Cleaning your oven…with magic! (AKA baking soda and dryer sheets)

I don’t think I’ve ever posted about cleaning anything. The exception being this Pinterest Fail. Really, I’m not that good at cleaning and I don’t keep things clean so why would you want to hear from me about it? Recently I’ve been trying to be more “responsible” and annoying stuff like that. It seems to me, taking care of our things (AKA cleaning them) is responsible because, A. they last longer, which prevents us from buying more crap, B. a clean home-environment is a healthier and more pleasant place to exist and C. you’re allowing your space to be welcoming and open to others. Not that you can’t have people over when your place is trashy, but really, who wants someone to come into their home and be distracted by nastiness? I’m not talking immaculate level cleaning here folks. I’m talking basic upkeep. I SUCK at it. So I have to talk myself into all these reasons why it’s good for me to put down Candy Crush and/or turn off my sewing machine to sweep, wash the comforter or clean the oven.

So in my quest to clean the oven, which I was dreading, I went to the store and was a little worried about the products I saw there. They were either too chemically, too expensive or too something. I don’t know what that last one is, but I like listing in thirds.

Google. ALWAYS the solution. I googled, “Easy and safe way to clean your oven”. And BAM! I stumbled upon two incredibly cheap ($3 for me) and sorta easy way to clean your oven. This may not be news to some of you cleaning veterans out there, but baking soda is your best friend. Since this discovery yesterday I have already used it to clean out my kitchen drains and treat a mosquito bite. Marissa, at FinelyGround.net, shows you how this miracle product can clean ovens no problem.

At first I thought to myself, there is no way that just baking soda and water will clean my oven. NO WAY. Well, it’s a freaking Christmas miracle, cause it totally works. Still takes some elbow grease, but that comes with the task. You basically spritz your oven with water, sprinkle baking soda and go to town with a hard bristle brush. Wipe clean, and keep hitting the worst areas until it meets your standards. I went out and bought a new box of baking soda and used almost the whole thing. I found that a baking soda paste worked really well. I used a pan scraper to easily scrape off the worst of it, after baking soda had sat on it for a while. (Some let baking soda sit overnight…I don’t have that type of patience).

My before pictures turned out blurry somehow, but I promise you there was some pretty nasty, pretty burnt-on grossness. It was hard to see through the window. Here is an after shot:

IMG_5300Now before you dive into oven cleaning, I found this other seriously amazing trick to cleaning your oven racks. Now you might be thinking, “Who cares about clean oven racks?”. Before I had a clean oven I can tell you that I sure didn’t. After you have a clean oven the dirty racks just make it look like you’ve never cleaned…which is discouraging…which for me is bad cleaning mojo. If I feel like all the work I did was for naught, I’ll just stop and not clean again until 2015. This method of cleaning felt like an experiment, making the whole process, well fun. Jill, over at OnegoodthingbyJilee.com, explains that there are anti-static agents in dryer sheets that weaken the bond between the food and the pan(s) while the fabric softening agents soften the baked-on food. So she filled her tub with hot water, some dish soap for good measure (1/4 cup), 6 dryer sheets (I did a few more), and let them soak for 18 hours. I only let mine soak for about 4 hours. Best would be overnight I assume.

034You can kinda see the baked on grossness here. My jaw dropped when I checked on these bad-boys a few hours later. I used a dryer sheet to scrub away at the gunk…it just floated off. So much to my surprise that I hollered, “Matt! Get in here and look at this!”.

Now, there were still parts that didn’t come off easily, but I can tell if I took my pan scraper to ’em they would come off no problem, or if I let it all soak longer. I stopped with about 75% gunk removed. Which pleased me and looks clean in my oven.

SO BOOYEAH! Look at me, being all adult and taking care of things. Got any tricks I should know about?

Crazy Pyrex Lady

If you live in the Portland area, I highly recommend you make your way over to Stars Antique mall in Sellwood. Two buildings, tons of booths, and several hours later, you’ll feel a great sense of shoppers satisfaction. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s impossible to walk away without feeling inspired. So get ready.

This is where Matt and I were the other day. Just browsing. And like always when perusing the aisles of any second-hand type merchandise, I keep a sharp look out for any Pyrex. We had just begun our journey, when a middle aged couple came around the corner. The woman with her arms filled with Pyrex nesting bowls.

Stopping dead in my tracks, I gave Matt’s sleeve a good tug and hissed,

“What is she DOING carrying around those Pyrex nesting bowls!?”

She didn’t even notice me staring her down like a chicken establishing pecking order. (See picture)

Pecking OrderMatt responds: “Woah, yeah look at her!”

So we watched her for a while. As she traveled from booth to booth, she would carefully eye each and every item, touching every single dish that looked like it could be Pyrex.

Me (feeling dreadfully low): “I can’t believe this is happening.”

Matt: “I know…she’s like a crazy Pyrex lady or something.

Me (whispering): “She’s the Crazy Pyrex Lady…”

Matt and I have a plan of attack when it comes to taking-down other Pyrex shoppers working our way through stores like this. We work the perimeter and then walk up and down the center aisles. It so happens, Crazy Pyrex Lady was taking the same path. And we were behind her. I stealthily kept my eyes on her at all times, looking through racks of old fur coats and displays of mason jars with scrabble tiles in them.

