“Thank you, Cindy”

5 Comments
I took this picture just before going to meet with Charlotte. I had no idea what to expect.

I took this picture just before going to meet with Charlotte. I had no idea what to expect.

I began my career as a stay-at-home mom when my youngest olive shoot was 18 months old. I had experienced a spiritual conversion to Christianity in December 1997 and instantly felt the Lord beckon me to be more present with my husband and family.

What I didn’t know is that just before leaving the corporate world, apparently I had made a profound impact on a person’s life. Honestly I only have a vague recollection of the small effort I exerted. A competent professional was deserving of the referral I offered. For me it was no big deal, a no-brainer. But for Charlotte, it was life-changing. Don’t we all want to positively influence others and make a difference?

Today, I’m privileged to have Charlotte as a guest blogger. I’m sharing her words with you today to encourage YOU.

Charlotte carefully wrapped a beautiful gift for me. She even carefully picked the ribbon.

Charlotte carefully wrapped a beautiful gift for me. She even carefully picked the ribbon.

Now, here’s Charlotte…

In 1997, Cindy recommended me to one of her corporate clients. Fifteen years later, I am still providing consulting services for that company. My sincere thanks to Cindy for the referral and for her confidence in me and my business. I met with her a few weeks ago to celebrate the 15 years and to give her a special gift. As I reflected on the great gift she gave me in 1997, I thought of these “Three R’s”:

Receive – Through Cindy’s generosity, I was given an opportunity to receive. It was clear that I could never repay her for what she did for me. Yet I could pray for her, for peace and prosperity in her life. In addition to the gift of the referral, it is a gift to be able to receive without any strings attached.

Remember – I am intentional about remembering those who have blessed my life and my business. Cindy’s name remains on that list. Though I could never repay Cindy for her generosity, I do take time to remember her and to express my appreciation. This year when we met, I gave her a gift of art and it was a total surprise. We shared updates with each other and through our laughter and tears, we remembered, reflected, and relaxed.

I just sat there stunned at the kindness. I had no idea.

I just sat there stunned at the kindness. I had no idea.

Repeat – Another way to express my appreciation for the referral from Cindy is to make sure I support others by making referrals, connecting people, and cheering them on as they pursue their dreams. Each time I do so at the company I mentioned, Cindy’s one act of generosity in 1997 continues to be shared with others.

This is Charlotte!

This is Charlotte!

Thank you, Cindy. You have made a big difference in my life, my family, and my business. May God continue to bless you and your family today and always.

With a grateful heart,
Charlotte

Whether you are a professional career person, a retiree, a college student or a stay at home mom with a side business selling soap nuts and stuff (um, that would be me!), employ the three “R’s” more often. Your efforts, however seemingly insignificant they may seem at the time, can bless others in ways you never imagined. Expressing gratitude can help move someone from the miry pit to a place of hope. Charlotte did that for me and I guess I did the same for her. Blessings replete with potential and healing await, truly!

What “R” are you going to do today?

Charlotte Purvis is a communication coach and highly rated professional speaker. Since 1985, she has partnered with individuals and organizations seeking to take their communication skills, customer service, and presentation styles to the next level. She’s also a lovely and generous person I call friend. To contact Charlotte, here’s a link  and her email  charlotte@purviscommunications.com. 

Advertisements

Five wonderful adventures with Flat Stanleyette

Leave a comment

Yesterday my niece got my returned package with Flat Stanleyette. I know this because I had the pleasure of talking to my niece for nearly an hour about it! In this crazy, mixed up world we live in, it does an aunt good to know her niece was happy at school all day long.

I promised A. I would share more about our paper friend’s adventures. It was an honor to host both of the Flat Stanley’s we’ve had recently. We did our best to show them some southern hospitality.

Here are a few other things Flat Stanleyette experienced.

"I'm a Flat Stanley fan!"

“I’m a Flat Stanley fan!”

