DIY Facial Grains | a natural face cleanser

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 I had been looking for a new more natural facial cleanser.  A friend recommended that I try facial grains.  I found that a few cosmetic brands were selling them.  A high-end cosmetic line sells facial grains for $40+ for 1 oz.  Whoah!  I took a look at the ingredients and was even more shocked!  Here they are Polyethylene, P. Angularis Seed Powder, Jojoba Oil, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Soybean Oil, Potassium Sorbate, Chlorphenesin, Polyethylene.  OK, so not what I want to be putting on my face.  I did some research and was able to formulate an all-natural version.
What are cleansing grains?
a blend of herbs, oats and/or nuts that can be used to cleanse and exfoliate your face.  They can be used daily or just a few times a week.
Benefits of cleansing grains?
All natural and chemical free.  They also do not contain those terrible microbeads.  They are excellent at exfoliating which is important for healthy skin.
I have been using facial grains for about 3 months now.  And my skin has never been healthier.  I shake about a teaspoon into my hand, add a few drops of water, create a paste and then rub on my face and wash off with water.  I then moisturize with a lightweight moisturizer.  
My Recipe (makes 9 oz, which lasts me about 6 months)
This blend is perfect for people with dry/slightly oily skin
4 oz clay (rhassoul or cosmetic clay)
2 oz oats (ground)
1/3 oz rose powder
1/3 oz  marshmallow root powder
1/3 oz rosehip powder
1/3 oz chamomile powder
**all my ingredients were purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs.  I was able to purchase all these for around $20, which would make close to 30 oz of facial grains!
Oats: gives skin a smooth silken appearance; heals wounds and cuts, soothes irritated skin, nutritive, anti-depressant and nervine
Rose: heals wounds and helps skin keep elasticity.
Clay: cleanses and draws out toxins, stimulates circulation and soothes inflammation
Marshmallow root: provides relief for irritations
Rosehip: Antioxidant and helps reduce inflammation
Chamomile: soothes irritated skin

Additional additives
Lavender: helps to promote tissue regeneration, also an antiseptic
Arrowroot powder
Kelp powder

 

 

 

 

 

The basic ratio is 25% oats, 50% clay and 25% herb powder.  You can tweak your ingredients based on your individual facial needs.
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Essential Oil Recipe Roundup

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As I am sure many of you know, essential oils have become a popular/trendy thing these past few years!  I always forget/doubt my knowledge in this area until I sit back and remember that I have been using essential oils since high school!  My mom started using them before they were “a thing” and slowly over the past decade and a half I have accumulated quite a collection of oils, recipes and uses.  Slowly but surely, they have made their way into my household essentials.  It might seem overwhelming to switch all your cleaning products and personal products to natural/homemade essential oils- because it is!  I have made the switch slowly, and there are still some conventional cleaning products and hygiene products I just haven’t found the perfect swap for yet.  If you are looking to get started, take a look at some of my recipes! Here is a list of all my posts with essential oils!

Here is a list of all my posts with essential oils!  All of them I am still using on a regular basis.  I find making the recipes to be relaxing–if I didn’t enjoy it,  you can bet I wouldn’t spend my time and energy on it.  It’s just an added bonus that I know that I am eliminating some potentially harmful chemicals from my home.

Essential Oil Bath Soak Recipe

DIY Essential Oil Freshener Spray

Homemade Bath Salts.

Essential Oil/Zinc Sunscreen Stick

A Journey with Eczema and a DIY cream

Non-toxic essential oil toilet bowl cleaner

Essential Oil Spray Deodorant

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Home Made Handsoap

DIY Diaper Wipes

A Minimalist Baby Registry Guide

A great guide for all your must have baby items. Perfect for minimalists

Ok, so after having one tiny human and seeing what we used and didn’t use here are my thoughts on a minimalist baby registry list.  Everyone’s lifestyle is different and some things might make sense for you and your family that didn’t work for us.  My goal was to add items to this list that we loved, used a lot, and that held up.  I tend to prefer natural and sustainable products.  I also try to avoid plastic as much as possible, and although I know some have successfully kept plastic out of their homes, there are some things that just worked for us!

