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.

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!

Doing laundry – Ranger School style

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photo copy 7With a bit of food in their tummies and new gear piled in the back of our SUV, reality began to set in.

Something smelled.

The guys had a slightly ripe odor slightly akin to a good camembert

But it was three heavy duffel bags which held the real aroma.

I found this in my son's duffel bag.

I found this in my son’s duffel bag.

The longer we were in the car, which now also included a trip to Wal-Mart, the greater stress weighed on me as a mother who had a giant task ahead of her.

We had been warned that the laundry stunk but oh my, as soon as I unzipped the first duffel bag, a tsunami of smell filled my nostrils.

Foolishly we had chosen to wash the clothes in the hotel laundry room. I do not recommend this as it is asking too much of a standard model washing machine. Alas, with no time to spare, I began pulling damp ACU items out of the bag chucking them onto the floor. Body odors, dirt, grime, silt stuck into every fiber.

In my 23 years of motherhood, nothing really had prepared me for this task.

No diaper,

no soccer game,

no previous Army training exercises involving stinky summer uniforms was adequate preparation.  Every type of laundry detergent I had available was summoned forth. With reckless abandon, I threw t-shirts, pants, filthy socks into the mouth of the machines. Time was of the essence and the clock pulled minutes away from our day.

photo copy 2Occasionally I opened the lid as if to apologize to the machine for the assault. Dirt, sand, duct tape began to cover the laundry room floor.

I even found a few rocks tucked into my boy’s pockets which made me wistful of those bygone years.

The Hubs came into the laundry room and we both stood amidst the sea of Army colors.

Truly I was making a mess and the thought of unzippering the next duffel bag was daunting.

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I chuckle seeing this picture and now realizing it is blurry. I felt so frantic trying to wash two filthy duffel bags full of stinky Soldier clothes.

The Hubs scrambled between two locations checking on our other Ranger School charge to make sure he was ok.

C. was holding his own quite well so the Hubs ran to the front desk, then back to the store, anywhere to load me up with more quarters. Tension was high…very high.

Neither one of us wanted to let our guys down yet it seemed hopeless that we could get all the clothes clean by the mandatory 6pm arrival.

And now let’s just talk for a moment about clean.

It’s all relative. There was not sufficient time for the clothes to be mama-clean. My standards were lowered, I had to be realistic.

No offense but the place reeked. When an employee happened by the laundry room, I flagged him for help. Open the windows! This didn’t provide much relief but it seemed the courteous thing to do for the other hotel guests. At times I was afraid to plunge my hand into the dark bag for another odoriferous bundle. Damp black trash bags knotted at the top forewarned me that I was approaching hazardous material. The deeper in the bag I got, the greater the risk. Seriously gross. Ridiculously smelly. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! Do I want to? I’d rather make him a green smoothie.

The treasures found in Nate's backpack. The rocks I found in his pockets made me want to cry. Just like when he was a little boy.

The treasures found in Nate’s backpack. The rocks I found in his pockets made me want to cry. Just like when he was a little boy.

With about an hour left before we had to take everyone back, I finished the laundry. Folding the t-shirts, sorting the socks, double-checking the pockets for any residue, I was content at the end of the day. What a sense of ac- complishment.

Yes, I wanted to do a better job but the clothes were much cleaner than they were eight hours previously.

The Hubs and I were exhausted but it was the least we could do for these hopeful Rangers. As the guys put on their freshly washed uniforms, it was a proud moment. We hugged goodbye, I tearfully kissed my sweet boy and they put their duffel bags on their shoulders, ready to return.

Looking better, smelling nicer, feeling like they were ready to do this. Rangers lead the way! Let's do this!

Looking better, smelling nicer, feeling like they were ready to do this. Rangers lead the way!

I will always ove this guy no matter how stinky he is or how gross his clothes are!

I will always love this guy no matter how stinky he is or how gross his clothes are!

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!