Non-Vinegar Essential Oil Cleaner

NaturalCleaner_Blog (7)

There has been a ton going on lately, with new calves at the farm, house renovations, graduate school starting back up, and general life. I really have been wanting to start writing again, so I thought I’d start up with something that was a wild ride this winter. I was hoping to come back “full swing” with a more upbeat post, but I decided to go this route because it’s something a lot of people might appreciate. So, let’s go!

Last November, after using some harsh chemical cleaners, I ended up breaking out in chronic hives for the first time in over a decade. In November after using a cleaner my hands got very very red and itchy, I was surprised. I was even more surprised when I broke out in hives on my hands. Days later they were showing up just about anywhere in patches. This was not a typical dermatological response to a harsh chemical. These were standard off the shelf cleaners you can find in any store. Brand name cleaners.

My system was already more sensitive than normal for various reasons. The chemicals simply caused a reaction that fueled itself. Eight weeks later the hives were still there. An allergy panel showed no allergies (even ones I used to be allergic to). This led the decades long allergist to tell me that my symptoms and onset were pretty consistent with an immune disorder. Clearly – my body had been attacking itself for weeks. I’d say that was my immune system acting disorderly.

Thanks to some changes and starting some herbs that help with mast cells and immune health, I’m doing pretty good. One of the changes I made was starting to search around for a homemade natural cleaner, and vinegar was out. Andy simply cannot stand vinegar based cleaners. The scent in the house is just too much for him. I too was hoping I could find something that cleaned very well, and had a better scent. A plethora of research ensued and this ended up being the final analysis: good essential oils, a gentle cleaner, water, and a spray bottle.

You cannot even believe how good this stuff works as a general cleaner, and with baking soda for tougher spots. It’s not going to strip your kitchen spotless in no time like a commercial cleaner (kind of the point). What it will do though is clean surprisingly well for every day cleanup. To prove to you the cleaning power of this, I am going to show you something I dare show no one: My stove after a bit of cooking crazy meals that I didn’t wipe down.

Non-Vinegar Homemade Cleaner:

  • Spray bottle (the size does not matter)
  • Dr. Bronners castile soap
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Tea Tree essential oil
  • Lemon essential oil
  • Rosemary essential oil
  1. Pour enough Dr. Bronners in the bottom of your spray bottle that it covers, and comes up about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch.
  2. Add about 10 drops of each essential oil. I tend to add just a couple more tea tree oil because of it’s awesome anti-bacterial properties.
  3. Add water to fill up the rest of the bottle. Gentle tip back and forth to ensure everything gets mixed well.
  4. Spray away!

The Fully Unscientific, Non Peer-reviewed, Non-Control Group Stove Test

I fully do not believe in hack science that touts backup when it has none – no matter how good it sounds. I believe in peer-reviewed, control group, scientifically reproducible studies. This is not any of those. This is just what I’ve found works well for me. I’ve reproduced this a few times in my kitchen, but that’s about as scientific as this gets.

Here it is in all it’s glory – my absolutely repulsive stove that I didn’t clean up after cooking for a few days. Hey turmeric rice that boiled over. Hello curry! Also, that totally gross burner has been there no matter how much I scrub it. Deal with it. I’ve dealt with it for five years.

NaturalCleaner_Blog (2)Looking at this repulsive beast, I then sprayed my concoction all over and let it set for a few minutes. One light wipe down (no scrubbing), and the stove was looking better.

NaturalCleaner_Blog (3)One more light mist and a bit more of a detailed wiping down, and it almost looked presentable. Or, rather, as presentable as I care. We’re not talking a Martha Stewart visit here. Even if it were, I mean, come on – it’s me. Hi Martha, here’s a mason jar full of Coors light.

NaturalCleaner_Blog (4)That one damn burner looks better, but it’s still not good. Scrubbing until I had no cartilage between my elbows left wouldn’t really help. I decided to pull out the baking soda to try and get a better clean. I put a bit more cleaner on, and then doused with the baking soda.

NaturalCleaner_Blog (5)Now, before I give the results here let me say this. After wiping just a little bit, it started getting better but then I got annoyed. Then I remembered about the chain mail scrubber my Dad got me at Christmas for my cast iron. Then I remembered it’s a matter of months before this stove gets completely ripped out in our kitchen renovation and that I do not care if it gets totally scuffed to shit. So, chain mail came out like a knight in shining armor.