As a huge proponent of sustainability, we scoured craiglist, yard sales and even bought some items off our friends.  We registered at our local kids cloth diaper/ consignment shop.  This shop is so great, people were able to order specific “used: registry items.  We also used an Amazon Registry and commented next to almost everything saying that we would be so happy if people were able to find the item gently used!

Nursery

  • Crib  (We love our stokke sleepi and were able to get a great deal on craigslist) But really any safe, non toxic sleeping surface will work.  The ikea sniglar is a great affordable non-toxic option.  It costs $79.99.  Paired with a naturpedic non-toxic mattress at $249.99 you have a great option for under $400.
  • 2-3 crib sheets and a waterproof pad for the crib mattress
  • changing pad and 2 covers (we put our changing pad on our dresser, but a changing table would work fine too)
  • Mobile- our tiny bird LOVED this, and it was one of the only decorations we added to the nursery.  My talented sister made ours (per my request)
  • Swaddling blankets -I love the muslin swaddles that are greater than 40 inches by 40 inches.  I also liked having those traditional flannel blankets to use for a variety of miscellaneous things.
  • Sound Machine.  We have a dohm.

Feeding/Breastfeeding (if you plan to solely breastfeed- go mama!!)  but if not here are a few suggestions

  • Bottles/nipples (we loved our evenflo glass bottles with silicone nipples)
  • You can get these silicone sleeves for the glass bottles if you are worried about them breaking
  • Quality breast pump (I recommend the medela pump in style) My insurance company paid for my pump, so check with yours before you buy.
  • High Chair.  I HIGHLY recommend the Stokke Tripp Trapp and the additional baby seat. This was another great craigslist score!  We skipped the tray and just push the chair right up to our table.  We also really like the OXO tot sprout which we use when visiting my in-laws.
  • Baby utensils
  • unbreakable dishes!  We chose to get Corelle.  Our regular dishes are stoneware and aren’t quite baby/toddler proof.
  • some choice of sippy cup/cups
  • Bibs

Gear

  • We have the BabyJogger City Mini GT Stroller and LOVE it.  But depending on how close together you think you might have kids, it might be worth splurging for the BabyJogger City select so you can easily convert it to a double stroller.
  • Baby carrier.  There are SO many options out there these days.  I chose the Becco Gemini for 2 reasons.  The first it is “hip safe” and that baby can be forward facing
  • Pack n’ Play.  I know this might seem totally non-minimalist. But we really used this a lot!  We used it as a bassinet during the newborn phase.  Then we used it as a playpen around 6 months to 1 year.  And up until 20 months, we used it as a travel crib.
  • Carseat.  This is such an agonizing decision.  We went with the ChiccoKeyFit 30.  A consistently highly rated car seat.  I recommend it to all my friends for its ease of use.  We chose the Britax Marathon Clicktight for our toddler seat, but in hindsight wish we would have stuck with Chicco and gotten their NextFit.
  • A diaper bag.  We chose the skip hop duo diaper bag.  I know many people who use a regular backpack.

Toys

  • we loved the baby playmat/baby gym.  This is definitely something you could borrow or buy used.  But is definitely worth having.
  • Bouncy seat or swing.  We ultimately fell in love with the BabyBjorn bouncer balance.  It is lightweight, bounces on its own and folds completely flat.  We could fold this flat and slide it under our couch when we weren’t using it.

Diapers (i only have cloth diaper advice to offer!)

