Cleaning green

There was a very amusing article on the front page of the Style section of the New York Times about a society version of a Shaklee home party. Women with names like Rockefeller and Hermes sat politely sipping decaf and listened to Sloan Barnett (her husband owns Shaklee) describe the horrors perpetrated on health and home by toxic cleaning products. (Surely this would be of greater concern to their housekeepers who actually deploy these products than the madames themselves. But whatever.)

Anyway, the article was amusing and it was a clever PR ploy on Barnett's part to promote Shaklee and raise awareness about environmental toxins. Bless her well-tended little head.

Other than Shaklee there are tons of eco-conscious products to choose from: Seventh Generation, Ecover, Method and Mrs. Meyers Cleaning Supplies. We get the Eco-Products laundry detergent from Costco, which seems fine, and I've got to watch Mitch like a hawk so he doesn't bring home phosphates--the dude's price shopper.

Know what, though? You can also make your own.

Several years ago I did a story on herbs and received some great recipes for making your own cleaning supplies. Now I whip 'em up as housewarming gifts. They're cheap, and the smell, well, almost makes you want to get down on your knees and scrub. Almost. (Recipes provided by Alane Holsteen.)

Basic floral cleaning scrub


2 pounds baking soda

25 drops ylang-ylang essential oil

20 drops lavendar essential oil

15 drops rosewood essential oil


Combine all ingredients into a plastic shaker like a used herb bottle. This recipe is great for cleaning tubs, sinks, pots and pans. To make a more antiseptic cleaner substitute above essential oils with 50 drops tea tree oil.


Scented cleaning vinegar


1 gallon distilled white vinegar (Heinz)

½ tsp-3/4 tsp essential oil of your choice (lavendar, tea tree, lemon grass, lemon)


Combine ingredients. Add to cleaning water and…This is a great tile floor cleaner.


Lemon Balm Furniture Polish


8 ounce wide mouth glass jar

olive oil

dried lemon balm leaves

8 ounce squirt bottle

¼ cup lemon juice

50 drops lemon or lemon grass essential oil


Pack jar with lemon balm leaves. Pour olive oil to the top. Cover with a cheesecloth and rubber band and allow to sit outside in a sunny spot for one to two weeks. Strain out lemon balm. Add ¾ cup infused olive oil to 8 ounce squirt bottle. Add lemon juice and essential oil. Shake well. And rub it on wood furniture.


All-Purpose Household Cleaner


16 ounce spray bottle

16 ounces purified or distilled water

4 Tbs distilled white vinegar (Heinz)

1 tsp Borax

¼ cup liquid vegetable-based soap (Dr. Bonner’s)

½ tsp essential oil (tea tree, lavendar or orange)


Combine all ingredients. This is a great all-purpose. But should be followed with a vinegar rinse.


Introducing Mrs. Robinson

For you knitters of a certain age, you may recognize this impulse: To squeeze the last bit of juice from one's youth, very, very hard. In my case it manifested in an inexplicable desire to knit a red pencil skirt--a short, red pencil skirt. See.


Mrs. Robinson


A Nake-id original knit from Araucania’s Limari, color 504 on US 11 and US 13


There’s even a sexy backslit. Too bad that at my age I haven’t learned to put a skirt on straight.




What to wear when kicking some Supreme Court ass.




Cooking in the raw

Two enormous piles of dishes later, we had a tiny, hugely expensive raw lasagna awaiting us in the fridge.

As I mentioned last month, a trip to a “living food“ cafe in Berkeley got me all intrigued with the raw food movement. And always up for something new that doesn't imperil life and limb, I thought, “Why heck, we all need more veggies.“

As I dove into the Internet, I discovered that raw cuisine has its own conventions (I still haven't figured out the Celtic salt thing) and language and appliances. You know the thing that slices and dices and makes great julienned fries and boy, does it catch fish? You'll need one.

Not quite ready to buy a juicer, spiral slicer or dehydrator and unsure how to soak and ferment nuts to get real nut cheese, I wanted a recipe for us secular types. Happily, The Raw Chef provided.

The prep, which involved two blender sessions, two food processor sessions and massive amounts of dishes, certainly doesn't have one slaving over a hot stove. Instead I found myself mining the recesses of our cabinets for additional appliances to masticate, crunch, slash, slice, combine and froth. Walnuts (raw) and sun dried tomatoes (dehydrated) required soaking. Zucchini needed marinating. And spinach needed wilting. Then it all had to be ground and whipped into submission. All in all the dish had five layers--a faux noodle layer, faux meat, faux cheese, tomato sauce and pesto. (The recipe called for a sixth wilted spinach layer, but enough already. No wonder our mothers raised us on tuna casserole.)

When I showed it to Mitch, he asked, “Do you eat it cold?”

Honey, it's raw.”

As a concession to both our palettes, I let it warm to room temp before we tucked in. The verdict? Amazing. Absolutely delicious.

Today, though, we have serious garlic hangovers. That raw garlic is some serious sh*t.

