If You Care Sponge Cloths: Soaks up Fast & Compostable

I am super picky and wants the best tool for the job. I use Spiff Cloth to clean smooth surfaces like counter tops, stove tops, etc. It’s ultra easy and best at cleaning chrome faucets and mirrors. But it is not the best for soaking up liquid.

In the past, I had tried and posted about other cloths for soaking up liquid. The natural fiber one needed to get a bit wet before taking on the water. The synthetic fiber one has the same issue and it’s not eco friendly.

Why I like If You Care Sponge Cloths

A few years back, I tried If You Care Sponge Cloths. I mostly use it to soak up the water catcher under the dish rack.

  • No waiting. It takes on water immediately and quickly.
  • Drys fast = less smell. I rinse it out and hang it up after use.
  • Durable = money saving. I am only on my 2nd cloth after 2 years. (It may not be the case for you since I only use it to soak up water)
  • Cloths and Packaging are made of natural materials. Cloths: 70% cellulose & 30% cotton, Packaging (plastic looking type): certified compostable corn starch.

Good to Note

  • These will dry in the shape you left them, so if you don’t like uneven cloths, lay them flat to dry.
  • On the compostable part for both the cloths and non-paper packaging: Please ask the local facilities if they would accept these in the compost bin for the garbage pickup. Mine doesn’t, so I will be downgrading my cloths for picking up liquid on the floor eventually.
  • For people who need to, they are machine washable in water up to 190F (88C), up to 300 times. (I don’t need to so I haven’t tried.)
  • They are made in Germany, not USA, That’s why I waited to post this, kept hoping they would.
  • For more product details, visit the If You Care page.

Where to buy

  • Local stores. If you want check it out first, call the stores first to make sure they have them.
  • If You Care web site. Free shipping in USA over $25 of purchase.
  • Amazon. If you decided you like them, keep it on your wish list and watch for deals.

Installing Linux Mint 20.2 Cinnamon on Acer Chromebook 14 CB3-431 (Edgar)

Important update!!! (4/25/2023)

Thanks to Steve, a capable visitor of this post (see comments for our conversation), he has the updated instructions for the installation (make sure to first read point 1 in his notes about the change).

Is This a Good Idea for You? (10/9/2021)

That is for you to decide after you’ve read through what I encountered during installation and initial uses on this model as PURE Linux Mint 20.2 machine. (Take me straight to the instructions.)

What I Went Through

I have some experiences with computers (very little with Linux). It took me more than 7 dedicated days to get Linux Mint installed. The main issue was not having any one particular source to explain the entire process dedicated to the Acer Chromebook 14 CB3-431 (Edgar).

The biggest hurdles for the installation

Verify the Linux Mint ISO image*: This step was difficult unless you already have a Linux system running somewhere. The first time I downloaded the ISO, I was so frustrated I skipped the verification. It was only after I’ve installed Mint was I able to run the Authenticity Check from the Linux Mint terminal window**.

If you want to make sure the downloaded ISO file is safe and error-free, you can verify the ISO as instructed by Linux Mint or search for the solution online for your operating system.

*ISO image is like a digital version of the installation CD.

**Terminal Window is a window that simulates an old physical terminal that only takes text input and displays only text on the screen. And those lines the text input are called Line Commands.

Making a bootable USB for installation: The most popular tool, Etcher, did not work with my Chromebook and the other computer (the OS is too old). After checking other tools, the best solution for me was the Chromebook Recovery Utility extension.

Making the Chromebook boot from USB: Many of the installation instructions online did not mention the need to modify BIOS to allow Chromebook to boot from a non-Chromebook recovery USB. And you have 2 hardware related options for BIOS modification:

  1. A full BIOS rewrite: this option requires opening up the unit and remove the write protection screw but boots up faster.
  2. Only changes the crossystem flag BIOS to allow booting from USB, you don’t need to open your laptop but you will need to press ctrl-l after each power-up and reboot with a much longer boot time.

The instructions here is only for people like me who don’t want to open their laptops. Please read Firmware Utility Script on MrChromebox.tech before choosing an option.

Notable Items During Initial Normal Use

The internal speakers and headphone did not work though I did find a solution.