  • newborn or small diapers (a used set if you can find them!)  We used newborn g-diaper covers/g-tinies with green mountain diaper preemie prefolds for 4-6 weeks until the little bird was 7 lbs.  If you think you will have a large baby-skip these!
  • 24 diapers (all in ones,covers and prefolds or inserts)  I highly recommend checking out GreenMountainDiapers.com.  They have excellent descriptions of their diapers and fit, as well as only carrying the highest quality diapers.  Their prefolds are the best prefolds around.
  • Trashcan with pail liner for dirty diapers
  • wetbag for travel
  • any diaper insert that is NOT microfiber will hold up for years and many many uses!  We have had great luck buying prefolds and hemp inserts from ebay and craigslist.

Miscellaneous

  • baby bath soap and lotion.  I am a huge fan of Mustela (a little pricey but you use so little that it really does last a long time) and Cetaphil Baby.
  • baby wardrobe!  Depending on season, as well as your personal style and laundry preferences.  We were lucky to get TONS of hand me downs.
  • These are the BEST burping cloths ever.

Some of our personal (non-necessity) favorites

  • AngelDear Lovey.  We received one of these as a gift, and it soon became littlebird’s favorite.  We quickly went a bought 2 more so we would never be without.  But they sell them in 3 packs (a pair and spare!)
  • Aden and Anais Dream Blanket
  • Boppy pillow with organic cover
  • Fisher Price sit me up floor seat
  • amber teething necklace (I have friends who swore by these, we used it as well and felt like we had success too!)
  • This is a great website that I love referring to before making any large baby purchase. http://thenightlight.com/

What were/are your must-have baby registry items!

What I Spent and What we Ate

 

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I am hoping for this to become a regular weekly post!  As a busy working mom, getting healthy meals on the table each week is definitely a lot of work.  I strive to get the best deal and save money when we can, but I have also learned that sometimes it is worth it to spend for convenience.

This was probably a strange week for me to start this up.  It was my birthday and we hosted a party and we had family staying in town with us.  But better now than never!

Here’s what I spent:
$79.85 at aldi (pantry staples, breakfast foods and some produce)
$75 at wegmans (party sandwich platter and supplies)
$14 produce club (I will write a future post about this great way I get produce!)
$40 at Wegmans (salmon, rice pilaf and spinach)

Total: 208.85  **definitely on the higher side, and we had some takeout mixed in.  Hoping to do better next week.  We don’t have a specific set grocery budget as we are still trying to get in the groove with our busy schedules and balancing cost with convenience.

Saturday
Dinner: pantry black bean pasta with tomato sauce and spring salad
Sunday
Breakfast- homemade granola, english muffins, stolen and fruit
Lunch-tuna melts and butternut squash soup
Dinner-tortellini soup, salad with cranberries, pecans, blue cheese, apples and balsamic dressing
Monday
Brunch out with my sister for a birthday treat
Lunch- pizza ($16 +salad)
Dinner- Sandwich tray , leftover soup, chips. Party food (pigs in a blanket, spinach dip and hummus and veggies)
Tuesday
breakfast- fruit, English muffins, yogurt
Lunch-leftover sandwiches and fruit
Dinner- salad and roasted potatoes
Wednesday
Breakfast- fruit
Lunch-leftovers
Dinner- salad and roasted potatoes (leftovers)
Thursday
Breakfast-eggs/pancakes
Lunch-leftovers at my parents
Dinner- lasagna, salad and bread at my parents
Friday
Breakfast- fruit
Lunch-leftovers/stuff from fridge and pantry
Dinner- Salmon, roasted cauliflower, rice pilaf and green beans
Saturday
Breakfast- crustless spinach and egg quiche, blueberry muffins and potato latkes

Lunch-salad/stuff from fridge

 

 

DIY Essential Oil Freshener Spray

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I cannot stand stale smelling air, I love for things to smell fresh.  But I hate spraying toxic chemicals in the air just to make my nose happy.  I have been experimenting for MONTHS to try to find the perfect essential oil spray recipe.  This scent is citrusy and fresh.  And the best part is, it really works to eliminate odors.  I use it to help freshen bed linens, clothes in between wearing and a general air freshener.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups distilled water
1/2 cups witch hazel or vodka (i’ve used both)
14 drops purification essential oil
6 drops grapefruit essential oil
4 drops orange essential oil
10 drops stress away essential oil
**if you only have the YL starter set, you can easily replace the grapefruit and orange with lemon

Mix all ingredients into a 16 oz spray bottle.   I found my glass spray bottle on amazon.