NaturalCleaner_Blog (6)I’d say that helped quite a bit. I was satisfied enough to take myself out to breakfast. If you think for a second I was about to cook on that newly cleaned stove, you’re out of your damn mind. I’ll cook on it tomorrow. Maybe.

The point is this, overall, just looking between the first and second photo, you can see how well the cleaner works. Plus, it smells super great.

So, there’s that.

All for now, enjoy if you want. I’ll hopefully be back soon with some more updates!

You know how it goes,


Disclaimer: Just like any cleaner, this cleaner does not substitute for proper cleanliness, preparation and sanitation in a kitchen, bathroom, etc. Please do not do weird things like cut meat directly on the counter, and then use this spray and expect it to kill bacteria. That’s just very poor judgement. Use this cleaner at your own discretion.

Chirp Chirp

The birds are not chirping, but I’m sticking my head out from my little hibernation hole and chirping, hence the title of this post.

This break has been wonderful, and has been much needed. I’ve had some time to think about things, and realized my renewal of “Like A Cup of Tea” was coming up. That’s when it hit me – this blog is staying put. Here’s what I’m toying with right now:

  • Writing? Your guess is as good as mine for frequency. I’m still very busy and all the same reasons in the last post still hold. Time is simply limited.
  • Instagram? I post as I see fit. It’s fairly regular, except when it’s not.
  • Comments? HEYO. THEY ARE BACK. I don’t think it was fair to write my last post and then completely shut down comments. As well, I’ve been receiving emails about certain posts and how-to’s. I think it would be a lot more fair for these to be comments where everyone could access them, versus emails directly to me that don’t help the general population. So, comments are back on. Plus, if I do end up writing sporadically again I’d like them to be available. I’ll do my best to respond to comments in a timely manner and hopefully this will be a good thing for everyone.

I hope you’re all having a nice New Year and the holidays were kind to you. 

Until next time,


P.S. We no longer have the third dog mentioned this post from the autumn. Bella went to her forever home at the beginning of the year, but is close enough that we might get to watch her when her owner travels, etc. Three dogs ended up not being for us, and Bella has an (awesome) new owner and a buddy she gets to hang out with. We’re very very happy how it turned out. No more fosters though (famous last words).

Autumn in Maine and Other Great Things

I feel like a bear coming out of hibernation. I miss you guys like woah, and I miss writing here for you. Alas graduate school and other life happenings are still taking most all of my time, but I’ve been doing my best to keep you guys updated on Instagram. Things are going good in the class and so far I’ve been doing really well, which is a huge relief to me. I’m taking two more classes in a row after this one but I HAD to stop in here and tell you about some exciting things that have been going on. This is going to be a long post because I don’t know when I’ll get to write again.

First, it’s fall in Maine. So that in and of itself is pretty exciting. It’s the most beautiful time of the year around here. Until spring and then I proclaim “Spring is the most beautiful time of the year around here” because duh, after a super long freezing cold goodness-gracious-do-I-have-any-feeling-left kind of winter, a 50 degree day is THE MOST GLORIOUS thing in the entire world. That won’t be for another handful of months though, so while my amnesia of what the end of winter is like is in full effect, I am just excited for the crunchy leaves, the wood stove starting to rip more often, and the anticipation of the first fall.

AutumMaineSecond, it’s my birthday month. I turn 31 this month. THIRTY ONE. Turning thirty had no bearing on me. Turning thirty one is screwing with me just a little bit. I am not longer TURNING thirty, I am IN my thirties. I don’t know why this makes me feel old, considering logically it’s not, and that most of the time I’m acting like an old lady anyway. I always had this sort of life plan of things that would happen, but they stopped at 30. Now I guess the fun begins. If by fun I mean anxiety at ripping the rug out from under myself and trying to embrace uncertainty. That’s totally my favorite thing to do in the same way accidentally bumping my hand on a hot stove is my favorite thing to do. You learn to deal with it and move on. That said, I thought I’d have a kid when I was 30. Not IN my 30’s, but 30. Life has a funny way of going “HAHA NICE PLAN.” I’ve been getting into running though a bit more again, which helps with everything.


