Girl Talk (that means vagina stuff) 

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Forewarning. This post will include words like vagina, vulva, moist, and discharge. 

If that squicks you out, you can back out now, OR you can put on your big girl (cotton) panties and keep on keepin on. 

This is a less than enchanting, slightly embarrassing post. But I also feel a need to share what I’ve experienced and learned just in case there’s another beautiful, itchy queen out there experiencing the same issues. Those issues being horrid happenings in the nether regions accompanied by raging desperation for relief.

We’re gonna talk about yeast infections.

YEAST INFECTIONS.

(bolded just in case anyone sitting nearby doesn’t have a clear view of the topic at hand)

First things first. Yeast infections are incredibly common. If you end up with one, please know you’re not alone. Your sisters are with you. Your provider has seen it before. The receptionist has heard it all. The CVS cashier will have a far more awkward transaction within the hour, I assure you.

What are the symptoms?

Burn, itch, discharge, swelling, redness, rash.  Severe cases can lead to excessive swelling, extreme pain/discomfort, or splitting, peeling skin.

Lovely, yah?

It’s important to note that the symptoms of a yeast infection can mirror those of other issues like bacterial vaginosis or STDs/STIs.  If you’re not sure whether it’s yeast, grab yourself an OTC test (some tests may not test for ALL types of candida) or see your provider for confirmation.

What causes it?

Sex (any type of sex, with or without a yeasty partner), menstrual products, cleansers, vaginal sprays, underwear fabrics, friction, hormones, medications, pregnancy, diabetes, diet, booze, poor hygiene, douching, a full moon on a Tuesday.

Basically anything.

What should you do?

You can go to the doctor and receive a pill or suppository. They may not prescribe anything, but rather advise you on which OTC products to buy from your local pharmacy.

OR you can attack that thing (the infection, not your vagina) with a slew of natural remedies that honestly, legitimately, really work.

The most important step after confirmation is to start your chosen treatment method immediately.  Many various types of bacteria live inside your body at any given moment, but an imbalance can lead to infections or other complications. The longer it’s left untreated, the greater the imbalance.  The greater the imbalance, the more gnarly the manifestation.

Do this.

  • Cut out sugars. Yeast feeds on sugars, so ex-nay that crotch poison ASAP.
  • Nourish your body with the things it needs to restore balance and fight off infection. Good, candida balancing foods, sunshine, water, a rested but exercised mind and body. Candida overgrowth can happen in the intestines, so plan your healing on a broad scale.
  • Keep the area clean and dry. Yeast thrives in moist places. Rinse yourself with warm water every time you use the restroom. (A peri bottle is excellent!) Pat thoroughly dry. You could even use a hair dryer on a low, cool setting.
  • Give it some room.  Go commando when possible and stick to appropriately fitted cotton underwear.  If it makes you feel sexy or makes your butt look awesome, it’s probably not the best option for the time being.
  • Give the bad bacteria a run for its money. Use PLAIN yogurt (as in one ingredient) topically. Topically? Yes, topically. Rinse and reapply often to the vulva, getting between the labia and inserting into the vagina if you can. The yogurt contains probiotics which help to neutralize and balance the baddies. It’s also very soothing for the irritation. (Get the Greek version and carry a few fresh panty liners. You’ll thank me.)
  • Take a quality, refrigerated probiotic.  I take two a day when I’m having symptoms, one in the morning and one at night. Probiotics have majorly affected my life in the best ways. Get some.
  • Go full blast if necessary. Inserting garlic cloves (with a knotted string threaded through for easy removal), grapefruit seed extract supplements, apple cider vinegar baths, and diluted tea tree oil are all popular options.
  • If you choose to go with an OTC suppository, choose the longest treatment available.  Usually a seven day kit.  The one day kits will SET YOU ABLAZE, and the three day kits may not supply the area with medication over enough time to fully cure the infection.  (pro tip – These suppositories can have side effects similar to that of the infection itself.  You might notice your symptoms worsen a bit before they improve.)

