NYT Feature – How to be a more conscious consumer on a budget

Farai Harreld was pregnant with her daughter when she realized it was time to downsize. She and her husband had just purchased their first home, which was significantly smaller than their rental.

“I was shocked that at 25, we had already amassed so many possessions, and I struggled to make room for them,” said Ms. Harreld, co-founder of Black Minimalists. “So I made the commitment to be more present and mindful in the choices I made when spending my hard-earned money.”

It’s easy to accumulate stuff, even without much money….

 

Read more here

Ways to boost immunity during cold and flu season

Colds and Flu season is right around the corner, and now is the time to start supporting your immune system in preparation for fighting off any viruses.

I personally don’t get the flu shot. Firstly because when I have, I get as sick as a dog and subsequently make everyone around me sick. Secondly because the flu shot is an immunization for the hypothesized most common flu virus projected for that year. It is not guaranteed. I could still get sick with a different flu virus. I’d rather help support my body’s innate fighting system, and build natural immunity when it comes to the flu. THIS IS MY CHOICE THOUGH. Do what is best for you.

In my experience, the west is TERRIFIED of viruses and illness (maybe get universal healthcare and paid sick leave but idk ) . Getting the flu, a cold, chicken pox, or even mumps are NOT death sentences.

REST. SLEEP. As the trees shed their leaves, and animals begin to store food and prepare to rest and hibernate, as should you. Get at least 8 hours of sleep if you can. Trade your screens for a book, or a craft and relish in doing nothing.When you sleep, your body is doing important metabolic processes.

 

Eat fermented foods. Kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kvass. Populate your microbiome with good bacteria.

Avoid processed sugar. No agave, no fake maple syrup, no high fructose corn syrup, rice syrup. Try a natural stevia glycerite, or honey.

STAY HYDRATED. A lot of people who get the flu also get dehydrated. Especially children. Make the tea, hot cocoa (with honey and coconut milk) , chai, eggnog, warm lemon water. Drink it all.

Elderberry syrup and tincture are great things to take daily to boost your immune system. Elderberry syrup is very easy to make from dried and fresh berries and honey. If you buy it store, make sure you’re getting one with clean ingredients. NO high fructose corn syrup, rice syrup.

Fire cider (recipe below) is easy to make. My local herb group made one last fall without the jalapeños and it was amazing.

fire cider

Avoid cold foods, drink lots of warm teas, bone broths, and yummy soups. Human beings have naturally adapted their diets to support their bodies as the seasons change. The time for all the nutrient dense, filling yummy foods is coming.

Other simple things to incorporate into your daily regimen is cooking with medicinal herbs and spices. Garlic, Onion, Cinnamon, Oregano, Thyme, Turmeric, Sage,Pepper, Sea Salt.

Look into herbs like lobelia, lungwort, and mullein if you are prone to respiratory infections.

Eucalyptus has been shown clear disinfect sinuses (don’t use EO around babes and toddies) , so sniff some if you’re around sick people

Sage tea can help dry up a drippy nose.

Homeopathic remedies like Oscillococcinum can help support us during this time too.

Recipe for an immune boosting applesauce I make this time of year.

We have lots of herbal allies waiting to get acquainted with you. Is there anything y’all like to do during this time?

 

None of this constitiutes as medical advice, I’m a wee herbalist. Please do your own research. If you are concerned about medical interactions, talk to your health practitioner. Be gentle with yourself.

Peace,

Farai

What’s In My Bag Wednesday

I am excited to introduce a guest interview series to my blog entitled What’s in my Bag Wednesday. 

I am fascinated by people, what makes them tick, and what they choose to carry along with them when they leave their homes is a tiny sliver into their world. This interview series will feature diverse minimalist/minimalist leaning people. My hope is that we learn a little something, or find ways to improve or streamline our day to day existence. 

Our first feature is my pal Asia of home.with.asia where she documents her life as a budding minimalist homemaker with two toddlers in tow. I’ve enjoyed watching Asia define her style, space, and home while facing the challenges that come with being a military family. 

