homemade granite cleaner

It’s gonna be a bit of a slower week here at casa marcelli. Why? ‘Cause we are currently up to our elbows in sugar, gingerbread, chocolate, and cookies! And let’s face it – a sugar-induced stupor isn’t entirely conducive to good writing or picture taking.

And, while we’ll be a little quiet around here, I’m sure no one will notice, as you’re all too busy party, party, partying! So, we’ll see you again on the other side.

In the meantime, let’s talk about cleaning supplies. Thrilling, right? (Actually, I am pretty excited about it….)

When we bought our granite (read about it here), we knew that we wanted to do a really good job taking care of it and keep it in really good condition.

One of those things involved getting the proper cleaner for the granite. The problem with granite is that many common cleaning solutions can damage it, or cause it to break down because of the acid. Clearly not something that we want to happen to our beautiful kitchen!

So, when we got the granite, we went ahead and bought granite cleaner. It works for stainless steel as well, so we’ve used it a great deal and have been pretty happy with it. It dries without streaking and is safe for both our appliances and countertops.

The only problem is, we knew we were paying for a bottle that contained mostly water. So, when we ran out of cleaner recently, we decided it was time to figure out how to make our own granite cleaner. After a bit of googling and blog reading, we found our ingredients.

Homemade Granite Cleaner

Water, essential oil, dish soap, rubbing alcohol

The ratio that we found was 2 cups water, 1/4 rubbing alcohol, 3-6 drops of dish soap and 5-10 drops of essential oil. The essential oils mainly just mask the scent of the rubbing alcohol. We ended up adding about 15-20 drops of essential oil because the scent of the alcohol was very strong. Or, perhaps the essential oil we bought wasn’t as strong as others.

DIY Granite Cleaner

We are very excited about our new cleaning solution. In the end, the supplies we bought cost about the same as buying a new bottle of cleaner, but we’ll be able to make 3-4 bottles of cleaner with them. So, we’re doing well! And, not paying for a bottle of water.

Make Your Own Granite Cleaner

Eventually I’d like to put this in a prettier bottle. With a stenciled label. But, that’s likely just because of all the other bloggers out there who have fancy pants cleaning supplies. So, at least for now, I’m resisting the urge to make my cleaning supplies pretty. I mean…really? It cleans well. It’s safe to use – for us and the environment. It minimizes waste. It saves us money. This is a hardworking multi-tasking cleaner! Does it really need to be pretty too? 🙂 Maybe I’ll draw flowers on the bottle and call it a day.

In the meantime, we are thrilled to have our homemade cleaner. It’s working great and saving us money. Next up, homemade stainless cleaner! With flowers on the bottle.


home sweet home ornament

Each year, Rob and I pick a special ornament that captures that year’s Christmas for us. We write the date on them and save them up so that we can remember where we’ve spent each Christmas and what we were doing. For example, the first year we were married we spent Christmas at Disney, so we have a Mickey Mouse Santa hat with the year written on it.

This year, it is our first year to celebrate Christmas in our home, so we wanted something extra special. I looked around a bit and found some adorable ornaments on etsy but they were just too expensive for my taste. Plus, I wanted to bust out some paint.

Handmade First Home Ornament

I wanted to use the bottom of our Christmas tree (what is that called? A stump? A trunk?) for the ornament, but we forgot to get it when we bought our tree! So, one day after work, I went back to Lowes, put on my best Christmas smile, and asked the guys working the tree lot if I could have a Christmas tree stump. They were so sweet to help me out – even going through 4-5 options before they found one I liked! Thank you guys at Lowes!

To dry out the piece of trunk, I put it on some foil and put it in the toaster oven at 100 degrees for a few hours. It worked like a charm! A few days later, I was ready to paint.

Making Ornaments

I just used a sample can of red paint that I had picked up from Lowes earlier this year when I had a “get a free sample” coupon. I got red paint on a whim thinking “I might paint something Christmasy this year!” It worked out perfectly! Since I already had the gold pen as well, it brought the grand total for this project to a whopping $0! (If you didn’t already have the paint and marker on hand, this project would probably cost you an additional $3.99 for the paint and $3.00 for the Sharpie paint pen. The stump/trunk would be free with a smile, of course!)

Homemade Ornament out of Christmas Tree Stump

We’re going to add an eyelet screw to the top so that we can add a hook and hang it from the tree. In the meantime, I’m just pretty excited about my new 2013 Christmas ornament!

First Home Ornament

favorite things 2013

Melissa, from 320 Sycamore is hosting a “My Favorite Things” link party today! I had so much fun looking over some of the other lists, and getting ideas for presents (for next year! Fortunately I’m done this year!!) for people. I thought it would be fun to get in on the action. So here are some of my favorite things this year.

Malley’s Chocolates Dark Chocolate Hawaiian Red Sea Salt Caramels
I grew up going to Malley’s for field trips and getting their chocolate in my Easter baskets and it is simply divine. So really I like nearly anything made by Malley’s chocolates. But their sea salt caramels are a new favorite.

Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea
This year I’ve turned into a cup-of-tea-in-the-afternoon kind of girl. This is one of my absolute favorites. It’s cinnamony. Spicy. A little sweet. Totally feels like a huge indulgence and a respite in the middle of a crazy day.

Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Nonstick Half Sheet Baking Pan
I adore these pans. Rob got them for me for Christmas last year and cooking with them is like magic. Cookies simply slide off the pans. You don’t have to use any butter or cooking spray and they clean up like a breeze. I don’t think I can ever buy another kind of pan.

Bath & Body Works Leaves Candle
By far my favorite fall scent. We’ve had it burning in our house since October. And will probably keep it longer. I know it’s a fall candle, but winter in Texas is a lot like fall in other states, right?

Yes to Tomatoes Daily Balancing Moisturizer
I absolutely love this daily moisturizer. All natural ingredients. All good things for your face. I use it every morning and every evening. It feels light, fresh, and good for your skin.

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
Oh my gosh, this book has changed my life. I got to hear Brené speak at a conference I attended last fall and I may have been brought to tears by her words. I knew I had to buy her book. I’m only about 3/4 of the way finished with Daring Greatly but I know I’m going to have to read it again. I have met myself in the pages of her book. I feel like she’s writing about me. Any other perfectionists out there definitely need to read this book!

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Lavender Dish Soap
We bought our first bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s soap mainly because we liked the bottle. Then, oh my gosh, I fell in love with the scent. I have never enjoyed doing dishes so much. Seriously, the scent is simply intoxicating. The other scents are very nice too, but the lavender scent makes me want to take a bath in dish soap. Mrs. Meyer’s, please develop bubble bath. I will make the entire line profitable single handedly.

Le Creuset French Oven in Caribbean
Not only is this french oven in my absolutely favorite color ever, but it is one of my favorite kitchen items. I cook everything in this pot – chili, pot roast, short ribs, chicken, pasta, stews and more. I’ve even seen recipes for making bread in a french oven. This is one of the single most useful kitchen items that I have.

So, there you have it. Some of my favorite things. What are your favorite things this year?

glass water bottles

You may have seen our fun water bottles in our Thanksgiving post here. If not, here’s a refresher picture.

Thanksgiving Table

See those clear glass bottles on each end of the table? I’ve always loved water bottles like that. They’re elegant, classic, and take up way less room on the table than a pitcher. Plus now that we have the in-fridge water purifier, we don’t use a brita anymore.

So when we knew that we were going to host Thanksgiving at our house, I told Rob that I wanted glass water bottles for the table. The conversation went something like this.

Me: “I’d really like to get glass water bottles for the table. You know, like the ones they have in restaurants. I don’t mean like “water bottles” like the kind you drink out of. They’re more like carafes. With a flip-top seal. Except not.”

Rob: “Oh yeah, I know what you mean.”

I guess the third year of marriage is the one in which you start understanding each other’s unhelpful and descriptions. Yay!

Water Carafes

So I started looking for bottles with my jumbled description. And I discovered they’re crazy expensive! Perhaps it was my poor search terms. But, the prices I found were nuts. Like $12-15 per bottle. And I wanted two! I know, I know, $30 isn’t going to break the bank. But….for a glass bottle? I knew I could do better.

Then I remembered our cousin’s favorite lemonade.

Glass bottles. 750 ml. The flip-top seal. Everything I wanted.

So I bought two (at $3.99 – 10% coupon) and threw them into the sink for an overnight bath. The next day the labels peeled off almost entirely. A paper towel with a little Goo Gone took care of the rest and we were good to go!

Water Bottles

I absolutely love these. They are so useful and are perfect for a dinner party. And for around $7 for two? Yes please!

What about you? Ever take a not-so-traditional route to get the look you want and save some cash?


it’s beginning to look…..

We’re a little maniacal about Christmas around here. The music, the cookies, the traditions, the cards, the nativities, the lights. We love it all.

Front Porch

There’s just something so special about driving down the streets and seeing decorations and lights on all the houses. It brings back warm memories of climbing up on the roof to hang lights, or making thousands (or so it seemed) of bows out of yards of ribbon for the fence posts by our driveway or fighting with my siblings about the best location for each Christmas ornament (Ugly ornaments go on the back of the tree!)

Christmas Tree

I know that Christmas is about so much more than the decorations, the food and the lights. But there’s something about those traditions that remind me of the specialness of Christmas. It’s as if the whole world is shouting “something awesome is coming! Pay attention, everyone – you think this is cool? You haven’t seen anything yet!


We also love cheesy at casa marcelli. Christmas is a time to indulge our inner children without impunity or judgment. I mean, when else can you have a giant inflatable reindeer on your roof without people thinking you’re crazy?

Reindeer on the Couch

So we embrace it. Complete with stuffed animals, Mickey Mouse Santas and a moose that sings “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” (Sorry, no videos.)


We also love homemade decorations. See the stockings there? When we were in school, and we couldn’t afford to spend much on presents, I found those on sale at Target and then embroidered them for Rob for Christmas. (They were originally just screen printed before I added all the embroidery and buttons.)


Even our kitchen got in on the holiday spirit this year, with our Florida-flamingos-wearing-scarves towels. A bit of a nod to the past.

Christmas Kitchen

Little bits of cheer in each room.

Living Room

And a great big homemade wreath to greet you at the front door.

Front Porch Pole

Merry (almost) Christmas, everyone! What is your house looking like? Do you decorate? Leave that to the pros? Enjoy the holiday spirit in quietness and calm? Or are you the one with the inflatable Rudolph on your roof?