1. Flat Stanleyette went with me to the Raleigh/Durham INTERNATIONAL airport!  We picked up Aaron who is a college student at Moody Bible Institute. Christmas music filled the air even though it was a few days before Thanksgiving. A spirit of cheer and excitement was everywhere as many people waited to greet their loved ones. As I was waiting, I noticed a group of musicians playing Caribbean music by the luggage carousel. That’s when Flat Stanleyette and I looked at each other. Her big blue eyes met mine and I knew I had to do it. I approached the lead musician and asked, “Would you mind taking a picture with Flat Stanleyette?” Without a hint of embarrassment, he heartily agreed! He told me his daughter had also had a FS and she went around with him! How cool is that!

Aaron meets Guinea pig girl Wilma and Flat Stanleyette for the very first time. No words.

Aaron meets Guinea pig girl Wilma and Flat Stanleyette for the very first time. No words.

"Um, um, um, we thought Aunt Cindy was getting facial moles removed! YIKES!"

“Um, um, um, we thought Aunt Cindy was getting facial moles removed! YIKES!”

2. On another note, FS showed great bravery by accompanying me to the plastic surgeon’s office. I decided to get FOUR facial moles removed. There are three words to describe the event

1. ewww

2. ouch

3. scary

Flat Stanleyette and Guinea pig girl Cora kept me company and tried to distract me but it really didn’t work. I will spare you details but we all decided it was something we’d rather not do again.  Glad they’re off my face but not the most fun thing we’ve ever done. Understatement.

Look at this beautiful couple on their wedding day! Flat Stanleyette thought you two were sooooooo in <3!

Look at this beautiful couple on their wedding day! Flat Stanleyette thought you two were sooooooo in <3!

3. Uncle Mark and Grandpa Hugh piled Flat Stanleyette into the car and they drove to a wedding in the mountains. Hopefully she kept the two guys under control and they weren’t too crazy! The bride and groom were happy to get a picture of FS!

4. I also took Flat Stanleyette and bestie Erma to my weekly Bible Study. We are studying the book of Psalms in the Bible and FS even had her own seat. She told me afterward that she learned a lot and thought the ladies were all super duper nice and interesting. Flat Stanleyette has noticed how many people smile every time they see her. I noticed the same thing.

A few of the ladies in my Bible Study! They welcomed Flat Stanleyette with open arms and hearts! Such a pretty bunch of women!

A few of the ladies in my Bible Study! They welcomed Flat Stanleyette and Erma with open arms and hearts! Such a pretty bunch of women!

FS at the Farmers' Market. Maybe this is where she lost a few of her fingers. Oops!

FS at the Farmers’ Market. Maybe this is where she lost a few of her fingers. Oops!

5. Another highlight of her time with us was going to the Raleigh Farmers’ Market. Aunt Cindy knows about a special place at the farmers’ market where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables for less money. We bought potatoes, persimmons, sweet potatoes and other lovely, healthy foods. Aaron went with us and he’s always a bunch of fun! When they got home, Ike and FS noticed that I put the potatoes in the dishwasher. It was everyone’s first time to see potatoes cleaned that way! Not sure we’ll do it again but YOLO, right?

"Ok, so are we really going to put the potatoes in the dishwasher?" Ike and Flat Stanleyette wonder why.

“Ok, so are we really going to put the potatoes in the dishwasher?” Ike and Flat Stanleyette wonder why.

Being an aunt is a blessed thing.

Adventures with Flat Stanleyette, part two

Leave a comment
"I've never dehydrated anything before! This should be interesting!"

“I’ve never dehydrated anything before! This should be interesting!” Flat Stanleyette pictured with dehydrated cauliflower and an undehydrated butternut squash. Huh…

I certainly hope (and pray) that my niece, A., had a good day at school on Friday. Friday would have been a very important day to have a regular, wonderful time as an elementary school student.

These are soap nuts and this is the way Aunt Cindy and her family wash their clothes!