Be diligent with your regimen!  Even with OTC suppositories or prescription medications, it can take a good 7-14 days for most infections to completely heal.  If your symptoms noticeably worsen without any eventual improvement, get yourself to your preferred provider for expert assistance.

How can you prevent it?

  • For the love of genitals, PLEASE don’t use “products” on your lady bits. Special feminine washes, SPRAY FRESHENERS… It’s a reproductive organ, not an old sofa.
  • Be serious with your food intake.  Some foods can exacerbate candida overgrowth while others help your body maintain it’s natural, ideal flora.  Yogurts, fermented foods, vitamin rich meals…  Your body is a masterpiece.  Treat it kindly.
  • Stay in tune.  Sometimes after a little panky hanky, I realize that maaayyybe I could have used a little more lubricant of some sort. Or maaayyybe I should have asked my husband to shave.  (I’M JUST BEING HONEST WITH Y’ALL.  Don’t side eye me too hard, ok?) Sometimes I feel a little off during ovulation or just before my period arrives.  These are the times to pop a probiotic, have some sauerkraut, and skip the frappuccino.
  • Wear vulva friendly clothes.  Breathable, dry fabrics.  Not too tight.  Nothing that rubs the wrong way. Always, always, always bring a change of pants when going to the beach or pool.
  • Cross your fingers, jump on one foot, sing Hey, Diddle Diddle thrice, and hope you never have to endure the flames of such evils ever again.

Care to share your own harrowing experiences and preferred treatment options?

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.

Continue reading

A WEE Bit Greener

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Bad puns. Gotta love ’em!

But yes!  I’m ready to test these waters.  (there’s another pun there somewhere)  I’ve always used cloth wipes on my babies, but I’ve been hesitant to try them for myself.  I don’t think I’m ready for adult #2’s in my washer just yet, but I can handle #1’s!

I prefer to use nursery flannel to make my kids’ cloth wipes.  It’s soft and even softer when two layers are turned and topstitched together.  It does the job so well and they’re super cute.  It’s also a really easy sewing project for beginners.

Alas….I care not even a little bit about cuteness when it comes to grown folk wipes.  But that’s what makes this DIY so awesome.  It doesn’t matter what they look like.

I’m taking this little leap, and I want to encourage you to try it as well!  This is so easy.  Just minutes from start to finish.

The secret to this DIY is KNIT FABRICS.

If you’ve done much sewing, I bet you already see where I’m going.  Knit fabrics don’t fray.  No sewing required, no serging, no special scissors needed.  Just cut it up and go.

BOOM.

Knits are available at any store that sells fabrics, and you can feel free to skimp a little and buy the cheaper stuff or check the discount/remnant bin.  This DIY is also perfect for those of us clearing out closets.  Tshirts, PJs, tank tops, etc…A lot of these are made with knits.  Minimize, recycle, DIY, and save the planet all in one go!

I chose to cut my fabric into rectangles so I could easily fold them into thirds for use.  I didn’t measure or get too fancy.  However, keep in mind that knits will roll around the edges a good bit, so plan accordingly when deciding on a rough size.

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Perfectly Imperfect!  Full size to the left, folded in thirds to the right.

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Ample hand coverage!

That’s all it takes!  I store mine in a basket underneath my bathroom sink and pull out a tiny stack each day.  Used wipes get dropped into a mesh lingerie bag for washing.  If you don’t already have a mesh bag, I’d definitely recommend getting at least one.  Tiny wipes could get stuck in your washer!  The bag also makes it easy to refill your basket.  Just dump the clean wipes out of the bag and carry on.

We can do this!


Do you use cloth wipes?  What do you use?  What are your experiences?

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

 

Family Table or Battlefield?

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I did a search this morning for blog posts about picky eaters.

And now I feel compelled to write a blog post about picky eaters.

I came across sooo many shared experiences, so many opinions and tactics.  Some of them inspired me, some made me laugh, some made me sigh in solidarity, and some of them disturbed me quite deeply.

A few of the thoughts I found include…

“Picky eaters are spoiled kids.”

“They’re manipulating the parent.”

“As the parent, I will win this fight.”

