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Archive for October, 2012

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Halloween.  I’m starting a new segment on Wednesdays that includes hope-filled ideas from outside sources.  Today’s Word-Up is: REDEEM HALLOWEEN!

I love celebrations because they contain all four F’s: FAITH, FAMILY, FOOD, & FUN!  I think it is important to redeem Halloween as a kickoff celebration to Thanksgiving: let’s spend a whole month celebrating all the goodies we have in Christ!  To that end, here is a link to Pastor Jack Hayford’s encouragement for the season (“Redeeming Halloween”), the source of our Word-Up Wednesday theme.

In “Redeeming Halloween”, Pastor Hayford uses Biblical examples to demonstrate how we can impact our culture with light while avoiding our tendency to protest, denominational separatism, moral snobbishness, and sniping at cultural traditions.  Instead, he asserts, we need to positively reflect Christ in how we celebrate this season by using His creativity and “flavor” to represent Him in an accurate and attractive way.  Halloween–or Hallowed Evening–whatever it’s alleged connection to older, pagan traditions, was the evening before the celebration of Christian saints and martyrs on All Saints Day (November 1st).  Hallowed Eve is supposed to be like Christmas Eve, feasting in anticipation of the next day’s observances.  Pastor Hayford recommends the following ways Christians can “Redeem Halloween” and bring it back to its original import (paraphrased with suggestions from me):

  • Emphasize the “gratitude” theme with Halloween as the kickoff and Thanksgiving as the Grand Finale.  Helping of Hope suggestion: You could cut out leaves for a Thanksgiving Tree on Halloween, have party guests or immediate family write what they are thankful for on them, pin them to a felt or foam core tree and send out the rest of the leaves to more distant relatives and friends (or take extra leaves to church/school for others to fill out).  Children love receiving the leaves back in the mail and reading with anticipation what each person is thankful for before pinning them on the tree!  You can re-read the leaves on Thanksgiving–when you take the tree down–and say a whopping prayer of thanks to cover them all!

    A new Reason for the Season! I made this tree out of foam core, painted it, and hung it to the wall with a 3M strip. We use push-pins to hold the leaves in place (make sure they don’t go into the wall! You may need to make your tree of two layers if you have long pins)

  • Share testimonies (personal stories) of how God has provided for and delivered you (healing, comfort, etc.)  Helping of Hope suggestion: Children love stories!  My Mom has a story of a friend whose club foot/shrunken leg was healed right next to her at Bible college.  You don’t forget a story like that any time soon!  If you don’t have any miraculous stories like that, consider  sharing other ways God has been faithful to you or ask relatives or a pastor for stories of God’s faithfulness to share.  Your denomination may have a publication detailing God’s amazing work around the globe and this may spur your family on to start an adventure all your own, creating new stories for next year!
  • Show adventure videos portraying heroes of the faith.  Helping of Hope suggestion: for older children, Voice of the Martyrs has books and videos detailing how famous Christians have suffered for their faith and overcome.  Use your best judgment when discussing with children the cost martyrs are willing to pay for our freedom today.
  • Have children reenact heroic Bible stories and record them to play for next year.
  • Engage in traditional Halloween fare like pumpkin carving and trick-or treating (chaperoned to protect from scary or occult themes) but with a “saints” theme: go as Bible Characters or even modern-day heroes of the faith (like Tim Tebow).  Helping of Hope suggestion: Churches, Schools, and Malls can all be safer places to trick-or-treat to reinforce the positive aspect of the Hallowed Eve celebration.   Trade trick-or-treat gatherings with healthier candy!

Helping of Hope: Halloween isn’t too far gone.  Right Choice: Culture starts at home!  Make new, God-honoring traditions that invite family and friends to celebrate “Hallowed E’en” in its original, positive context.  Bright future: a significant cultural impact that empowers present and future loved ones to reach out to communities with hope and light.

In keeping with redeeming Halloween, I’ve pinned a fruit salad idea that works well for Kids and helps to reinforce Halloween decor.  Enjoy!