These are soap nuts and this is the way Aunt Cindy and her family wash their clothes!

My niece’s Flat Stanleyette hopefully arrived at school along with a box of surprises. Yesterday would have been a fitting day for happiness to fill a classroom…

Here are a few of the highlights –

1. Flat Stanleyette learned about soap nuts sold by Olive Shoot Institute. This is our family’s small business. This is the way we do laundry! At first FS thought we were crazy even though she appreciated the fact that soap nuts are 100% biodegradable, organic and natural. To think that there are trees in India that produce a berry which clean clothes blew her paper mind. However, when she noticed that our clothes smelled fresh and clean, our towels were fluffy and fresh, she became a true believer. Upon her insistence, I gave her some soap nuts to bring back home.

Flat Stanleyette noticed that sometimes Ike would like to eat a dorito.

Flat Stanleyette noticed that sometimes Ike would like to eat a dorito.

2. We kept her busy dehydrating and learning about preparing healthy food. She helped slice the fruit and vegetables, place it on our Excalibur dehydrator trays and spritz some lemon juice on things to keep it from turning gross colors. She helped make vegetable powders with our Vita-Mix and imagined all the ways they could be put into soups, etc.

3. Sometimes FS looked surprised when we told her we eat persimmons, kale, spinach and banana chips. We don’t always eat organic stuff or healthy things but we wanted her to try new things and expand her palate. When Flat Stanleyette returned home, she brought dehydrated banana chips, persimmons and apple slices. She was super excited to share them with the kids. Hope you guys liked them!

4. Our paper friend joined me in learning how to make fabric bowls. “Wow, this takes a lot of skill and patience!” she declared one afternoon. FS went to bed very tired that night with a slight headache.

A collage of fun!

A collage of fun!

5. It was her first time at a high school men’s basketball game and as expected, FS drew a lot of attention. Thankfully, her new best friend Erma helped her deal with all the looks and stares. Erma is a Guinea pig girl doll and proud of it! They both agreed everybody was probably jealous of their beauty. It was a fast-paced game and she is now the biggest fan of #21 whom she began calling “Lebron” even though he is an orange hair, freckle face teenager. The coach really wanted to get a picture with FS following their big win.

Flat Stanleyette and Erma became fast friends and cheered on the team!

Flat Stanleyette and Erma became fast friends and cheered on the team!

Are you a Soaky McSoaker?

3 Comments

“The treadmill routine of the week is: washing, baking, ironing, fixing dried fruit, airing clothes, sewing, cleaning, baking and cleaning again. So it goes week after week. Eating and drinking, cooking and cleaning, scrubbing and scouring we go through life; and only lay down our implements at the verge of the gravel!…You bake, and boil, and fry, and stew; worry and toil, just as if the people’s principle business in this world was to learn how much they could eat-and eat it.” Jane G. Swissholm, Letters to Country Girls, 1853.

I love Helen Nearing’s book Simple Food for the Good Life. Filled with recipes and pithy sayings, I selected the above quote from Nearing’s book because it sums up my average day. I try not to find drudgery in homemaking and consider a skill, a privilege and a science. Our world has belittled the career of motherhood and domesticity. Most of us don’t teach these skills to our children and then don’t understand why our kids can’t take care of themselves, eat horribly and have homes in disarray when they are older. My three sons are ages 22, 18 and almost 16 and they know I’m on a mission to change that. They make a mama proud. God gave me three olive shoots for a reason and in general, I like how they’re sprouting up to be competent, Jesus loving, strong men who can also throw down.

But today I want to write about pre-soaking grains and seeds literally. I am a total neophyte in this arena. A caveat, please correct any of the information I am going to share as my desire is to contribute to the discussion. Add to the conversation also, I want to learn.

But first, did you know about 15 years ago, I had a funny flax seed story published in a book? It’s true! I shall soon share. It’s about Nate, brownies and a little bit of trickery on my part.