If you hadn’t already guessed, these are a few of the thoughts that I’ve personally come to find unsettling and potentially harmful.  (See this post I wrote about fighting battles with your kids)  But…as a mom of a picky eater (and a mom of a kid that will Hoover down anything you offer), I understand the immense frustration that comes with a “selective eater” in the family.

So, here we go with links, data, research, and my own experiences and opinions!


Let’s start with a few of the different types of picky eating.

This article by Scientific American outlines the differences.

Sensory-dependent eaters reject a food because of its texture or smell (“Yuck, slimy!”).

Preferential eaters shun new or mixed foods.

General perfectionists have specific needs, such as foods not touching one another.

Behavioral responders may cringe or gag when right is not “right” (“Ham and cheese should be on white bread, not brown!”) or may refuse to come to the table before they even know what’s for dinner.

It’s not always about how a food tastes.  Appearance, routine, personality type, mood, energy level, etc…  They all play a roll.  Your child might not be eating because they’re hungry and feeling tired, weak, or just bummed out.  Consider all of these things, not just the number or forkfuls going into the kid’s mouth.


Could it be simple biology?

Children are born with natural, even reflexive, aversions to potential dangers.  This article by Parenting Science explains this idea really well.

Bitterness is a signal of potential toxicity, and kids—with their smaller bodies and less-developed capacities for detoxification—are more vulnerable to the effects of toxins.

It wouldn’t surprise me if natural selection has equipped children with an extra-sensitive system for rejecting bitter tastes (Glenndinning 1994).


There’s also a possible genetic cause.

The researchers found that kids who possessed at least one copy of the bitter-sensitive allele were more likely to detect bitterness at low concentrations. In addition, these kids reported preferences for sweeter drinks and cereals with higher sugar content. They were also less likely to name milk or water as a favorite beverage.


Understand that picky eating is not always just about food and stubbornness.

About 20% of the children were picky eaters, meaning they either ate only a restricted number of foods or could not eat with others because of their limited range of food preferences. Only about 3% fell into the latter category of severe selective eaters. Those children were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or social anxiety. Even children in the moderately picky eating group were more likely to show symptoms of depression, social anxiety or attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder compared to children who weren’t picky eaters.

http://time.com/3981050/picky-eating-health-risks/

Picky eating may seem insignificant, but it deserves (needs) to be handled appropriately with measured and thoughtful methods.

One also can’t help but wonder if these disorders are a correlation, caused by nutrition issues, or a result of emotional, mental, and physical stress stemming from unhealthy methods and situations. (e.g., forced eating)


Understand that picky eating is often a perceived problem rather than an actual problem.

The majority of children between one and five years of age who are brought in by their parents for refusing to eat are healthy and have an appetite that is appropriate for their age and growth rate. Unrealistic parental expectations may result in unnecessary concern, and inappropriate threats or punishments may aggravate a child’s refusal to eat.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3474391/

Parental efforts to make small eaters eat more may have the opposite effect. Caregivers may pressure children to eat without appreciating the physiological decrease in appetite that occurs between one and five years of age (4). Children’s appetites tend to be erratic during these years. Although toddlers and preschoolers vary considerably in their intakes at meals during the day, their total daily energy intake remains fairly constant (6). Healthy children have a remarkable capacity to maintain their energy balance over time when offered an assortment of nutritious foods (6). Parents who believe that their child is abnormally small or nutritionally at risk are more likely to overreact to variations in the child’s appetite (7).

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3474391/


And then there are all these factors…

  • Kids and babies go through growth spurts and periods of decreased appetites.  The medical field is well aware that weight gain slows and appetite decreases in children of a certain age.  This is normal.
  • All animals are born knowing  when they are hungry and when they are full.  Forcing a child to eat when they aren’t hungry and denying foods when they are hungry teaches the child to ignore their body’s natural cues and creates unhealthy eating standards during their most formative years.
  • Children who are heavily pressured to eat foods actually eat less.  Source
  • Adding conflict, anger, frustration, feelings of defeat and marginalization, and fear do not make for a healthy eater.
  •  Some children have legitimate, sometimes severe, sensory processing disorders that can make mealtime an anxiety ridden experience full of mental turmoil and physical discomfort due to their brain’s inability to process what their senses are experiencing.

