Taking care of this face – NaturOli

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IMG_0062For Mother’s Day, the Hubs got me a CD about drawing portraits. I’m really a novice and many times I can’t tell if I’ve drawn a nose or a beetle. I have a lot to learn. Don’t believe me? Check out these noses I attempted to draw recently.

Yes, those are all noses.

Yes, those are all noses I’ve drawn. Yep.

Ok, now that you’re done laughing, the one thing that has struck me through the drawing process is the truth found in Scripture that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

The Lord took great time in carefully crafting each one of our features and parts. Even if I can’t draw them yet, I need to honor my body. The lessons on drawing have made me look at my own face with curiosity and occasional, very occasional appreciation.

Somehow this all coincides with me learning more about the chemicals and ingredients commonly in cosmetics and cleaning solutions. I want to be more intentional about taking care of myself and my guys.

If you wouldn’t put it in your body, why put it on your body is a good adage that I first read in Not Just a Pretty Face. Quite honestly, there’s a ton of crud in our cosmetics and most of us are too trusting of the cosmetics industry. They do not have our best interests in mind.

M-CC-01-01-40-lgIt pays to think a little more about the things that I use on my skin. This is why I’m a big fan of NaturOli’s New Radiance Facial Creme, Restorative Skin Repair Creme and Revitalizing Toner Mist.

Fresh – I’m not a fancy girl but I am a fresh one! ūüėČ NaturOli’s products are batched in very small number to ensure freshness that sounds good to me. No skin care has an infinite shelf life unless there are a bunch of chemical preservatives.

Why this is important – FDA has no authority to require recalls of harmful cosmetics. Furthermore, manufacturers are not required to report cosmetics-related injuries to the agency. FDA relies on companies to report injuries voluntarily (FDA 2005).

Good night, face!

Good night, face!

NaturOli’s skin care line is corn-free, soy-free and gluten- free. Many people have corn allergies and there is growing concern about GMOs (genetically modified). Un- fortunately corn is a common byproduct in skin care because it is cheap.¬† Corn clogs pores and can irritate skin beyond belief.¬†If you are interested in natural skin care, stay away from corn by-products.

Did you know? Federal law allows companies to leave many chemicals off labels, including nanomaterials, ingredients considered trade secrets, and components of fragrance (Houlihan 2008). Fragrance may include any of 3,163 different chemicals (IFRA 2010), none of which are required to be listed on labels. Fragrance tests reveal an average of 14 hidden compounds per formulation, including potential hormone disruptors and diethyl phthalate, a compound linked to sperm damage (EWG & CSC, 2010).

Olive oil – NaturOli uses only the best ingredients including olive oil – found in ALL of their products. It is the basis for the entire skin care line and olive oil’s benefits far outweigh that of corn. As the mama of three olive shoots, I’m very fond of all things OLIVE!

In addition to olive oil, there are avocado and sesame seed oils, horsetail extract and Vitamin E which contain powerful antioxidants that protect, moisturize, restore and regenerate skin. Then there’s shea butter which is rich in vitamins and minerals, gives tone and suppleness while promoting skin renewal.

A little goes a long way – NaturOli’s cremes and skin care do not contain fillers nor are they watered down.¬†Just a couple of pumps of the cremes are plenty for my face and neck.

Senior pic from high school! Gotta keep looking fresh!

Senior pic from high school! Gotta keep looking fresh!

Smells goodThe Revitalizing Toner Mist has lovely notes of Japanese green tea extract, mandarin orange oil and the essential oils of lavender and chamomile.

I like the light fragrance of sage, marigold, tea tree oil and rose hips found in the Restorative Skin Repair Creme. New Radiance Face Creme feels indulgent with the evening primrose oil, rosemary extract and the hyaluronic acid, a potent natural ultra-moisturizing agent, the skin’s natural hydrator. There’s even a purse size mister if you want a little spritz of freshness, you know just in case someone wants to draw your portrait!

There is a trial size of the Restorative Skin Repair Creme, click here.

Save 17% on the entire skin care collection here.

If I am to believe that I am God’s masterpiece, I need to pay attention and take care. So do you!

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Adventures with Flat Stanleyette, part two

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"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!

Scrubbing Bubbles and the middle school maid

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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?

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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?

A¬†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.