The top row of the keyboard did not work, I did not find a working solution. And I had to assign them as hotkeys in the end and was not able to get all of them working.

Microphone doesn’t work, no solution so far. On the upside, no one can listen in without you knowing.

Timeshift (like Time Machine in Mac) eats up a lot of drive space which is very limited on this Chromebook. Though Linux Mint asks you to enable in the “Welcome” box, I suggest to only use it with an large external drive if you find Timeshift necessary.

Before You Start

The entire process is long and complicated, I found it useful to print out the instructions I’ve collected, read through them at least once, if not to understand what I am told to do, at least I know what to expect. When I had questions during the process I used the printouts for problem finding and solving.

It’s might also be helpful to have another working computer nearby to follow these instructions during the process or to search for a solution when something unexpected happens.

Phase 1: Preparations

  • Back up all the data on your Acer Chromebook
  • Fully charge your laptop
  • Be patient because it might take many tries to get it just right for you
  • Note the post date is Oct. 9, 2021 so always check if there are up-to-date instructions out there

Phase 2: Make TWO Bootable USBs

You will be using the “Chromebook Recovery Utility Extension” on your Chromebook to make both USBs. Make sure you don’t need anything on these USBs, they will be wiped out.

USB #1: Chromebook Recovery USB

This USB let’s you revert to the Chromebook factory settings if you run into trouble during installation and want to start over.

  1. Have a USB ready (8 GB or larger, note that everything on it will be wiped)
  2. Read the instructions from Chromeready first
  3. Run the “Chromebook Recovery Utility Extension” as instructed
  4. In the “Identify your Chromebook” step, record your model name in case you ever need to make a recovery USB from a Chrome browser on other computers
  5. When the recovery USB is made, click on “Create another” instead of Done.

USB #2: Bootable Linux Mint Installation USB

  1. Download the ISO for Linux Mint Cinnamon by picking a server listed. The file most likely would be in your “Downloads” folders. (Read my note above if you want to verify the ISO image.)
  2. Rename .iso to .bin
  3. Have another USB ready (8 GB or larger, note that everything on it will be wiped)
  4. Make the installation USB by following instructions from Chromeready.

Phase 3: Enable the Development Mode

  1. Follow step 1 to 7 from the “How to Install Linux on a Chromebook” section.
  2. Be prepared for your Chromebook will be wiped back to Factory Settings.
  3. This will take a while, just let the process run on its own until Chrome OS is back again.
  4. At the “Welcome to Chromebook” page, just follow through like you are setting up a new unit using your Chromebook login name and password.

Phase 4: Install Crouton

Crouton allows you to run the script to modify BIOS.

  1. Open a Chrome browser window
  2. Go to the Crouton Usage section in Crouton’s GitHub page.
  3. Read and follow ONLY the “If you’re just here to use crouton” paragraph to download and install Crouton. (NOTE: Press ctrl-alt-t opens a new Terminal Window tab–“Chrosh”)
  4. You can copy each highlighted text, switch to the Crosh window, then right click to paste it.
  5. Keep the Crosh window open, you’ll need it to Modify BIOS

Phase 5: Modify BIOS

This enables you to boot from your installation USB.

I think it’s the best if you know what you are about to do with the BIOS. Read and understand this step by reading everything from MrChromebox.tech. AGAIN, this method is for people who don’t want to open their units to remove the BIOS write protection screw and can tolerate pressing keys and longer boot time after each boot up.

  1. Open “ChromeOS Firmware Utility Script” page
  2. Below the “IMPORTANT” heading, find “To download and run this script under ChromeOS, from a terminal/shell type:” paragraph
  3. Copy and paste the commands into Chrosh as before.
  4. At the “ChromeOS Device Firmware Utility” screen, enter “1” then “y”
  5. Back at the main menu, press “p” to power off.

Phase 6: Booting from the installation USB

  1. Insert the installation USB if it’s not already
  2. Press the power key
  3. At the “Verification is off” screen, press ctrl-l
  4. Choose “Start Linux Mint” and hit Enter

Phase 7a: Test run Linux Mint

Leave it to let Linux Mint from the USB, so you can try it without a actual installation.