Asia, thanks so much for doing this girl! How long have you practiced minimalism or been interested in minimalism, and why? 

Hi, Farai I would like to start off by saying thank you for considering me to be featured in your new series and thank you so much for the kind words! 

I heard about minimalism/simple living a while ago but didn’t start actually researching and taking action until my husband left for Korea. I thought this lifestyle change would help me solo parent better and it has, cleaning is so much easier, I have so much time to just play with my kids and I’m happier because I don’t feel cluttered. I’m so grateful for giving it a chance, I’m still a newbie but I’ll say I’m doing just fine! 

What are your favorite blogs, resources, books that you go to for inspiration?

Instagram has helped my journey, following like minded moms and seeing their version of minimalism. Also I feel like the book Slow simple living for a frantic world by Brooke McAlary has impacted my journey recently, her book helped me declutter my mind and rethink things like “my journey is going to look different from others and that’s okay, I’m not doing anything wrong!”

Ok, let’s get down to the good stuff! What’s in your bag? 

Well first off I have a Fawn Design diaper bag, my friends surprised me with it for my birthday this year! Okay let’s see what’s in here: 

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  • Honest diapers + wipes + gathre mat = best combo ever. Especially with these woodland prints out! 
  • A good book- I’m reading more, so instead of scrolling on social media when the kids fall asleep in the car and we’re in the driveway ,or a parking lot- I can just grab my book! 
  • Planner + notepad- There’s always something on my mind, I always need a pen and notepad close to me! 
  • A reusable bag – my kids and I sometimes take random car rides and never know where we’ll end up, so it’s always good to be prepared. 
  • Stainless steel water bottles and Stasher bags for snacks .
  • Extra clothes (not pictured) because I had to use them today, but I always try to have a extra pair of clothing for my one year old and four year old! No matter how old your kid is, I’ve learned to always have extra clothing for them because you’ll never know what they can get into. My four year old is always in dirt and water! 

It’s not much but it’s all we need! I don’t like carrying around too much because I don’t like having to dig and take everything out my diaper bag to find one thing, and I don’t like a heavy diaper bag. Just carry the essentials .

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Sweet little Arielle wanted to be involved

Thank you to Asia for giving us a peek into her life. Find her here.

Peace,

Farai

4 Ways To Get Familiar With Herbs

From  cooking with from fresh vegetables and herbs, to even growing your own food, there are lots of points of access to learning more about herbs. However, if you are a new to this, it might  be intimidating at first. Here are some simple ways to learn more about herbs, as well as my favorite online resources.

Make your own tea blends

Tea is a great way to learn the different names of herbs as well as how they work on the body. Buying herbs in bulk is also a great way to be more low waste about tea drinking. Rosemary is great in food, the tea is a good hair rinse, the dried herb makes for a yummy smoke blend too. Chamomile is a relaxing and delicious tea that I add to my daughters night time bath to help her prepare for bed.

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A thrifted mug makes the tea go down smoother. Or at least thats my excuse. 

Grow some herbs

Hit up your local greenhouse and pick up some herbs you can grow in a pot if you are a first time gardener. Mint does well in pots and you can use it for food, specialty drinks, and teas as well.

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Oregano, Yarrow, Mugwort.Some of this harvest came from container gardens or the raised beds we have in our backyard.

Go on a plant walk or look for a local herb group

Learning the names of local and indigenous plants is empowering. You can learn what grows around you that is poisonous and edible, and along the way, you can meet like minded people.

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Mullein and Me! An amazing plant that grows wild in a lots if yards and properties. Don’t mind my far out outfit, it’s hot and I am trying to avoid ticks 

Cook with herbs

A great way to be understand herbs is to know what they taste like and how they smell. Visit a local spice shop and speak with the people that work there about spices you are interested in and what dishes to cook with them. Practice cooking your favorite meals with different spices to change things up.