Here’s what you can do

  • Present new foods as standalone items.  For example, offer just peas rather than peas & carrots or peas inside a casserole.
  • Present new foods over and over.  The general consensus is that most people, children included, need to be exposed to a new food about ten times before developing a taste for it.
  • Offer new, even unfavorable foods alongside other preferred foods.  Hate broccoli but love carrots?  Serve both.
  • Include children in food preparations.
  • Accept a child’s preferences and experiences as legitimate, just as you would an adult’s.
  • Model good eating habits and behaviors.
  • Make meals an enjoyable and positive family time.
  • Treat eating as you would any other learning experience.  The brain power and dexterity to tie shoes doesn’t develop overnight.  The ability to process and enjoy spinach may not come overnight either.
  • Never force foods, especially with the “clean your plate or else” method.

As I said… I have a picky eater.  The kid that hates trying new foods, the kid that is adamant she doesn’t like a certain food even though she’s only seen it once on a Food Network show.  The kid that will spend an hour saying, “I’m still eating!” even though nothing has been touched on her plate.

My experience has taught me that choosing to fight this battle is what creates and perpetuates the battle.

“Winning” and having your sobbing child finally swallow that last bite of chicken before they slump out of their chair and run away to find a comforting toy while you toss dishes into the sink because it’s 9PM, and this is absolutely friggin ridiculous…  It’s not worth it.  

You didn’t win.  You once again cemented the child’s feeling that dinner time sucks and food makes people feel bad.

I feel like I can say these things, even though some may find it to be a little harsh, because I’ve done it too.  I’m now in repair and recovery mode with my child, and I want to spare other families from enduring the “just three more bites” game yet again.

Take everything you think you know about picky eaters and dump it.  Parent your child.  Look at them, not the plate.  Be the encourager, the sympathizer, the example, the helper. Let’s lead our children to victory instead of demanding victory over them.


I’d love to hear some other thoughts and experiences.  What’s worked for you?  What’s failed miserably?  What were your experiences at mealtimes as a child?

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!

Clear Out Your Medicine Cabinet

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This post is for minimalists, crunchy folk, families with kids, your neighbor, and everybody else.  Whether you want to live more simply with less clutter or just want to improve the health of those in your home, this is for you.

My medicine cabinet is not even a cabinet.  It’s a tiny basket with a pack of bandaids that we never use, a few essential oil personal inhalers, and a thermometer.

*gaspSHOCKhorror*

“But what if your kid gets a fever?”

“What do you take for headaches?”

“You’ll change your mind when you get a sinus infection!”

So, now that we’ve got THAT out of the way, let’s continue to the meat of this post.

I encourage you to go grab a package or two of OTC medication from your cabinet and read the labels.  What are the intended uses of these products?  I’ll use a popular brand of acetaminophen as an example.

“temporarily relieves minor aches and pains due to: the common cold, headache, backache, minor pain of arthritis, toothache, muscular aches, premenstrual and menstrual cramps, temporarily reduces fever”

Source

temporarily relieves minor aches and pains

temporarily reduces fever

I want to use this example because this is one of the medications so many people keep on hand and use for so many purposes.

My point here is that drugs like this do not fix your problem.  They do not cure anything.  They do not prevent anything.  They slightly alter the presentation of the actual problem for a short time and then bring to the table a slew of side effects, noticed or not.

And then there’s this…

giving these medicines, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to prevent fever after vaccination may also blunt immune responses to the vaccine.

Duke University/CDC – Click for Source

And also this…

Our previous case-control study showed that use of acetaminophen at age 12–18 months is associated with increased likelihood for Autism Spectrum Disorder (OR 8.37, 95% CI 2.08–33.7). In this study, we again show that acetaminophen use is associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (p = 0.013).

Click for Source

These medications aren’t helping you.

