Tips and Tricks

merry green christmasphoto © 2008 Lauren Nelson | more info (via: Wylio)Are you part of a growing trend dreaming of a green Christmas? You are if you are interested in protecting the environment and concerned about the over commercialism of Christmas and how much packaging goes to landfills each year. The following are some smart ways to put more green in your Christmas. Think about the environment and how the extra trash can affect it when planning this year’s gift giving.

One way to put a green spin on Christmas is to make your gifts rather than buying them. Besides making less of an impact on the environment, making gifts will make less of an impact on your wallet as well. Think about the people you plan to give gifts to and then think of things you can make or repurpose to create one-of-a-kind gifts.

Homemade cookies or candies can be a great holiday gift. Take a weekend and spend the time with your immediate family making several different types of cookies, squares, loaves or candies. Think of what the people on your list would enjoy and make enough that you can create several gifts from your time in the kitchen.

Some people are crafty and are able to crochet or knit. If this is you, why not make them a scarf, cozy slippers or dish cloths? Those who sew may want to make table runners with matching placemats and napkins.

Children love stuffed animals. There are many types of stuffed animals you can make either from sewing, crocheting or knitting. You can find instructions and patterns at craft stores, in craft books in the library, or on the internet. Any child would enjoy a stuffed animal made with lots of love.

Is there someone on your list who loves to cook? There are many things you can give that will be helpful in the kitchen. An assortment of organic herbs and spices will be a well received gift. Check out this article for more unique holiday gift ideas for the cook or baker. Wrap it with a holiday colored tea towel. You’ll have given them a gift they can use year round and they will have no trash to throw away.

Bath oils, bubble bath and bath salts are great gifts to give to the women on your list. You can make your own relatively easily and for very little money. You can find recipes for these types of items in books, magazines and online. Here’s how to make a delightful Chocolate Body Scrub to help you get started.

Try to find local arts and crafts shows or festivals. You can find some unique locally made gifts at these events. Not only can you find great gifts, you’ll also be supporting the local economy. Gifts made close to home require less fuel for transport.

Choose a small, real Christmas tree which can be planted after the holiday rather than an artificial tree. Most people don’t realize artificial trees are made from petroleum products. A live tree will improve the air quality in your home and give it an awesome winter scent. Even though artificial trees are supposed to retain their shape, they often can become ugly after repeated use and they end up in landfills where they remain.

These are but a few of the many smart ways to put a green spin on your Christmas this year. Remember to try to repurpose, recycle and reuse wrapping items you already have. We like boxes and bags that can be reused year after year. Make as many gifts as you can rather than buying. Most importantly, enjoy the time with your friends and family during this holiday season.


Ideally a marriage is a partnership in every sense of the word. A husband and wife should work together to keep a household running smoothly. However, who should do what is often a big source of conflict in most households.

Women usually get the job of taking care of the kids and keeping the house clean while their husbands work. But unlike several decades ago, wives and mothers usually have to hold down a job as well, in order for a family to make ends meet financially. It can be very difficult and stressful to juggle all of these things ourselves. Getting your husband to help around the house can make our jobs easier and less stressful.

  1. If you need help with something specific, ask. Most husbands are willing to do specific tasks when we have our hands full and they don’t. If possible, ask him to do something that he enjoys, or at least doesn’t openly hate to do.
  2. Offer to help him with his projects. If you are willing to help him clean his car or do the yard work, he will surely appreciate it. Then he might be more likely to offer to help you out when you are working around the house.
  3. Find tasks that you can do together or alongside each other. This will allow the two of you to spend time together while also getting something done. And the pleasure of your company might make an undesirable chore more palatable.
  4. If you prefer a more structured approach, assign specific chores to everyone in the house. You could make a chart that tells which chores everyone is to be in charge of. Consulting with your husband when doing this is crucial. If he is included in the decision making process, he will be more willing to follow along.
  5. Talk about how your day went. Husbands often don’t realize how much their wives do in one day, and this can lead them to believe that we should accomplish more than we do. Filling them in on all of the things we have to contend with could evoke some sympathy, possibly even inspiring them to volunteer their assistance.
  6. Give lots of praise when your husband does help around the house for positive reinforcement. Nitpicking about the things he did wrong will only make him less willing to help. While it’s acceptable to offer some constructive criticism, it is essential to find something positive to say as well.
  7. Reward your husband for pitching in, we’ll leave it up to you to determine an appropriate reward. I’m sure you can come up with something good!

