Homemade Laundry Detergent

Alright, friends. This is one recipe that if you haven’t tried, you really need to try. And I know I sound excited about all my recipes, BUT there is no reason not to do this one! We’ve been making our own homemade laundry detergent ever since we’ve been married, so I sometimes forget that not everyone does it. There are so many reasons to make your own homemade laundry detergent – it saves a ridiculous amount of money (the recipe below yields 5 gallons & costs less than $5 to make), it is so much safer than store bought detergent, and it just plain works.

For me, though, finding a good alternative to traditional laundry detergent was a necessity. Ever since I was little I have broken out from certain laundry detergent brands. As a teenager, I had a terrible rash all over my legs that would never heal. My mom always bought the “free and clear” versions, but as an adult, I realized that I still sometimes reacted from them. Recently I washed some clothes at her house with a name brand natural detergent and broke out from IT! Crazy. Needless to say, I have NEVER had a problem from this detergent. Additionally, our clothes don’t seem as static-y. My husband does physical labor and it cleans his nasty clothes perfectly.

So what are you waiting for?! Carve 10-15 minutes out of your day and make 5 GALLONS of this amazing detergent (you can split it in half if you desire). Let me know if you make it and what you think or if you have any questions in the comments below!

homemade laundry detergent : non-toxic, effective, & ridiculously frugal. | naturallyjmharris.com

1 Bar Dr. Bronner’s soap*
1 C. Super Washing Soda
1 C. Borax

Grate bar of soap. Heat pots of water on stove, add in bar soap and stir continually until dissolved. In a separate pot, stir in borax and super washing soda until dissolved. Pour into 5 gallon bucket. Continue to heat water until 5 gallon bucket is full (water should be very hot but not boiling). Stir well and let sit for 24 hours. Stir before use. Use 1/2-1 C. per load depending on load size.

*Please use Dr. Bronner’s! There are recipes floating around that suggest using other bar soaps. I am convinced that the reason this detergent recipe is so effective is because of the Dr. Bronner’s soap. It may be a couple dollars more than another brand, but it is completely safe and non-toxic and just plain works. If you have tried to make your own detergent before and felt it didn’t come out, that might be why! trust me.  It can be found at Target or Amazon or practically any health food store. If you’re making for a baby, they sell an unscented version too!
**For an especially soiled load, just sprinkle a little washing soda directly into the load or use a little extra detergent (I rarely feel the need to do this).

[yumprint-recipe id=’2′]

Health Issues: One Year Later

The One Where I Finally Open Up & Reflect

The point of this post isn’t to rehash the details of my unexpected health issues, however, it is to serve as a reflection on the past year (as it has now been just over a year) and what I have gained through this experience. If you have health issues or any other large struggle, I highly encourage you to do the same measure – and share it!

I’ve made reference here and there to health issues I’ve had the past year, but I’ve never addressed the subject in a post of its own. I’d rather not use this particular post to go into detail, but the short of the matter is that an unexpected environmental factor (from our last rental) caused my body to function improperly in several ways. When I started to experience symptoms of debilitating fatigue, muscle weakness, dizziness, and so forth, I (and my doctor) assumed mono. Tests and more tests and specialized doctor visits revealed no conclusive answer, and at that point (months later), I had to come to terms with the fact that what I was dealing with was no contracted virus and we were able to determine what had caused my sickness. I was finally treated properly 3-4 months after I first presented with symptoms, and it wasn’t until around 9 months (spring of the next year) that I felt my health was truly beginning to be regained.

a blogger shares about her health struggles & invisible illness & reflects over the year. | naturallyjmharris.com

I had my husband take a few pictures of me recently.  I wanted a reflection of where I’m at now, one year later, even though my struggle was not so physically obvious. When I look at that photo, I can see the differences: weight gained back, color on face, eyes without circles around them. However, unless you are a close friend, you would likely not be able to point out the differences.  That’s the thing with “invisible illness“-  it’s not always obvious to those around you. I had well-meaning people say,“well, you look good!” on days when I was literally at my worst.  

