Somewhat Successfully Raising Minimalist-ish Kids

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For several days now, we’ve had a problem. With our toy box. Specifically the lid and how it won’t shut because toys are starting to mound up.

How?

How does this happen? 

HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

*twitch*

Regardless… we deemed it a Clear Out Day, and we ended up with a tote full of “givers” and a few broken things that needed to go.  I want to share our methods of tempering the chaos that naturally ensues when small children are about and how we successfully destash TOYS without everyone losing their ever lovin’ minds.

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The Lowdown on DIY Deodorant

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Let me start by saying that this is not a recipe post.  I do make my own deodorant, but in the process of learning how, I’ve come across about a zillion recipes “that really work!” and comments like, “What if I don’t have organic mango butter and an instant read infrared thermometer?”

Fret not.

The truth is that homemade deodorant is one of the easiest things you can DIY.  You may have to go through a couple versions to find out what works best for you, but it is literally as simple as stirring a mixture in a bowl.

In this post, I’m going to share some basic natural product DIY tips and break down the pros, cons, and properties of various ingredients you can use for deodorants.   You can start developing your personalized product by choosing ingredients that fit your skin type, your budget, or any other preferences/needs.

The Ingredients

Coconut Oil

  • Coconut oil is super popular as a cream or paste deodorant base and mixes very easily
  • Light/white in color
  • Light coconut scent
  • Vegan
  • Soft solid at room temperature, melts easily when applied to skin
  • Pros : Contains antioxidants, antimicrobial, moisturizing, antifungal, mixes easily
  • Cons : Slightly greasy feel, can cause dryness in some users, known comedogenic

Shea Butter

  • Shea butter is very firm and easier to apply when blended with a softer base.
  • Cream color
  • Nutty aroma
  • Vegan
  • Melts at around 110*F
  • Pros : Moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, good for a firmer deodorant
  • Cons : Requires melting either by microwave or double boiler, may cause a reaction in those with nut/latex allergies (very rare!)

Cocoa Butter

  • Cocoa butter is very firm and easier to apply when blended with a softer base.
  • Tan color
  • Sweet aroma
  • Vegan
  • Melts at around 95*F
  • Pros : Long shelf life, anti-imflammatory, great thickener, reduces the appearance of scars or blemishes, good for firm or stick style deodorants
  • Cons : Requires melting either by microwave or double boiler, can cause crystalization or “balls” in your product.  (still safe and usable, just less homogenous)

Beeswax

  • Beeswax is too stiff and waxy to be used alone, but it adds stability and firmness to other softer bases.
  • Various shades of yellow
  • Sweet, warm aroma
  • NOT vegan
  • Melts at around 145*F
  • Pros : Soother, protective barrier for skin, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial
  • Cons : Waxy feel, requires melting either by microwave or double boiler

Arrowroot Powder

  • Arrowroot powder is a root starch used in many natural products as well as foods!
  • Very fine, light, white powder
  • Vegan
  • Pros : Moisture/oil absorbing, thickener, helps to neutralize odors
  • Cons : Can be messy to work with
  • Cornstarch or potato starch may be substituted.

Baking Soda

  • Baking soda is extremely accessible and inexpensive and makes a great addition to DIY deodorants.  However, it sometimes has negative side-effects and should be paired with other ingredients to avoid excessive concentrations.
  • Fine white powder, slightly abrasive
  • Vegan
  • Pros : Moisture/oil absorbing, thickener, excellent odor neutralizer
  • Cons : Is known to cause irritation, redness, or rash in some users

Probiotics

  • Probiotics are the “good bacteria” that help to fight and balance the “bad bacteria.”
  • Can be purchased in capsules or loose powder
  • A shelf stable probiotic is necessary for deodorant usage! Refrigerated probiotics are amazing but won’t survive the heat/air of this DIY.
  • Capsules may not be vegan
  • Pros : Helps to fight odors, anti-(bad)bacterial
  • Cons : You body’s natural micro-flora may require you to tweak the amount of probiotics you include in your deodorant.

Essential Oils

  • Essential oils are a staple for many naturally minded DIYers and offer endless possibilities and combinations.
  • Pros (depending on the oils and amounts you choose) : can soothe the skin, fight off bacteria, prevent odors, lift your mood, or just make you smell fabulous.
  • Cons (depending on the oils and amounts you choose) : can irritate the skin, can result in sensitization, photosensitivity
  • Always dilute oils in appropriate ratios and choose your oils wisely.  For example, don’t load up your deo with cinnamon bark oil because it’s Christmas…ouch!
  • Common favorites include tea tree, lavender, citrus oils, pines, ylang ylang, frankincense, patchouli, sandalwood, bergamot, mints, etc.

