Saving Money With Soap Nuts & 10 Recipes To Get You Started

I have been wanting to try soap nuts for a long long time.  The other day I finally was able to do so and I’m so glad I did.  It not only worked much better than I thought, but after doing some research, I realized how versatile these little berries are.  After sharing with I found with some friends, very few of them knew what they were.  Have you heard about them before?  If not, read below.  If so skip to the recipe part.
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For those of you who haven’t soap nuts are actually berries found that when combined with water, produces a natural soap called saponin that helps clean, deodorizes, & lift stains.
I’ve always been allergic to all the laundry & body soaps out there.  They make me itch insanely, which makes me very uncomfortable.  When I stumbled upon soap nuts, I knew it was something I had to try.  And boy am I glad I did.
So far my laundry has been super clean & actually smells clean.  It’s great.  Since they don’t leave a scent, I did a few drops of grapefruit & lavender essential oils.  If you have sensitive skin like me, soap nuts are the way to go.  But don’t just stop at laundry soap, they can be used for so much more.  Plus, using them can save your family a lot of money.  Here’ s how:

*you put 5-6 nuts into a small bag for your laundry
*these nuts can be used up to 5 times (if using cold water) or 3 times (if using hot water)
*once you used them up, you can boil them in water to create a liquid soap nuts
*This liquid then can be used to make household cleaner, facial cleansers, shampoo, soap etc.

By using soap nuts for all these different things around the house, you can save a lot of money by simply using soap nuts as much as possible.  You won’t have to buy any of products that contain harmful chemicals, instead you can clean the house, yourself, & your clothes naturally.
There are 4 different forms of soap nuts that you can use:

  • The whole nut/shell, which is good for laundry.
  • Liquid, which you can learn how to make in this post. It’s this form that’s handiest for most soap nut uses.
  • Paste, which is basically running the boiled soap nuts through a food processor. This is good for shaving cream and heavy-duty cleaning jobs.
  • Powder, which you can buy in powder form, or make yourself by grinding the shells VERY finely (in a coffee or spice grinder – the good news is, it cleans out really easily). This is good for laundry or adding to a homemade dishwasher detergent, which I’ll talk more about right now (taken from Crunchy Betty)

To get you started, I searched the web & come across 10 great recipes for you to try.  All recipes taken from Crunchy Betty.

Soap Nut Power Dishwasher Detergent

  • 1 c. Borax
  • 1 c. Washing Soda
  • 1/8 c. Finely Grated Castille Soap
  • 1/8 c. Finely Ground Soap Nut Shells

Stir everything together well, and use as you would a dry dishwasher detergent. (Don’t forget to put white vinegar in the rinse well, too!)

Soap Nut Glass Cleaner

  • 1 Tbsp Soap Nut Liquid
  • 2 Tbsp White Vinegar
  • 1/2 c. Water
  • 2 Tbsp c. Isopropyl Alcohol (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Use as you would any glass cleaner. This doesn’t streak, and it’s also really great for windows/glass that are particularly messy (like toothpaste splatters or mud on the outside of windows).

General Household Soap Nut Cleaner

  • Straight Soap Nut Liquid

or

  • 1/2 c. Soap Nut Liquid
  • 2 Tbsp White Vinegar
  • 1/8 c. Water

Combine everything in a small bowl or spray bottle, and use as you would a kitchen or bathroom cleaner.

Soap Nut Bathroom Cleaner

  • 1/8 c. Baking soda
  • 1/8 c. Borax
  • 1/2 c. Soap Nut Liquid
  • 10 drops Eucalyptus Oil or Peppermint Oil (optional)

Stir everything together well, breaking up any clumps. You should have a thickish paste, which you can add more liquid to, if you’d like it thinner. Scoop out a bit of the paste with your sponge and clean your bathroom counters/tub/toilet with it. If you have any remaining, drop it in the toilet and use the toilet brush to clean the bowl well.

Soap Nut Hand Wash

  • 1/2 c. Liquid Castille Soap
  • 1/8 c. Soap Nut Liquid
  • 5 drops Essential Oil (Lavender, Tea Tree, or Rosemary would add extra antibacterial power)

Mix everything together in a small pump bottle and use as you would any hand soap. Alternatively, you could just wash your hands with a little bit of soap nut liquid, but adding this all together will give more cleansing power, and mixing the essential oils and castille soap in with the soap nut liquid will prolong the life of the liquid.

