Natural Living Family

The natural parenting place...

Friday, 30 January 2009

New Yahoo Group - Nature Soap

I have decided to start a Yahoo Group. I must admit that for someone who was always a self confessed 'techno-idiot', I have learned how to do everything from setting up my own website, running a blog, doing graphics in Photoshop and CorelDraw and I am now even trying my hand at creating Flash Animation graphics, so I figure why not set up a group - what could be easier - all this while nursing my daughter on my lap.
The group link is - - here we can share information about soapnuts and environmentaly friendly cleaning. The earth depends on us to minimise our carbon footprint and treat her with respect. What easier way to do this, than to get rid of all those awful chemical cleaners in your home and replacing them with equally effective; or better natural ones. This group is based in South Africa, but we welcome members from all around the world, after all 'the more the merrier' :-)

Famous Quotes

I recently decided to revive a blog I started a while ago. It is a random collection of quotes by famous and not so famous people. I just post them as I come across them, all of the quotes have touched me in some way or another. Many are meaningful, some just add a smile to the day.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Made in China

I recently made a vow never to buy items made in China again. I had originally decided to do this some time ago after the all the problems with toxins in the dog food, baby formula, honey, lead in kids toys, human rights abuses and too many other disturbing issues to mention. Sadly over time I got a bit lazy with this and didn't always check lables - after all who has the time to check the lable of every little item bought, when even the innocent looking tin of mussels turns out to be made in China. It's not that I don't want to, but just that shopping with 3 kids (one a toddler and one a baby) after a 2 hour drive when I need to buy a months worth of groceries is just not with in the realm of possibility, and quite frankly enough to drive hubby over the edge.

After recently coming across a post about I just knew I had to do something...
What that something would be is not yet certain, I am rather limited for time, what with trying to get a business off the ground, homeschooling a 12 year old and raising two little ones; not to even mention the veggie garden I am trying to get up and running in the interest of becoming more self sufficient; did I mention that I am supposed to be studying myself as well - yeah I have a bad habit of biting off way more than I can chew.
So in the meantime I decided to go back to not buying anything 'made in china', quite frankly I would rather go without than support a country with so little respect for living beings. It's not that I have anything against Chinese people as such, I am sure that the vast majority of them are decent caring human beings...but there are just too many issues that I feel I would be condoning by buying anything that comes from there.

Some interesting reading:

These all come from just a brief "google", I am too scared to look deeper for fear of what I might find....
Not to even mention that China is the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, mainly due to all its coal power plants.

Somehow I am going to stick to my resolution - not new years, I don't do those - and if I can't get non Chinese I will do without. My first choice is still, always local, after all "Local is Lekker!!"

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Yoghurt & Cheese making

In my recently revived mission to live frugally and minimise our consumption of preservatives and other chemicals, I have decided to start making youghurt - and hopefully cheese again.

Over the last two weeks I have made the most amazing youghurt, thanks to recipes posted by two fantastic homeschool moms on a homeschool group I belong to - I have kept the recipe simple:

  • 2 Liters of full cream milk (any milk will do, though Woolies Organic / Ayershire milk make great youghurt - the Ayershire specially makes thick creamy youghurt.
  • 1 cup plain youghurt (Use one without all the added muck, and keep a cup you made for future use)

Bring the milk to just below boiling point, being carefull not to actually boil it. About 85 deg Celsius if you have a thermometer. Keep it at this temperature for 10 minutes.

Let the milk cool to about 45 deg C, luke warm. Now you can add the cup of yoghurt, make sure to mix thoroughly.

Decant the yoghurt into pre-warmed thermos flasks and leave to stand for about 8 hours in a warm spot.

A few things to watch out for:
Don't boil the milk - otherwise you will end up making ricotta cheese the way I have a few times.
Don't add the yoghurt while the milk is too hot, or you end up with curdled cheesy bits in the yoghurt, still edible, but not really pleasant.
Don't warm the thermos up too much or the above will happen too.

And after all those don'ts - DO enjoy the yoghurt!!! My 2yo loves plain yoghurt (same child who loves veggies and salad - go figure). It is stunning with just a bit of honey added.

Later this week I will share my ricotta cheese recipe, which is based on a lovely recipe posted by Carle on her blog - , I tend to simplify even the simplest recipes - if I can shave 5 minutes of the time it takes to make something, I have 5 minutes more to play with the kids, or surf the net *giggle*

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Enviro-friendly cleaning

Over the years I have experimented with various green cleaning options and wanted to share some of what I have learned.