Phase 7b: Install Linux Mint

  1. If you are ready to install click on the Install Linux Mint icon. (ChromeOS will now be wiped out for good.)
  2. Use the Linux Mint installation guide as a reference
  3. Read my note on Timeshift before enabling it as the “welcome” window suggests

Phase 8: Fix sound, keyboard, and microphone issues

Fixes for Ubuntu-based Distros” provide the fixes to speaker, headphone output problems.

The keyboard fix there didn’t work for me. I did manual hotkey set up for as many top row keys as I could.

I was unable to find solution to make the internal microphone work.

Normal Booting Process

  • You will always have to press ctrl-l at each power-up and restart
  • Never press spacebar at the “Varification is off” screen
  • It seems to take much longer to get to the login screen, that is normal

Problems? Errors?

I reverted the Acer back to factory settings to write this post as I went through the installation, hopefully I didn’t miss anything. If you feel more details is needed when you go through it, please leave a comment and help other people out. Thank you!

Organic Kitchen Cloths, Made in USA

Though the hand towel size kitchen towel comes in handy when moving hot dishes, it’s too large and too thick for my liking. Good thing I found some USA made kitchen cloths that work for me.

City Threads Organic Cotton Kitchen Towels

  • Use to dry and clean my hands when I cook
  • Made in USA
  • 100% organic unbleached cotton (imported)
  • Thin (drys fast = no funky smell) yet absorbent
  • Easy to wash by hand (I got some sauce on it once, I washed it immediately with Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap then wrung it dry which I couldn’t do with the large, thick kitchen towel.)
  • Machine wash and dry
  • Durable (been using them for a little more than a year, the fabric holds up pretty well. The color looks better than in my photo. Click to enlarge the image below.)
City Threads Organic Cotton Kitchen Towels after 1 year of use

Good to note

  • My City Threads 17″ x 17″ towels shrinks to about 14.5″ x 15.25″ after washing (measured without starching it smooth)
  • They also come in 11″ x 11″
  • Trims come in other colors, too

Marley’s Monsters Reusable Organic UNpaper Towel

  • For drying my hands in general
  • Made in USA
  • 100% organic cotton (may use both US and imported materials)
  • A little thicker than the City Threads towels
  • Machine wash and dry

Good to note

  • These came in 10″ x 12″. After many washes, these shrunk to about 9.5″ x 10.75″
  • They are flannel so they do pill (click on the image below to enlarge, color looks better to me than on the screen)
Marley's Monsters Reusable Organic UNpaper Towel used condition

Buying options

These cloths helped me use much less paper towels, but I still use them for specific reasons. So, I do try my best to get the most out of them.

P. S. Want more USA made goods? See what else I actually use or shop at my Made in USA Amazon Store.

Reduce, Reuse, Compost My Paper Towels

To be a friend to the Earth in the kitchen, of course it’s best to use only washable towels but I still prefer paper towels in certain situations. For example, I just can’t use towels washed with laundry detergent to dry my produce and knives.

So I do my best to get as much out of each sheet as I can. The trick is to down grade the use as the paper towel gets dirtier. Below, I list the usages with the conditions of the paper towel before and after.

Wrapping Cleaned Greens for Fridge Storage

[ New —> Kind of Clean]

Drying Washed Plates/Utensils for Immediate Use

[New —> Pretty Clean]

Tork HK1975A Perforated Roll Towel
  • For this, I use Tork HK1975A Perforated Roll Towel because of its chlorine-free processing (Green Seal Standard GS-1) and other features
  • Folded paper towel absorbs more water and less likely to tear
  • I sometimes let it air dry on a clean tray, then reuse it for the same purpose

Hand Drying

[New –> Pretty Clean]

  • I use this sheet only after I washed my hands with soap and water
  • I don’t use it for other purposes until it needs to be down graded
  • For repeat use, I use Viva for it’s durability
  • Between uses, I spread it to air dry
  • I still use cloth towel unless I will be eating with my hands (pizza, fruits, etc.)