Yes, your headache might ease off.  But why do you have a headache?  Did you consume too much sugar or caffeine in the past few days and now your body is having to readjust to normalcy?  Did you skip a few glasses of water and allow yourself to become dehydrated?  Did you watch too much television or play on your phone too long?

Are you medicating yourself for something a glass of water, a dose of sunshine, or better time management can cure?

There are natural, better ways to not only treat common health issues, but also many, many ways to circumvent these issues entirely.

  • Prevent seasonal allergy reactions by consuming local, raw honey.
  • Utilize a steamy bathroom, facial massage, and a mug of tea instead of consuming decongestant medications.
  • Use a netti pot instead of OTC nasal sprays.
  • Know that the foods and beverages you put into your body directly affect how you feel at that moment and for a time afterwards.
  • Clean water, mild soap, and applied pressure are all most minor wounds need.
  • Recognize that things like fevers or upset tummies are the body’s way of dealing with an attack that started well before you ever noticed the symptoms.
  • Wash your hands with a mild, *non-antibacterial soap.*
  • Know that your attitude, how you manage yourself mentally and emotionally, plays a role in how you feel physically.
  • Treat the origin of your issue, not just a handful of symptoms.
  • Understand that your body is made to defend and repair itself and often doesn’t need assistance.

We’ve been so conditioned to believe we *need* these medications to “heal” or “get better.”  Even the drugs themselves don’t claim to do that.  Human bodies are powerhouses of sustainability…as long as they are treated with the respect and care they deserve.

I’m not saying that “medicine is evil” or “Big Pharma is killing us all!”  I’m saying that we live in a world where many people would rather take on additional risks, spend extra money, and live in a state of dependency than make a diet change or go for a walk.

I’m saying, “Simple solutions to simple problems.”

I encourage you to make today the ending point of concealing symptoms.  Make today your starting point for genuine, “I love you, self,” self-care.

Protein Balls, Breastfeeding Cookies, Breakfast of Champions

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If you haven’t already found these things on Pinterest, let me go ahead and enlighten you. These are crazy easy and nom-worthy snacks everyone will love, including your budget. You need to make these. Like, today.

These yummies can be relatively healthy or SUPAH healthy depending on your ingredient choices.  For example, I try to avoid nut butters with extra ingredients (added sugars or oils) to ensure my kids don’t go berserk after eating a mini mound of these things.  I also like to add in some ground chia seeds for a little nutrient boost and use local, raw honey for allergy protection.  The great thing about these goodies is that ALL of the ingredients are either pantry staples or have multiple uses.  If you have a local store that sells bulk items by weight (lucky you), you can save a few dollars by only buying a handful of each of your add-ins.

There are recipes out there, but I prefer to wing it. So here are my instructions for how you can wing it too 😉

You need this.

The basic ingredients are

  • rolled oats
  • nut butter
  • honey

I do about a half a cup of peanut butter and maybe a third of a cup of honey with probably a little over a cup of oats. Add and tweak to get a solid mixture.

I love recipes that aren’t even real recipes.

You can customize your cookies with all sorts of awesomeness.

  • dried fruits
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • chocolate chips
  • cocoa nibs
  • toasted coconut
  • cinnamon
  • vanilla
  • brewer’s yeast for the milky moms
  • whatever you have in the cupboard

Chop or pulse these ingredients in a processor so they’re relatively small but still retain their unique textures.

Now do this.

Toss everything into a large bowl and stir together.  You’re aiming for a spackle consistency. No loose, dry oats sitting in the bowl. No soupy goopiness.

Once you’ve got it all mixed together (and you’ve taste tested one or seven spoonfuls) you can roll into balls, flatten into cookies, or freeze into bar shapes. Lightly oil or wet your hands before handling the mixture. I like to refrigerate mine, but all the ingredients are suitable for storing on the counter. Just keep them covered and relatively un-warm.

I toss a few of these at my kids in the mornings because I CAN’T EVEN when it comes to food preparation first thing in the A.M.. And what kid says no to cookies? (weird ones)  I love to grab one (LOLONE?!LOL) when my sweet tooth starts raging.

I’d love to hear your favorite combos or special ideas for these!