Soap Nut Jewelry Cleaner

  • 3 Tbsp Soap Nut Liquid
  • 1/4 c. Distilled Water

Mix the two ingredients together and place jewelry into the liquid. Allow the jewelry to sit for 15-20 minutes. With a small toothbrush, gently scrub your jewelry clean. Sparkly!

Soap Nut Dandruff Treatment

  • Pre-Wash: Mix together 1 Tbsp soap nuts liquid with 3 Tbsp coconut oil. Massage into scalp for a few minutes. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.

Then wash with:

  • 3 Tbsp soap nuts liquid
  • 3 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 1 Tbsp Liquid Castille Soap

Mix the above ingredients together, and use as you would shampoo. If you do the coconut oil scalp treatment beforehand, there should be no reason to use conditioner after shampooing. Repeat three times a week until dandruff is gone.

Soap Nut Facial Cleanser

  • Soap Nut Liquid

Rinse your face with warm water. On a clean, damp washcloth, pour a tablespoon or so of soap nuts liquid. Gently scrub your face with the washcloth and rinse well.

Alternatively: And this is the way I’m really enjoying the soap nuts liquid at the moment.

Mix the two things together in a small bowl. Rinse your face well with warm water, and then gently scrub the mixture onto your face for 2-3 minutes. Rinse well with warm water and finish up with moisturizer.

Soap Nuts for Athlete’s Foot

  • 3 Tbsp Soap Nut Liquid or 1 tsp Soap Nut Powder
  • 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 3 drops Tea Tree Oil

Stir everything together well and massage into freshly washed feet, concentrating on the effective area. Apply socks. Do not rinse off.

Soap Nut Shaving Cream

  • Flesh from 15 Soap Nuts, leftover after boiling them for liquid
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 tsp Soap Nuts Liquid

After pitting and removing the hulls around the pits (as well as any “harder” chunks of the boiled soap nuts flesh), put the flesh into your food processor and turn it on. After the flesh has become a paste, dribble in the olive oil and liquid. Watch out! The paste starts to foam A LOT. Shave immediately after making.

Some other ways to use soap nuts are:

  • Kitchen counter tops
  • Powdered laundry soap
  • Floor cleaner
  • Fresh fruit and vegetable wash
  • Carpet cleaner
  • Non-toxic spray to deter pest from garden plants
  • Car wash
  • Body wash & bar soap
  • Pet shampoo

As you can read, there is so much you can do with these little berries, which is how you can save lots of money.  You can do so much with so little, it’s definitely worth your money & time.
Have you tried them before or is this a new product for you?
Would you try them, now knowing about an alternative to what’s out there?


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Realease Your Guilt: 5 Reasons Why Taking Care of Ourselves Isn’t Selfish

“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, & to make your happiness a priority.  It’s necessary.” ~Mandy Hale

Being a wife and mother, I put my husband & children ahead of myself.  I know that there are numerous parents out there who do the same.  It has been like this for as long as I remember. I always felt guilty of doing something for myself, because I could have done whatever it was for my family.  This year, in my efforts to take care of myself, I realized how that way of thinking is counter productive. In fact, it prohibited me to properly take care of myself.  We need to love ourselves enough to take care of our mind, body, & spirits.  If we don’t, who will?
Once you start taking care of yourself, the guilt we have all felt one time or another will fade.  I don’t feel guilty if I want to go to the gym instead of volunteering at my daughter’s school.  I know I do a lot already and that what I do is enough.  I don’t feel guilty when I go running, leaving my little ones with their brother.  I know they are in good hands & I’m only gone for a short period of time.  Still not convinced here are a few reasons why taking care of ourselves isn’t selfish……..