Other Great Add-Ins

  • Vitamin E Oil
  • Mango Butter
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Various Oils (grapeseed, avocado, etc)
  • Vegetable Glycerin
  • Bentonite Clay, French Green Clay
  • Herbs or Herbal Powders (calendula or chamomile powders, for example)

Where do I find these things?

Some of these items can be found easily at your local grocery store.  Coconut oil, baking soda, and arrowroot powder can be found almost anywhere.  Some of the butters and oils can be found at health food stores or vitamin shops.  Earth Fare, Whole Foods, and so on.   And there’s always Amazon!  But here’s a list of natural friendly online stores to give you even more  options.

Mountain Rose HerbsStarwest BotanicalsFronteri Co-opiHerbPlant TherapyBulk Apothecary

Try to aim for organic, unrefined, nonGMO, cold-pressed, fair trade, virgin, etc.

What do I do with all this information?

This is the really beautiful part…  You choose what you want to use and just toss it all together!  The most elaborate recipe would still only require some sort of heating method, a bowl, a utensil, and a container for your finished product.  You can’t mess this up.  Remember that this is a Do It Yourself project, not necessarily a Do It The Way Someone Else Did It project.  Pick one or two ingredients or pick twenty.  It’s yours.

General DIY Tips

  • Work in small batches.  You don’t want to waste ingredients or end up with a gallon of product that you don’t like.
  • Clean up properly.  Things like coconut oil and beeswax should not go down your drain.  A flexible spatula ensure you get most of your product from your mixing bowl into your end product container.  Before washing, and ideally when your mixture is still pliable, use a paper towel or bit of toilet paper to wipe out any remaining product from the bowl and discard.
  • Remember that some of these ingredients will change in texture once they’ve been allowed to come to room temperature.  Coconut oil will naturally soften and melt a little as it’s being stirred, but it will stiffen up again if left in a cool room.
  • Be ready to adjust your product as your needs change.  Some of us can get away with a simple swipe of just arrowroot powder on wintery days.  Suit YOUR needs.
  • Be on the lookout for adverse reactions.  You may need to use less baking soda, you may need to add a few less drops of EO, you may need to skip them altogether.
  • Make notes as you go.  I’m horrible at this, but I absolutely see the merit in it.  Nothing is worse than ending up with the perfect product and then not having any idea how to replicate it.  Record how many spoonfuls, how many drops, how many tablespoons…

If you haven’t already jumped on the natural deodorant train, I hope this post encourages you to try! If you do already make your own, I’d love to hear what you use, your tips, and where you like to gather your ingredients.

Smell ya’ later!  ….OR WILL I?!

 

har har

 

Laundry and How to Not Do It.

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Over the past few months, I’ve significantly changed my laundry habits for the better.  And I’m not just talking about destashing clothes or only having limited this or that or whatever.  I’m talking about being mindful of my laundry.  Being present with my laundry.

So.  Deep.

Joking aside, these simple things have helped me tremendously, and I want to share.  These are steps I’ve taken to not only reduce the amount of laundry I wash, but to also come to a new appreciation and awareness of what I possess.

Step One.  Assess the Situation

I mean really assess.  I started by keeping a notebook and pen in my laundry room and making note of every load of laundry I washed and dried.  The first step to solving your problem is realizing/admitting you have a problem.

Take an inventory of what you own.  This is where minimalism starts to get really dynamic.  Some people live with two pairs of socks they wash often.  Others have a dozen pairs so they wash less.  Minimalism is whatever you need it to be.  Knowing exactly what you have will make you more intentional in your use.

Ask yourself how you define “dirty clothes.”  You wore a sweater around the house.  Unless you scrubbed toilets, it’s probably not dirty.  You showered and put on PJs.  They’re not dirty.  

Step Two.  Break the Habits.

Let your family members know that things are a’changin.  Talk to your Boo and your kids about how your house defines “dirty” clothes and ask them to be aware of what they toss into the laundry basket.  Hampers are a place for dirty things, not just things you’ve worn.

Have dedicated kitchen rags/towels for the day.  I could own a hundred kitchen towels, and we could use ALL of those suckers in half a day if I didn’t have them on lockdown.  Be hygienic, but conservative.

Reuse when possible.  Not everyone is comfortable with it, but my husband and I share a bath towel each day.  I wear jeans multiple times before washing.  If a cloth napkin doesn’t get used during a meal, leave it there for the next meal.  Again, be conscious of how you define dirty.