 

I have tried other varieties of essential oils for other scents, but I find that this one truly does the best of freshening and eliminating odors.  Do you have any favorite scents you love in your house?

 

DIY Stokke Crib Sheet Update

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My DIY tutorial for a stokke crib sheet is one of my most popular posts!  I figured I would write a quick update and include some new photos.  See the original post here.

After 2 years of use, these crib sheets are holding up great!   The fabric does seems to have some wear. The ones in the picture were made from “quilters” cotton fabric. My “test” crib sheet was made from an old sheet, and that fabric seems to be holding up a little better.  But both options worked great.

I love that I was able to make these sheets for a fraction of the cost of Stokke sheets.  I also love that I was able to customize the fabrics.

About 6 months ago, we decided we wanted to add an allergy cover for the crib mattress.  I couldn’t find an option for the stokke sized mattress.  I ended up buying a traditional crib mattress cover.  I just fold the corners of the cover down and when I put the crib sheet on it seems to hold everything in place just fine.  I don’t know that this would be a great option for an infant due to the risk of SIDS, but for our toddler it works great.

I am curious if there is a way to alter or modify an existing crib sheet for it to fit a stokke mattress.  If you’ve tried something let me know!

2016 Book List!

2017One of my goals for 2016 is read more.  Hoping for 30 books this year.   I compiled a nice long book list!  Luckily my local library stocks most of these books, so I will slowly be requested them.  My reading taste definitely leans toward the non-fiction side, but there are a few fiction in here based on recommendations from friends and family.  So far I am off to a good start, let’s hope I can keep up the pace.

Here is my list (so far)

  1. The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement -read (Jan 2016)
  2. Belonging and Becoming:  Creating a Thriving Family Culture (Mark and Lisa Scandrette) -read (Jan 2016)
  3. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation (Daniel Siegel) -currently reading
  4. You are What you Love: the Spiritual Power of Habit (James Smith)
  5. The Road to Character (David Brooks)
  6. Elite Minds: Creating the Competitive Advantage (Stan Beecham)
  7. Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble.  The Revolution (Brene Brown)
  8. Onward: How Starbucks Fought for its lifeWithouth Losing its Soul (Howard Schultz)
  9. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Angela Duckworth)
  10. The Checklist Manifesto: How to get things Right (Atul Gawande)
  11. 24/6: A prescription for a Happier, Healthier Life ( Matthew Sleeth and Eugene Peterson)
  12. When Breath Becomes Air (Paul Kalanithi and Abrahahm Verghese)
  13. The Road Trip that Changed the World: The Unlikely Theory that will Change How You View Culture, the Church, and, Most Importantly, Yourself (Mark Sayers)
  14. Enneagram and the Way of Jesus: Integrating Personality Theory with Spiritual Practices and Biblical Narratives (A.J. Sherrill)
  15. The Deeper Journey: The Spirituality of Discovering Your True Self (M. Rober Mulholland)
  16. Daily Rituals (Mason Currey)
  17. The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream (Courtney E. Martin)
  18. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (Sherry Turkle)
  19. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Susan Cain)
  20. The Relational Soul: Moving from False Self to Deep Connection (Richard Plass and James Cofield)
  21. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (Atul Gwande)
  22. The Signature of All Things (Elizabeth Gilbert)
  23. Sick Puppy (Carl Hiaasen)
  24. We’re all Completely Beside Ourselves (Karen Joy Fowler)
  25. The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness ( Sy Montgomery)
  26. Picnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes (Elizabeth Bard)

There’s a few spots left to make it to 30- any suggestions?  What are your reading goals for this year?

