Archive | September, 2009

Purposeful Planning for the Holidays

Republished from October 2008. I absolutely loved this resource last Christmas and we enjoyed the Advent readings immensely! Highly recommend it again as the holiday season is coming upon us.

Are you overwhelmed with the thought of yet another holiday season? Do you desire a peaceful holiday season and yet purposefully Christ centered? How can you begin now to pray and plan how God might have you and your family invest in making this a profitable and God-glorifying time of the year?

It might seem a little early to start thinking of the upcoming holidays, but what better way to keep the holidays simple but through a little planning and foresight!

The 12 Week Holiday Planner for Christian Families by Sheri Graham (mother of five) is a great tool for any family desiring to keep the Christ-centered focus in the holidays without being overwhelmed. Filled with practical and useful charts, planner pages, the Jesse Tree Devotional and other useful information, you will be equipped to keep your light shining this season!

Sheri says, “My desire in putting together this eBook is to provide a tangible way for you to plan out your holidays so they are enjoyable, less stressful, and more filled with the things that really matter.”

This 146 page e-book includes:

*Weekly plans for the 12 weeks prior to Christmas

*”Sheri’s Tips”- tips to make your holidays meaningful, shared throughout the ebook

*Thanksgiving Ideas

*Christmas Craft, Gift, Decorations and Menu Ideas

*Memory Making Ideas for the Family

*Ideas for Baked Items to Share/Give Away

*Ideas for Meals to Freeze for Use during the busy weeks

*Supplies to stock up on ahead of time or when on sale

*Ideas for a Holiday Baking Schedule

*Kids’ Gift Idea List

PLUS!!! “The Glorious Coming: A Jesse Tree Celebration of Advent” – Jesse Tree devotionals which include devotionals, ornaments, and instructions to make your own Jesse Tree!

I am so thrilled to share this resource with you all and am finding it very helpful already as I start taking simple steps with the use of these materials for planning our purposeful Christ-centered holidays!

Click here to view more details!

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True Woman Conference 2010

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On October 9-11, 2008, over 6,300 women gathered in Chicago, Illinois, to answer the question, “What is a true woman?” They were encouraged to:

  • Discover and embrace God’s created design and mission for their lives
  • Reflect the beauty and heart of Christ to their world
  • Intentionally pass on the baton of Truth to the next generation
  • Pray earnestly for an outpouring of God’s Spirit in their families, churches, nation, and world

I was able to listen to the messages from this conference and was so challenged and inspired in my pursuit of becoming God’s true woman. These messages are solidly built upon the truth of the Word of God, and struck a powerful cord in my heart and passion to continue passing on these messages to other women.

I am excited to share that Revive Our Hearts has announced three more True Woman Conferences in 2010:

Listen to the messages from True Woman ’08 and be inspired! They are free to download here.

Lord willing, my sisters and I are heading down to Fort Worth, TX next fall to participate in this conference! We would love to meet any of you who would like to join us! I pray you would prayerfully consider attending one of these conferences and be renewed in your vision for godly biblical womanhood.

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Homemade Natural Diaper Cream & Lotion

Raw shea butter - Photo courtesy of Mountain Rose Herbs

Raw shea butter - Photo courtesy of Mountain Rose Herbs

Coconut oil and raw shea butter are the perfect combination for a safe, natural and simple diaper cream or hand lotion. Shea butter is wonderful for its natural healing and moisturizing properties. It is rich in Vitamins A, E, and F, which help to soothe, hydrate, and balance the skin. Make sure to select raw shea butter, because many companies use bleaches, deodorizers, or chemicals to alter the scent and appearance of shea butter. These processings deplete the product of its healing and medicinal properties, and also destroy the vitamins and minerals present. You will know if it is raw by its distinguished nutty smell. Coconut oil is also very nourishing and moisturizing to the skin and has great anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

This is definitely a powerhouse for defeating yeast infections as well. We love it now! I used to have to switch my babies over to disposables when a rash hit, but with this salve, it heals wonderfully even when wearing cloth diapers. I recommend using a thick doubler/liner when applying this salve if you use cloth diapers to protect their warranty. My dipes are out of warranty, so we use it directly on their bum with the diaper and it has not caused any repealing issues. It washes out beautifully. This recipes works for a awesome natural lotion as well, helping to sooth dry and cracked skin. You may want to add some lavender (or other) essential oil for fragrance for use as hand lotion because shea butter gives it a nutty smell and may not be preferred if you like a real fragrant lotion.