Getting your husband to help around the house may be effortless, or it may require a lot of coaxing. By letting him know how hard you work to trying to get everything done and asking him to do specific things rather than expecting him to know what to do on his own, you can often get some willing assistance. And the end result will be a neater, cleaner home and a happier you.


Most of us use baking soda for baking and to remove odors from our refrigerator, but we never think to use it for other things. Did you know that baking soda is a natural cleaner and deodorizer that’s cheap and effective?

Many cleaners use artificial scents and harsh chemicals to cover up odor. These scented chemical products can be really irritating to your skin and your respiratory system. Baking soda is a safer alternative. Instead of covering up odors, it absorbs them and locks them away. So you know it can get rid of odors in the fridge with baking soda, try putting some in your garbage cans, shoes, diaper pail, litter box, drains and garbage disposal. It is a great way to safely remove offensive odors from pretty much anywhere.

Watkins lemon all purpose cleaner

Watkins lemon all purpose cleaner

Baking soda is a great abrasive cleaner to remove dirt and anything else that might be stuck on surfaces. Just sprinkle it on a wet cloth and scrub away. You can even use baking soda to get stuck on grease off your floors, counters and even pots and pans. For more cleaning power mix baking soda with Watkins degreaser or Watkins natural all-purpose cleaner. Remember to rinse all your surfaces well after you clean them to remove any remaining residue.

While baking soda can be used for general cleaning, it’­s also a great to remove stubborn stains. Just mix with a small amount of water to turn the powder into a paste. You can then apply this to stains in your kitchen, bathroom, and even your clothes. Just let sit for a few minutes and then scrub. It will make your stainless steel sink shine. This paste is also great for cleaning your silver.

You can even use baking soda to disinfect laundry, toys and diapers or other items around your home that get handled often such as door handles, light switches, and telephones. Washable items can be soaked in baking soda and water for half an hour or so. For other things simply cover the area and let it sit for a minute before wiping it off.

These are just a few ideas for you on how to clean and deodorize with baking soda. It is such a versatile product, the possibilities are endless. So why not pull your baking soda out of the cupboard and give it a try all around your house? You may find yourself buying a lot more baking soda on your next shopping trip.


Oh my! I have just realized that some of my choices that I make for myself and family maybe placing the both of us in harms way. To clarify, what exactly do I mean by “harms way”, when I bundle up our sweaters, blouses or slacks to be sent to the dry cleaners; the cleaning process that is used to clean my items (percholorethlene) called perc for short is used by at least 85% of all cleaners.

This process is toxic in a many ways, the chemical pollutes the air, it is a probable human carcinogen and it can cause symptoms from headaches, nausea, and infertility in men and miscarriages in women and it is considered toxic waste.

Watkins lemon laundry detergent

Watkins lemon laundry detergent

My exposure and my families exposure to this chemical doesn’t stop when I bring the dry cleaning home. When, we go to put the garments on the chemicals can bleed thorough our skin into our systems

Just thinking about that made me want to find a solution today not next week, I had to stop the exposure to my family. What I found was a natural home care product that is plant based and non-toxic that was important to me. JR Watkins Lemon liquid laundry detergent concentrate, can be used in cold water and is easy on the budget. You only need 1 oz per load, that is about 2 tablespoons!

It is also great to use on your hand washables and baby clothes for it contains a soy-based fabric softener that leave your clothes soft and clean.


Superb Substitute

My husband and I love grilling fresh salmon. I like to let it marinate with a little olive oil, Watkins lemon pepper and Watkins Dill. Recently I had no fresh lemon to squeeze over the top. Looked in the cupboard and found some Watkins Lemon Peel, so decided to try it instead of running to the store! It tasted so good, I use it along with fresh lemon all the time now! Isn’t necessity the mother of invention!

Poor Man’s Pie

This is such a simple recipe! Mix right in the pie shellJ

1 unbaked pie shell 12 oz half and half

1 cup brown sugar 2 ½ tsp butter, cut in small bits

3 Tbsp flour Watkins Ground Cinnamon

Speck of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In pie shell place b. sugar, flour and salt. Mix with your fingers until combined well.