A Year In Review

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Every year on my birthday I like to look back and reflect.  And since my birthday is so close to the New year, I tend reflect and write about my goals/resolutions at the end of January.

Here are some of the things I am checking off my lists (thankfully)

  • Graduating with my Masters
  • Paying off ALL of my student loans
  • gaining more confidence when interacting with new people

These were some great accomplishments this year!  I am super excited to have finished my master’s and am so thankful to be starting my new job in a few weeks.  Paying off my student loans-wow!  We were so happy to be able to do that while still paying for my grad school.  The last one is something I have been working on for a few years, but this past year I finally realized I had overcome it (or at least gained enough tools/strategies to not be a nervous nelly in new situations!).

Here are some goals for the next year!

  • waking up at 5 am (consistently)
  • feeling confident in my voice/opinions (but certainly not in an obnoxious way!)
  • reading 20+ books (I’ve already read 4!)

This 5 am wake up is going pretty well.  And although I am definitely more tired at the end of the night, I am sleeping better.  But I also have to conscious when going out with friends that I can’t be out past 10 or 11 pm!  This early wake up was based on a decision on my personal productivity (better in the morning!).  The little bird doesn’t usually wake up until 7/715.  So this is a WHOLE 2 hours that I have in the mornings to read, get lunches ready and other household tasks.  I also try to take some of that time to connect with my husband (un-interrupted).

Do you have any fun, interesting or exciting goals for the next year?  Or have any accomplishments to share?

 

5 frugal things

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Here is a quick list of the 5 frugal things I did this week.

  1. Hemmed 3 pairs of dress pants.  This was a HUGE pain, but well worth it!  I am starting a new job in a few weeks that requires some major dressing up on my part.  I splurged on some new clothes a few weeks ago but tackled the hemming of the pants myself this week.  Estimated savings $30.
  2. Vegetarian eating (well actually vegan).  We are doing a 21 day daniel fast which is basically a vegan diet. Our grocery bills have been nice and low thanks to this.
  3. Washing my old diaper bag!  This might not save me money now, but maybe in a year or two ,I’ll be thankful to have a nice like new diaper bag to use!
  4. deciding to keep my old phone.  I’v been having some issues with my iphone and was thinking of upgrading.  Ultimately I decided to hang on to it and wait until it completely bites the dust.
  5. no take out!  We normally do takeout or conveinence meals once or twice a week.  But thanks to our danielfast we have been cooking and preparing all our meals at home.

What frugal things have you done this week?

Washing a Diaper Bag

 

 

This is one of those times I wish I had taken before and after photos.  I didn’t have much faith in my washing attempt, so I didn’t bother with before photos.  But trust me, the difference is amazing!

I have been using this diaper bag for about 2 years.  The past few months I have found us using the diaper bag less and less.  I was debating whether to save this for future children or donate.  The make or break was whether or not I could get this bad boy clean again.  This Skip Hop Duo diaper bag was one of the few brand new baby items we bought.  Over the past few years there have been some minor spills and stains, but most recently a major tea incident!  An entire travel mug of tea spilled all over the inside and seeped through and stained the exterior waterproof fabric from the inside out.  The manufacturer suggests spot cleaning.  I tried spot cleaning but then the bag started to smell from being wet.   I searched google/pinterest/etc to see if I could find any success stories for cleaning similar diaper bags.  No luck finding any advice.  So as a last ditch effort, I threw this puppy into the wash.  I did a hot/cold cycle.  Everything seemed ok, and then since I had so many issues drying it after the spot cleaning, I just threw this in the dryer with a few towels.  And BAM-it came it in like new condition.  I was super impressed.  And happy–I love this diaper bag, and am so happy I was able to get in bag into like new condition for future use.

So, if you have a diaper bag like the skip hop duo that needs rescuing.  A trip through the laundry might be the ticket!

**Wash at your own risk, as it is against manufacturers advice**