5 Reasons Why Taking Care of Ourselves Isn’t Selfish
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  1. Eating healthy is needed as fuel for our minds & body
    Supplying our body with the proper nutrients it needs to thrive is so important.  I can’t stress enough the importance of this.  The food I ate damaged my body more than I ever thought.  I didn’t realize how much till I cut those foods out of my diet.  Once you get over the initial hump, you’ll feel so much better.  And you’ll be thankful that you replaced the processed & junk food, for healthier options.  It truly does make a whole of difference.  Not convinced, try cutting something out for 3 weeks and see how you feel.
  2. Taking care of ourselves enables us take care of our loved ones
    If we aren’t in good shape, how will we be able to give our loved ones our 100%.  We can’t.  As sad as it is to admit, before I started taking care of myself, I didn’t have much energy to truly be present with my kids.  I didn’t play or engage with them, like I do now.  Because of how I’m making myself a priority, I’m able to give my loved ones so much more of me.
  3. Exercising regularly not only helps us keep in shape but it gives us energy needed throughout our day
    I’ve noticed over the last month, how much more energy I have because of exercising.  It’s interesting on the days I go to the gym or running how much better I feel compared to when I don’t.  I have lots more energy to get things done & I’m able to engage with my kids longer.
  4. Shows our kids how important it is….show by example
    Growing up, self care wasn’t a concept I knew.  My dad gave us his all and had nothing left for himself.  This is where my mommy guilt came in.  I thought be a good mother meant going without so my kids don’t.  But it doesn’t.  I didn’t realize the importance of self care.  By giving my kids an example to follow, I’m hoping they always take care of their whole self.
  5. Healthy mind, body, & spirit radiates love, compassion, & generosity
  6. Happiness is a side effect of self care
    Last week, I had lunch with my dad and he made an interesting comment about how much happier I seem.  I thought about this all the way home and realized just how right he was.  I have been a lot happier since I’ve started eating healthier & making exercising a priority.  Want more happiness in your life?  Start taking better care of yourself.

Now I’m not saying to go out and spend a ton of money on ourselves.  Just take a real hard look at yourself & your life.  Is self care an important part in your life?  Or is it needing some support?  If you’re like me and was really lacking, figure out ways to work on this, something realistic you could do a regularly and start making it a point to do it.  Stop making excuses and start implementing small ways to take better care of ourselves.  If we don’t who will?

Is self care important to you?  Or is it a new concept for you?  
Love to hear your thoughts on this.


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8 Weight Loss Tips: From One Average Person To Another

I’ve been doing a lot of research online about weight loss and I’ve come to realize, that a lot of the information out there isn’t doable or realistic for the average person.  Those of us, who are out of shape, that want to get into shape can get easily discouraged when taking advice from the experts that don’t take into account that we are “average.”  We live an average life, make average money, live on an average budget, & must work with what we have.
It’s hard to weed through all the information out there. If you started now, 10 yrs down the road, you will still be weeding out the information.  It’s a never ending stream of advice.  What I’ve noticed about losing or maintaining your weight, is all about finding the proper equation that fits you.
Below are some tips that I have found that helps with weight loss.  By in no means am I an expert, I’m just an average Joe sharing tips that could make it easier for you to lose weight.  Any of these tips could help anyone, no matter where you are.
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Tip #1- Don’t Expect Results overnight or even in a few weeks
I knew this but when a few friends just dropped their weight, I assumed it would for me too.  But that’s unfortunately not the story.  It not only takes time but it take a lot of effort.  This journey has def opened my eyes to the whole weight loss world & the struggles people have.

Tip #2- Know what your BMR is 
This is something my husband introduced me to recently.  BMR or Basal Metabolic rate is ” The amount of energy (in the form of calories) that the body needs to function while resting for 24 hours.  This number of calories reflects how much energy your body requires to support vital body functions if, hypothetically, you were resting in bed for an entire day.”  taken from Daily Burn.  Click on the link to read more about this.  And this site has a BMR calculator you can use to figure your calories out.

Tip #3- Use a calorie counter till you can do it on your own  
I’ve been using My Fitness pal app for a little bit but now I’m able to do calculate my food better without the app.  Just like with anything, the more you use it, the easier it will be figuring your calories & what type of foods are best for you.  One of the things I love about this app is how they break down your foods into different categories like fats, carbs, protein, & other nutrients.  And when you sign up, you get an email a few times a week with food ideas, recipes, exercises & more.