After we moved from our duplex (remember, environmental issue), I felt that the majority of the people around me assumed that I would quickly start to improve and feel like myself.  This was unfortunately not the case.  I think that there was simply misunderstanding about the nature of my illness or perhaps those who just didn’t know how to help.  However, I don’t blame anyone or hold bitterness. I just learned which people were safe to reach out to when I needed some support.

a blogger shares about her health struggles & invisible illness & reflects over the year. | naturallyjmharris.com

I learned more about myself in a year than I might have learned in 5: emotionally, mentally, physically, AND spiritually.  I had to quit a job I liked and for the first time in my life, I found myself without the title of “student” or “worker.” I felt naked. I had to come to terms with the fact that my achievement nature could literally not achieve. In the beginning, I was sleeping for 12 hours a day and feeling exhausted if I walked to the mailbox – and I didn’t even know why.

As time went on, I regained strength very gradually – bit by bit. This meant that I had really bad days and fairly normal days. I canceled plans all the time out of necessity to rest, and I laid on the couch and prayed that the Lord would get to the heart of my physical and spiritual sickness as it became clear that I had no peace not doing anything (or achieving for others). I faithfully kept up on doctor visits and did everything medically necessary, weary as though I was of it. I learned other things that were “off” with my health and gained answers to questions I’d had for years.

a blogger shares about her health struggles & invisible illness & reflects on her gains over the past year| naturallyjmharris.com

I began to heal. I grew in self-acceptance of myself and of my weakness.  I learned how to prioritize my day properly. I learned when to push myself and when to say no. And then come springtime, I realized that I was living FULL days again. I wasn’t making it through one or two items on my to-do list and then spending the rest of the day on the couch. I had energy and I was doing things normally!

And then this fall, those squash I’m holding in the photo above suddenly started to appear in my dad’s garden along with a decorative pumpkin alongside the porch- neither of which he planted. We finally realized that they were my decorative fall squash that I had brought along with me when we moved. I had set the pumpkin on the porch, forgotten about it, and then left it to rot. It grew on its own and became the most perfect pumpkin. The squash had been put into the compost after rotting, but somehow came back and produced a whole mess of little squash – all from the one I had dragged with me when I was sick and afraid and weak.

a blogger shares about her health struggles & invisible illness & reflects on her gains over the past year| naturallyjmharris.com

I don’t think that anything could have been more perfectly symbolic of my experience over the year: something that was dying and rotting came back to life and produced so much more fruit than was there before – and it wasn’t from a single bit of my own effort.

“He makes everything beautiful in its time.”

Did I picture this past year being the way it was? Never. Do I cherish the freedom and knowledge I have gained from a result of it?  Yes, and this year (and health struggles) are temporary and non-existent in eternity. Today, my health is not 100% restored (I know now that there were some prior issues that explained why my body reacted the way it did) but I know that the work has already been done by the One who came that He could make us whole. Good health or poor health – whichever it may be- does not serve as my identification as a person.

In the blog posts to come, I will open up more about my health and measures I take to care for it. I will share ways to care for yourself holistically, health issues or not, from practical tips to emotional care to recipes.

If you can relate to any of this post, please don’t be afraid to reach out (below) or privately email me (michaela@naturallyjmharris.com)!

Pressing Reset

reset your mind and body


I was taken aback by this verse the other day:

 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:18-21 ESV)

For if I rebuild what I tore down.

What have I torn down the past year? The need to always achieve. Self-performance & reliance. (side note: you can read a bit of my story here, but I will be writing more to come).

I am not putting it lightly to say that my way of being is changed. And I know that that sounds like a lot for a year– it is —  but sometimes it takes an illness (or major event) for something that has clung to us our entire lives to finally unravel especially when it is false.

