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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10 Simple Ideas That You Can Do To Reduce Waste Around Your House

“If you want to get serious about sustainability we have
to start with our waste.”

 

Waste is a serious problem that impacts all of us. Here’s 2 charts that shows how much the US wasted in the past years.  Could you imagine how much that has increased over the last few years.  How sad is this, when so many people in our world is starving to death?!?!

@http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/06/26-trillion-pounds-of-garbage-where-does-the-worlds-trash-go/258234/

@http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-glickman/the-true-cost-of-food-was_b_6769352.html

Here’s 2 charts showing how much the world wastes

@http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-glickman/the-true-cost-of-food-was_b_6769352.html

The best place to start, is within our own home.  There is so many different things we can do, to reduce our own waste from recycling & repurposing items & materials, buying less things which means less clutter, & learning new ways to use up everything we have.  You can be as creative as you want, but if you need ideas there is so much out there.  It also doesn’t have to be some elaborate plan, oftentimes simple is better.  Aren’t sure where to begin, here’s
10 simple ideas that you can do to reduce waste around your house:
1. Use a gallon milk jug to water the roots of garden plants without standing there with a hose: Poke small holes in the bottom of the jug and bury it; fill with water for slow and steady irrigation.

2. Place old silica gel packets with personal papers and important documents to protect them from moisture and mildew.

3. Make a bird feeder out of a 2-liter plastic bottle.

4. Pour used bacon grease into a tuna or cat food can, chill until firm, and wire the can to a tree to give your feathered visitors some food. Bacon grease may be gross to some of us, but it attracts bluebirds, crows, jays, ravens, starlings, woodpeckers and Carolina wrens.

5. Missing game pieces instead of throwing away, use game board as a wall decor or coasters, & use the game pieces for jewelry, magnets, decor items

6. Compost everything that you don’t use ****put in a compost chart****

7. Coffee grounds- use in homemade soaps, exfoliate, use in garden to keep ants & slugs at bay, dried grounds used as a scouring agent, in fridge neutralizes odors,

8. Newspaper- lay down while painting, lie our snack cages with, wash windows with, use a layer in garden to help keep weeds at bay, compost,

9. Tea bags- for eyes, insect bites,

10. toilet paper tubes- for crafting, packaging & packing material, nesting materials etc

Additional readings:
Top 10 Ways To Reduce Waste
Waste Less Live More
The True Cost of Food Waste
2.6 Trillion Pounds of Garbage: Where Does The World’s Trash Go?
What are some ways you reduce wastes in 
your home? 


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Moro de Habichuela (Dominican Rice n Beans)

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When I was younger, I stayed in an all Spanish community, where I was the only non-Spanish person around.  The lessons I learned from this experience was life changing.  The pieces of their culture that I fell in love with I took and incorporated it into my family’s daily life like their music, dancing, & food.  Plus it helps my two older ones (who are half Dominican) to connect with a part of their heritage.
True Dominican food is absolutely amazing.  If you haven’t tried it, you are really missing out.  The food is not only delicious but very frugal to make.  The 1st dish I’m sharing with you is a staple food that you can make many different ways depending on which beans you use.  It’s a simple delicious filling meal that feeds a crowd.

Moro de Habichuela 
adapted & taken from: Aunt Clara’s recipe
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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups white rice
  • 1 can 15.5 oz kidney beans (or any cooked beans of your choice)
  • 6 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1/4c chopped peppers ( i used sweet mini ones)
  • 1 pinch of Oregano
  • 1-2 tsp garlic minced
  • 3 fresh thyme leaves
  • 1-2 tsp chopped Cilantro
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Heat half the oil (2.5 Tbsp) in an iron pot over low heat and add cilantro, garlic, thyme, celery, olives, oregano, cubanela, capers. Cook and stir for a minute, or until the ingredients release their aroma. Stir in the tomato paste.
  2. Add beans, also while stirring, add season with salt. Once heated through, add water and bring to the boil (try the mixture and add salt to taste before proceeding, bear in mind that the rice will absorb some of the salt, so don’t low-ball it).
  3. Stir in the rice and simmer stirring frequently to avoid excessive sticking. Make sure to remove the rice that sticks to the bottom.
  4. When the water has evaporated cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes. Wait 15 minutes, uncover, add the remaining oil and stir.
  5. Cover again another 5 minutes. After this the rice should be firm but tender inside. If necessary, cover and leave another 5 minutes over very low heat (if at this point it looks too dry add ¼ cup of boiling water before stirring and covering.