IMG_6459How to make your own?

1/8 cup coconut oil (extra virgin is preferred)
1/4 cup raw shea butter
3-4 Tablespoons talc-free cornstarch or arrowroot power (optional, to thicken) -Learn more about avoiding talc here.

Combine coconut oil and shea butter in a small bowl with a hand mixer or stick blender. You may have to soften the shea butter just slightly over very low heat in order to incorporate them well together, but it should combine well with a mixer. Add cornstarch or arrowroot a tablespoon at a time until you achieve the desired thickness. It will look similar to a whipped icing.That’s it! Transfer to a small covered container and place at your changing station. Keep a small portion in the diaper bag as well. Apply liberally with each diaper change as a preventative and rash salve. There are many more complicated homemade varieties out there, but this simple recipe has done the trick for us! Makes about 1 cup.

We buy our extra virgin coconut oil and raw shea butter from Mountain Rose Herbs. You can use refined coconut oil on the skin as it is a cheaper variety. Unrefined is preferred for eating.

This post is a part of Fight Back Fridays.

Passionate Homemaking is an affiliate of Mountain Rose Herbs and will receive a small percentage of sales purchased through our links. Thank you for your support!
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Basic Cloth Diapering Supplies

What supplies do you need for cloth diapering? Here are my recommendations.

Cloth Diapers - I recommend anywhere between 18-24 diapers in a rotation. I believe we have 24 diapers and that has worked for diapering two little ones at a time (with diaper changes every 3 hours unless we have a poopy – pockets hold it all in!).  This will enable you to wash every 2-3 days.  We already shared how we love the one size pocket diapers.

Detergent – There are many different recommendations for natural detergents, but make sure you choice one free of any additives, softeners, whiteners, brighteners, and the like. We use Charlies Soap for our diapers. Other popular brands include Allen’s Naturally & Country Save. Check out a recommended list here.

Cloth Wipes – 2-3 dozen wipes. I recommend flannel wipes, but don’t go for the cheap ones because they wear out quickly. Try making your own.

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Wipe container at the changing table

Old Wipes containers – We use a large plastic wipes container at the changing station and a small one in the diaper bag.

Wipe container for the diaper bag

Wipe container for the diaper bag

Diaper pail & liner – A basic large plastic trash can will do. You don’t need anything fancy. Just makes sure it has a lid! Two washable liners are very useful for keeping the smell in the pail and you can dump all the contents into the washer at once with the bag. For small places, another excellent option is the Doorknob Diaper Pail.

Doublers - These are nice to have on hand for overnight use. Just stuff the diaper with an extra insert. We love the hemp/fleece doublers or BabyKicks Hemparoo because they help keep the moisture away from the bum, are super absorbent, and are rash resistant (when you put the hemp side directly against their bum). We also like to stuff the inside of our diapers with an extra infant prefold diapers or micro terry inserts for doubling at night.

1-2 Washable Wet bags – This are wonderful to keep in the diaper bag for diapering when you are out and about. We have a Planet Wise wet bags or you can make your own (Michele made me a wet bag as pictured and we love it!). It’s nice to have two to rotate when one is in the wash.

That’s all that is in my diapering collection. Simple and basic!

Additional tool (convenient but not necessary)…Diaper Sprayer. If you don’t like the thought of dunking your diapers, check out the diaper sprayer. I have not used it myself, but it looks useful. I personally leave the infant stools on the diaper and they are sufficiently cleaned out in the washer. When they begin solids, I do a bit of dunking or let the stools roll off into the toilet. Another alternative is Flusable Liners. We have used them on occasion ourselves and liked the convenience but not the extra cost. These tools make cloth diapering a breeze! No more excuses. ;)

For an excellent selection of diapering supplies, including all the recommended items above, I highly recommend Kelly’s Closet. Excellent customer service and they reward you with points from each purchase you make towards future gift cards!