I have taken some major steps to remove myself from the old life I built for myself, and I have been day by day learning to walk in a new life. But that doesn’t mean that the process is easy or comes naturally, because in fact, much of it seems foreign to me – like I have to learn to live all over again.

But, God. God does the work. Not me.

I will be very honest and say that since we moved, some of these tendencies and thought patterns have been brought back up in me without me even knowing what was happening. I’m not working right now, so instead of pouring all of my achievement energy into my job or school I started pouring it into my house.

I have to make that chicken stock today. I have to get all of the laundry done. I have to meal plan perfectly so Solomon isn’t hungry at work. I have to swiffer the floors  so no cat hair is ever visible.

Did I mention we just moved after fixing our house for 6 months?

I was telling Solomon I was overwhelmed with the move and all there was to get done when I’m feeling so exhausted meanwhile. He told me I didn’t have to meal plan or clean – that he wasn’t putting that on me. He then asked if it was possible that I got so excited about the move that I forgot to set up good boundaries for myself.  Oh…yeah. [Thank God for marriage, right?!]

I will never step into the rest that the Lord has for me by relying on my idea of what my life should look like now. “The life I now live I live by faith in the son of God…” and not through my albeit righteous efforts.

So, I’m pressing reset.

Death_to_stock_photography_Vibrant (7 of 10)photo credit (second photo) death to the stock

psst: if you missed my ePanty review, the offer of $10 credit & a free 100% natural soy candle is good through November! there’s no obligation to try it, so if you buy natural products, check out this very small (10ish employees) company & support small business & this little blog😉

I Tried ePantry and Fell in Love!


[[ Let me be up front and say that while this is an ePantry review,  I am NOT a member of ePantry’s affiliate program. When I placed my first ePantry order (which you can see above), I used a coupon code through a favorite blogger of mine and then passed the code along on my Facebook page because it was such a great deal and because I was so impressed with the website! Scroll to the bottom or click  for a link for $10 towards your order, a free candle, & free shipping!.]]

The ePantry order I recently placed was my first, but I fell in love. The website was easy to use and carried all of my favorite natural products for lower than I could buy in store – PLUS they have all the scents available that I can’t always find everywhere. They have a mixed variety of just about every household need and natural brand type (method, 7th Gen., Tom’s, YesTo, Dr. Bronners, etc. etc.). Even Solomon was excited. For real 😉

The Mrs. Myers all purpose spray shown above is the seasonal Orange Clove scent and it is just ah-mazing. I have yet to try the Iowa Pine products (I’m making myself use up what I have first…ugh!) but I thought they smelled woodsey and fresh. I find the scents that natural cleaning products like these offer to be so pleasant compared to the toxic chemical alternatives. Cleaning actually makes your house smell good, as it should. This may make me sound crazy, but there’s a small part of me that gets excited when I have to clean when I have such good smelling (and super effective) products!

I use the Dr. Bronner’s soap bars every time I make homemade laundry detergent. Nothing comes close to its effectiveness. We also use them in the shower as the soap is gentle, non-drying, and non-irritating to my sensitive skin. I was ordering through Vitacost which required a minimum I didn’t always want to meet, or picking up at my local pharmacy where they were priced higher than what ePantry sells.

I added the Mrs. Myers powdered surface scrub to this order as an alternative to Bar Keeper’s Friend (which I just found out is horrible for asthma). I didn’t expect much because Bar Keeper’s was kind of my guilty pleasure, BUT the first time I used this on our tub I was sold. It completely removed hard water staining and dirt and grime with little scrubbing effort on my part. It cleaned my sink and the faucet until they were sparkling. I scrubbed the kitchen sink with it today and eventually will scrub our tile. Little side caveat -I assume that scrub brush is for dishes, right? Solomon wanted me to save it for scrubbing potatoes because it was “so nice!”