Me: “Ugh.”

Me (in my head): “We gotta get ahead of them.”

Me: “Yes, yes we do.”

I trotted past them quickly, while she was distracted looking at Fire King dishware (Oh! What a novice!).

Energized, feeling like I had just blood-doped, I soared through those booths, new energy, new lease on Pyrex-life. I got excited about a few items that I found. A mint-condition yellow-speckled pie plate. But it was $35. NO WAY. Crazy Pyrex Lady can have that.

Other than that…I found nothing. Nothing. Crazy Pyrex Lady must have been here before me. What if she was on her second round? Every once and a while they would catch up with us. I would eye her loot and then give Matt the “See what I’m SAYIN’!!” stare.

Well, Crazy Pyrex Lady left. Or so I assume since she disappeared. Matt and I came to the end of a full circle, stopping right where we first began. When all the sudden my tired eyes focused on a shelf of bowls. A shelf that I hid behind and peered from, when we first began stalking Crazy Pyrex Lady. There, sitting pretty, were two blue-band Pyrex cereal bowls. A sought after addition to any Pyrex collection. I gently picked them up in my hand…lifted them to eye level and sighed. For only a couple bucks a piece, they would be mine. I tilted my head back…and laughed and laughed and laughed. Shaking my hair slightly as I did so.

When I was done with this weird ritual, red faced and thrilled, I turned to Matt. He was staring at me. Mouth slightly open, very weirded out. Suddenly I realized…

I am Crazy Pyrex Lady.

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A Celebrity in Our Midst.

Three things for today:

1. I’m back from my short hiatus. Sometimes I just get tired. And crafting/cooking/living are hard things to do…let alone take pictures and then write about those things. But I’m rested now.

2. Gideon is a celebrity. He’s always been a celebrity to us…but now it’s official. He’s Dog-of-the-Day, on The Daily Corgi! Eeekkk! We tried to tell him, but he just stared at us. He must be in shock. Go check out the article on him, and leave a comment to show your support!!

3. Tomorrow is the last day to enter the birds nest necklace giveaway!! Visit the Homespun Haley Facebook page, and share the giveaway link, to be entered to win! There are 22 entered so far, get your name in there while you still can!!

Crappers.

Can you tell I was zoning out?

Ugh.

I remember when it happened. I was just driving along Division, where I go East about 65 blocks on my way to work. It’s a long, uneventful commute. I saw this flash of light. Totally delayed I thought, “Huh?”, then looked in my rear-view mirror. Sure enough, there was the speed-ticket-giver van. In my defense, it’s not like I sped through a school zone. East Division is a crazy-almost highway. I happened to be on it, when it wasn’t insanely busy (weird) and was zoning out. I don’t think I ever even passed another car.

All hope of arguing that it isn’t me is lost…check out that zoom camera action! Maybe I’ll say there’s been a glitch in the system. I was driving at 10am…yet look! Everything is completely dark in that photo…how do you explain that? Fraud.

Scrabble Wonderfulness

This is one of those things that you see pictures of all over the internet and think they’re adorable but never make them. They really are quick, simple and inexpensive to make.

 People are selling these for $24 on Etsy…you can easily make them yourself for under $10. Depending on how much you pay for an old scrabble game or letters. I had an old game from Goodwill ($4.00) and some worn out cork board coasters I bought 3 years ago. I checked it out before hand and found the coasters fit perfectly over the scrabble letters (about 3″x3″). But you can buy cork board at any craft store. I bought a can of spray on ployurethane (satin finish) to seal the coasters. I had used mod podge at first, then realized the condensation from a glass re-wets the mod podge…not good.

You can choose actual words or do random letters. 5 Letters across would be an ok size as well. I created a “theme” for each one of my coasters: Home, warm, cozy, rest. Seed, crop, tend, dirt. Brew, java, bean, cafe. Hens, farm, coop, eggs.

Hot glue each letter to the cork. Be sure to glue the edges together as well.

Cut off the excess cork with scissors or an x-acto knife.

Clean the excess glue off the letters. I lightly sanded the sides of the cork.

Coat well with a layer of sealant. Let dry for at least an hour.

These would make a very cute gift!

I’m using one currently. I’ve never been so excited to prevent coffee rings :)

Baby Belly Bag – DIY Tutorial

There are few new or soon-to-be new little ones out there in my world right now. I decided to make something simple for these little guys and gals. A small rice heating bag. I’ve been reading about how swaddling your baby with one of these warm bags on their belly can help them rest easier and comfort upset stomachs.

Such a great little gift to give! They are simple to make and very lightweight. Meaning I can ship them inexpensively to wherever. If you don’t feel like making one, you can always pick one up from my shop. So here’s how:

Step one: Two 6″x6″ cotton squares.

Step two: With right sides facing, sew three and 1/2 edges closed. Leaving a hole just big enough to turn right side out and fill with rice.

Step three: Fill with rice! (I mixed my rice with 2 drops of lavender oil for a soothing aroma)

Step four: Stitch closed!

There you have it!

I find it helpful when giving these as a gift to add a tag with instructions, “Place rice bag in the microwave for 30 seconds (if on high heat). Shake rice around to distribute heat. Place on baby’s tummy and swaddle. Heat lasts for one hour. Relieves gas and provides comfort.”