What diapering supplies do you have or recommend?

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One Size Pocket Diapers Reviews

My two little ones all dressed in cloth

My two little ones all dressed in cloth

Pocket diapers? Prefolds? AIO’s? There are many diapering options on the market today and it can be a bit confusing to decide which method to choose. I have been using cloth diapers for over two years now and have experimented with all of the different systems of cloth diapering. I am hoping to save you some time and effort by giving a little review on my findings.

I absolutely love one size pocket diapers! The one size pocket diaper is an easy means of maintaining a simple cloth diapering system. They are easy to use and adjust to different sizes for growth. You simply stuff an insert inside the diaper and away you go. They rarely if ever leak! I would consider it also to be one of the most frugal systems of cloth diapering, because you only need one diaper to carry you through to potty training (See cost comparisons below). If you have two in diapers, you don’t have to fumble around for different sizes because one diaper works for both of them. They are easy to use and are very similar to disposables. Most one size brands can be worn from 8 lbs-35 lbs.

Continue Reading →

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Homemade Cloth Wipes

IMG_6359This week we are doing a little mini series on some of my favorite recommendations for cloth diapering! Stay tuned for my extensive review on various diapers we have tried over the last two years of our cloth diapering adventures. If you are new to cloth diapering, or want to hear more of the pro’s and con’s, check out our previous series on Cloth Diapering 101 here & here.

Let’s begin with simple cloth wipes! Did you know that it is just as easy to use cloth wipes when you are cloth diapering? In fact, it reduces your waste and costs significantly. Simply toss that little cloth wipe in the cloth diaper pail and wash with your diapers. I have found cloth wipes to clean baby’s bottom far more effectively versus their disposable friends. You can find cloth wipes online through many cloth diapering sites, such as Nicki’s Diapers (my recommended supplier), but it is easy to make your own. I chose to use an old receiving flannel blanket because it is very soft, durable, and frugal. It is thicker than many of the cloth wipes on the market and thus lasts longer. These wipes are also very handy in the kitchen to clean up dirty little hands and faces. We keep a stash at all times with the kitchen towels for this purpose.


Flannel fabric (take an old flannel receiving blanket and you are set! One receiving blanket will make you around a dozen wipes.)

Start by cutting your choice fabric into 8 x 8 inch squares. Sew a zig-zag pattern around the edge. Congratulations! You have a cloth wipe. It is that simple. It will fray just a tad but its just a cloth wipe and nobody cares! Store your wipes in an old wipes container. I like to run my diapers under water and ring them out to keep them damp in the container. You can also make a simple wipes solution by mixing some castile liquid soap and water and pouring over your wipes. I keep a soapy mixture in a foaming container to apply directly on the cloth for those difficult jobs.

How many wipes should you make? I would recommend having about 2-3 dozen wipes. Evaluate how often you change diapers and wash to figure out your needs.

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Encouragement for Weary Mothers

Picture 13I have been going through a challenging season in my mothering: sparatic insomnia, disciplinary struggles with a toddler, and challenges with getting the kids to sleep together in the same room. I have felt time and time again that I just wanted to throw in the towel and give up. I believe the Lord takes you through these seasons in order to reveal how much we desperately need Him in order to be faithful mothers to our children. I wanted to share with you today some encouragement that the Lord has used to lift me out of those feelings of failure and hopelessness. Mothering is not an easy task, nor is it a task that I would ever do on my own.

Take time to be alone
This may sound impossible, but I believe it to be essential, and possible if you are purposeful! I have found taking regular intervals of time to have a simple short retreat brings such refreshment to me. In this season of life with nursing, they have to be short, but it is amazing how an hour or two away can renew my spirits. I try to get out once or twice a month for a few hours on a Saturday morning or Sunday while my husband watches the little ones to just be alone and read the Word and write out my thoughts. I go to a coffee shop or sit alongside a river bank and spend time with the Lord. I always take my Bible and notebook with me to write out what struggles I am going through and the Scriptures that encourage and strengthen me. It is a testimony to look back upon and see what God has done. God has been so good to me lately through these times. If your husband is not available, seek out a friend to trade watching each other’s children. Schedule these times away and make it a habit.