The criteria I try to stick to are that whatever cleaners I use are green, non-toxic, simple and cost effective. Green and non-toxic are non-negotiable in my book, I simply refuse to have cleaning products in my home that are going to have a negative impact on the environment or be toxic to my kids or pets - these two go hand in hand as I have yet to find a product that is safe for kids (really safe, not just pretend safe; which means no sodium laurel sulphate, and other unpronouncable chemicals) and truly green (again truly green, and not just green-washed). Biodegradability is particularly important since we have a septic tank / french drain system in our home and essentially everything that goes down the drain ends up in the soil.

Before we moved I had all sorts of different cleaners for different applications and it seemed to work, but our new housekeeper just got confused with the array of vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, spray bottles etc so I decided to simplify things. AND since I haven't earned a proper income since moving house in September last year, cost effectiveness has become more and more important. I have basically narrowed it down to soapnuts, Triple-orange (for occasional greasy, tough cleaning), vinegar and bicarb.

Soapnuts - I use these for 99% of my laundry, including cloth nappies. Occasionally do a load with Triple-Orange (when there are stubborn / greasy stains). I also use these for household cleaning (see recipe below) and in the dishwasher - which hubby kindly bought me for christmas - a couple of soapnuts in the cultery basket and everything comes out spotless. Having done quite a lot of research into dishwashers before deciding I actually wanted one, I discovered that they not only clean better than hand washing, but use less water and energy too. My biggest concern was the lack of green dishwasher cleaners in SA, until I read about using soapnuts.

Vinegar - for windows, mirrors etc (dilute 1/2 cup in a bucket of water) and in the all purpose cleaner (see below). Can be used as rinse-aid in the dishwasher, but I find that I don't really need it when using soapnuts.

Bicarbonate of soda - I use this instead of scourers like Vim; works just as well and isn't toxic. Great for cleaning the oven and burned on pots; a regular occurence in my house. Just sprinkle some in the oven or burned on pot, spray soapnut soap on and let it stand for 20 minutes before cleaning.
It is also a great odour absorber, I keep some in a bowl in the fridge, chuck a spoonful in the bottom of the nappy bucket and sprinkle onto cats littler box.
I even wash my hair with it on days when my hair is extra dirty; other days I use the soapnut liquid and always rinse with a rosemary infusion.


Soapnut all-purpose cleaner recipe ~ I use this to clean my whole house.
Add about 30g (about 1/2 handful) of Soap Nut Shells and the peel of one orange to approximately 1.5 Liter of water. Bring to boil, and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Be carefull, this boils over easily if not watched, but it does superclean your stove-top in the process. The boiling process extracts the saponin from the nut shells and the essential oil from the orange peel. Lemon peel should work just as well, though I haven't tried it yet since I had oranges left over from last season; which while no good for eating were great for this.
Add a table-spoon of salt (disinfectant & preservative) while the liquid is still hot. Let it steep overnight. Strain and compost the remaining shells. Add a cupfull of vinegar. I sometimes add a few drops of essential oils when I don't have oranges. You can also save up soapnuts used in your washing machine and use them to make the liquid – there is still a lot of saponin to be extracted by boiling after they are no longer useful for laundry.

I put this in a spray bottle and use it for everything from washing bathrooms, kitchen counters...everything else around the house, including dirty little hands.

This is a concentrated, chemical free detergent that can then be used as a laundry detergent, shampoo, all purpose cleaner, car wash, liquid soap, pet shampoo, washing up liquid or any other things you would normally clean with a liquid.

Rosemary infusion for hair
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (about 10cm long), alternatively a tablespoon of dried can be used
2 cups water
Bring water and rosemary to the boil, let it simmer slowly for about 10 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool.
Strain and pour onto hair as a rinse after washing, do not rinse out.
This infusion is great as it makes hair soft and manageable. Your hair smells great too.
My sister told me about the benefits of using rosemary many, many years ago and I have used it instead of conditioner since.
A sprig of lavender can also be added to give that lovely lavender scent.

Coming soon, some personal care recipes...

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


I haven't posted on here yet about my business ~ I import soapnuts from India and sell them on-line. To me they really are nature's miracle cleaner!!

Some more info:

Now available in SA!!The environmentally friendly and affordable detergent - Soapnuts

A washing detergent that grows on trees…literally - soapnuts are an environmentally friendly sustainably produced, bio-degradable and compostable way of cleaning not only your laundry, but also your whole house.
They are increasingly popular in Europe and the US, and Nature Soap are happy to be the first to bring this wonderful product to environmentally aware South Africans.
Soapnuts are all-natural with no chemical additives, they do the job of cleaning without any of the nasty side effects suffered by many people with allergies. They are even gentle enough to clean newborn baby clothes and nappies.
A 500g package contains enough soapnuts to wash about 135 laundry loads. No Fabric softener is needed. Your washing machine will last longer as there are no harsh chemicals to attack washing machine parts.
For more info or to place an order visit or contact Annie on 0833080086.
Later this week I will post some green cleaning tips and soapnut recipes.