Soaking up Oil / Cleaning Food Scraps Before Dish Washing

[Kind of Clean —> Not too Clean/Compost]

  • I do this before/instead of rinsing before washing dishes
  • This saves on soap and water because the dishes are now easier to clean
  • Super effective on oily plastic containers
  • When the paper towel has done all it can, I put it in the compost bin for garbage collection (might not work well in the home compost pile)

Prepare Items for Recycling

[Not too clean —> Compost]

  • I clean out the oil and food residues in containers before recycling them
  • I can avoid or reduce the use of soap and water since items don’t need to be food safe clean
  • At this stage, the sheet then goes straight to the compost bin

This strategy might not work for you but you get the idea. I almost never use paper towels outside of the kitchen but the same idea applies, only it might not be compost safe because of the chemicals in your cleaners.

Made in USA Unbleached Paper Towels, 100% Recycled Fiber

I wanted an eco option to replace Viva paper towels. I ended up choosing Tork HK1975A Perforated Roll Towel.

Though it turned out not durable enough like Viva for repeat use, Tork is my first choice in other uses. Also, when I can avoid using paper towels, I use two kinds of USA made cloth towels for drying hands and food preparation.

Why I Like It

  • 100% recycled fiber (85% min. post-consumer, EPA compliant)
  • Chlorine-free processing (Green Seal Standard GS-1)
  • Certified compostable
  • Made in USA
  • Individually wrapped (necessary because they come in a large cardboard box)
  • Cheaper per sheet compared to the leading brand


  • Folded sheet works better when drying items
  • Make it even greener by using each sheet multiple times
  • Make sure the material picked up with the paper towel is compost safe before putting it in your compost bin for garbage services
  • Keep the plastic wrap clean and recycle with the grocery bags
  • I was only able to get them in bulk (12 rolls/box)

P. S. Want more USA made goods? See what else I actually use or shop at my Made in USA Amazon Store.

Wash & Protect Hands: Skin Saving Soaps-Lotion Combo

What is Drying Your Skin?

Washing hands literally saves your skin in more ways than one, especially when healthy skin is often our first line of defense. But are you paying attention to what is aggravating your skin other then the act of frequent hand washing?

Blisters on the back of my hand caused by an enzyme base laundry detergent

Few years back, I had a spell of skin break-out from using a new laundry detergent. I got better after switching back to my old detergent but I noticed my hand washing and dish washing soaps also caused tiny blisters and persistent dryness despite the constant application of lotion.

I went through various products until I found these three natural/organic items and have been using them more than a year.

Happy You, Happy Skin

And of course, when you take good care of your mind, body, and spirit, your skin bounces back faster. As I recovered from the break-out, I’ve eliminate certain food and used various methods to heal myself.

And now, unless I am washing my hands or dishes from cooking all day long, I only need to put the lotion on my hands once before bed.

Hand Washing Soap

Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Baby Unscented Liquid Soap

Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Baby Unscented Liquid Soap for Hand Washing
Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps are Made in USA

[Unscented] If you have any kind of skin or respiratory issues, always start with a clear, fragrance free version.

[Customizable] The beauty of the unscented soap is that you get to make it yours by adding essential oils you already have. This way you get to change it up as often as you like.

If you are like me, you’ll need this list of trusted and not too expensive brands recommended by a friend experienced in using essential oils. All three companies list the country of origin, a good thing!

[Money Saving] One 32 oz bottle will last you a while because you really need to dilute it. I didn’t knew about this the first time I tried it and it took me a while to wash it all off. So, check their dilution cheat sheet before first use.

You can adjust the ratio to your liking. I do 1 part soap to 5 part water, only pump out a few drops each time so I don’t have to refill as often. Again, it may feel very watery but it foams up well.

Dish washing Soap (for washing by hands)

ATTITUDE Dishwashing Liquid, Fragrance Free, Sensitive Skin, Hypoallergenic

The colloidal oatmeal is the key ingredient that keeps my skin happy. I also noticed that I don’t need to use extra amount just because it’s an “eco” soap.

I had a sticker shock when I first saw it on Amazon. So I tried using Dr. Bronner’s for dish washing for a while but I didn’t like it and it dried my skin out more than I expected though it did not cause blisters.