Source: via Amanda on Pinterest

 

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Give yourself a kick-start to a new all-natural cleaning regimen!
(Shampoo Bar not shown, but included)

As an affiliate of NaturOli, I’m thrilled to announce that my first giveaway is a personal care and cleaning product package sure to give you a HUGE helping of hope as you see how easy it is to switch from expensive and dangerous products to all-natural, frugal ones.

The Giveaway includes one (1) NaturOli Soap Nuts Intro Starter Package, normally sold for $32.50.  You can click on the link for more information, but the package includes the following items that have reviews here on A Helping of Hope:

  • 1-oz Mini-Size of Extreme 18X Soap Nut Liquid Concentrate (Detergent and Cleaner) AND A Soap Nuts Laundry Soap Pre-Treat Stick, both reviewed here.
  • 2-oz Mini-Size of Extreme Hair Soap Nut Shampoo AND a Soap Nut Shampoo Bar, both reviewed here.
  • 4-oz NaturOli Select Soap Nuts, USDA certified organic, reviewed here.
  • A luxurious handmade Soap Nut Cleansing Bar.  This is an amazing and invigorating body cleanser.  It is not as drying as most soaps (even Dr. Bronner’s) and does an excellent job of cleaning dirty skin.  It is definitely **husband approved**; while it smells great, it is definitely not “girly”.

If you want to enter the giveaway (and who wouldn’t since it is free and only takes a couple minutes of your time?!), there are four ways to rack up the points (and your chance of success):

  1. (+10): like my A Helping of Hope page on Facebook
  2. (+5): like NaturOli’s page on Facebook
  3. (+5): follow @ahelpingofhope on Twitter
  4. (+5/day): tweet about the giveaway!

You can enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget/link below OR through my Facebook page under the Giveaways “tab” (picture menu)!  However, with FREE SHIPPING from NaturOli on orders $55+ ending tomorrow, don’t wait to win this amazing starter package.  Make sure to check out the NaturOli store and stock up on all-natural goodies today!  You’ll be glad you did!

Click here to enter the NaturOli Soap Nuts Intro Starter package Giveaway from A Helping of Hope

If you enjoyed this SHOP-TIL-YOU-DROP SATURDAY posts, please share it with all your friends using one of the many options below.  Thanks!

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I use one brown paper lunch bag to cover two half-sandwiches for my kids. I cut the bag in half (“snack bag” size) and used a sticker and rubber band to secure them. Each lunch bag costs ten cents; that’s half the cost of a plastic sandwich bag! That makes each of my “snack bag” equivalents five cents each 🙂

Despite attempts to remove BPA from plastics, synthetic materials still pose a vital health risk.  Pthalates in many plastics contribute to our estrogen load and increase our risk of breast and prostrate cancersVinyl flooring is a major contributor of pthalates and contains toxic chemicals banned in children’s toys.  Add to this toxic exposure that of all the plastics used for food packaging and storage, and we have an endocrine-disrupting, estrogenic epidemic on our hands…or on our sandwiches, as the case may be.

The solution is surprisingly simple: use brown paper bags to replace sandwich bags and glass jars to hold fluids that would otherwise be placed in plastic bags or plastic containers.

What about freezer bags?  This may sound weird but it works well: rub olive oil on the brown paper bags!  Just one tablespoon of olive oil will coat three to four lunch-sized bags; using your fingers, rub just enough oil onto the bag to saturate the paper and set aside to “dry” (absorb).  Double-bag the item(s) you wish to freeze in the oiled brown paper bags.  Fold the top of the bags over twice and secure with a rubber band, twist-tie, or string.  I use this method to freeze bread; I think it works better than plastic at preventing freezer-burn!

If you need to freeze fluids, oiled bags won’t work because they aren’t sealed water-tight (use glass jars with wide mouths instead): however, oiled bags are water-resistant and should be able to hold things like sliced apples and cooked beans.  Before coating your bags, make sure your olive oil passes the ‘fridge test!

The inexpensive ALDI olive oil (Left) passes the ‘fridge test, but the brand-name olive oil (Right) doesn’t! That means Felippo Berrio’s olive oil is vegetable oil with olive oil flavoring.

