You know Hana Haatainen Caye, as The Green Grandma — Green Child Magazine’s own green living and cleaning go-to source. She’s also a wife, mother, and grandmother who shares her passion for common sense green and healthy living. Hana’s book, Vinegar Fridays, came from the most popular section of her blog.
Hana is no stranger to answering questions and dishing out helpful advice. In this Q & A, she gets to talk about herself for once!
GCM: Tell us more about Vinegar Fridays and how your blog inspired you to write it.
Green Grandma: Six months after I started my blog, I launched a weekly feature called Vinegar Fridays. Every Friday, I wrote about vinegar and its many uses and purposes. One year later, I was sitting at my desk staring at a blank screen and thinking, “I have nothing else to say about vinegar!”
I guess I had vinegar burnout, so I wrote a poem to the Green Grandma community announcing the end of Vinegar Fridays. That didn’t go over too well! People were emailing me and calling me saying, “You can’t quit Vinegar Fridays!” So I made them a promise that someday I would put together all the posts into a book. And that’s what I did.
GCM: Why is the book important for families with children in the home?
Green Grandma: It goes without saying that we all should try to eliminate as many toxins from our homes as possible. This is even more important when there are children or pregnant women in the home. My book addresses so many different ways of replacing toxins with vinegar, which is effective and safe. Each chapter in the book deals with a different topic. For instance, Chapter 13 is called Kidstuff and centers on child-related issues, from thrush and cradle cap to safely cleaning toys and getting gum out of their hair!
GCM: So is the book geared mainly toward young families?
Green Grandma: Not at all! As a matter of fact, some of the book’s biggest fans are people in their 70s and 80s! After decades of watching chemicals take over, they are relieved to see some old-fashioned common sense coming back into practice! One woman recently told me that her mother feels validated since reading the book.
Green Grandma: I am a huge pet-lover, so I couldn’t leave pet care out of the book. The next chapter after Kidstuff is Furry, Finned and Feathered Friends and covers pet health, pest control, behavior problems, odor issues, cage and aquarium cleaning, and even getting rid of skunk odor. My favorite use for vinegar with pets is bathing them in apple cider vinegar and water. Their coats are amazingly soft afterwards.
GCM: What’s the toughest cleaning job or stain you’ve ever faced, and how did you tackle it?
Green Grandma: Hmm. I can’t think of anything specific. I guess toilet stains would be one. I just pour vinegar into the toilet and let it soak for awhile and the stains come off. If they’re really tough stains, I dump some baking soda into the toilet and then add the vinegar. It’s like Scrubbing Bubbles without the toxins.
GCM: We know your grandchildren wear cloth diapers. How else are you helping your children to raise your grandchildren as naturally as possible?
Green Grandma: I have two grandchildren, with another one on the way! Cloth diapers were just the start of our path into living greener lives. Cloth diapering and breastfeeding. My daughters also started using vinegar for everything from fabric softening to no-pooing (not using shampoo or conditioner).
Every week, we seem to learn something new and it’s so nice that my daughters are right on board. We share information with each other as we discover it. I think they teach me as much as I teach them!
GCM: What’s the simplest, most effective cleaning tip you’ve ever used?
Green Grandma: There are so many. But one of the easiest solutions to a somewhat nasty job is cleaning the inside of the microwave. Even with splattered, baked on messes, all you have to do is put a microwave-safe glass bowl in the center of the microwave with ½ cup distilled white vinegar and ½ cup water in it. Cook on high for 90 seconds and then let it sit for a few minutes to cool down. Remove the bowl and wipe down the microwave with a damp cloth. And for a bonus: you can deodorize the drain or garbage disposal by pouring a cup of baking soda in and washing it down with the hot liquid. As I say in the book, Waste not, want not!
GCM: Where can readers buy your book?
Green Grandma: Vinegar Fridays is available in various stores in Pennsylvania, as well as Amazon.