Out of desperation, I bought one bottle to test. Lucky for me, I like how my skin was not nearly as dry as using other products. I then ordered direct from Attitude (Canada) to get it at the actual price. I also bought in bulk to save on shipping and get the discount.

If you are new to Attitude online shop, you can get $20 off and I get 10% off after you completed a purchase.

Or, if your skin is not as “princessy” as mine, you might consider other options they offer. These have a more reasonable prices.

[ UPDATE 4/30/21 ] ATTITUDE no longer produces “ATTITUDE Sensitive Skin, Hypoallergenic Dishwashing Liquid, Fragrance Free” that I recommended. Instead, I have replaced and tested the “Baby Bottle & Dishwashing Liquid” under their Sensitive Home Cleaning line. The image shown is the latest look which may be different from it’s Amazon product page.

Hand Lotion

Gabriel (White Seaweed) Healing Hand & Body Lotion

Gabriel Organics are Made in USA
  • Fast absorption, not oily
  • A drop the size of a dime covers both hands and wrists. a little goes a long way.
  • Keep skin moisturized longer (no frequent application needed)
  • Gabriel Green” recycle program: send empties back and get a free product

Find Your Own Combo Set

Even though these products work for me, they may not be for you. In this case, a safe start would be to search on EWG.org (The Environmental Working Group) in Skin Deep guide and Cleaning Product guide.

P. S. Want more USA made goods? See what else I actually use or shop at my Made in USA Amazon Store.

Stop Rejecting Tailor-Made Gifts

I have been rejecting tailor-made gifts all my life! This revelation came from latest of these dumb moves.

Though I’ve been practicing using pendulum everyday for a while, I still get so frustrated at times. I just wanted to be as skilled and reliable as the experienced dowsers I know. I wanted my results to be accurate and reliable NOW so I can actually solve problems with efficiency.

But I was only seeing the forests, other people’s forests. I ignored what it takes for each tree to grow from a seed to a strong and sturdy tree. Even each ring in a tree trunk is an indispensable part of building an impressive forest. And I have been discounting many of my “rings” all my life.

The pendulum had led me to several random and unrelated pieces of information that only after research and talking with knowledgeable friends I learned how relevant they all were to one particular problem. They were the tailor-made signs to show the progress of my efforts and I chose not to accept them as my rewards because they weren’t the grand prize I wanted.

In the end, the obstacle of my pendulum problem, as well as in other areas of my life, was me! But no more! I am hanging each “ring” under a spotlight, celebrate it, then accept it into my being with gratitude.

Pendulum: Tips for the Frustrated Beginners

The most frustrating phase for a pendulum newbie is the “accuracy uncertain” period. It’s worse than getting it wrong all the time. Lucky for me, I received excellent tips from friends skilled in the art of pendulum.

If you are a super fresh newbie, first search online for basic instructions. These tips are more for people who have started trying but just can’t be accurate and consistent.

Carry the Pendulum with You

The first day I did it, though only for 3-4 hours, I started getting better results and it was not a from something like “I live on the Earth”. These answers were for Bengston charged cotton (in %) and other items that required number values.

Tried? Nap and Try Again Later

Writing from experience, using the pendulum while your energy is low results in even more inconsistent and inaccurate outcomes than your actual skill might produce. This can only lead to more frustration.

Ground Yourself Before Practice

You can use any energy grounding method you know, I use the white light meditation from Dougall Fraser.

I happened to have just gotten his 10 Color Meditations as a bonus when I bought Your Life in Color. Now I have the 9-minute version on my mp3 player. The deal is still good as of today, 9/27/2019, not sure when it will end so check here if the book is already on your wish list.

Ask for Divine Help

It could be from any higher power of your choosing. I just go with my spirit guides. So far, I’ve only asked for accuracy and precision since what I need is usually a number. And depending on your purpose, add things like “for the healing of” or “for the highest good of”. Remember to thank your spirit guides and the pendulum for their assistance.

Use a Statement Instead of a Question

It’s easier for the pendulum to react to a statement. Try asking yourself “Am I feeling well?” and then say to youself “I am feeling well.” see how different they feel. The statement leave less leeway in your reponse which reflects the same effect in the pendulum’s movement.