Helping of Hope.  Right Choice: throw out your plastic storage bags and replace with glass and paper storage.  Bright future: healthier endocrine system, reduced risk of breast and prostate cancer, less pollution in the environment, and a frugal way to store your food.

If you enjoyed this Mama Mondays post, please share using one of the many options below.  Thanks!

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Sprouted Lentil Pizza Crust & toppings prior to baking. Yum!

I recently had a challenge for my FXS child’s birthday party: to make a grain-free pizza crust that did not contain any oil (I have a relative who gets terribly sick when eating grains or certain oils).  I didn’t want anyone to miss out on the nutritious pizza goodness so I reached into my cupboards to see what I had leftover from our GFCF elimination diet “season”: half a cup of almond flour/meal.  That was it.  I found a way to make it stretch using half a cup of sprouted lentils, some yogurt, and one egg; click here to check out my killer grain-free pizza crust that makes a mean (tasty) personal pizza.  For the toppings I used reduced Homemade Spaghetti Sauce (requires roasting tomatoes on low for a long time; you could easily use my Fresh & Fast Pizza Sauce Recipe and it would probably taste just as good!), shredded (at home) mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, and some Rosemary sprinkled on the top.  Buon appetito!

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Read on to see how this can save your bathroom …in a pinch!

This Mama Mondays post is a short tip to help you to quickly clean your bathroom when an unexpected guest comes by…and your ‘loo hardly looks sanitary!  The answer may surprise you… use toilet paper!

Toilet paper is quite useless when wet and that is probably why it is overlooked as a handy cleaning aid.  It may also contribute to a lot of lint, depending what brand you use, so you may be surprised to find out that toilet paper is actually very good at picking lint up!

Regular cleaning cloths and paper towels become fairly useless once they have picked up hair and dust: unless you can keep folding them over as you clean, they end up spreading “bathroom debris” around.  Dry toilet paper is surprisingly good at picking up the dust that accumulates on the toilet lid, the back of the toilet, the top rim of the shower enclosure, and on the bath ledge.  It catches hairs very well, even those that cling to the corners of your floor.  Instead of clogging cleaning pads, cloths, and paper towels with dust and hair, use toilet paper!  It only takes a few seconds and a few squares; the toilet paper can be disposed of in the toilet or trash can.  Then you can perform your regular cleaning regimen for a speedy shine without streaks or left behind “bits”.

Dry Toilet paper can even shine your brass or chrome if you use plenty of “elbow grease”; I’ve even used it to rub spots off mirrors!  As long as the sink is dry, toilet paper can even help you to cut through any scum that may have accumulated at the bottom and to give your basin a clean shine.

So if company comes over and you all of a sudden realize your bathroom isn’t close to rated “G” (U.S.: “General Audiences”), excuse yourself for a minute or two and scour your bathroom with some toilet paper!  Wipe the floors, back of the toilet, the mirror and sink: in just two minutes your bathroom will be greatly improved and no one will be the wiser!  They’ll just think you had to “go”…

I recommend using a PCF (processed chlorine free) toilet paper like Seventh Generation. You can read my review here.

Of course, to AVOID your bathroom getting into a state (I know I’m the only one that happens to 😉 ) I recommend Open Eye Health’s ebook Clean Start: Your Guide for Natural Home Cleaning (click on the image below.  I am an affiliate of Open Eye Health: I love her work on all-natural cleaning) I have used this guide to make my own non-toxic, frugal, and effective cleaners.  It is such a great resource!  I have saved a lot of money by following these recipes and recommendations 🙂  She also has free cleaning planning resources on her site.  Make sure to check out her blog!

Click here to check out this amazing natural cleaning resource!

Helping of Hope.  Right choice: use toilet paper to pick up bathroom debris before cleaning or when you are “in a pinch”.  Use PCF or TCF paper products.  Use natural cleaners instead of commercial cleaners that use harmful ingredients.  Bright future: more efficient cleaning using fewer cloths or paper towels, reduced toxic load and indoor pollution, better overall health, and a better method of keeping your bathroom tidy between cleanings.

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Learn how we can work together to protect Hope!