Do you want to hear a super creepy story in the interim? I had a friend whose boyfriend had his wisdom teeth extracted. He ate pizza a few days post-surgery. A few days after that, the guy went into the bathroom and screamed to his girlfriend to come right away. She rushed right in and there he was mouth agape. He said, “@*&@!!,” pointed and she spotted it. Back where one of the wisdom teeth had once lived, a tiny sprout had grown in its place! Can you imagine what it would have been like to pull a small plant out of a hole in your mouth! I would have Instagrammed it.

If you thought the only time you sprouted a seed was before you planted it or following dental surgery (!), here are some things to know.

Sprouted seeds

Sprouting biologically activates the seed and makes the plant proteins, essential fatty acids, starches and vitamins bio-available.

Flax seeds are hard for our body to digest. They have natural enzyme inhibitors which prevent digestion. There is much to love about flax seeds – their crunch, color, flavor, even tactically, put your hand in a bag of flax seeds before and after you buy them from Whole Foods and you’ll notice their silky texture. Let’s just say I “know” someone who does this. You’d really like her. 😉

Despite a flax seed’s many attributes, though I don’t need a stomach ache. My family will usually try anything I make but if they have a bad reaction or don’t like it, I’m done. They won’t revisit it. Ask them about kale cake. Gigantic epic fail. If you’re sensitive or allergic to certain grains, soak your whole grains beforehand, in a salt brine, anywhere from 7-24 hours and it will probably lessen the symptoms. Oh, and don’t ever make kale cake. Ever.

Use warm water. It coaxes the enzymes out of their little crusty shell. Don’t soak them too long or they will grow bacteria. I think I did this for you, so trust me. Last year I made a batch of granola. I was a Soaky McSoaker and soaked the oats in a mixture of keifer, coconut oil, butter and water. Recipe said overnight but I pushed it a little. This resulted in a granola which brought facial expressions reminiscent of kale cake. I fed the trash can, not the Hubs or my OS that time. Duly noted.

SueGregg.com puts it this way,  pre-soaking, “allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also to break down complex starches, irritating tannins and difficult-to-digest proteins including gluten.”

Here are some great websites with additional information. I’m giving them mad props for their discoveries and information. They’re not quite as humorous but super helpful.

Passionatehomemaking.com

The Nourishing Gourmet

and in case you’re interested in soap nuts, which are not edible but organic, biodegradable and incredible, 100% natural laundry soap, there’s always

Olive Shoot Institute!

Let’s be Soaky McSoakers, kk?

Scrubbing Bubbles and the middle school maid

2 Comments

To make money for clothing and important things like makeup and Bonne Bell flavored lipgloss, I babysat and cleaned houses in middle school.

Stay away from me, Mr. Scrubbing Bubbles!

Scrubbing Bubbles was a new product and the commercials with cartooned, mustachioed scrubbing bubbles made me chuckle. Do you remember the birth of Scrubbing Bubbles or is that before your time?

Well one day, I was cleaning a shower stall. The shower door was closed and I began to coat the tile with a thick layer of Scrubbing Bubbles. As if I were attacking a blaze and holding a fire extinguisher, I doused that sucker. Every tile square received a foamy blast. I wanted to unlock all the cleaning power contained in the Scrubbing Bubbles. As an adolescent fashionista, I needed to keep my job; customer satisfaction, don’t you know.

In the shower stall with the Scrubbing Bubbles can, I prepared to remove all the goo and grime off the tile but then I began having trouble breathing. I didn’t collapse but I began to choke. Since I was a boy crazy, junior high girl, I doubt I had the wits to know to open the door. If Michael Jackson, Keith Partridge or Bobby Sherman would have come to rescue me that would have been a different story but that didn’t happen. I had an epiphany though, something in those Scrubbing Bubbles was rockin’ my world/body. With the door closed, I surely inhaled a fury of aerosol and chemicals.

