Tuesday, April 22, 2014

SPRING {cleaning}

it's earth day! yahoo!
and what's a better way to celebrate the earth than to make non-toxic cleaning supplies using recycled spray bottles! double yahoo!

here's the deal:
I really like making my own cleaning supplies for several reasons:
1. My college minor of Environmental Science is feeling fulfilled when I reuse an old bottle and not buy a new one at the store.
2. I think vinegar is a super hero in the cleaning world.
3. Although I really love the smell of chlorine (and I have to admit every few weeks, I do clean with the bleach-y stuff to get that smell back), but overall I think the smell of lavender is much more lovely, and it doesn't really feel like I'm cleaning*.
*yes, yes it does.  I'm kidding, I just tell myself that I'm not cleaning.
4. You really don't have to buy any weird ingredients to make your own cleaning products.  Well, you might think that essential oils might be a little weird, but you can buy a small bottle at Whole Foods for about $8 and it'll last FORever.

I have two more caveats:

1. Tea tree oil is a great essential oil to have in your repertoire (I also have eucalyptus and lavender - both very nice too, in case you were very curious.) But the Tea Tree oil is a beast - not only that it smells minty fresh but it also kills bacteria.  So I'm a big fan of adding it to any homemade cleaning supply.  I mean, why not?
2. Castille soap is awesome.  I love the smell of the lavender version.  Castille soap has more uses than I know what to do with, just click on the link, the possibilities are endless!  Endless, I tell you.  (Umm...I love this soap, but I do not think I will ever use it to brush my teeth. I like to be green, but I have limits.) Castille soap is super concentrated so you only need a very little bit in any of these recipes and the bottle is gigantic so it'll last forever.

OK, now that we've covered that...
Here's what I use:

Shower cleaning spray:
[Equal Parts Blue Dawn dish soap + Distilled White Vinegar]

We inherited some nasty shower doors when we moved into our apartment and believe you me, I tried every single shower door cleaner I could find to clean them.  None of them worked nearly as well as my homemade version.  Seriously, it's amazing how well it works! This was the first cleaner that I made and totally sold me on making my own cleaning products.

All you need is an empty spray bottle. Fill half of it with blue Dawn Soap (yes, blue. I have no idea why, but stop asking questions and just make it) and the other half with distilled white vinegar. This spray lasts for a long time, I think I've been making this spray for a few years and I just had to buy a new bottle of Dawn, so I might have this GIANT bottle of soap until my children (that I don't have) are 75 years old, but it was the only size that Target had.  And to make matters worse, I actually already had a small bottle of Dawn hiding behind the garbage bin under the sink, so now you can count on coming over to my apartment anytime you need to make your shower cleaner because, MY GOODNESS, do I have a stash!

Homemade Soft Scrub:
1 2/3 cup Baking Soda
10 drops of Tea Tree Oil

I found a version of this on Pinterest a year or so ago but I put it in a spray bottle (which wasn't a good idea, it's too thick.) So when I saw Dusty make her own soft scrub in a jar, my mind was blown. Hello! What was I thinking, how did I not think of that?!?

Homemade Wipes:
Mike goes through undershirts like Barkley goes through stuffed bunnies (which is fast, in case you were wondering.  She'll find the weakest point in the stuffed bunny and exploit it.) So we have a lot of t-shirt rags piling up.  Dusty made homemade wipes and I thought, what a perfect use up of the undershirts! Plus, we have more mason jars than we know what to do with (the local honey that we buy comes in mason jars).   I did some research on the other links Dusty had about making your own wipes and decided to try the version that used Castille soap (you know, I've got a bottle of it that I'm dying to use.) These wipes are awesome, I've nearly finished the first batch that I made earlier this week already.  One thing to note: they are really sudsy, which came to a surprise on the first use, but I just rinsed out the wipe with water and re-wiped the kitchen counters and that was all I needed to do.  And using the same wipe, I was able to wash the kitchen floor.  (Our kitchen is the size of a postage stamp - the 64 cent kind.) Plus, it's cutting down our paper towel usage - AWESOME!

All Purpose Spray {picture a spray bottle with clear liquids inside}:
Vinegar + Water + Tea Tree Oil
This one is the mecca of all sprays.  All you need is another empty spray bottle and fill it up with equal parts vinegar and water.  Then, add about 8-10 drops of tea tree oil. Shake, spray, clean. Vinegar and water is a good spray to clean windows and mirrors.  I haven't tried it with the tea tree oil added in. We'll see, I'll let you know next time I clean the windows...just FYI, I rarely clean the windows. We can't get the outsides of any of our windows and the apartment company doesn't clean them, so this is the one area of cleaning that I say, screw it. I mean, I can clean the inside all I want and they still look dirty. When we have a house though, watch out, I've got 5 years of no-outside-window-cleaning-energy pent up and ready to burst. Actually, I'm not so sure about that. You could also say that since I haven't raked leaves in 5+ years, I'm bursting at the seams to do that too, but, I'm not.