Bonus tip:

Don’t be afraid to try and fail. By far the most delicious cantaloupe (picture below) I ever tasted was one that grew in my backyard, from the seeds of a store bought cantaloupe that I scattered outside. I have also purposefully planted watermelon and cantaloupe and they never survived. So this was a sweet surprise.

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My favorite online resources:

Commonwealth Herbs

Herbal Academy

One Willow Apothecaries

Websites

Mountain Rose Herbs

Frontier Co-op

Strictly Medicinal Seeds

Podcasts

Herbs and Oils 

The Holistic Herbalism Podcast

Medicine Stories 

Peace,

Farai

How I weaned my child

I want to preface this by saying that all children are different, what worked for me, may not work for y’all. But I wanted to chronicle this for myself, and for all the weaning caregivers out there.

My child has breastfeed on demand day and night from the time she was born up until I decided to wean. Once she hit age 1 ½, she learned to get what she needed faster, but she still nursed to sleep for naps and bedtime as well as during the night.

When she turned two I developed a nursing aversion which I remedied by cutting out nursing during the daytime. By 2½ my aversion was back in full force and I knew I was on the path to weaning her completely.

Because my child is very sensitive, loving, and cuddly, I knew our weaning journey would have to be slow and gradual in order to avoid a big dustup. Some caregivers can wean cold turkey, but I wanted the shift to be gentle both for her, and for my body and hormones.

I started out by reading books to her about weaning. My favorite being Sally Weans from Night Nursing because it had a black mom and daughter in it. We read it often for a few months, I talked to her about it, and told her soon, she would be like Sally and be done with nursing at night too.

In the mean time I cut out all morning and nap nursing times. She was unhappy, but I assured her that she could nurse at bedtime, and that typically got her through. She started rarely napping, but it worked out better because she sleep for 10 hours at night with no nap.  At bedtime as she was nursing, I would kiss her, and remind that soon, when she turned 3, “boobers” as we called it, would be all gone.

I also enlisted the help of my spouse, her godmother, and my friends to talk to her about it OFTEN when it rose up in conversation. So she good and well knew what to expect.

A month before her 3rd birthday, I began the process of cutting out night nursing. We nursed to sleep, and maybe again if she woke up before 11 pm. After that, any other requests for milk were met with a “I know you’re upset, I’m sorry, boobers is all gone for now” . Sometimes I offered water, or a piece of apple, but typically she fussed, sometimes even full out hollered, but I just stayed with her, acknowledged her feelings, and she would fall back asleep within 10 minutes. Only once did she stay up for an hour and half.

After two weeks of only nursing to sleep, other than the occasional dustup, she was sleeping through the night. I continued to read the book, remind her DAILY that on her birthday, that boobers would be gone. I even did 10 day countdown. I emphasized how she was a big girl, and we encouraged her to drink water to stay hydrated. I made sure she was getting healthy fats in the form of a DHA supplement.

Then the big day arrived, the night before her third birthday. I explained that this was her last boobers, and that tomorrow on her birthday , boobers was gone. I kissed her loads, took some pics, and she feel asleep on the breast.

The next day, the festivities wore her out and she passed out on her own without even asking.

Since then, she has only asked once, and fussed a little bit. For the most part, she sleeps through the night, outside of some annoying itchy big bites, or waking up for a water or some apple.

Getting her to sleep consists switching between lots of  active play in the evening to tire her out, backwearing, guided children’s meditation, back rubs, soothing music, soothing baths and lots of stern “we’re done talking, lets focus on sleeping now” from an exhausted mom or dad.

My kiddo has gone through lots of changes recently, transitioning to her own bed, potty learning, and weaning. I have had no engorgement or mood swings that sometimes come with weaning. I think taking it slow and being gentle with the both of us has been our saving grace. I am over the MOOOON to be done, I also feel a little guilty that she won’t have mama milk if she get’s sick to keep her healthy. But, I believe in myself, herbal medicine, and her immune system, I know she will be fine.

This post contains affiliate links. The HillbillyAfrican may earn small commissions from purchases made.