Screen shot of Scrubbing Bubbles info on the Environmental Working Group

The more I read about chemicals and toxins in cleaning products, the more I wonder exactly what I breathed in that afternoon. When I use soap nuts, I don’t have anything to worry about. I use Extreme 18X (which is a super concentrated version of soap nuts that goes a long way) or make some soap nut “tea” and I don’t need rubber gloves. I’m never concerned about adaquate ventilation either. Did you know that according to the Environmental Working Group, many of the Scrubbing Bubbles products are rated D or F? In my extended family, we have asthma, COPD, migraines and allergies – my loved ones don’t need to be breathing toxins any more than I did as a middle school “maid.”

Obviously I don’t have the original bottle of Scrubbing Bubbles. But this is what the label says now CAUTION: EYE IRRITANT. READ BACK PANEL CAREFULLY. / CAUTION: EYE IRRITANT. Contains lactic acid, solvents and surfactants. Avoid contact with eyes, skin and clothing. Wash thoroughly after handling. May cause respiratory irritation if used with inadequate ventilation. FIRST AID: EYES AND SKIN: Immediately rinse eyes and skin with plenty of water. If irritation persists, seek medical advice. INHALATION: If breathing is affected, get fresh air. CHEMICAL HAZARD: Never use or mix with bleach-containing products or other household cleaners as hazardous fumes may be released. KEEP OUR OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND PETS.

“One day, gf, you’re gonna write about that weird time when Scrubbing Bubbles nearly jacked you up.”

Funny, isn’t it, the weird memories our minds retain? For me it was this strange encounter with a cleaning product. There are greener, safer alternatives for cleaning our bodies, homes and clothes. Soap nuts work. They are 100% organic, biodegradable and effective. Your family deserves someone to be an advocate and a savvy consumer and that’s probably you. Take a look at the products under your sink, read the labels. Look beyond what the brand name company websites tell you about the chemicals they are using. Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts. I welcome them, this is a journey. Here are two other independent reviews of soap nuts also. Check out spoonfulatatime and naturallifemom. I highly recommend these websites for their wealth of information in general.

What makes you buy certain cleaning products?

4 Comments

laundromat in France. Thanks to Paul Filleau for supplying this cool pic! Merci bien!

I never really considered the chemicals used in everyday cleaning supplies and laundry until January 27, 2012. That’s when I became a half-century old and my first order of soap nuts arrived.

Now I pay attention. I read labels, get angry and frankly, feel kinda duped about all the crud I have unknowingly put into my body and offered to my family without any concern.

I don’t appreciate people overwhelming me with scary facts if I’m not ready for them. Maybe you’re the same way and I totally respect that. But here’s what I want to do and I hope to be consistent.

I want to occasionally offer blog posts about cleaner, greener living and help you as my friends become more savvy, questioning consumers.

Here is the ingredient used in soap nuts…SOAP NUTS! That’s it!

The soap nuts thing intrigued me because I thought they sounded funny. Soap “nuts,” really? I’m the mama of three boys so yes, I did chuckle and you probably know why… I had never heard of such a thing. How could some soap nuts, berries from a tree in the Himalayas clean my family’s clothes? When they arrived, I was skeptical but eager to try them. Even though it was my birthday, I sacrificially scrounged up some dirties and put them to their first challenge. I’ve been a soap nut nut ever since. The concept of cleaning my clothes more naturally appeals to me as a wife, mother and consumer.

How’s this for vague product labeling? Hrmph

One thing led to another and in August, I began my own business, Olive Shoot Institute selling soap nuts and related products. It’s a weird compilation of olive shoot stuff but yeah, somehow it works.

All I wanted to do was clean some clothes but this has unleashed a passion. Armed with knowledge, maybe I can help you make informed decisions. I don’t think we should be bamboozled or especially trusting of the cleaning/beauty/personal care industry.

Here’s something to look at the next time you are getting ready to do a load of wash or clean your house. Read the list of ingredients in the product you are using. It’s pretty sad because I guarantee you, it won’t take long at all.