Diving into transition

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Old school pic of my Moody Bible boy

With only one OS now at home, as long as I don’t think too much about it, I’m ok. Those moments when I go “there,” I start to panic. Having Aaron far away in Chicago can overwhelm me. It’s like when I was jumping into the deep end¬†of the pool last summer. If I ran quickly off the diving board and just let gravity do the rest, ¬†I was ok. But the minute I paused, my toes gripped the edge of the board. I contemplated the depth of the water, the possibility of death, the certainty that I looked completely stupid and that’s when I became frozen with fear.

In a similar position, I must put one foot in front of the other and dive into this new season of life. I must sell soap nuts, write, sew, serve Jesus and others. Not in a bathing suit though!

Today was the first Sunday at church without Aaron sitting beside me. A few people sweetly asked me how I was doing and I truly appreciated their kindness. I marveled at my ability to not burst into tears which is not something I usually do.

And I found a way to have all my OS by my side. Here was my strategy.

That orange hair, freckle face kid in the black shirt blessed me today.

1. I sat next to Ike and we didn’t fuss at each other as we are sometimes apt to do.¬†Oh how I loved that my orange hair, freckle face OS let me hold his hand frequently and spontaneously. He also enjoys pretending to crack an egg on my head and knee and that was welcome affection even if it’s weird. And when Ike was needing a break from me, the Hubs let me curl up beside him.

One of my favorite pieces of jewelry for obvious reasons!

2. I wore my West Point necklace which was specially made by another WP mom. It’s custom designed and is so dear to me. One of my charms has a favorite picture of my boy when he was a little toe-headed guy chest puffed up holding a plastic knife in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I instantly felt close to Nate who’s in officer training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Click here for info about this wonderful jewelry! I’m going to order more charms so I have all my OS nearby!

3. When it was time to sing, the rest of the congregation made a joyful noise reading the worship songs on the screen. I, however, took out the hymnal my OS compiled and sang using it. I choked back a few tears and clutched the hymnal to my heart. Aaron’s spirit felt nearby.

“How blessed are the feet of those who bring good news.” Romans 10:15 My boy, my hymnal ‚̧

With one Sunday down and facing my first week without Aaron, I press on and am thankful for any effective coping techniques I can find! If you have any, please share! I know I’m not alone!

T(h)anks for the memories

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Last week I began a small business called Olive Shoot Institute. Since January, I have been faithfully using a 100% biodegradable, organic laundry detergent called soap nuts. Now I’m selling those delightful non-edible nuts/berries along with a host of other cleaning supplies for personal and home use. Got me a Olive Shoot Institute facebook page too!

Just a sample of the products we are offering. I love doing this.

Seriously if you have known me for the last six months, I have probably talked to you about soap nuts. I don’t want to be one of those people who deluge friends and family with endless convos only about the products they are selling because that gets old but it’s exciting to begin a new endeavor. Whoever said that my OS are the only ones who get to branch out this year? Seriously!

So now my life duties include maintaining a website, shipping products and talking about the merits of soap nut stuff. This in addition to sending my middle OS off to college at Moody Bible Institute and the orange hair, freckle face OS beginning sophomore year in high school. While the younger OS are in the throes of transitioning, praise the Lord, Nate has adjusted to life away from West Point and as an Army officer at Fort Benning. To hear the voice of a happy child, be it the high-pitched squeak of a little boy or the deeper, richer tones from a young man, ah, it’s like massaged kale salad – zesty, fresh and satisfying. If you know me, you also know I am a BIG kale fan!

Nate sent me this picture of a little sumpin/sumpin he was making. Couscous with fresh tomatoes and feta! Impressive my little man!

Nate and I bond marvelously over food and domestic life. He talks to the Hubs about politics and tanks and recants to me the lovely meals he is preparing for himself and his housemates. It’s a good compromise. My 2LT is also a Dave Ramsey fan (so are we) and he follows many of Dave’s principles.

So when he moved to Georgia, Nate promptly got on Craig’s List, found a washer and dryer for only $100 and with nary a second guess, bought it.

How many guys send their moms a picture of their washing machine? And how many guys post a picture of their dead washing machine on facebook? I’m pretty sure there’s only one and I gave birth to him!