Happy January, y’all!

Minimizing the Little Southern Girl’s Closet

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In my last post, I shared that I had destashed two garbage bags of kid’s clothes. Today while doing laundry, I had a moment. My daughter’s closet has been PACKED since before she ever came earthside. I’ve been buying packages of hangers monthly. Even with consistent and frequent destashes, it was still jammed and I’d have to shove stuff to the side just to squeeze in a few more clean items.

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A poor quality photo.  Poor quality because I was in such a state of URGENCY here.  Look at it.  There is literally a kitchen sink in there.  (although this is actually *the best* space for our kitchen playset…  It keeps it out of sight and saves space in the bedroom.)  But this is where we stood AFTER my purge last week.  This is not minimal.  This is not peaceful.

Getting dressed and choosing clothes is always a headache. My husband simply refuses to help pick clothes because of the absolute chaos in the closet. Things that don’t fit yet, things that are super cute but kinda don’t fit yet, things that are cute and fit great but, as my girl says, have “scratchy lines inside.” (shirred fabrics) A giant mound of hand-me-downs, too-big items, or out of season things added to all that as well.

Today I decided I’m over it.

Completely and utterly EXHAUSTED by it.

You know you’re in a terrible state of excess, and dare I say ungratefulness, when clothing is a BURDEN.

Behold.

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Poor quality photo.

Superb quality destash.

This is everything except socks and undergarments.

I now have almost 100 empty child’s hangers in my laundry room.

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I’m still blown away by this.

I want to share how I went about it and to encourage you to take the plunge yourself. It took me about two hours (one nap time), and it feels WONDERFUL! I’ll go ahead and say that I kind of lucked out with a kid that despises most pants. She has maybe three pairs of pants she will wear. I’ve always been frustrated by that. No longer!

YOU CAN DO THIS!

Step One – The Absolutes

First, I pulled out everything I knew was a 110% keeper. For my daughter, that included “puppy shirt,” “Ariel dress,” and “the red shirt.” She is the ultimate minimalist. I pulled out a couple brand new, unworn things and then used the following criteria to complete this first step.

  • It must fit right now
  • It must be something we all really, really like
  • It must be seasonally appropriate

I ended up with about a dozen things in this first sorting.

Step Two – The Basics

Next, I went through and pulled out the “staples” that we liked.  Basically, things that make life easy.

  • Things suitable for everyday wear at home or quick outings
  • A few nicer things for church
  • Things that could pull double duty (shirts that layer well, cute outfits that work for any and every occasion, etc)

Step Three – The Unnecessary

The third step was to pull out the fer-shurr no’s.

  • Things that either one or both of us disliked
  • Things that didn’t fit nicely
  • Summer clothes
  • General “bleh” items.

Anything either of us didn’t care for went into the destash bucket. Bleh items went in there as well along with anything on the verge of being too small. Anything too big was judged and sorted based on “Will this summer item fit six months from now?” and “Do we even like it?” and most importantly “Does it have itchy lines inside?”

Step Four – The Assessment

At this point I still had several things hanging in the closest that I was unsure about. They fit most of my keeper criteria, but I was having commitment issues.  So I sorted my keeper items from steps one and two into these categories.

  • Short sleeve shirts/outfits.
  • Long sleeve shirts/outfits.
  • Everyday dresses.
  • Church dresses.

Looking at my definite keepers made it easier to decide on the items I was feeling unsure about.  I could see that I had plenty of this and maybe needed a few more of that.  Basing my choices on what I wanted to KEEP rather than what I wanted to get rid of made this purge much easier for me.

I finally had an empty closet..

Step Five – The Miscellany

On to the mound of random items stuffed into the corner.  (Maybe you already keep yours in a nice heirloom trunk, but going through it is still a good idea!)  I followed much of the same criteria for these things.

  • Strong appeal to us both
  • Likelihood to fit
  • Whether or not it was similar to another item

It all fits into a printer paper box. I didn’t even have to sit on the lid to shut it.