Blog silence for Virginia Tech

Maintaining blog silence in honor of the faculty, staff, students and victims at Virginia Tech.

Technical difficulties

Having a few issues with the old blog editor this morning, and gosh darn it, even had something to show. Stay tuned while I adjust the dials.

In the meantime, go visit my pal Roxanne, who's chronicling her adventures in alpine living and doggie agility training at Champion of My Heart.

Speaking of good reading...

I suspect only a few of us knitters would have this by the bathtub, Lee Iacocca's Where Have All the Leaders Gone? But take a look at the excerpt. Let's hope he gets lots and lots of press!

And, in other news, Kurt Vonnegut passed. I'm going to curl up with Welcome to the Monkey House (my all-time favorite short story collection) and keen a bit.

(If you've never read his brilliant story, EPICAC, here's a link.)

Wednesday Miscellany: Reading

Been trying to back off from the knitting for a bit so as to catch up on reading, but haven’t been able to penetrate some of the latest must-read titles. Bel Canto reads beautifully but elegaically, making it a bit of a slog; and Kite Runner, well, I just can’t seem to push past the first 50 pages. The Harlot’s book is clever, and I’ve been dipping in and out, and there are lots of juicy nuggets in the new “green” issue of Vanity Fair, but nothing has grabbed me by the throat and said, “Dude, read me or die.”

This comes the closest: One God Clapping: The Spiritual Path of a Zen Rabbi. It’s a fascinating memoir that spans the spiritual landscape of the ‘60s and ‘70s. I’m enjoying it thoroughly. But what the rabbi hasn’t explained is why he felt compelled to spend the better part of a decade on his tuchas? Maybe that comes later.

You guys reading anything?

Feeding frenzy

As some of you know, the Nake-id home is an interfaith household, so certain times of the year—every day’s a holiday!

This week, the Christian and Jewish spring holidays coincided with a visit from family and cousin Stephanie’s new boyfriend, so there was more feeding than ususal, beginning with an enormous, stomach-crushing seder on Monday and finishing with Sunday morning matzo brei and a chicken-and-biscuit Easter dinner. As a consequence I will be going here this evening for a little schvitz.

Even after all this feasting, we’ll still need to lay in a few provisions. I’ll be shopping with this:


And it folds up into the cutest little pouch, like so:


The specs:

US size 15 needles

Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton in Pebble and Nut

Oat Couture Stow-Away Shopping Bag


Mile High Harlot

I knew there would be a crowd, but given the fact that I live 10 minutes from downtown and had books to collect at the library, I didn't arrive at the Tattered Cover until 10 minutes before her talk.

Let me repeat: I knew there would be a crowd, but didn't think it would be like Stephen King or Joan Didion or Cynthia Rowley. Even when Joyce Maynard debuted her tell-all memoir about J.D. Salinger, the crowds were nothing like this. And that book was about sex with one of the great literary figures of the 20th century. Sort of.

At the entrance to the bookstore a huge sign announced Stephanie's appearance and then warned, “No one will be admitted without a ticket.”

We didn't need tickets to see Jon Krakauer. And he climbed Mt. Everest with a bunch of people who died.

Well, there are worse things than being stranded in the Tattered Cover without a “ticket.“ So I marched up the stairs determined to explore the new hardcover fiction and non-fiction should the Harlot's talk be "sold out."

Not to worry, there were plenty of seats, though “plenty” might be overstating it. Maybe 20 chairs sat vacant. But I settled in and surveyed the room. Lots of knitting going down, as one would expect. Lots of knitting on double points (to each his or her own). And deafening conversation, like nothing I've ever experienced at an author appearance before.

Then she entered the room. This was most remarkable: The audience screamed. Like she was Elvis. Or Davey Jones. Or Hillary Clinton. I felt a little odd that I was neither knitting or screaming, but have sat through so many poetry readings, literary gatherings and writerly soirees where the mode of behavior mimics that of the mortuary that to experience ecstatic shrieks in a retail mausoleum for bibliophiles was quite startling.

Maybe the language isn't dead after all.

I won't do Stephanie's humor justice on these pages. If she spins through your city, go see her. She's a brilliant stand-up comedian, so good in fact, one wonders how she'd play on Leno--to civilians.

She's also more comely and younger-looking than she appears in photographs. And she was wearing a rockin' sweater.

Wednesday Miscellany: Calling all fashionistas of a certain age

I’m doing a little fashion research. I’m looking for iconic knits from the last 30 years, sweaters that may have started out in the secular, fashion world that ended up as must knits in the knitting world.

Your thoughts?

For a little inspiration, I offer this recent purchase—a tiny, purple tweed mini embellished with Asian satin quilting. It comes from Sparrow, 1608 East 17th Ave., where designer Kirsten Coplans reimagines vintage and gently used clothing into clever, wearable pieces.


And Denver girls, be sure to check out the Fashion Denver Spring market, this Saturday at the Oriental Theatre, 4335 W. 44th Ave. Lots of great indie designers and, dudes, it’s in the ‘hood!