A quick perusal of left-over cleaning supplies still around my house led me to see this. I gathered all the products together. I turned the bottles over and over trying to find a list of chemicals/ingredients used and guess what?

I could read instructions in English, Spanish and sometimes in French, but in many instances, no details about the chemicals/ingredients were found. Why is that? It’s a $14 billion annual business for goodness’ sake! Don’t these corporations have enough money to type what is in these products? Shouldn’t consumers know? Specifically, shouldn’t YOU?

New York Times article reported that in January 2009, manufacturers of detergents and household cleaners voluntarily started to disclose much of what is in its cleaning products. But just this morning, I went to the grocery store to do my own “research.” And here’s what I noticed. In many cases, the actual ingredients aren’t really listed. Some have an 800 number and I guess you can inquire but they don’t list the chemicals specifically. That is stupid. Check out this popular laundry detergent and see why it got an “F” from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

So many families have loved ones suffering with childhood asthma, cancer, lung conditions, multiple chemical syndrome, auto-immune diseases, don’t we deserve to know what we are using in our homes? It’s taken me 50 years to care about this, I wish I would have started sooner.

I’d really love to hear from you. If you want soap nuts stuff, I’m your girl but I am truly curious. Why do you purchase the laundry and cleaning supplies you use? Is it price? Brand? Coupons? Smell? Effectiveness?

I look forward to hearing from you. If you have any specific subject you’d like covered or have a question, please tell me, I’ve got a million ideas but would welcome yours.

The girl with the funky arms

3 Comments

Karen and her hubs

Karen is packed and ready to go to Nepal today.

Tabitha, an “ambassador” for the Guinea Pig Girl doll collection, is with her which is super exciting.

But Tabs (as her friends like to call her), almost didn’t go and that’s because she has funky arms.

I was piecing Tabitha together and fishing her legs and arms out of the side of her fabric frame

When suddenly I see her funky arms

“CRUD!” I think to myself.

Tess the original Guinea Pig Girl doll and Tabitha spend cherished time together before Tabs goes off to live in Nepal.

She looks double-jointed

Seriously

They are so funky Tabitha could be at a state fair in one of those sideshows

or a performer in Cirque du Soleil

“Wow. Tabitha’s got funky arms,” I mutter to myself.

Sitting there on my couch, fairly disgusted at my lack of sewing prowess, crestfallen.

How can I give her to Karen?

But then I heard God’s whisper as He reminds me of a truth. Karen was just a regular wife and mom and now she’s also an anti-human trafficking agent. Through Tiny Hands International, (please, please click here to read about this incredible organization), my friend will encounter many broken people. Tabitha will fit right in.

And then the Lord assured me, I’m a broken girl too. So is Karen. But we are redeemed, precious in His sight. Blameless. Holy. Pure even. In God’s eyes we are saints in fact which is quite surprising considering I’m quite familiar with my flaws. At times they are more obvious than Tabitha’s two funky fabric arms. So it’s all good.

“Let her go,” God said.

But the Lord wasn’t done with me so I espy Tabitha again.

Karen kindly offers Tabitha a few nights in her house to help transition to life in Nepal. Since they will be traveling together, it might be nice to get to know one another. Good thinking, Karen!

“Daughter, look at her funky arms and remember me.”

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

Psalm 103:11-13

Now I see this Guinea Pig Girl doll differently. Tabitha’s arms are open wide, really wide for a reason. She and Karen must to go to Nepal. Tabitha’s funky arms might bless a tiny hand. Their plane leaves in just a few hours.

Please pray for those I care about specifically Karen and JD as they are traveling to places far away this week. May their arms and hearts be stretched wide open to offer love and compassion. Let all who encounter these folks find ultimate freedom and redemption only Christ can give.

Thank you, Heavenly Father for teaching me something again today through sewing. I’m no longer embarrassed by Tabitha’s funky arms.