That’s okay though, because there is a new member of our house and she’s pretty great…which leads me into…

Third, we have a third dog. Surprise, it’s another six year old female yellow lab. We were fostering her part-time this summer, but we started fostering her full-time a few weeks ago. I get way too attached way too fast which is why I have never fostered. We’re fostering her from an older woman who could no longer care for her and was heartbroken about it, but it was the right thing to do. What this means is that we’re not fostering her through anyone but we’re trying to find an awesome home for her ourselves. What this REALLY means is that anytime Andy mentions a possible home for her I plug my ears and go “LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T DISCUSS THIS RIGHT NOW” and then snuggle Bella and remind Andy that we are NEVER GETTING RID OF HER EVER. Unless the perfect home comes along. I mean, more perfect than ours and ours is pretty perfect so….

We have a third dog and I’m not discussing any alternative options to that right now.


Fourth, the master bathroom has drywall! We started working on it this spring and then didn’t touch it again until last week for the most part. I wasn’t neglecting on updating you, we were just neglecting to work on the bathroom at all. So many other things needed to be done, like gardening, fixing a free boat, etc.


Fifth, FREE BOAT. Sort of. Well, my neighbor got a free boat. Then Andy worked his ridiculous magic (I still believe he is a government experiment in talent and ability) and all of the sudden this boat that sank to the bottom of a lake works again. It works really well. So we now have a 1989 Bayliner at our disposal to use whenever we want in the summers. Requirements include Duran Duran, Whitesnake, and bikini’s that go up and over the hips.


Sixth…okay there are a lot of other things. Let me sum them up so this isn’t much longer, and it will give me something to HOPEFULLY strive to find time to write about later. We pressed 20 gallons of apple cider from wild apple trees. After giving some away and drinking some, 11 gallons remain in our freezer. I intend on making some of this into hard cider. I haven’t ventured into that though so I expect that will be coming up shortly. We also turned under the garden for the year with the exception of the cabbage and carrots. Everything else is done. We’ll need to harvest those items, bush hog, and lay black plastic down soon so we can get our garlic planted. Andy has done a heck of a lot of firewood this year, and a few nice saw logs ended up out at the sawmill. Our neighbors bought their own large sawmill up at the farm and are building a shed over it. We have fire wood stacked under the porch this year to keep it dry and easy to access *deep breath* annnnnndd that’s about it right now.

Does that sum up well enough?

Like I said, follow me on Instagram in the mean time at @likeacupoftea. I update there pretty frequently with dog photos and other on goings. Hopefully I can get back onto here more, but you know, I’m turning 31 and I can officially predict NOTHING that will be happening.

All for now.





Dairy-Free Buckwheat Pancakes

Sunday mornings tend to include a special breakfast around our place. Sometimes it’s waffles, sometimes it’s some sort of fancy egg sandwich, and sometimes it’s pancakes. Yesterday morning though Andy asked for buckwheat pancakes and that sounded pretty good to me.

DSC_8362While I am about to give you a recipe, let’s state the obvious—this isn’t a new recipe by any means. Google, “pancake recipes” and about 11 million results turn up. I googled, it’s actually 11,100,000 at the time of writing this. I’m simply going to make this 11,100,001.

DSC_8347In my search for delicious buckwheat pancakes, I came across this awesome recipe from The Kitchn via Megan at Not Martha. I really wanted something dairy-free though. I don’t eat a ton of dairy normally, and lately I have been. My skin has been paying for it and I’ve been more congested than normal so back to dairy free it is. I really don’t miss the dairy in things like pancakes. I’d rather save the dairy for something like goat cheese on a burger, which I ate last night. Now that is worth the dairy.

DSC_8365Bon appétit!

Dairy-Free Buckwheat Pancakes
A delicious dairy-free buckwheat pancake recipe.
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  1. 1 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  2. 1 1/4 cup sprouted wheat flour (or regular wheat flour)
  3. 2 tsp baking powder
  4. 2 tablespoons sugar
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. Splash lightly flavored oil like vegetable or grapeseed (no more than 1/8 cup)
  7. 1 cup rice milk or other preferred nut/seed milk
  8. 2 eggs
  9. 1-2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  10. 2–3 cups frozen blueberries
  1. Combined 1 cup of each buckwheat and sprouted wheat flour in a bowl with the baking powder, sugar and salt.
  2. In another bowl add oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk lightly until combined.
  3. Add liquids to dry gently, until combined. Do not over stir.
  4. Add in blueberries. I use frozen blueberries and have no issue with them cooking through. I do not thaw my blueberries ahead of time as is sometimes recommended.
  5. On low heat add about 1/2 cup of batter to a hot cast iron skillet. Once the edges are slightly cooked and the batter is consistently bubbling, turn. Cook on the other side for another minute or so, until cooked through.
  6. Add whatever you'd like to the top - I love real maple syrup or applesauce - and enjoy!
Adapted from The Kitchn - Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes, Megan of Not Martha
Like A Cup of Tea