This is the last MIQVEH reference in the Bible that we have yet to cover.  It is probably going to be the toughest to read, given the culture of tolerance that we have today.  I hope it challenges you to see an alternative way of thinking about life that is in direct opposition to modern priorities.  The question is, which way of thinking will ultimately prove to be right?

Our MIQVEH verse today is found in the book of Ezra.  The Jews were returning to their homeland after being forced into Babylonian exile for seventy years.  Their temple had been destroyed as well as the walls of their beloved city, Jerusalem.  When they returned to their homeland, the Jews found it occupied by people groups who actively persecuted them and tried to defeat any attempt at rebuilding.  After 16 years the temple was rebuilt, but the city walls lay in ruins.

Ezra was an excellent administrator, scribe, and priest who worked for Cyrus the Great as a cupbearer.  Not only did Ezra use his influence with Cyrus of Persia to fund and support the rebuilding of the Temple, but he also taught God’s Word to the Jews as the foundational basis for true worship.  Ezra led the people in a very personal way by openly repenting of his sin; this encouraged the people to admit how they had fallen short of God’s blessing.  They were engaging in the very activities that had led to their previous exile!

Specifically, in the process of returning to Judea from exile, many Jewish men had intermarried with women from pagan cultures that blended worship of the Lord with worship for their local deities.  Since the time of Solomon this practice of intermarriage had caused Israel to give in to a form of idolatry that progressed so far in its perversion (sexually and spiritually), it even disgusted the pagan nations who had helped to inspire it.

The purpose of the slaughter, exile, and dispersion of the children of Israel was to ensure they would never return to idolatry again.  Never.  Now that costly purification was being jeopardized by the very practice that had necessitated it.  This brings us to our MIQVEH verse:

Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, a descendant of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God, for we have married these pagan women of the land. But in spite of this there is hope [MIQVEH] for Israel.

Ezra 10:2 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

MIQVEH means a collection or gathering; in that sense it often talks about the source or substance of our hopes, the place in which our hopes are gathered or focused.  Shecaniah asserted that even though many Jews had sinned by mixing with local pagan peoples, there was still a collection, a gathering for Israel.  You see, after Ezra’s instruction and personal example of repentance, the Jews were all of one mind.  They were already painfully aware of the destruction that came to their culture from absorbing the belief systems and practices of other cultures; they had just been released from subservience to a culture that thrived on religious syncretism and actively suppressed dissenting cultural identities.  In contrast, the Jews’ former and present freedom was based on following one God with one set of principles.  Separated from the confusion of a pagan culture and strengthened with renewed cultural identity, the Jews were in a position for “Collective Hope”; they acted unanimously, having learned from past mistakes, in order to protect their future and decided to divorce their pagan wives (some of whom had children).

Before we get on our high horses (which would be hypocritical, given the 50% divorce rate we see today) and condemn the Jews, realize that these pagan women did not become proselytes of Judaism.  A complete listing of men who married pagan wives is given in Ezra chapter 10.  Out of thousands of exiles, only ~110 men had married pagan women; not all of them had children.   The pagan wives and the children returned to their original people groups; no one was killed or dropped off in the desert.  Notice how there is no record of even one woman saying she would change her belief system because she wanted to stay married to her husband. These women had no intention of submitting solely to God of the Jews; they were more than happy, however, to integrate Him into their system of deities.

Isn’t that so like today?  Few have a problem with Jesus, as long as He is one of many ways to God.  The second we assert His own words that no one can go to the Father except through Him, we are labeled intolerant, bigots, and a host of all sorts of scornful remarks.  It is not only that Christians are intolerant of other belief systems, but that other belief systems are intolerant of the Bible’s claims to absolute truth.  There is no way to blend the Jesus of the Bible with the leaders and systems of other religions, not without drastically reinventing Him.  Christianity is the only belief system in which God does all the work: we are helpless to earn salvation and must receive it by faith in Him alone.  Anything we do beyond that point is supposed to be by divine empowerment, not human effort.  All other systems are based on human works.  There is no way to blend belief systems and honor the Christian principle of faith in Jesus alone.