Find refreshment in Psalms 23
I have been steeped in meditation on Psalms 23 lately…a passage we are all familiar with, but how often do we really meditate upon? It has brought such strength to my soul during this weary season and can bring encouragement to you whatever you might be going through. Here are the meditations that I wrote down that I wanted to pass on to you. It is re-paraphrasing Psalms 23 in part in my own words:

You are not alone
“The Lord is my Shepherd” - The Lord, God of the universe, Sovereign King, is MY SHEPHERD. Did you catch that? He is MINE! He chose to take on human flesh in order that He might adopt me into His fold.

Your every need is already met
“I have all that I need” – He has already supplied my present and future needs. He has already provided for the grace I need for each passing day in my mothering and wife roles. It has been a difficult season in child training – it feels like a dark valley with no light at the end of the tunnel, but in reality, this is only a passing season for which God has already supplied all my needs to make it through. I lack patience. I lack perseverence. Grant me, oh Lord faith and endurance. You are doing a good work in me. Growing me in Christ-likeness. Childbearing and childraising are God’s means of grace in my life to make me more like my beautiful Savior. It will bring great reward!

Let some things go
“He lets me rest in green pastures, He leads me besides peaceful streams.”
Sometimes God takes us through difficult seasons and calls us to simply rest. For me that means we have been eating very simple and easy meals. We keep the house picked up but no deep cleaning is happening right now.

Focus on the goal
“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life.” I am laboring to bring eternal souls into the Kingdom! That is my mission as a mother! I am co-laboring alongside my husband to serve the Lord and His church. My God is close beside me! He guides me along right paths. He is my Shepherd and Guide. He is my Source that I might bring honor to His name. He is my Enabler.

Be thankful
“My cup overflows with blessings.” It is not just full, it is overflowing! Do you see that? What are these blessings? Write them out. I am thankful for My God – I wouldn’t be here without Him. My Husband – who lovingly leads our family and cherishes me! My two adorable children. My family – for their support and encouragement. My cup truly is overflowing!

For further encouragement from Psalms 23, I would encourage you to listen to Revive Our Hearts recent series on it here. This series was what lead me to mediate on Psalms 23 and the Lord has used it mightily in my life!

May you dear sisters be strengthened today in your mothering! The Lord is with you!

What can you be thankful for today?

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Natural Housecleaning Carnival

Picture 3Welcome to our Natural Housecleaning Carnival! Do you desire to remove toxic chemical cleaning supplies from your home and need some help getting started? I am so glad you joined us today. Did you know that homemade natural alternatives are not only safer for your family and the environment but they are also far more economical as well! That is one of the reasons I love natural cleaning…it can be done with a few basic and simple ingredients, most of which you already have on hand.

Did you know? The average American uses about 40 pounds of toxic household cleaning products each year. These cleaning products contain dangerous ingredients, including neurotoxins, carcinogens, allergens, central nervous system depressants, heavy metals, and other agents that cause or contribute to cancer, respiratory problems, reproductive abnormalities, allergic reactions, and behavioral problems, among other issues.

Today the floor is open for you to share all your tips and tricks for getting rid of the toxins and filling out home with fresh natural housecleaning!

My Simple, Frugal & Natural Housecleaning Bucket

I am all about simplicity and frugality, so if I can clean the entirety of my house with a few basic tools, I am thrilled! My housecleaning bucket includes the following items: Two shakers, three spray bottles, and three tools.