Feel the Swing

Tune into the pendulum‘s movements as you practice. Eventually, you will be able to sense the energy in the movements and the knowing that it’s not directed by your conscious intent but by the shared universal intelligence.

Still Stuck?

Get more help from David and Erina Cowan!

In their video, Dowsing with David and Erina Cowan, they explain the background and basics of dowsing then they go through and debug many issues that might be preventing you from getting quality results.

In their book, Dowsing Beyond Duality: Access Your Power to Create Positive Change, you can get more details about clearing using a pendulum. The book also show you how to use your pendulums to solve many problems.

I also use the 0-10 chart in the book vs. narrowing the range statements to see if the numbers from both are the same. And the results are at most 1 point off when they are not way off from each other. So the chart is also a helpful validation tool.

Trust You Can + Practice, Practice, Practice!

Confidence and training are the two things both of my friends mentioned. I am definitely doing better as I practice a little everyday. So, stop saying you are bad at this and keep trying!

Day Dreaming: Don’t Do What I Did

Visualizing a desired future with all senses and emotions is a key element for manifesting and I have never been good at it. One day when I was chatting with a friend. The awkward pauses in the conversation gave me pause.

A Typical Example

Friend:I want to have my wedding at the Grand Floridian in Disney World.
Me:Why? It’s so muggy there, you’re going to be miserable in your wedding dress. Can’t even imagine how the guys are going to survive in their tuxes.
[ — 1 micro pause — ]
Friend:I will just have the wedding in the winter. Their holiday decorations are legendary, even a life-size gingerbread house.
Me:Well, you better start saving your money now. I’m pretty sure Grand Floridian is the most expensive resort there. You and your guests will end up spending 10x more than other destination weddings.
[ — 2 micro pauses — ]
Friend:By that time, my future husband and I will be very successful, each doing what we love. We’d have enough to take everyone with us on a vacation!
Me:How are you going to find that husband? You just started this job, you don’t even have time to date.
[ — a very long pause — ]

This is the point the friend would change subject. Mind you, I would know 100% that she was not really wedding planning but I just had to inject real world considerations. In the process, I destroyed the excitement and dampened the potentiality of her having an amazing husband, a great career, and a wonderful nuptial celebration.

The Troubles of a Realist

Though I was never that bad, I did take the fun out of day dreaming for everyone, myself included. After some contemplation, I think I might have found the first two bugs in my visualization process.

Being practical = attachment to the outcome

Attachement and control hurt the manifesting process
Letting go = vision to reality

This is a big no-no for manifesting as you may already know. Being a realist ties your vision firmly into the known world in which your vision can only ever stay a vision.

The act of surrendering detaches your vision to the existing energy configuration, allowing your vision to first take shape in the energy field, arranges “coincidences” that eventually lead you to your manifested vision.

Being practical = being a control freak

Most of us tries to control how things go in our lives and while it’s crucial for a functional life, it prevents your dreams from manifesting.

To me, this control smells more like the fear of loss and failure. We want so much for the vision to come true, we can’t help but confine ourselves with “reality”. That backfires because we don’t yet know how the Universe works, this control builds the impenetrable walls that box in what is and keep out what is possible.

I am so grateful that my enlightened friends for not dumping this dream crusher and I am happy to report that there are no more pauses while we day dream together.

…I am visualizing myself day dreaming away, soaring free, and the sky is no limit.

You Can Recycle Incandescent Light Bulbs?!

Yes, I recycled incandescent light bulbs! At my local IKEA!

It is right by the exit where I passed by many, many times. How in the world did I miss the lovely recycle station there? Oh, right, on every visit, I actively avoid buyer’s remorse and not hanging out at IKEA for fun.

Other than incandescent light bulbs, my local IKEA takes fluorescent light bulbs, plastic bags (the grocery store bins are always overflowing and often mistaken as the garbage can), and their old catalogs/paper. I’ve found other locations taking cardboard and batteries.

But I am not sure if every store accepts the same things, so make sure you look for the recycle station the next time you visit your local IKEA.