Tip #4- Not eating enough calories will stunt your metabolism & slow your weight loss
Most diets I’ve read about over the last few months, always used 1200 calories as there go to for losing weight.  So, I just assumed that’s what I had to do.  But it wasn’t helping me to lose weight, I just stayed at the same weight.  And I was always hungry.  After my husband told me about the BMR and proper amount of calories my body needs (which is 1623 but I aim for 1600), my hunger went away.  In fact, the last few days, I’ve had a hard time getting enough food into my body.  I do feel much better when I did switch.  The reason behind knowing how much calories your body needs & feeding it healthy foods is because if you are way under your calorie intake, you will end up slowing your metabolism down because your body will think it’s in starvation mode.  To read more about this click here Women’s Health

Tip#5- Don’t be embarrassed by your lack of progress or hitting a plateau  
This plagued me for almost a year.  I went from 148lbs. to 230lbs due to my medicines.  Then once I took myself off my meds, I dropped 32lbs. & hit 198.  There I stayed for yr.  No matter what I did, I couldn’t lose or gain.   It was ever so frustrating, embarrassing, & depressing.  Once I got over myself & how I was feeling, I began to make a plan which includes a gym a few times a week, walking as much as I can, eating better, & learning to love my body where I am now.  Once I started doing these regularly, I started losing weight, a little at a time.

Tip #6- One healthy condiment makes all the difference
I hate the taste of chicken.  Ever since I got food poisioning years ago, it grosses me out.  But it’s such a great food to eat so instead of cutting it out completely, I cover it in green salsa.  That is my go to condiment.  Find something you love, that isn’t full of sugar & other crap & use it as often as possible.  I use it on chicken, rice, beans, & eggs.  Plus, it adds a little more flavoring.

Tip #7- Get an encouragement buddy
I can’t stress enough how important this is.  If you don’t have anyone cheering you on, going the a similar journey, or supporting you, it will be hard to motivate yourself.  Having just one person in your corner, does make all the difference.  And it’s always fun to have company along the way.  Don’t have an encouragement buddy, look online.  There are so many different communities you could join.  Or even hit me up, I’m always looking for new buddies to help motivate me & encourage them.

Tip #8- You won’t lose weight till you’re really serious about it……..Whether you lose  or keep the weight on is all about your mental state & where you are in this moment
For me that year that I hit the plateau, I really wasn’t ready to commit myself to losing weight.  I wanted to but I didn’t want to do the work.  So I spent that year sabotaging myself.  It wasn’t till I quit drinking soda & caffeine that I was ready.  Once I did that huge step, I knew I was ready to work hard & get some of this weight off.  I might not be able to get where I want to be ideally, but I know I’ll be able to lose some & I’m ok with that.

Any advice or things that have worked
for you?


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Swiss Chard, Bacon, & Butternut Squash Soup (DF)

Soup, is something that I’ve been really into since I’ve decided to change my way of eating.  Eating healthier is much easier if you add soup to your meal list.  Soups are a great way of adding veggies & nutrients, and a great way to have leftovers, which is something that my house usually doesn’t have.
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So, I searched Pinterest for awhile and didn’t find anything.  There are thousands of soup recipes on there, but nothing was sticking out to me.  Then I came across the recipe below & thought about how delicious it sounds.  Plus it’s dairy free so my little ones could eat this without worrying about their bellies hurting.
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This recipe was easy to make, it just takes a bit since you have to cook your squash.  But even with cooking the squash, you can enjoy a delicious dinner with minimal effort.  And if you are looking for a great site, with delicious healthy food, check hers out.  I’m a new fan of it & love all her recipes.

yhni
**adapted from Anya Eats **

Ingredients:
*1 small-medium butternut squash
*1 small onion, diced
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*5 pieces of turkey bacon, chopped
*1-2 TBSP olive oil
*3 C chicken broth
*1 bunch swiss chard, chopped
*salt & pepper
*crushed red pepper

Directions:
*Preheat oven to 350-375 depending on your oven
*Cut butternut squash in half & place on baking sheet
*Bake 30-40 mins until soft
*In a skillet pan, add bacon & cook till it starts browning
*Add onions & cut together till the onion pieces are translucent
*Add garlic.
*Once all are cooked together, add in the coconut milk, chicken broth,  & swiss chard pieces
*Mix well.  Cook on low & let simmer
*Add cooked pieces of the butternut squash
*Add salt, pepper, & red pepper flakes to taste
*Simmer for about 15 mins
~And Enjoy~


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13 Ways To Embrace Winter By Keeping It Simple