Friday, April 18, 2014

bedazzling the deck

I've had geraniums blooming on our deck for nearly 2 years straight - same plants! But I think they've either maxed out their lifespan or the "cold" weather and loads of rain in short periods of time have really gotten to them.  So now it's time to start fresh with the plants on the deck. 

I've tried starting plants from seed and I don't think I'm diligent enough to water at the right times and right amounts because I always seem like I'm killing those poor little seedlings.

I'm pretty sure when walking through Home Depot's garden center that Geraniums are in the "I need full sun" category.  But our deck has minimal sun and they do just fine.  However, most of the other plants that I bought the first year I was planting on our deck that were in the "full sun" category actually needed full sun and died soon after.  So I like to stick to the partial sun or shady plants.  And since I prefer to not have our neighbors peer inside our living room every time they are taking their dog out, I like full plants that provide a bit of privacy.  

Right now we are a plethora (meaning 3, sometimes I just want to use that word) of ferns.  So we're good there.  I like ferns, they do well in the shade but to me, they are kind of boring.  We also have some herb that I have no idea what it is but I let it go to seed so I haven't used it (I'm pretty sure if you want it to keep producing the herbs you aren't supposed to let it go to seed, oops.) I think it might have been some sort of fancy oregano (not really fancy but it has some adjective describing the oregano that I can't remember.)  SeƱor fancy oregano has done well in the shade but since I rarely use fresh oregano in anything I cook, I would like to actually grow herbs that would be useful in the kitchen (and hello! cheaper than buying the fresh herbs at the grocery store.)  I did a little research and decided that chives, parsley and thyme are all good herbs that can handle the shade. I actually keep this planter in the one spot that gets morning sun pretty well, so i guess it usually has a good few hours of sun a day. 

I just added a few succulents.  Again my technique of over watering might be the death of these cute little plants. I'm going to hold back from watering in hopes that they think they are living in the Sahara. {Fingers crossed}  Once summer rolls around, pretty sure they'll excel in our 112 degree dry heat - they will be the only ones excelling in that heat, while Barkley, Mike and I huddle around the air conditioning vent.

Aside from plants on the railing, I've always liked the idea of a living wall.  Wouldn't it be cool to add this to the side of your house?  We can't nail into our outside walls, otherwise I'd be all over something like this round living planter from nevastarr.  

Or how about this sweet planter from the Etsy shop Roped on Cedar.  The dog totally sold me on this planter. :) 

{photo credit and planter for sale - here}

And then of course you don't always have to have plants to spunk up the deck. You can add other stuff, like our turtle named Soup. 

Or this little guy.  I think I really, really need to find a spot for this little pocket gnome.
{photo credit and gnome sold - here}

Thursday, April 17, 2014

new at 52nd & Barkley!

I have to give a huge shout out to Kerri for suggesting that I start making these drool pads for the shop.  I had such a great time making them. I'm not really sure why because I've used a lot of these fabrics in different ways but I think the "good things come in small packages" idea springs to mind.   That, and I'm a sucker for a good tool so getting to use the snap pliers was right up my alley.

These drool pads fit any baby carrier like an Ergo or Baby Bjorn with straps up to 4 inches wide.  Just snap the drool pads on, let the baby snuggle the minky side or the cotton side, or one of each - drool, nap or play with the ribbon loops.  Speaking of ribbon loops, it's like having 14 extra arms to entertain baby! (ok, maybe not 14, rather 6.) Just attach a ring with their favorite toy.  Sweet! 

Another added benefit (other than growing more limbs) is that you don't have to wash your carrier every time they've been drooling all over it. Just unsnap the drool pads, toss in the wash and line dry and 

Jump on over to my shop to check out the {drool pads}.

Can I also just mention that there are amazing people that shop on Etsy?  Occasionally I'll get a customer that's looking for something specific that I don't have in my shop yet.  Their ideas are wonderful, and sometimes so incredibly simple {like making gift packs out of two separate items I have already listed in the shop}.  Which is why some of the drool pad sets are now being sold with pacifier clips - for a matching baby accessory set. How fun is that?!?  