e pantry review (grove candle)
Grove Candle

I added the Grove candle after frustrating searches at Target, etsy, etc. for a soy candle that was 100% natural. We’ve purchased soy candles before that claimed to be scented with essential oils but clearly had added fragrance and even aggravated my husband’s asthma when he was sitting by them UNLIT. Candles are an area of complete un-compromise in my home. I love them, but I will not sacrifice my husband’s health for their sake. Not only does the Grove Candle smell amazing (it’s Orange Thyme & Cardamon), it’s the perfect, natural fall candle that I’ve been looking for, and it throws a strong scent. And guess what? No asthmatic reaction whatsoever. I can light a candle! this is my new brand. I just wish I had ordered more than one!

So…that was the content of my first ePantry order! Epantry is a no obligation subscription service with no charge other than your order. You can choose how often you want products delivered and which you’ll need on a recurring basis by going to “Your Subscriptions” under the Your Account tab (including staples like toilet paper, paper towels, dish sponges, dish soap..you get the idea). If you’re not sure what you want in your next order or when you want it, just delete all items shown and wait & see what you use up.  ***It’s always flat rate shipping ($2.99) & sometimes offers promos for free shipping. So convenient, right?  I do have online resources for such items, but not all in one place so it saves me more money and time. Move over Target, we’re set on ePantry.


—-> Now here’s the deal:  if you follow this link (here) you get $10 towards your first order in November, a free natural soy candle, & free shipping! & I’ll get some credit as well.  That’s $10 towards helping you make the switch to safer products for your family.  Really, there’s no reason not to try it now! again, not an affiliate link -just a referral program! if you love it spread the love yourself 🙂

If you have any questions about ePantry or natural cleaning, please feel free to contact me by commenting below or email at michaela@naturallyjmharris.com. If you’re new to natural cleaning & wondering why, I would highly recommend the documentary Chemerical by Chemical Nation – it is interesting & super insightful and studies the effects of traditional chemical cleaning products on one family and what happens when they stop using them.

—update: when this was originally published I was under the impression that shipping was always free. Recurring orders are shipped for a flat rate of $2.99 but this link will give you free shipping for your first order. Sorry for any confusion.

Roasted Root Vegetable Soup

roasted root vegetable soup: a perfect soup for the colder months. paleo, gf, vegetarian option

One of the items on my fall bucket list was to make soup in batches. This Roasted Root Vegetable Soup is a soup worthy of batch cooking! I made it once to try it and quickly made another batch for the freezer. It is the perfect seasonal soup as it stars root vegetables and a winter green (kale), all of which are in season through the fall and winter. You can throw just about any root vegetable in the soup and its still going to give a great, hearty flavor. I will say up front that the hardest task this soup demands is the actual chopping – especially if you add harder vegetables such as butternut and acorn squash. However, I assure you that it is well worth it & will become a new favorite!

The soup as it is written is perfectly fine for the paleo diet, but if you’re strict paleo don’t add white potatoes. It is naturally gluten-free and can easily be made vegetarian/vegan by using vegetable broth and omitting the meat. I added meat to make it a bit heartier but it is certainly not necessary.

roasted root vegetable soup | naturally jm harris

The vegetables I chose were parsnips, turnips, butternut squash, acorn squash, white potatoes, & carrots. You certainly don’t have to have all of those items.

You’ll need to select your root vegetables and cut up 6-7 cups worth. Vegetables should have peeling cut off & be cut to roughly the same size chunks. Unpeel an entire head of garlic (keep pieces whole). Next, spread vegetables and garlic onto baking sheets (or a roasting pan) and roast with oil drizzle in oven at 450 for 20-40 minutes, turning halfway.  Roasting time will vary based on the size of your chunks & how spread apart they are (mine took about 25min.) They’re done when they’re soft & cooked through on the inside.

roasted root vegetable soup | naturallyjmharris.com
ready to go in oven

While the vegetables are roasting, you will heat olive oil on the stove and throw in one diced onion. After it cooks a minute or two you’ll add one heaping tbsp. of tomato sauce. Add up to one lb. of meat (ground beef or round/flank steak). Let it cook through together until brown and then add a 28 oz. can of whole (or diced) tomatoes, breaking up with hands or spoon.  Add heaping tbsp. Italian seasoning and 1/2 tsp. salt. Turn heat all the way to low and put lid on, allowing flavors to cook together as the vegetables roast – at least 20 minutes + total.