I’ve never really been a winter person even if I’ve lived in New England a good portion of my life.  Each year, I never look forwards to winter, the cold weather, & all that it brings.  But this year, I was determined to make the most out of winter, embracing everything it has to offer instead of being depressed, stuck indoors, waiting for the spring to arrive.  I know I’m not alone, there are others who don’t enjoy winter.  So here’s some of the things that have made this winter actually quite enjoyable.  It may not be my most favorite season, but it definitely not a time to dread anymore.  Here’s a few ways I’ve embraced winter.
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1. Get the right gear
“There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” ~Swedish Saying
Having the right gear is EVERYTHING.  How can you enjoy the colder months is your freezing?  You don’t need to spend a fortune, just make sure you have good gloves, hat, neck wrap, & warm boots.  Oh and wearing two pairs of pants on really cold days helps a lot.

2. Change your mindset  

Attitude is everything.  Start finding little ways you enjoy about winter and go from there.

3. Admire the beauty of the season
Have you been out looking around, it’s quite beautiful out.  The snow & ice offers such fantastic props for images.  Next time your out, start really looking around, seeing all the beauty that’s around you.

4. Make your home cozy & enjoy the comforts
Fires, candles, essential oil diffusers etc. helps make you house cozy.  Who wouldn’t want to be home if it’s nice & cozy.  Enjoy the comforts of food, warm drinks, reading, snuggling etc.

5. Have a winter bonfire
Who doesn’t love a good bonfire?  Bonfires aren’t just for spring & summer, winter ones can be just as fun.

7. Snuggle up with a good book
Got some reading to catch up on, now is the perfect time.  Make yourself a nice warm drink, snuggle with your favorite blanket and get your reading on.

8. Have a game night
We love game nights at our house.  Wintertime is a great time to have these more often, as we are always looking of ways to have fun with all 5 kiddos, but it’s hard since the ages they are 16-6.  Games is a perfect way for us all to have family time.

9. Exercise @ least 1x per day
No, you don’t need to go crazy or anything, just get out and walk.  I love walking now, so that’s what I will do till spring, then I’m hoping to fix my bike and start biking again.  My stomach can’t handle running, so I don’t ever think I would do that.  Just do whatever you can at least 1x per day.

10. Get outdoors as often as you can……..staying indoors is depressing
Getting out in the fresh air will do you wonders.  Stop barricading yourself in, get out, & embrace the cold.

11. Activities & hobbies ie. snowshoeing, sledding, crafts etc.
Finding something to get up moving, is always great.  Why not make it something fun.  Take up new activities or do something you already love.  It’ll make winter so much more enjoyable.

12. Eat as healthy as possible
The way we eat will affect the way we feel.  Fill your body with foods that it will thank you later for.

13. Host an outdoor party or pot luck
Parties of any kind are fun.  Why not host one at your house?  It can be as simple as you want, just gather a few people together to enjoy each other’s company.

Are you a fan of winter?


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Motivation of the Day….Walking the Weight Off

“In your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, & become more.” ~ John Quincy Adams

Right now, in the beginning stages of changing my bad habits into healthier ones, so I need all the motivation I can get.  A little while ago, I wrote a post about how I found that combining a hobby of mine with exercising & dieting has motivated me. You can read it here. Then a favorite blogger of mine left a comment that made me think about how neat it would be to motivate one another.
Today, while I was waiting for my girls at crossing, I told my sister what I’ve been doing and how it has really helped me. She thought it was a great idea to combine something you love with dieting & exercising. She loves photography as much as me so she’ll be doing the same thing. This got me thinking, if there’s two people out there loves this idea, there must be more.

I decided after talking with the two ladies above, that I wanted to share my walking adventures….how I’m walking my weight away.
Why does photography motivate me to walk? It gets me up and out the door because I never know what I’m going to come across or what I’ll find.  And if there isn’t any to photograph, I love coming up with creative ways to save that moment.
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So, lets do this together, seeing where our steps take us.  I hope anyone who comes across this post will join me in this journey.  Find a hobby you love doing and figure out a way you can incorporate it into your dieting & exercising. Then take an image & share it with me. Leave a comment below to your link and I will gladly come over. Let’s motivate each other into creating healthier habits which will help aide us in our weight loss. The journey is only as fun as you make it.


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