Similar to the Jews’ experience in a syncretic, pagan culture, Christians are increasingly under seige for not submitting to “progressive”, cultural norms of tolerance and acceptance.  We are expected to abandon our cultural identity to assimilate with the current ethos: we are supposed to submit our interpretation of worship and our beliefs to the latest “group think”, professional and expert opinion, and government agenda; none of which is based on long-term or absolute truth, none of which can defend or protect us if it proves to be incorrect.  It’s the “lemmings approach” to legitimacy!  What Christians really need, like the Jews returning from exile, is Collective Hope, rooted in a strong identity guarded from external, ideological influence.  We need to guard our hearts and minds jealously, rigorously seek out sinful influences personally and collectively, and do our best to remove those influences through Jesus’ prescribed methods of church discipline (giving fellow believers a chance to repent, or be cast out of fellowship).

So what does it mean to be a Christian?  What is Christian identity? The term Christian is, for the time being, a popular one.  There are even terrorists who claim to be Christian even though they do not read the Bible, go to church, or believe anything that Jesus taught to be true (typically they are agnostics who believe they have invented a better means of achieving “Christian” ideals).  I think there are several reasons people claim to be Christian even though they are not followers of Jesus:

  • HERITAGE.  Sometimes this is a go-with-the-flow decision because previous generations were churchgoers or identified themselves with Christianity in some way; we may follow along thoughtlessly or intentionally, not wishing to disappoint.  This is a personal Christian heritage, but not personal faith.  At other times, it is a recognition that our way of thinking is very much influenced by Christian ideals even if we do not believe them to be absolutely true.  For example, the Bible has significantly influenced our language and American culture: phrases like “a house divided against itself cannot stand”, which Abraham Lincoln used in a speech against slavery, come from the Bible and we agree with those ideas without acknowledging the entire Bible to be absolutely true.  This is a cultural Christian heritage, but not personal faith in Jesus.
  • LEGITIMACY.  This is inherently more dangerous as it tends to distort the general public’s perspective on what Christianity actually is.  Because of the Bible’s renown and deserved reputable status, many groups wish to attach themselves to Christianity by claiming the Bible in some way supports (or does not prohibit) their viewpoint or practices. For example, cults of Christianity will invent their own Bible versions that purposefully change words to undermine the divinity of Jesus, or downplay the Bible’s definition of sinful practices.  Adherents of these cults want to be considered Christians to gain acceptance in the religious community, but they aren’t willing to acknowledge that they are significantly deviating from essential doctrines and practices.  This is an ideological legitimacy; it often results in novel reinterpretations or alterations of so-called “outdated” Biblical verses to justify a position.   Others engage in lifestyles that are explicitly prohibited in the Bible, such as homosexuality, pre-marital cohabitation, and abortion, usually with the excuse that the Bible (written over two thousand years ago in completely different languages) doesn’t use the exact terminology “gay”, “abortion”, or “pre-marital sex”.  The insistence that these anti-biblical lifestyles should be legitimized by mainstream Christianity is contradictory and ulteriorly motivated; the ultimate goal seems to be suppressing what the Bible says about popular lifestyles because it is considered offensive or “unloving”.   With freedom of religion, there is no reason to make an already existing religion anything it is not: if one wants to practice these lifestyles, he should invent his own religion before insisting another change to accept his viewpoint.  This is a bid for personal legitimacy; its primary purpose is to silence personal conviction or feelings of condemnation by asserting oneself as Christian out of a desire for acceptance and belonging, even though the basic tenets of Christianity have been rejected by the individual.
  • IGNORANCE.  There is a genuine lack of knowledge of what the Bible really says.  I think the Bible is the only literature on earth, except the Constitution of the United States of America perhaps, that people can claim to know the contents of without actually having read it :-D.  We seem to have this notion that because we are American, went to church “as a kid”,  or heard someone on TV say something once, we automatically have intrinsic understanding of what the Bible (and Jesus) are all about.  Does that sound ridiculous to you?  I certainly hope so.  Unless we are involved in a Bible Study, read small portions regularly, and ultimately, ask the Holy Spirit to help us understand what we are reading, we aren’t going to absorb what the Bible really says.  The all-too-human tendency is to read what we want to see into it, respond in fear to what we don’t understand, or get offended by passages that require additional historical context.  As a result, many people identify themselves as Christian according to an entirely made-up opinion of what the Bible says.  I think “Do not judge” is the most misunderstood phrase from the Bible and used as the mantra of many individuals who consider themselves to be Christian.   Adherence to ideals that may not even come from the Bible, but are merely supposed to be Christian in origin, is a claim-by-ignorance to ChristianityThe most dangerous aspect of this type of claim is that it cannot save anyone.  Saving faith comes by hearing the word of God: if we never hear what the Bible actually says, we cannot respond in faith to it; if we don’t respond in faith, we cannot be saved by God’s grace.