The guy was so proud of himself and talk about convenient! He loved being able to throw his stinky Soldier clothes in the wash and not have to traipse his clothes to a laundromat. But last week, the stupid thing died. On facebook, Nate bemoaned, “The spinner of my washing machine is now sideways. It has always sounded like a small man was in there but ran like a champion. Unfortunately those days are over.” Another person put it this way, “actually, it sounded like a small man was getting murdered in there ;-)”

So in memory of my OS’s short-lived first appliance purchase and in honor his thriftiness,¬† I’m saying “Tanks.” I mean, “thanks” to my readers
and I’m offering a 10% discount of Extreme 18X until August 22nd. You just need 1/2 TEASPOON to do a load of laundry!¬† Crazy, huh?

1.No harsh chemicals

2. No harmful toxins

3. Hypoallergenic

4. No need for fabric softener either. Clothes are fluffier than ever!

5. Only about .20 cents a load (you’re probably spending more if you add up your fabric softener)

6. Takes up a ton less space

7. And can replace 70-80% of your household cleaners, it’s that versatile!

8. Fragrance free but your clothes smell fresh and clean.

9. Perfect for HE (High Efficiency) washing machines.

I love this stuff, I love my OS and his silly sense of humor! You need that in the Army, trust me. Rest in peace noisy washer, you were good while you lasted. Enjoy the 10% discount, friends.

Traffic at Fort Benning. Not like regular people traffic!

We are West Point Moms!

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I could barely eek out a few words before bursting into tears. We had never met and yet there was a bond between us as soon as she answered the phone. We were West Point moms at opposite ends of the 48 month adventure. The warmth in her voice removed the little resolve I had left to keep it all together. I attempted to ask some factual questions but really all I wanted to know is that she survived. Since she was still able to speak in full sentences, I perceived that as a good sign. 

The Hubs made this graph when 
Nate was a new cadet, it’s so true!

Don’t we all want to find kindred spirits, people who can help us along life’s way? I sure do. In many aspects, the desire to be encouraged and embraced is central to feeling a sense of community. Connection is what I’ve found in being a West Point Mom.

WP moms come in all sizes!

Perhaps mothers with children in traditional universities have a bond. As my middle OS begins college at Moody Bible Institute this fall, it would be nice to meet mothers who have children pursuing ministry. Yet I must be honest, my expectations will be high because West Point moms spoil each other with kindness.

Here are just a few examples of what it’s like to be a WP mom.  

This is the cutest Girl Scout delivery 
boy in El Salvador!

Recently my oldest OS went to see his bonita in El Salvador. She likes Girl Scout cookies and Nate couldn’t possibly go there empty-handed! He had bought her tea and nail polish which truly threatened his “Man Card” but Girl Scout cookies was another must-have item. Well, one quick message on facebook and a WP mom, whom Nate has never met, shipped EIGHT, yes EIGHT boxes to my boy, free of charge.

Girl Scout cookies make girlfriends happy!

Nate was hoping to avoid parking fees at the airport while on vacation in El Sal. A simple message to my WP moms and a grandma of a cadet offered Nate to park his car at her home for the week.

A mom asks for prayers and a swarm of WP moms respond with concern. A mom posts a picture of her cadet on the page and we gush as if it were our own bairn.

There is no paucity of concern or compassion. The Scripture passage found in Romans 12:15 is fitting. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.” Though most of us haven’t met in person, we understand each other. We don’t all share the same political convictions or spiritual beliefs, some don’t even use soap nuts(!) but nonetheless we are a sisterhood. We realize our cadets will most likely travel in harm’s way. We get it in ways most don’t. Current events and conflicts in foreign lands impact our children’s future. As our cadets return from Spring Break, many weepy moms lamented about missing their cadet. We reassured them and gathered them into the fold cuz that’s how WP mamas roll. 

This is a common WP mom facial
expression. It’s hard to let go!

Now I’m at the other end of this experience. Nate graduates the end of May. I don’t want it to end but I know my cadet is ready to see where life leads him.  The current trajectory is Georgia, Colorado and then possibly Kuwait.  
  

Even if you’re not a WP mom, you will enjoy this video one of my friends created. One day soon your child will embark on new journeys and it will tug on your heart even if your baby isn’t heading to the United States Military Academy. I’ve watched this video many times and I can’t get through it without shedding a tear. A picture of Nate and I at Ring Weekend is found on 00.53 of this link. What a privilege to be part of this long grey line!