Step Three.  Make a Plan.  Stick to the Plan.

Decide how often you want to do laundry.  I had previously been washing whenever the hampers were overflowing, however often that may have been.  I wash once a week now due to managing our usage throughout the week.  Don’t let dirty underpants be the boss of you.

Manage it daily.  You shouldn’t have to wash daily, but you do have to keep an eye on your laundries.  A tshirt left here or there will surely end up in the hamper later on because nobody knows where it came from.  A mystery towel left on the kitchen counter will, of course, end up in the dirty laundry because what if it has e. coli on it!?  Fold it now, put it away now, hang it up now.

Get it done when you want it done.  When laundry day rolls around, the best thing you can do is bang it out ASAP.  You’ll feel like Cinderella in a Maytag commercial, but it’s so worth it when you can spend the next six days (or however long) saying, “LOOK AT ME AND ALL THE CLOTHES I’M NOT WASHING!”

Between destashing the extras, carefully selecting the keepers, and thoughtful usage of what we do have, I’ve halved my laundry.

If you feel like you’re doing laundry all the time, it’s because you are.  It seems like a silly things to take seriously, but I promise you… There is a distinct confidence and peace that comes with knowing you are actively and successfully managing your home and possessions rather than being a slave to them.

Make your material possessions work for you.  Don’t let them make work for you.


I’d love to hear your favorite laundry hacks or your personal routine!

Why I Choose Minimalism

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I’ve come across a few other blogs, comments, or conversations about what people believe minimalism is about and who the people are that practice it.

There’s the notion that minimalism is classist, elitist, or for people that “can afford to live with nothing.”

So, I want to share who I am and why and how I practice minimalism.

Who I Am

I’m a stay at home mom with two children.  My husband provides our one income.  I homeschool our children using homemade curricula.  We have a three bedroom, two bathroom home that we purchased with 100% financing from USDA.

We have two vehicles.  One being an almost fifteen year old car my husband purchased used in college.  The other an SUV that was hand-me-downed to us and paid off quickly.

We do not utilize any cable providers or entertainment streaming services.  We buy refurbished or used cell phones and choose inexpensive prepaid plans.  We do not own any laptops, tablets, smartwatches, DVD players, MP3 players, etc.  We have a television connected to a computer in our family room.

We have a strict $100 weekly budget that covers all food (including any take out or dining), hygiene items, and household items.  We do not have any credit cards.  Our debt consists of school loans, our home mortgage, and a loan we took on for lawn care equipment.  (Why??  My husband, bless his beautiful heart, decided to organize a small group for the purpose of providing free lawncare services for the elderly, sick, disabled, or otherwise unabled in our community.  We have made every payment on time and do not regret this expense for a moment.)  

We keep our A/C and heat off unless necessary and only rarely utilize our dishwasher or dryer.  We do not own a microwave.

I never buy clothes.  We receive clothing as gifts during the holidays and also exchange hand-me-downs between friends.  I wear $1 flip flops in the summer and seven year old boots in the winter.

Toilet paper is our only paper product, and its value is being heavily questioned as well.  I cut my own hair, frequently bathe without soaps, sew, repurpose, upcycle, conserve, etc.

We are not elitist or classist.

Do we live this way due to financial constrictions or because it’s what we’ve chosen?

Would you assume we are wealthy and can afford to not buy things?

or

Would you assume we are poor and can’t afford to buy things?

You have no idea and that’s precisely my point.

Why I Choose Minimalism

I choose minimalism because owning gadgets or having overflowing kitchen cabinets is not what makes me happy.  My preferences are mine alone and do not speak to those of anyone else.

And minimalism is not about money.  Minimalism is not about money.  Should I say it again?

I choose to clear out drinking glasses I don’t need because I don’t need them.  Not because I can afford to buy new ones or would rather just buy a package of plastic cups every other week.  I choose to narrow down our wardrobes because three shirts are enough.  Not because I plan to buy a slew of new things three months from now.

The excess we have(had) in our home was not the result of shopping sprees or frivolous spending. The build up of things in our home was due to indecisiveness, irrational fear of “needing” unneeded things, poor health choices, and wasteful habits. 

How I Minimize

I minimize by keeping what’s truly necessary, what makes me happy, and what makes my life productive.  I minimize by ridding my home of the things that I don’t need.

That’s it.

How and why I minimize, and how other people minimize, is about adjusting what we own (however little or much it may be) to how we feel.  A rich person keeping things they don’t need is the same as a poor person keeping things they don’t need.  

You do you.

Let me do me.

No name calling or assumptions necessary.