I am not trying to condemn anyone who thinks they may fit into any of these categories.  If you notice, I try to use “we” and “us” instead of “you”; I am as human as anyone and have the same tendencies (It really does take one to know one!  And no, that is not from the Bible 😉 )  However, all of these (false) claims to Christianity contribute to the confusion surrounding a genuinely Christian identity.  Christians culture is supposed to be defined by separation from idolatrous and pagan influences, accompanied by greater (in number) works than Christ did, a self-sacrificing care for fellow believers, a willingness to be persecuted in order to live lives of purity, a forgiveness for persecutors and enemies that manifests itself in acts of unwarranted kindness, and a boldness in sharing what Jesus has done for us personally, a heart-cry for Jesus to return and glorify Himself among the nations.  Compare that to the cold, institutionalized conglomerate of denominations and buildings we see in the West today; we are in desperate need for Collective Hope!

The key to being light and salt in a dark and increasingly homogeneous (bland, conformist) world is to maintain our identity in who we are in Christ and not allow any to redefine that to make us more like everyone else.  And always, always, without apology, we need to:

...worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.  But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.

1 Peter 3:15-16 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation

Helping of Hope: We can have “Collective Hope” as we repent of the ways we have accommodated anti-Christian beliefs and practices.  We have to look past petty theological divisions to see a common infiltrator-enemy of ideology.  We can strengthen each other as we restore worship, hunger for God’s Word, and rebuild the ruined boundaries that define and protect us from outside attack.

If you have come to realize that you aren’t really Christian, despite thinking of yourself as a Christian for a long time perhaps, and want to be anchored into personal faith in Him, you can read how in my first MIQVEH post, One Hope.

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This week’s shopping tip is based on the 18X Extreme Soap Nuts Liquid and the Soap Nuts Laundry Pre-Treat Stick from NaturOli (which I found a pretty unconventional use for)!

This amazingly concentrated cleaner is all natural and effective!

A few of you may already know that I love to use Soap Nut “berries” to replace laundry detergent and softener and I also make a liquid from them that I use in my dishwasher, but perhaps you didn’t know that NaturOli makes its own super-concentrated liquid that can compete with those toxic “tough-guys” out there?

I tried the liquid for three applications: dishes, dishwasher, and laundry. The best thing about the 18X liquid is how little you need: I think I used 1/2 tsp (just over 2 ml) of liquid for each use (mixed with a little baking soda for the dishwasher dispenser, mixed with water for the washing machine dispenser) and it did the trick. Dirt and food came off the dishes, dirt, and laundry. It is a very effective cleaner. (I have one caveat below, so keep reading).

The laundry pre-treating stick did an OK job of removing tomato juice stains on a cotton shirt: it didn’t remove

This little stick is killer on carpet stains!

them completely, but when I hung the shirt up to dry in the laundry room, the sunlight did the rest! I think the stick works better than not pre-treating…also, if I remember back to my “Shout days”, I don’t think the unnaturally-blue gel would have worked any better.  I have used this stick for a while now and it is better at removing some stains than others: the biggest factor is how soon you can get to the stain (before it sets in) and how long the saponin in the stick is allowed to act on the stain.