~Enjoy~

Are you a fan of Dominican food?  What’s your favorite dish?


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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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9 Successful Unique Ways To Save & Make Money

Now that the holidays are over, and it’s a new year, it’s time to get back to reality and figure out ways to make some extra cash and/or ideas on how to save money.  Whether the holidays left you broke or not, we all could use some help when it comes to money.  I don’t know anyone who couldn’t use a great tip that actually works.  Key being the word “actually“.

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@Flicker.com

With the new year upon us, one of my areas of concentration is exploring new ways to successful bring in extra money through unique avenues as well as making our money stretch till it can’t stretch no more.  Sure, I’m pretty good now, but with a little more practice I’ll be even better.  Being frugal & thrifty is an ongoing journey, one that I continually learn new things from, some successful and some that aren’t.
Today I’m sharing 9 Successful Unique Ways To Make & Save Money.  Now you won’t turn rich overnight, but you’ll be able to make some extra money for those pesky surprises that always pop up.

  • Schoola referrals-
    through this site every time you get a successful referral you get credited $20.  The best part is the person you reffereed to their site gets a free $20 too.  Free clothing for both with free shipping.  It’s a win win for us both.  To use my referral link to get yourself a free $20 to shop with use this link: https://www.schoola.com/stitch?ref=cp-3X11fiY6F  Not only are you getting clothing for free, you are giving free clothing to others, & supporting the schools who donated their clothing.  Check it out today!!
  • Open a supply store through Esty
    Did you know you can sell empty toliet roll & paper towel rolls on Esty?  Crafters need supplies so why not open your own store selling items you would normally throw away.  Have your friends and family help you out by saving certain items, adding them to your store.  Sure, you won’t become rich but you’ll make some extra money instead of throwing it away.
  • Resell free things
    One person’s junk is another man’s treasure.  See something for free you could sell?  Don’t pass up something free, if you know you could possibly sell it.  Check out the free section of Craigslist, free pile in yard sales, or free things on the side of the road.  If something needs a little work but you see the potential, refurbish it and then sell it.  You’ll be amazed at what will actual sell.
  • Sign up for free samples throughout the year especially from Pinchme & All You  
    Pinchme & All You have the best free samples around.  Some of the time, they give away full size products.  I save the free samples all year long and then at holidays or birthdays I make a nice basket with them for my daughter, mother, sister etc.  You would be amazed at some of the awesome things I have gotten a sample of….from housewares, to beauty, to home care to pet care.  There is a wide range of sample products waiting for someone to take.  Sign up today.
  • Buy gift cards when there’s a bonus gift card deal
    A few times a year Shaw’s offers an extra $10-$25 (depending on the time of the year) if you buy $100 worth of gift cards.  Well, since i have to go shopping anyways there, I buy my week’s of grocery worth in gift cards and then save the bonus cards for Christmas or birthdays.  If you do this a few times a year, you can make some good side cash.  I’ve made an extra $100 some years, which of course is completely free money.  A lot of stores do this, be on the lookout.  But be careful, only do this with stores you would normally buy from otherwise, you will be wasting your money.
  • Join a gleaning/food recovery group.  
    There are groups all around the world where people harvest unwanted or unneeded plants for their own personal use or to give to others.  Here’s a link for the UK to get some of you started………Gleaning Network.  I haven’t found one for the US yet.
  • Sell broken electronics on Ebay
    A few years back, I wanted to see what would actually sell on ebay.  To my surprise, broken electronics sold for pretty good money.  So when my computer fell apart, we sold the components and made more money than it was worth.  Right now, I have a broken tablet & camera i’m looking to sell.  These I know won’t go for much but anything is better than letting it sit on a shelf collecting dust or throwing it away.  Because you are throwing away money.  So, next time your at a yard sale, look for broken electronics that are usually free and sell them for a little extra cash.
  • Join MyRecipe.com 
    At my recipe you are able to submit your recipes to share with it’s viewers.  If you recipe becomes popular, then they will pay for the views.  For you foodies out there, it’s def worth the look.  With limited time invested, once you upload your recipe & images, then the work is done.  You just wait to see if it’ll make you some money.  Here’s a fantastic article about this breaking down how much you can make as well as how to start sharing your recipes.  Get Paid To Share Your Recipes At My Recipe Magic.
  • Become a Darbysmart.com designer
    Here’s some information about it on their blog.  You can submit your designs and if they accept it, they’ll pay you for it.  Also, the site offers you to set up a store, selling items directly on it.  Def worth checking out especially for those DIYers out there.