Supreme Vegan Nachos

The other night all I wanted was loaded nacho’s for dinner. I can only think of one other time in my life I craved loaded nacho’s, and I’m pretty sure it was a couple drinks in on a Thursday night in college. I knew this time around I wanted to make a healthier dairy and meat free version (i.e. vegan).  Note – healthier does not mean healthy. If you take out of the processed vegan chipotle meat I used crumbled on these it would be significantly healthier but hey – I wanted fake meat so I used fake meat.

DSC_7911-01I was wondering how to tackle the dairy on nacho’s because vegan “cheese”‘s fall short for me. From “Feta” made with tofu, to cheese slices at the grocery store made of oils and chemicals to melt like cheese, I just don’t love them. I’ll eat them once in a while, but I don’t love them. The one “cheese” I like a lot is a vegetable based cheese from Maine based Little Lads which is great on sandwiches. That said, it doesn’t melt at all and forget about it on nacho’s.

I wanted to find a veggie based, low oil, cheese that I could drizzle on nachos.

Something I could dip veggies into.

Something I could eat and not feel like I just ate a pile of chemicals.

I’m not a vegan; I eat meat and I eat some dairy once in a while. I prefer vegan things to be called what they are and not some substitution of something they taste nothing like. It’s not that marinated crumbled tofu isn’t good, but it’s not feta. It’s nothing like it.

Needless to say, I was hopeful but a little skeptical of this nacho “cheese” recipe from Vegan Yumminess. It’s a carrot and potato based recipe (keep reading, I promise). It looked legit. I have to say, it taste pretty darn good to but let’s be frank – this does NOT taste like the Velveeta pumped cheese you get at the ballpark on corn chips. It tastes DELICIOUS though and is as close as I’ve ever tasted from a vegan “cheese”.

Next time I make this I am likely going to add in just a little more salt, some cumin and some cracked red pepper to make a spicy vegan nacho “cheese”, but damn if it isn’t delicious the way it is. Note that once you pour the cheese into a container it will form a thin skin on top of it, but just pull it off – no problem.

Supreme Vegan Nacho's
Quick and easy delicious vegan supreme nachos.
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For the Cheese
  1. Visit the "Adapted From" link above.
For the Nachos
  1. Organic blue corn chips
  2. Re-fried beans (most already are vegan if you read the ingredients, so you likely don't need to splurge on the vegetarian/vegan versions which are more expensive)
  3. Onion
  4. Green Pepper
  5. Fake meat of your choice (optional)
  6. Cumin
  7. Chili
  8. Avocado
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Lime juice (couple teaspoons)
  11. Other veggies/legumes as you like.
For the Cheese
  1. Follow the direction on Vegan Yumminess (link above)
For the Nacho's
  1. Dice the onion and pepper. Add a little water, or oil (NOT BOTH) to the pan. Saute together in a pan with cumin and chili powder to taste. Add salt if preferred. Once translucent and slightly browned remove from the pan.
  2. Add a few teaspoons of water to the pan to loosen browned veggie bits, and add your fake vegan meat to warm through if using.
  3. Dice the avodado into small bits and toss with a little cumin and lemon juice. Set aside.
  4. Dice a couple tomatoes. Set aside.
  5. On a baking pan, layer the chips with re-fried beans, some of the onion/pepper mixture, diced tomatoes, and the fake meat. Drizzle with vegan nacho "cheese". Add a second layer (optional).
  6. Once you've completed your last layer, drizzle with the rest of the nacho cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, just to heat through.
  7. Remove from oven and top with avocado.
  8. Eat!
  1. These are nacho's, not rocket science. Add whatever you'd like to the nacho's. Black beans would be great. Grated carrots would give a sweet crunch. Love taco spice? Add it! These are nacho's - the only requirement are chips and delicious delicious nacho cheese—go to town!
Adapted from Cheese from Vegan Yumminess
Like A Cup of Tea
 I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. This “cheese” is definitely sticking as a regular in our house. Though I have to admit, I think I satisfied my nacho craving for another couple years.