Tag Archives: housework

How to ‘green clean’ your oven


Oh, I tried chemical oven cleaner once. Never again.

Although I thought I’d rinsed the oven thoroughly, some oven cleaner residue was lurking still… and it nearly killed us ūüėĮ

So these days I use the natural method of oven cleaning, which requires nothing more than some bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar, and a bit of elbow grease!

For those who would also like to steer clear of dangerous chemicals and have a spotless oven, here’s a quick pictorial.

This is what my oven looked like beforehand. It’s not as bad as it could be, but still¬†speckled with¬†baked-on dirt. Yuck!

My oven before

My oven before

A closer look

A closer look

I don’t know about the rest of you, but¬†I only clean my oven roughly every six months (hey,¬†stop¬†judging me!).¬†It’s a lot of work and I doubt anyone enjoys the task, but it has to be done.

A last look at the dirt inside

A last look at the dirt inside

Cleaning the oven with bicarb and vinegar is a two-part process, because you need to leave it overnight (same as with some chemical oven cleaners).

Step 1: Liberally sprinkle bicarb in the oven

Step 1: Liberally sprinkle bicarb in the oven

For the first step, try to get the bicarb up on the top of the oven and in all the hard-to-reach corners too. You could also make a paste with bicarb and water to get it to stick if needed.

Step 2: Spray the bicarb with white vinegar

Step 2: Spray the bicarb with white vinegar

Be warned: Step 2 releases some caustic fumes, though nothing compared to the dangerous fumes from chemical cleaners. I spritz the vinegar onto the soda with a spray bottle, which helps to reach odd spots.

The bicarb and vinegar immediately react with a hiss

The bicarb and vinegar immediately react with a hiss

Now you can leave the mixture to¬†do¬†the hard work overnight while¬†you sleep ūüôā¬†I take out all the trays and racks and treat them separately and leave them¬†in the bath. Our oven’s door also detaches easily, which makes the job simpler.

Step 3: The overnight work

In the morning you should see that much of the mixture has dried. Often it will have turned brown in spots, which is how you know that it’s been eating away at the dirt on that surface.

Step 4: The hard work begins

Step 4: The hard work begins

Now it’s time to put on your gloves, grab a scouring pad and start scrubbing. If you did a thorough job on the first two steps, the mixture of bicarb and vinegar will have lifted off¬†a lot of dirt and grease that can just be wiped away. In the pic above you can see a circular area I’ve scrubbed clean without much effort.

A helpful tool: the partitioned bucket

I¬†recently bought a cleaning bucket with two separate sections for clean and dirty water. This was a¬†great help and is a worthwhile investment (although I can’t help wishing it came with wheels too).

Step 5: Scrubbing, rinsing and drying

Step 5: Scrubbing, rinsing and drying

There’s no secret to the rest of the job: it’s just¬†scrubbing, rinsing and drying. I lay newspaper on the floor to catch the inevitable spills, and wipe up the excess bicarb with paper towels. The roof of the oven is my least favourite part because of the awkward access, but with persistence it comes clean as well.

It’s a tedious job that took me just over an hour (maybe because of all the interruptions for photos?), but you can make good use of the time by listening to music or audio books in the background as you work. The great thing about using ‘green cleaners’ such as bicarb and vinegar is that if for some reason you don’t rinse them off properly, they won’t harm you or the food you cook in the oven afterwards.

And the results are just as¬†good as with¬†any chemical cleaner! ūüôā

Sparkling clean again

A Mother’s Day tribute



Mother's Day gift

Mother’s Day gift

Tomorrow we celebrate Mother’s Day in SA, lauding those hard-working, nurturing souls who raised us.

I’m generalising, of course.

Not everyone has a loving,¬†present or¬†involved mom.¬†But among those who have been blessed with a dear mother in their lives, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone with a mom as unique as mine ūüėČ

My little mommy is funny, eccentric and¬†devoted. She loves the Lord and¬†serves her family wholeheartedly, but she’s no ordinary old-school¬†housewife. Marzipan (as¬†I call her)¬†is headstrong and opinionated, spontaneous and cheerful. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who cared less about what other people think of her actions… and yet it hasn’t made her arrogant.

I look back on my childhood and can only laugh.¬†When other kids’ moms were¬†getting manicures, my Marzipan was climbing the¬†local mulberry trees with my brother and I to get the best berries before the birds did! When other mothers were sending their children to all manner of extramural activities, my mom¬†gave us the freedom¬†roam the neighbourhood and play down by the nearby stream (always praying fervently until we returned safely).

My mom grew up on a smallholding near the sea, so she had a vastly different upbringing to her two city-bred kids. And yet she found ways to give us a healthy,¬†adventurous childhood. Some of my favourite memories are of our family hiking together in the nearby¬†hills¬†and my mom teaching us about the plants, birds and creatures in our area. As a trained horticulturist, her love of nature always drew her outdoors ‚Äď and often us with her.

She also made sure she instilled a spiritual awareness and knowledge of the gospel in us from an early age. She wasn’t afraid to discuss sin and admit her need for a Saviour, which is something I admired her for as I grew old enough to understand these things. And one of the biggest gifts she gave me was the knowledge that I could turn to my Heavenly Father in prayer anytime, anywhere. She¬†showed by example that faith in Christ is a living relationship with Him, not a formulaic or¬†empty religious ritual.