What some other unique ways that you save or make money?


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8 Frugal Ways I Saved Money This Week

I’m always on the lookout for ways to save or stretch our money as much as possible.  I’m very good at it, but there is always room to grow.   Part of my growing, is sharing with others how I do this, especially doing it with a large family.  I decided that each week I will share the frugalness through successful shopping trips, tips, ideas etc.  I hope others out there, share their frugalness with me as well.  So we can learn from one another as well as learning successful ways to be frugal.
During the holidays, it’s easy to be frugal, if you can squash the wants & so called needs.  There are so many things I would love to buy, some even I think I need to buy but reality is, is that I don’t.  To help me keep my perspective, I usually do something special with the family through free or cheap activities, crafts, diy, or outings.  This week’s biggest money savings came from a raffle basket I won.  See below how I saved money this week.
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1. Got 5.5lbs of spicy sausage for $5.00 total @ Shaw’s.
2. My husband donated one of the games & a movie I won to Toys for Tots.
3. Used 2 movies from the raffle basket I won for a birthday present my girls will give their classmate.
4. Returned 2 games I won that we couldn’t use & exchanged it for Christmas decorations
5. Attended a family cookie decorating party and brought free cookies home.
6. Since work ended for the season, I’m saving a lot of money on gas.
7. Recycled things around the house for supplies for ornament gift toppers.
8. Had a few extra pieces of garland and tied it into my girls hair instead of throwing it away.  Instant festive hair.
Bonus: My mother in law made us some yummy cookies.  Yay for cookies!! 

How did you save money this week?  Got any frugal tips or ideas to share?  Or a frugal score you just have to share.  Love to hear them all 🙂 


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DIY Ornaments: Wood Sled & Borax Snowflake

For the last few years, my town does this neat event called “Festival of Trees” where different organizations decorate a tree according to their specific theme, that is scattered through our armory (which is also our community center.)  This year not only is the elementary school decorating one but our girl scout troop is too.  Our girl scout troop is doing snow sport theme, which isn’t the easiest them to work with, let me tell you.
Our girl scout troop is divided into Daisys and Brownies, so we are doing two different kinds of ornaments……..wooden sleds for the Daisys & borax snowflakes for the brownies.  Both ornaments were fun to make, simple enough to the kids to do, & cheap to make.
PicMonkey Collage
The snowflakes were fun to watch crystalize over a period of 12 hrs.  The girls kept coming back to check every so often.  The sleds were also fun to make since the girls got to use hot glue.   They also enjoyed customizing them, since they could color them any way they wanted.
PicMonkey Collage 2

Borax Snowflake
Supplies:
3 tablespoons of borax
boiling water (enough to submerge the snowflake)
2 pipe cleaners (whatever color you want the snowflake to be)
a pencil
container (fits the snowflake comfortably)
fishing line
Directions:
* Take one pipe cleaner and cut it into three equal parts.
*Take the other pipe cleaner and cut it into 6 equal parts.
*Take the 3 longer pieces & twist together forming a star shape.
*Take the smaller pieces and twist around the end of each star, turning it into a snowflake.
*Boil enough water to submerge the entire snowflake.  Once boiling, pour into container that fits the snowflake comfortably.
*Pour borax into container and stir well.  This part is very important, you need to mix well, making sure there isn’t any borax on the bottom or it won’t work.
*Take snowflake and tie fishing line around it.
*Place snowflake into the borax solution and have it hang from the pencil.
*It takes anywhere between 4-12 hrs.  I let it set for 12-13 hrs.
*Once set, take snowflake out of solution and let dry for a few minutes.
~Viola you have just made a borax sparkly snowflake. ~

Popsicle Sleds
Supplies:
hot glue
8 popsicle sticks per sled
markers or paint

Directions:
*Take 5 sticks and place them together, in the desired sled shape you wanted.
*Cut one stick into pieces, that aren’t bigger than the sled, so it doesn’t show from the other side.
*Glue 2 cut pieces over the sled shape, holding it together.
*Make 2 glue dots on each cut piece.
*Place 1 stick per side for the legs of the sled.  Make sure to add extra glue for support.
*Once dried, decorate as desired or leave blank.
~Viola, you just create simple sleds in under 5 minutes.~

What ornaments have you made this holiday season?  I would love to see them 🙂


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