Add 2 heaping cups of kale into pot, allowing it to wilt. (*do not over wilt. Kale should retain bright green flavor. cook under slightly if freezing soup).  Add root vegetables to pot. Add stock and remaining 1/2 tsp of salt and turn heat up. Taste and add pepper & salt as needed. Keep on stove until hot throughout, then serve.

–If you’re freezing, you’ll want to transfer soup to jars and allow to cool completely before putting on labeled & dated lids and freezing.

freezing roasted root vegetable soup |naturally jm harris

Roasted Root Vegetable Soup

6-7 cups of root vegetables (such as parsnips, turnips, butternut squash, acorn squash, carrots, potatoes, rutabaga)
1 head garlic
Olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 onion
1 tbsp. tomato sauce
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes (in juice)
1 heaping tbsp. italian seasoning
1 lb. meat such as ground beef or beef round (optional)
2 cups. stock of choice (pour in slowly & eye amount)
pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450. Cut up vegetables into chunks & unpeel garlic and evenly spread all onto baking or roasting sheets drizzled with olive oil. Roast for 20-40 minutes (depending on size) until soft throughout, turning once halfway.

While vegetables are roasting, heat oil in a dutch oven. Add diced onion when and meat hot and saute until just beginning to brown, then add tomato paste and stir together. Allow to cook for a minute or so, then add can of tomatoes, tearing into smaller chunks with hand or spoon. Add Italian seasoning and 1/2 tsp. of salt. Bring to a simmer then lower heat to lowest setting, covering and cooking for at least 20 minutes.

Add kale, stir, and allow to wilt. Add roasted vegetables and stock (eyeball amount) and remaining 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat up and keep on stove until heated throughout. Serve.

recipe modified from Simply Recipes. thanks for a great one! (if you post this recipe, please use your own photos, link back, & reword. thanks!)

— UPDATE: I originally thought this recipe was great for freezing, however, the root vegetables break down & become mushy, so I would no longer recommend it.

What I Learned In October


Could it possibly be almost  November?  This month has been a total whirlwind, which, if you follow me on Instagram, you probably already knew.  My husband and I finally moved to our new home, which is a cute 1970s bi-level we’ve been working to make livable since May. I can hardly believe we’re actually living here after so much time, struggle, and work put into it. More on that later, but for now I wanted to let you know of a couple of changes around here:

First off, I will be regaining my bi-weekly posting schedule. Going down to a weekly posting schedule for the busy summer months was a decision I still stand behind, but I missed being here so regularly. I’m still working out the kinks about what that will look like, but for now, please look forward to it and come back Tuesdays & Thursdays (you can subscribe by email to the right)! Thanks for supporting this little creative space.

Secondly, I will be investing in blogging and writing projects to a greater degree. In addition to bi-weekly posts, look forward to link-ups, free downloads, more varied content (such as challenges) and better design.  It’ll take time, but I can’t wait.

Now that the housekeeping is out of the way, onto the true topic!