Baking Soda – I keep this in a small shaker (reusing an old spice container) for dusting in my toilet bowl.
Oxygen Bleach Powder (learn about this natural replacement to chlorine bleach here) – I also use this in a small shaker to dust into my toilet bowl or tub and allow to sit before scrubbing down.
All-Purpose Cleaner – Currently, I use soap nuts liquid & vinegar with a bit of tea-tree oil (details here). Love it!
Window Cleaner - I use club soda and that’s it! Other alternatives or boosting agents: half vinegar & half water, lemon juice & water or soap nuts liquid.
Hydrogen Peroxide – keep this in the original dark container (otherwise it loses its effectiveness) and simply replace the lid with a spray nozzle. I use this to spray down my tub in accompaniment with vinegar or oxygen bleach, and to remove stains in the carpet (read more here).
Toothbrush – for all the small spaces around the toilets, sinks and for cleaning grout on my tile counter tops.
Toilet Brush
Scotch Brite Scrubby
– for giving the toilet bowl, tub and tile a good efficient scrub!
Olive Oil - this of course I keep in my kitchen but use it with a soft cloth (t-shirt) for cleaning the smudges off my stainless steel appliances.

What if you want to skip the whole homemade route? Check out the Mrs. Meyer’s line of cleaning products. These are wonderful natural products that I have used and loved in the past. Many products in this line are also sold by the case at Amazon and you can get 15% off with the subscribe & save feature.

Here are some previous posts on the topic:

Housecleaning on A Budget – Part 1 – all basic frugal housecleaning recipes!
Housecleaning on A Budget – Part 2
My Favorite Frugal & Re-purposed Housecleaning Tools

Using Soap Nuts for Household Cleaning
Natural Housecleaning Book Recommendations
Natural Stain Remover & Cleaning Agent: Hydrogen Peroxide!

Natural Bleach Alternatives
Natural Laundry Detergents: Homemade, Charlies & Soap Nuts
Natural Dishwasher Detergent

Let’s seek to be good stewards of the environment and our health by adopting some new practices. Just remember, natural alternatives may not clean as effectively as their chemical counterparts, but I don’t mind a little toilet bowl ring stain if it is not going to cause anyone any harm.

Now it’s your turn…

1. Homemade “Clorox” Wipes (Emily)
2. Washing Windows (Amy)
3. How To Clean Your Stovetop & Oven the Simple, Safe & Frugal Way (Katie)
4. Elbow Grease: The Most Natural Cleaner of All (Meghan)
5. Frugal & Natural Laundry (Vanessa)
6. Frugal & Natural Bathroom Cleaning (Vanessa)
7. Earth-Friendly Laundry for 10 Recommendation (Sarah)
8. Natural Cleaning Round-Up (Jackie)

To participate, post your tips & tricks on your blog. Link to this post and leave a comment with the title of your post and the link address below and then I will add them to the post manually. Make sure to submit a direct link to your post. If you do not have a blog, please feel free to share your tips in the comments. Have a question or problem in your housecleaning routine? Please share it below and let’s help each other out!

What’s in your housecleaning bucket? Do you have a favorite cleaning brand to recommend? How do you solve stubborn stains? Mold? Mildew?

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Natural Housecleaning Book Recommendations

For those of you who are new to natural housecleaning and looking for some more information and recipes or you have been at it awhile and need some further knowledge, I wanted to highly recommend you check out the following resources. These may very well be available at your local library, but they are very worth having as references in your home, so I recommend purchasing your own copies.

Picture 6Easy Green Living by Renee Loux – This is my favorite resource on green living and educating yourself on the various harmful and safe replacements for all arenas of your home. It is the ultimate resource! She also supplies an abundant list of recipes for safe household cleaning that are very useful. She also reviews all the popular brands on the market.

Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan – This book focuses specifically on natural housecleaning and addresses every Picture 7chemical and safe homemade replacements for your home. I love the wit and charm in this book. Karen makes housecleaning actually sound like fun as you learn to make your own frugal natural substitutes. From natural car wash cleaners to an emergency cleaning kit in your car, Karen Logan thoroughly covers every need you may have!

Home Safe Home by Debra Lynn Dadd – This book is an excellent resource on eliminating toxins from your home. She provides over 400 tips, including do-it-yourself formulas for every area of your home. She compats every chemical with a thorough knowledge of its harmful effects and an easy solution. This book has little pictures and is more textbook in style. This has more educational material than recipes but there as definitely many helpful hints in there. Clean House, Clean Planet has more of the recipes over the educational aspect…so both resources are a great balance!

Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Way of Cleaning Your Home - A thoroughly current guide to natural and safe housecleaning. She reviews all the standard and eco-friendly brands on the market in addition to various homemade recipes. The author proceeds through every room of your home to supply you with safe solutions and helps you to make a green cleaning plan.

Picture 10Vinegar: Over 400 Various, Versatile, and Very Good Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought Of by Vicki Lansky- A helpful little guide that supplies you with all the knowledge you need on how and where to use vinegar (the cheapest natural solution out there!) in cleaning your home. I love how this little guide makes natural cleaning so frugal!Picture 11

Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun, and Frugal Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought Of by Vicki Lansky- I think these two books truly prove that you don’t really need chemicals in your home. These frugal alternatives completely do it all!

Do you have any recommendations?

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Using Soap Nuts for Household Cleaning

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Soap nuts are an effective cleaning agent that grows on trees! If you haven’t heard about soap nuts, learn more here. They are as natural as you can get! They are safe for your family and the environment. No chemicals. No waste. Not only have I found them very useful for cleaning my laundry, but I also have found them to effectively clean my dishes at the sink and in the dishwasher. You can make your own liquid cleaning detergent from raw soap nuts by following these simple steps:

1. Place 12-15 raw soap nuts in a pot with 6 cups of pure filtered water.
2. Bring to a boil and then turn to a simmer for 1 hour.
3. Allow the mixture to cool completely.
4. Strain the nuts from the liquid. Compost the nuts and use the liquid for your housecleaning!

If you make a large batch as described you will want to refrigerate it between uses to preserve it. It is recommended to use within 3-4 days. I store mine in a glass 1/2 gallon jar in the refrigerator. As it is completely natural, it can go bad without preservation. A few ideas for helping to preserve it include: freezing it in ice cube trays, adding essential oils, vegetable glycerin or citric acid. All of which are natural preservatives. Experiment and see what works for you. You will know when it goes bad when it develops a pugnet bad smell. If storing in the refrigerator, make sure to label your product. It looks a lot like apple juice!

Here are all the wonderful housecleaning uses:

All-Purpose Cleaner: Fill a small spray bottle with full strength soap nut liquid (you can dilute it if desired, but I found it to be more effective in full strength). Add a few drops of tea tree oil or lemon essential oil. Use for spraying down countertops and floors and other general cleaning. You can also keep this cleaner by the kitchen sink for dish washing. I like to add 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice for more grease cutting effectiveness. Add white distilled vinegar for more disinfectant jobs.

Windows & Glass: Combine 1 cup of water with 1 Tablespoon soap nut liquid and 1 Tablespoon white vinegar. Place in a spray bottle and spray your surfaces and wipe clean.

For Dishwashers: Fill the dishwasher soap dispenser with soap nuts liquid – about 1/8 cup. Wash as usual. Tip: For extra sparkle, add a half-ounce of vinegar to the rinse dispenser or during the rinse cycle. This works amazingly well! It is in a tight race with my homemade dishwasher detergent/dishwashing soap.

For the Laundry: Use 1/4 cup soap nut liquid in cold or hot water, as desired. I have found using the liquid version is the best way to thoroughly clean your clothes, especially cloth diapers. The raw nuts didn’t seem to agitate enough to clean my diapers thoroughly so I tried making the liquid soap and my problem was solved. Wonderfully clean diapers!

For Steam Cleaning Carpets: According to NaturOli, Soap nuts work exceptionally well in carpet cleaners because they are so low sudsing and odor reducing. Add about a quarter cup of soap nut liquid to hot water in the portable cleaner. Great for urine stains!

You can also purchase the Liquid Extreme 18X version of soap nuts and use that in replacement of the homemade soap nuts liquid above. That is a bit more expensive but definitely makes it easier! You will be able to use a lot less as well because it is a concentrated liquid.

Soap nuts are definitely simplifying my life over here for all their usefulness!

For the best deals on soap nuts, visit NaturOli.

Please note: Passionate Homemaking is an affiliate of NaturOli and will receive a percentage of each purchase made through our links. Thanks for your support!

Stay tuned for our upcoming Natural Housecleaning Carnival this Friday!

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