Pour milk over flour mixture, but do NOT stir. Dot with butter. Liberally sprinkle Watkins Ground Cinnamon over all. Bake for 50 mins or until filling bubbles up in the center. Filling may not completely set, but that is the way it is supposed to be.


The Homemaker helpers is having a draw to celebrate their grand re-opening and three lucky winners will receive one of the following all natural, plant-based cleaning products:

Watkins lemon furniture polish

Watkins lemon furniture polish

Watkins Aloe & Green Tea All Purpose Cleaner

Watkins Aloe & Green Tea All Purpose Cleaner

Lavender Window And Glass Cleaner

Lavender Window And Glass Cleaner

These three wonderful, naturally scented cleaners from Watkins will make the winning homemakers cleaning chores a delightful experience!

How To Enter the Draw

You have three ways to enter! Simply subscribe to our newsletter, leave a friendly comment on one of our articles, or tell-a-friend about our site before October 15, 2008. A valid email address must be used in all cases so we can contact you if you win!

Draw Rules And Important Stuff

There are no entry fees. A random draw of all qualified people who have subscribed, commented or referred our site will be held on October 16/2008. No multiple entries, one entry per person. Winners will be announced on this site on October 20, 2008. Winners will be notified by email and will be required to provide their mailing address and phone number within 7 days. If the winner fails to comply within the given time frame another name will be drawn.

Important Notes: This draw is open to residents of legal age in Canada or United States only. Independent Watkins associates and their families are NOT eligible to enter or win. The Homemaker Helpers reserves the right to substitute prizes for similar products of equal value.

Prizes are offer by the Gold Team of Ind Watkins associates and not Watkins Inc. or any other team.

We can hardly wait to give these cleaning products away so what are you waiting for? Enter today!


Are you living in clutter and chaos? Try this fifteen minute pickup trick to control clutter, simplify your life and banish chaos in your home. It’s common to feel that the biggest challenge to cleaning up is the sheer magnitude of the task in front of you. Is “So much mess, so little time” your motto? Do you ask yourself, “Where do I begin?”

Busy Mom living in chaos

Busy Mom living in chaos

This is where the fifteen minute pickup trick comes in. A fifteen minute pickup is simply fifteen minutes of time that’s spent focusing on tidying up a place of your choosing. It can be a particular room or area in your house, or it could be the entire house. Here’s what you do, set a timer and get to work until the timer goes off. Then you stop and consider yourself done. You’ll probably discover that stopping is just as important as the starting. The reason for this, is no matter how busy or overwhelmed you are, you can always find time to do something for fifteen minutes. But if you feel that fifteen minutes is going to drag into a half-hour or more, then you’re not going to want to get started. You’ll find this is also true with your children and spouse. They may be happy to help out for a limited amount of time, but may resist helping in the first place because they fear the work will take too long.

The best place to start is with one general fifteen minute pickup per day. Set a regular time that fits your schedule, or maybe when you are freshest! If you have children, a good time is in the evening, just before you begin getting them ready for bed, as it provides a transition from play to bedtime, and it’s time to put the toys away. Get the entire family involved. If your child gets distracted, gently remind him or her to pick something up. You’ll be totally amazed by how your home can go from looking like a tornado ripped through it to being basically orderly after just fifteen minutes of everyone working together.

The first time you do this, you’ll most likely just be getting stuff off the floor and into the general vicinity of where they belong. However, if you keep at it every day, you will start finding time to do some sorting and be able to put things away in a more organized manner. You might even have time to do some quick vacuuming. You’ll find that each day, you’re able to clean a little deeper before that timer goes off!

Once you have gotten into the habit of doing one general fifteen minute pickup a day, you can add one or two more at different times of the day to focus on specific rooms or areas of your home that need more attention. For example, a fifteen minute cleanup of your kitchen counter can do wonders. The main thing is to institute these pickups gradually enough so that you can be consistent and get into the habit of doing them. Won’t it be nice to watch your house get clean fifteen minutes at a time, and know that you hardly spent any time at it at all? Then, you can focus your time and energy on the more fun aspects of living!