The biggest benefit of the pre-treating stick might surprise you, however…it works amazingly on CARPET. A little goes a really long way, too! I used it to remove stains that had accumulated under our couch (I had no idea: I only expected dust bunnies) from of all things, milk, RUST, and urine. Gross. I went over the bright yellow and orange stains with my spot steam-cleaner, which didn’t seem to remove anything but it did get the area wet. I rubbed the SoapNuts pre-treating stick on it (be careful or the coarse carpet will remove too much…wipe over stain lightly) and went back and forth over the stains several times with the steam cleaner (plain water). Completely clean with no residue. Amazing! No surprise we took our couches outside and hosed them down…

BEFORE.  This is what the original rust stain looked like: the photo turned out pale, so I “saturated” it to bring out the colors. This is obviously not indigenous to the carpet…

AFTER: same area of carpet (please excuse the green tint in the middle: my camera phone does that sometimes…I’m not sure why…) Notice that the yicky rust stain is completely gone. Amazing!

Both items–the liquid and pre-treating stick–work wonderfully at getting rid of dirt. There is one caveat, however: neither item can dissolve grease or oil (see pictures below). This is actually a good thing, I think, because it means these cleaners won’t dry out your skin, remove wax from furniture or your car, or ruin the natural oils in leather or cloth diapers; this would also explain why softener and conditioner aren’t needed when using SoapNuts laundry or shampoo products, respectively. I don’t know of any other cleaner that can boast that without ADDING (harmful) chemicals to compensate for harsh drying effects.

BEFORE. I think this was coconut oil from our “Pina Colada” oatmeal…

AFTER: Two washes later (I even tried rubbing in some Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap after the first pre-treat attempt failed), the oil is still there, although much less visible. I think the Pre-treat stick helped, as did the castile soap, but nothing I have tried so far seems to be able to completely remove oil stains like these.

BEFORE: This is the dirty dish water after adding 1/2 tsp to a sink of hot water to hand wash a small load of dishes. The dirtiness is a good thing: that shows you how much came OFF the dishes (the 18X liquid is a very good cleaner). However, you may notice the oily film on the top of the water. This is not so good, because it coats the clean dishes as they come out of the water (the dishwasher does NOT have this problem). If you are going to hand wash dishes using 18X liquid, try to avoid adding anything oily or greasy until the very end; if possible, use a degreasing soap on oily dishes instead of relying on the Soap Nuts Liquid alone.

AFTER: this is what happened to the surface of the water within a second or two of adding some of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap. The Castile soap cuts through oil and grease almost instantly: however, Castile soap is more drying than Soap Nuts Liquid and it is not any better at removing dirt (in my experience). Now the surface is clear, you can really see how dirty the dish water is! The 18X liquid is an effective cleaner, but not a degreaser. I recommend using Soap Nuts Liquid in the dish water and keeping a foaming pump-bottle of diluted Dr. Bronner’s handy to dispense small amounts of degreasing soap for stubborn dishes, when needed.

With all this in mind, I highly recommend these products for cleaning: I still use my homemade Soap Nuts Liquid (I just have to use a lot more of it since it is weaker; if you don’t make your own, you should give the 18X a try!) and the Pre-Treat S.  I’m still on the lookout for an all-natural solution for removing coconut oil and stock fat from clothing, but for all other stains (including the carpet) I trust the stick.

If you want to check out the 18X Soap Nuts Liquid Laundry Soap, it is $19.95 for 8oz (over 90 loads of HE laundry).  The Soap Nuts Laundry Pre-Treat Stick is only $5.00 for 0.5 oz (tiny, but it packs a punch!).  Both of these items would make for great gifts for health- and earth-conscious family members and friends.  Make sure you treat yourself to them also!

Helping of Hope. Right Choice: choose non-toxic, effective cleaners like NaturOli Soap Nuts liquid and laundry pre-treat stick and supplement, when necessary, with all-natural degreasers; avoid harsh cleaners that strip natural protectors, damage materials through over-drying, and add toxic chemicals to compensate.  Bright future: softer skin and hair, reduced toxic load, material possessions last longer and look cleaner!

If you enjoyed this Saturday’s SHOP-TIL-YOU-DROP SATURDAY post, please share with a friend using the options below.  Thanks!

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