So I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the suggestions -- and keep them coming! Just like I told this customer, not being a mama myself, I need to rely on the ideas of new moms to help keep making relevant baby items for 52nd & Barkley.  I really and truly appreciate it.  

my feeling's precisely...

oh dear. i told you that i was going to blog daily...and I haven't. One million pardons! This Lego head from one of our Bloomberg Businessweek magazine that's been sitting in the magazine rack for quite some time* shows you my facial expressions at the moment. I promise. I'm working on many many posts all weekend long. Easter might be right around the corner, but I'm blogging daily from now until 2099**.

*also behind on our magazine reading.
**Maybe not that long, but a really really long time.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


hi again.
it's me. (yep, just in case you were confused.)
I just wanted to point out to you that I figured out how to put those super-sweet-all-the-cool-kid's blogs-have-them social media icons. (ahem, look over onto the right sidebar of the page, you can find me in all sorts of different places, now!) I may not be a cool kid with 7 billion followers, but you are reading this and you are cool (hi mom) so I figured I could do a little jazzing up of the ye old blog with some social media connections for you to enjoy. that's all.

 XO, AnnE

And because every post needs a picture... I can't pass this one up.

{just your average internet-savvy westie tooling around on the iPad}

there's a new Philatelist in town

Philatelist: (noun) a person or studies or collect postage stamps (according to Merriam Webster)

Additionally, you could just look up my name because I might just be the newest philatelist in town...because of these babies!

I'm going to be sending so much mail it's going to be Riddikulus*. I'm not sure I'm ever going to use Dobby's stamp...he's my fav. 

*Yes, I'm well aware of the miss spelling of ridiculous...it's just that way I spelled it is also a spell performed in Harry Potter...and yes, I'm also well aware that I'm a huge nerd.  It's all good, Harry Potter is awesome! :) 


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

stream of conscious

I know I know.  I told you I was going to blog daily and then BAM! I got sucked into vacation mode and then back into reality mode...so here I am. My pictures have yet to be downloaded off the camera, so the Hawaii recap will have to wait for another day.  Until then, let's play,

"What's going on in AnnE's head?"

{sweater and scarf not advised attire while snorkeling...good thing I wasn't actually in the water...how embarrassed would I be?}

I was walking through the dollar store the other day and I kept looking for the prices on items. I was about to walk up to the checker when I read one of the signs on the window with the title of the shop, "Everything's $1" ...and that's when I turned abruptly around and walked the other way.  As it turns out no price tags needed when everything is $1. oops. It sure pays to read the name of the store on your way inside.
Today, we had a thunderstorm - can I mention the fact that this is only the 2nd thunderstorm since we moved here over 5 years ago?  That's a good precursor to what I thought next...
"Who in the heck is moving all that furniture upstairs?"
... We live on the top floor.  We don't have neighbors above us... this might also tell you how much I love living in a multifamily dwelling... clearly I've had enough, even the imaginary neighbors are driving me crazy.
I recently opened a Twitter account.  I have no idea what to do with it though.  Funny, I can grasp the idea of rambling on a blog but I feel as if I'm going to have stage fright with only 140 characters.
While in Hawaii we planned to snorkel - (hence the picture above of me practicing wearing my goggles in the middle of Dick's Sporting Goods.)   As it turns out, I get panic attacks (who knew?! not me) but only when the waves are hitting me, goggles are on and there's a snorkel in my mouth...and fish nearby. Yep, I was all good until my thoughts swam into my brain and told me that I could indeed have a fish swim up next to me.  Once I had that thought, I couldn't shake it and I made a bee line for the shore.  Once settled, I did actually go back out into the water with a floaty (stop picturing arm floaties, please!...it was actually one of those swimsuits with the life jacket built in - kidding! it was an inner tube...and I was a lifeguard in college, so I shouldn't be too frightened about the water) and no snorkel...it was the snorkel not the fish that set off the panic attack.
I read 4 books while in Hawaii. This is a serious accomplishment people! I never used to read that much.  I'd like to thank the iPhone for letting me borrow library books on you so that I can stay awake until the wee hours reading on you and not keep Mike awake with a book light.  My eye sight probably doesn't thank you, however.  BUT, the Keurig machine is loving you, I just need my 2 cup jolt in the morning and I'm good for another day.
While we're talking books - the cutest book I've read in a while, which was described to me as "Devil wears Prada" meets Wall Street was Bond Girl by Erin Duffy. Super fast and easy read but cute...especially if you had close ties to the Financial Industry and the super fun melt down of 2008.