My mighty cleaners – Ike and Extreme 18X – free bonus goodies (Ike not included)

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2013-06-13 15.22.35Dirty windows + able-bodied, orange hair, freckle face ginger sitting around watching tv = opportunity

2013-06-13 15.14.03We have a VIP arriving at our house this weekend and in anticipation of her visit, I wanted the windows in our family room clean. Ike began the chore but grabbed a can of aerosol window cleaner we received years ago when the room was constructed.

When I checked on Ike’s progress, the overwhelming smell of chemicals had filled the room. One look at the contents in the can, I was shocked to see the ingredients used. The first ingredient on the list 2-butoxyethanol (or ethylene glycol monobutyl ether). Also known as 2-BU, this widely-used cleaning solvent causes anemia by damaging red blood cells, creates air pollution that exceeds workplace limits, is linked to impaired fertility and reproductive and developmental toxicity. EPA even considers it a possible human carcinogen. Liquified petroleum gas for window cleaner? Come on! Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So I quickly grabbed replaced the can of toxic ingredients with a spray bottle of water mixed with about a half teaspoon of Extreme 18X. This product has replaced at least 80% of my regular cleaning supplies so it just made good, healthy sense.

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Extreme 18X is an ultra-concentrated soap berry liquid detergent and cleaner and now the good folks at NaturOli are giving a FREE BONUS GIFT of a mini or trial size” for every $25 in merchandise ordered!*

We use Extreme 18X and soap nuts interchangeably. I’m also a big fan of their skin care products – toner, skin repair creme, facial creme and the complete daily cleansing kit.

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The mini/trial Sizes are anything but small and NaturOli’s skin & hair care formulas are all FULL 1 to 2-oz sizes – FAR from typical tiny sample packets that are only a mere use or two.

– Values of mini and trial sizes are up to $9.90 each! You might like this gluten-free skin repair creme but take a look around and see what other things look good.

When placing your order, choose one for every $25 in merchandise in your cart. *Limit of six (6) per order. Put the product names (or product numbers) in the “Comments” Box during checkout. Please be specific about which items you desire. They’ll be shipped with your order. It’s that easy!

– No coupon required. Your selections will be on your receipt.

Offer expires Friday, 6-21 at midnight.

Ike and Extreme 18X made a good team. The pictures I took were not filtered in any way, there was no need. My windows are sparkly, streak-free clean and that was done thanks to two things – an awesome son and a petro-chemical free, formaldehyde free product that I absolutely love.

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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!

Know your soap and enjoy a soapy sale!

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Let’s have a SOAPY sale in celebration of olive shoots!

If you are looking for a thoughtful gift for a loved one or a way FOR YOU to de-stress during the holidays, may I suggest something as simple as a bar of high quality soap?

Before my brain discovered why natural soaps are better, my skin told me. “We like this soap!” it squealed after first encountering lovely cold processed, handmade soaps. “I feel fresh and squeaky clean, not like I’ve been through a car wash!” my face declared one evening. 

There is a difference between natural soaps and commercially made soap. For a limited time, Olive Shoot Institute is offering a soapy sale. When I began to use soap nuts last winter and started a business in the fall, I discovered  100% extra virgin olive oil based soap bars. Since I’m the mama of three olive shoots, of course, the word “OLIVE” got my attention but to keep me interested, there had to be more. Here are some things to know about cold processed, handmade soaps –

Not many people make soap like this any more – it’s old school!

Caribbean Craze soap

Ingredients are unique – your nose will pick up notes of unusual ingredients – spearmint essential oil (Handsome Man), Pure African Shea Butter (Caribbean Craze and Charcoal Hippie), Cinnamon Leaf (Bay and Cinnamon Shaving Bar) just to name a few. The specks of color in each bar are visually appealing but offer their own health benefits. There’s a sense of care and nurturing I get in using and giving them to others. Honestly it was joyful giving my Soldier and my ministry-minded OS several bars of soap to take back with them to Fort Benning and Chicago.

Rich in antioxidants and natural nutrients

Glycerin – this gentle natural humectant is removed during industrial soap manufacturing which might explain why my skin always felt like it had been treated so harshly. Um, it was!

No petro-chemical derived ingredients, animal fats, synthetic fillers and/or synthetic dyes and fragrances.

True story, when I pick up my shipment of soaps, I rip open the box and take out a bar of  individually wrapped soap to inhale on the ride home. Weird, maybe. My latest fave is Charcoal Hippie. Activated bamboo charcoal helps deep clean pores without leaving a residue but is loaded with ultra-moisturizing botanical oils and shea butter of the highest quality. Too bad my blog doesn’t offer smell-a-vision.

Ike closed his eyes and he picked Handsome Man soap as his favorite every single time!

My orange hair, freckle face OS loves Handsome Man soap. He says, “it smells good. It smells fresh” Upon further pestering, Ike replied, “I don’t know, Mom, I just thought it smelled good.” There’s a succinct review for ya!

You don’t have to be a hipster to totally love Charcoal Hippie soap. Made with activated bamboo charcoal, pure African shea butter and essential oils of eucalyptus, lavender and patchouli!

Why torture your skin and expose yourself to unnecessary chemicals and toxins when there is a better alternative? Truly, cold-processed soaps are superior to what you are probably using. Treat yourself and others to the difference!

We also offer other natural products to clean your laundry and home! Check it out at Olive Shoot Institute!

Here’s another great resource that’s worth checking out – Environmental Working Group!

Are you a Soaky McSoaker?

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“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

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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?

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.