THIS is what minimalism feels like.  I know there are people out there with one pair of jeans and three shirts, and maybe I’ll get there one day, but this is amazing!  I encourage you…Don’t stop until you reach a genuine place of peace and happiness and excitement about the state of your belongings.  Don’t aim for better, aim for BEST.

I’m on a roll now.  Closets being liberated all over the house this week!

Holiday Minimalism Tips

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I’m minimizing slowly but steadily!

We’re now down to two crock pots instead of three.

Leaps and bounds being made here, I tell ya!

In all seriousness, I really have been making good progress. Especially considering the time of year and the near constant influx of new toys and clothes.

I did a pretty good destash of my kids’ clothes a few weeks ago. I was able to donate two huge garbage bags of stuff. Yesterday I halved the amount of stuff in our toy box. (I cannot express the level of combined peace and fabulocity one feels when there is OPEN SPACE in the toy box.)

Let me tell you… Attempting to up your newbie minimalism game DURING THE CHRISTMAS SEASON can be tough. We are extremely blessed and often exchange many, many wonderful gifts.  It can feel overwhelming to have rooms full of wrapped gifts, new toys scattered everywhere, and giant mounds of new clothes to find hangers for.  But what a blessed mess! Because of the love and generosity of family and friends, we have only needed to actually purchase clothes for our children a handful of times in their whole lives.  How amazing is that!?

I’ve realized a few things and developed a few strategies to make the most of the season without going into full on minimalist panic mode from the chaos and then following up that panic with immense “but we’re so fortunate” guilt.  I hope this helps some of you too!

Action #1. Prep Errthing.

Destash heavily in the weeks before.  Clothes, toys, kid stuff, adult stuff.  Clearing out not only gives you room to work with, but it also gives you an excellent sense of what you and your kids actually need and what you don’t really use.  Clearing the clutter makes visits at home and traveling much easier. Plan your schedule and visits to allow for a recoup period so you can get yourself refocused before going at it again. Spacing events also helps give your kids some time to detox and unwind from the excitement and RED DYE SOAKED SUGAR IN EVERYTHING. STAAHHP.  

Action #2. Destash Wisely, Graciously, and Cheerfully.

During the destash process, be on the lookout for regiftables, hand-me-downs, shelter items, etc.  I’ve noticed in our town people leave warm clothing and blankets tied to trees in parking lots for the homeless and less fortunate.  There is always someone needing a warm jacket. With all the opportunities to be a blessing and be blessed during this time, there is no reason to keep any “umm, this could maybe be useful to me” items.

Action #3. Learn to Accept Blessings.

This was actually a hard lesson for us to learn.  When we started attending our current church, we realized that many within our church family love to give.  Whether it be a helping hand, a small comfort item, or palmed cash covertly slipped over during a hug.  To say it was awkward for us is an understatement.  When we asked our pastor about it (Should we let people do this?  Should we give the money back?), he basically told us to remain humble and not refuse a thoughtful and faithful blessing from a sister or brother in Christ.  If someone feels a pull to give, let them give.  Both sides receive joy in this.  And remember that we are blessed so that we may also BE a blessing.

Side note for funsies! – We did the shoeboxes from Samaritan’s Purse this year.  My husband and I were standing at the back of our SUV in a parking lot trying to decide what we needed and how to best pack our boxes.  A wonderful lady approached us and said she had asked God for direction in blessing someone today.  And then she handed us $50. We thanked her profusely, wished her a blessed day, and then bought $50 more worth of stuff for extra boxes!  I’ve heard it said, “God will get it to you if He knows He can get it through you.”

Action #4. Always Remember Jesus.

With soooo much going on and so many physical or material aspects of the season, always keep your focus on Jesus. Giving away your old items, or even giving away brand new items, is so much easier and heart fulfilling when you really open up and accept that you’re not just giving things or donating your old crud.  You can make your home a happier place AND bless others mightily. Maybe you’re like me and often struggle with thoughts of “we have so much and others have so little.”  Now is the time to remind yourself that Jesus was sent, not because we deserved Him, but because our Father in Heaven loves us so much!  Be blessed.  And when the blessings fill you up to overflowing, start blessing others just as much!