What I Learned in October

What I Learned in October  linking up with emily p. freeman for What I Learned to share the silly, mundane, & profound learning experiences of the month

I might have a dairy sensitivity. Short of allergy testing, this means an elimination diet in which I don’t consume any form of dairy (raw or pasteurized) for a period of time. Once that time is over, I can try to re-introduce kinder dairy such as goat cheese or raw milk products. The main reason for this is to see if it clears up my cystic acne, which I recently also learned is the name for the type of acne that’s run rampant all over my face as a young adult. And of course, chances are it is affecting my body in a different way so I will be observing that. The biggest issues I have with this? Half and half in my coffee and obviously butter. Coffee is just not the same 😦

organic homemade coconut milk

Making coconut milk twice as strong with a tiny splash of vanilla is way preferable for coffee creamer than chemical-y tasting almond milk. You just use twice the amount of coconut that my recipe calls for (or half the water). Top with pumpkin pie spice and you’re golden.

I am really, seriously tired and in need of rest. I feel like the stress of the house renovation and the struggles of the last year finally caught up to me and just settled over my bones. We’re asking the Lord to wash off our weariness and fill us with joy.  We will also be coming up with (and sharing!) some Sabbath living ideas for this new season.

what I learned

I don’t want to let fall go. I felt like I miss fall last year due to prolonged sickness, so this year we made a fall bucket list (read here). We’ve already done several of the things (hiking, pumpkins, making applesauce) but we finally have the leisure time to spend doing the rest.

I love white walls (as does my husband). We decided to be daring and paint the bathroom teal since the rest of the house is painted a soft taupe white. And guess what? We hated it. And then painted it white. And now it feels 100% more calming and improved.

How to better live in the here and now. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the various seasons of life that we’ve lived through in our 2 years of marriage already. I’ve been realizing that everything I’ve ever possibly wanted or needed I don’t need to have all at once. Good things come in time, so for this time, I’m choosing to trust that I’m where I need to be until an open door proves otherwise.

Happy to be fully here, friends! May November usher in the calm and clarity that you need and may it find you continually grateful for the everyday. See you Tuesday!

So You’re Getting Sick

so you're getting sick

I ended up at the dr. last week for pink eye, and she informed me that not only is pink eye going around, but all kinds of crazy sicknesses are spreading. It’s that time of year, apparently! If you’re like me, the thought of getting sick stresses you. There are several things I do regularly to boost my immunity, and I wanted to share them with you. They do work and have saved me from sickness (or lessened the effect of it) more than once.

Ways to Boost Your Immunity

Supplement, supplement, supplement:

  • I take Vitamin C (up to 3,000mg throughout the day) which fights infection and builds immunity, Vitamin D (2,000 for the average person, up to 10,000 for the seriously deficient like me- get your levels checked), ZincProbiotics (I double the recommended dose when I feel sickness coming on. this is probably the best thing I’ve done for my health!), & occasionally L-Lysine (nothing better for a sore throat).

Consider your diet:

  • Its especially important when sick that your body isn’t working overtime to handle the food you are consuming. Eat as clean as possible, cutting out grains, sugars, and processed products. Up your vegetable intake (easy by juicing!) & add healthy fats like coconut oil.
  • Make beef or chicken bone broth. This is HUGE HUGE HUGE  in boosting your immunity! I will eventually post a how-to, but in the meantime, check out Wellness Mama for her method.
  • Eat plenty of fresh garlic (raw if possible), ginger, and turmeric.
  • Add some Apple Cider Vinegar to your water. If you can’t stand the taste, there are capsules available which is amazing.
  • Local honey= nature’s antibiotic.
  • Drink water. And lots of it.

Get some rest:

  • You know how everyone tells you to get rest when you’re sick, and you’re like, yeah right, I have this and this and this to do?! I get it, but you NEED rest. I hit a point where I decided that it is not worth it to stress my body further by running while sick because it just prolongs the sickness and time off work! Treat yourself gently and get restorative sleep that will allow your body to heal.
  • Check your stress levels. I can’t tell you how many times my sickness was brought on by stress. You can prevent that by being in tune with your body and anxiety levels well before it gets to that point.

Stay healthy! If you have any favorite natural remedies to prevent or cure sickness, please share them with me! I’m always looking for more. In the meantime, I’m going to be drinking lots of bone broth and catching up on some good reading.

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