Check it out: Use ‘Lemons’ to make a clean home



"Lemons and Lavender: The Eco Guide to Better Homekeeping"

By Billee Sharp; Viva Editions, 263 pages

“Lemons and Lavender: The Eco Guide to Better Homekeeping”

By Billee Sharp; Viva Editions, 263 pages

Do certain skills skip a generation? My mother is the perfect role model when it comes to cleaning, decluttering and organizing a home. I am not. Maintaining a well-organized, well-kept home eludes me. I like to think I picked up many positive habits from my parents, but somehow my wiring shorted out during the “good housekeeping techniques” portion of my childhood. Unfortunately, this translates to my work space, too. When my co-workers look at my messy work space and express concern, I like to explain that what they’re seeing is organized chaos. Apparently I’m oxymoronic as well as disorganized.

Reality is that clutter will dog me for the rest of my piled-up life. So, I have resolved to camouflage … er … beautify the inevitable disorder. The first step is to learn how to do this with minimal impact on my pocketbook and the environment. Enter this week’s book: “Lemons and Lavender.” Focusing on how to live a simpler, D-I-Y way of life, author Billee Sharp shares hundreds of tips and ideas for developing a less expensive, environmentally friendly existence. According to Sharp, one way I can improve my hodgepodge is to clean the disarray with natural products. Information about ingredients for a basic, natural cleaning kit is included, as well as recipes for making a variety of eco-cleaners. This makes sense to me because if I’m destined to be disorganized, the disorganization might as well be non-toxic!

In addition to making housecleaning products, Sharp touts the benefits of making gifts and growing food. This is an aspiration of mine.

Sharing and bartering with others has multiple advantages — the possibility of meeting new friends, lowering grocery bills, and making fewer trips to the mall. Being thrifty, says Sharp “doesn’t mean sacrificing the fun in life.” In fact, “seeking out the free” can be both fulfilling and rewarding.

There is much to learn in this unique home-economics handbook. I’ve already mentioned what I’m taking away — how to keep my pell-mell lifestyle tidier with the assistance of planet-friendly products. When I’ve mastered (well, at least attempted to master) the art of greener cleaning, I can move on to making my own batik T-shirts and sauerkraut. It might be a while, though, before I can meet such lofty goals. I should call Mom and ask for some advice on organizing my home. Maybe it will take hold this time.

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at