Marzi is also practical, resourceful¬†and hard-working. I didn’t know it at the time, but watching her while I grew up was good preparation for my own time as a housewife years later. She taught me tricks for storing food and stretching a small budget and turning everyday meals into surprise treats. She showed me that housework and housewifedom¬†wasn’t something to be ashamed of; in fact, it was a goal worth striving for because it¬†led to¬†a balanced life.

As¬†with many mothers and daughters, we did go through seasons when we didn’t agree on much. Life is such that while I was going through the throes of adolescence, my mom was battling¬†with the changes of mid-life. We didn’t understand each other so well back then, but we made it through the rocky patches to enjoy the new relationship we have now.

Now that I’m married and running my own home, I can appreciate my mom from an adult perspective. And we’ve become friends, almost sisters, in the way we connect and tune in to one another. We laugh together, we bake for each other, we think of and pray for each other, and we appreciate each other more than ever.

For Mother’s Day I¬†tried to get Marzipan something she really¬†wanted, so I was delighted to find this beautiful tea towel and some very cute ceramic¬†teacup-shaped teabag holders/spoonrests. And don’t you just¬†love that the box is decorated with the same patterns as the towel? ūüôā

A gift for Marzipan

A gift for Marzipan

It’s just a small token of my gratitude to the best mommy in the world :mrgreen:

The Host


Well, I had a whole bunch of good intentions for starting off the week yesterday, but life isn’t always a straight line. The trick is learning to adapt to the curveballs instead of getting frustrated by them.

I started strong, kicking off my day with cleaning and grocery shopping. But around midday¬†our power and water were both cut off! I couldn’t do any more¬†of the washing, cooking or cleaning that I’d planned.

Rather than sit around doing some proverbial thumb-twiddling, I used the sudden gift of¬†free time to check off another goal on my 101 things in 1001 days list: Goal #89 ‚Äď Go to a movie by myself. At least they had electricity and running water at the mall!

I went to see The Host, and¬†enjoyed it… it was kind of like a girly romantic sci-fi. I’m not usually into sci-fi all that much, but Stephanie Meyer has a knack for making otherworldly plots appeal to gals too ūüėČ

Anyway, yesterday also showed me God’s grace and perfect timing in my life. For the first time ever, I decided to split up¬†my shopping. My plan was¬†to¬†first buy all the dry goods and¬†take them home, and then later go back to the shops to purchase all the perishable items such as frozen fish, meat and fresh veggies. My reasoning at the time was that if I could get these items straight from the shops into my cooler bag and into my fridge as quickly as possibly, I might avoid them going bad (I think bad frozen fish ‚Äď and not the Easter feast ‚Ästwas actually¬†what nailed me¬†with food poisoning¬†a couple of weeks ago).

So I did my dry-goods shopping at a normal pace and brought home all the goodies. After I’d finished unpacking the grocery bags, I took a breather for five minutes and¬†got ready to leave¬†to buy¬†the perishable items. Then, just as I was about to leave, the power and water were cut.

My first reaction was natural¬†frustration, but that quickly turned to amazement at the¬†divine timing of each event. If I’d bought all the shopping at once as usual¬†without coming home, or if I’d left five minutes sooner for the second round, I would have had hundreds of rands’ worth of perishable items sitting in a fridge that couldn’t stay cold. The¬†electricity and water¬†only came back five hours later ‚Äď that would have been long enough to defrost and ruin my frozen fish and other delicate items.

Many may see that as a lucky coincidence, but to me it shows clearly that I have a loving Father who’s involved in the smallest details of my life. As Proverbs 16:9 tells us, ‘A man’s heart¬†plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.’ I’m grateful the Lord directed me to do something out of the ordinary and mercifully¬†prevented me from wasting a lot of money and good food ūüôā

'Direction' © Sunshine Scrapbook

‘Direction’ ¬© Sunshine Scrapbook

Marble and mud

Life © Sunshine Scrapbook

Life © Sunshine Scrapbook

It’s been a busy season for me lately;¬†I’ve missed updating¬†my sunny cyber-scrapbook :mrgreen:

Some of the things that have kept me occupied of late include:

  • finishing off a freelance proofread for a client
  • tinting¬†my hair a sunnier shade of blonde
  • visiting friends and family
  • researching which DSLR camera to buy (when I’m eventually in the market for one)
  • watching Lost with Ninja
  • mapping out a route so I can start training for my first 5km run (eek!)
  • baking (but no new recipes and thus nothing blogworthy)
  • and the usual general housework.

All these and other everyday aspects of living fill up my ordinary days.

As the quote above says, there’s good and bad, marble and mud,¬†beauty and¬†boredom. Maybe only in time will I be able to look back and see the marble of who I am shining through the mud of what I¬†have to get through¬†each day.

Not all the small things matter, but sometimes they add up over the years… until you find that what you’ve spent your days doing has become¬†part of who you are.

So as best as you are able, live to¬†make it count! ūüôā