stain and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Vacuum up the baking soda.
  3. Mix dishwashing liquid and white vinegar into the warm water.
  4. Dab the solution over the stain with a cloth until the stain is gone.
  5. Use the second dry cloth to blot the carpet dry.

My Eco-Friendly Laundry Routine


With the exception of detergents, my laundry routine was eco-friendly before I even wanted to be eco-friendly.


I sort all the laundry into piles in the following order:

  1. Adult or child
  2. White, dark or color
  3. Gentle or Heavy

While the sorting in itself isn’t all that eco-friendly, I do make sure that the piles are large enough to fill up the washer. No use in running half a load. If they aren’t, I’ll combine piles to make a load big enough.

I wash almost everything in COLD water. It saves $$ and energy and IT WORKS. Promise. The only things I wash in hot water are sheets, towels and anything with poop on it (thank you to my kiddos).

I use eco-friendly detergents like Seventh Generation or Earth Friendly Products. I don’t add fabric softener to the cycle but if you wanted to, Seventh Generation makes an eco-friendly version. I rarely use stain removers or bleach and if I do, they are…you guessed it. Eco-friendly stain removers or bleach. If I think something might be stained, I wash it at least once or twice to see if it will come out on its own. It generally does. If it won’t, I will use a stain remover, like BabyGanics or an eco-friendly bleach like Seventh Generation and voila – almost everything comes out.  We do occasionally having a clothing casualty but it’s rare.


Almost all clothing gets thrown directly into the dryer for 10 – 20 minutes of light drying, enough to take out the excess water and wrinkles. I never use fabric softener sheets. Then I hang *almost everything* on a drying rack or on a hanger. I consider this to be the most important part of my laundry routine for several reasons:

  • I rarely have to iron since everything is dried hanging and comes out wrinkle free.
  • Clothes don’t shrink. Believe me, I’ve compared brand new dried in the dryer pants to brand new dried on the hanging rack pants and there was a whole size difference.
  • Far less wear and tear. Colors don’t fade. Dark blue jeans stay dark blue. The fibers don’t get as ruffled and worn looking.
  • There is no static cling.
  • We save tons of energy and less wear and tear on our dryer.

I’m not going to lie, this does take more time than just throwing everything in the dryer but seriously, most of our clothes are wrinkle free and I could pass down my kids clothes for years because they stay in such great shape. I’ve even had friends comment on what great condition their clothes are in.

For sheets and towels, I use Seventh Generation Fabric Softener sheets. They are paper so once they are used, I can recycle them – LOVE THAT! I also dry sheets and towels in the dryer all the way. If I had the space for a laundry line outside, I would definitely put them on the line outside. The sunshine dries whites whiter!

There you have it – my laundry routine. Not as simple as most but has lots of great benefits! What is YOUR laundry routine?


VOC Free Paint for Children’s Rooms

VOC free paint isn’t cheap but it is worth it as the chemicals in paint can off gas in your house for over 3 years!   That’s over 1000 days of breathing in chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and perchloroethylene – not so good for the body and particularly not good for our little children’s bodies.  In the past couple years, several children’s furniture and decor companies have partnered with paint companies to design VOC free paint lines specifically for children’s areas.  The next time you need to paint, check out these safe, non-toxic options.

The Land of Nod and Mythic Paint – Mythic Paint is a VOC free, solvent free and carcinogen free latex paint.  In 55 colors with names like ‘Grass Stain’ and ‘Tutu’, your child can have fun picking out their next room color!  You can purchase online or at some Land of Nod locations.  4oz samples are available for $6.99 and 1 gallon cans are $44.99.

Pottery Barn Kids and Benjamin Moore Paint – Benjamin Moore’s line of VOC free paint is called ‘Natura’.  Natura is a waterborne acrylic paint that is VOC free both in the base paint and the colorant.  Natura is very low odor – I used it to paint my son’s nursery and with the window open for a day or two, the smell was gone (unlike other “low odor” paints I’ve used).  Pottern Barn Kids comes out with a new paint palette 2 times a year and you can pick up the current paint deck in their stores.  Their current spring/summer line has 15 cheery colors. You can purchase online or at Benjamin Moore stores.  8oz samples are $7.99 and 1 gallon cans are $49.99.

Restoration Hardware Baby & Child – The RH Baby & Child line of latex paint is VOC free and low odor.  Available in 6 signature colors, they perfectly match any of the bedding and decor items from Restoration Hardware.  Available in satin sheen and sold online only. 4oz samples are $4.25 and 1 gallon cans are $29.00.


Vinyl Free Wallpaper


I’ve been toying with the idea of wallpapering the wall behind my bed and was curious about what my wallpaper options are.   Frankly, I’ve never wallpapered anything but I’m always up for trying something new!

What I didn’t know was that most stock wallpaper is made with or coated with vinyl (PVC) – a product I stay away from.   The stinky smell from products made with PVC ( new cars, plastic shower curtains, etc. ) emits hazardous VOCs in your house contributing to indoor air pollution.  Our indoor air is already 5x more polluted than the outdoor air, let’s not add to it with PVC wallpaper!  As I often find, there are better alternatives – vinyl FREE wallpaper.

Mod Green Pod vinyl-free wallpapers use water-based inks on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper and finish the product with a water-based glaze that can tolerate light wiping.  They’ve got some fun prints, check out the photo above!

grasscloth_imageFor more prints, Graham & Brown has 46 wallpaper prints that are VOC-free and printed on paper from managed resources.

I love this Juicy Jute grasscloth wallpaper – it’s got great texture and is made with jute, a natural fiber.  It also comes in 29 different vegetable dyed hues.  For other natural fiber wallpapers, check out raffia or hemp.

Traditional wallpaper paste has a bunch of chemicals, too, so try this great DIY recipe from Annie B. Bond.

  • •1 cup flour (wheat, corn, or rice)
  • •3 teaspoons alum
  • •water
  • •10 drops oil of cloves (natural preservative)

Combine the flour and alum in a double boiler. (If you don’t have a double boiler, set a smaller pan inside a bigger one that contains enough water that can be brought to a boil without overflowing). Add enough water to make a consistency of heavy cream; stir until blended. Heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened to a gravy texture. Let cool. Stir in the clove oil. Pour into a glass jar with a screw top. Apply with a glue brush. Makes 1 cup. Shelf life: 2 weeks refrigerated.