I hope this helps someone!

Peace,

Farai

 

 

Why We Still Babywear

Black Babywearing week is upon us, and it love what this week gives homage to.  Babywearing is sacred to me. Not only is it a beautiful part of my journey as a caregiver, but as a black woman, I join the legacy of the women who wore me.

Babywearing doesn’t have to end in toddlerhood. If you are able to bear your toddler’s weight, I would make the argument that it is just as important and useful as in infancy.

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Almost 3 and over 30 lbs!

No matter how independent and adventurous toddlers get, they still crave the closeness and security that comes with wearing.

As my babe approaches 3(!) and weighs over 30 lbs, I see no current end in our babywearing journey. 

Here are 4 reasons we are still babywearing in our house:

Closeness/Bonding

Toddler’s have big feelings. Wearing them allows them to self-regulate by being close to you. It fosters secure attachment, allows them to feel safe, and cared for too. 

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Gotta wash dishes and wear your cool toddler sometimes

Safety and Security

Toddler’s be running. Sometimes i’m in less than ideal places like carnivals or crossing busy streets. Wearing reduces my worry as I can keep her close.

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Someone fell asleep at a wedding, no beds here, so up she goes!

Comfort

I’d much rather strap my kiddo to my back , than navigate a stroller in and out of my car as I run errands. Also, as a minimalist, I prefer to travel simple. A carrier and a bag is typically all I need when spending all day out with my toddler. 

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Back wearing at the thrift store

Convenience

My kid is on a shoe strike, and prefers to be barefoot all the time, sometimes in inconvenient places like the grocery store. Toddler’s also sometimes have meltdowns or want to be carried everywhere. Wearing helps in several different scenarios. It is so convenient. 

Fun side: All the carriers i’m using in this blog post are from Bijou Wear, a Kansas company who I love very much. I own two, but the rest of these of these carriers are borrowed from friends, or from Bijou’s own lending library. 

Happy baby-wearing

Peace,

Farai 

Let Black Babies Be Wild and Free

Excerpt from an essay I wrote for mater mea entitled Let Black Babies Be Wild and Free

“When I got pregnant my last year of undergrad, I began to reflect on my childhood and how it shaped me as a scholar and as a person. I thought about my identity as a Black woman in America. What experiences did I want my offspring to have?

I had felt so much pressure living in a world that expects us to work twice as hard for half as much. I decided to unplug from that narrative and live life on my terms. It felt almost like a matter of life and death, and for many Black people in America, it is.

“I’m going to give them the freedom to be their whole selves outside of me. ”

After moving to the States I noticed the pressure that Black caregivers and their children are under in a world that considers them less than. Our kids must be well-groomed and well-behaved at all times, even at the expense of their childhood. There’s a scene in the Netflix movie Nappily Ever After …”

 

To read more, please visit the mater mea here .

Peace,

Farai

I am a Part of Nature

A few years ago, Kansas weather used to affect my mood in a drastic way. Born in tropical Kariba, Zimbabwe, and raised in the hot, semi-arid climate of Gaborone, Botswana- I preferred the heat through and through.

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Carrying my baby on my back like my Shona mama did me. I love this picture

Snowy weather left me feeling isolated, cold, and put out. Rainy weather left me feeling sluggish and dreary. Somewhere along the line, I realized I am a part of nature, and instead of feeling ostracized by the weather- I felt included. Each cycle of weather has a purpose. The dying leaves of autumn decompose in the ground, providing food for  the microorganisms that live beneath us and feed the plant life above ground.

This past winter snowfall was brutal, but I was grateful I get to live in the land of my settler ancestors and watch it melt deep into the ground and nourish the thirsty roots of the trees who struggled in the extreme heat of last summer.

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Biggest, happy earthworm from our backyard

All that snow caused a mast fruiting this spring which has me pulling baby maple trees out of my garden beds every day. I can choose to be annoyed, or I can marvel at the cycle of life and the infinitesimal role I have in it.

Today I watched a bird try to eat a piece of plastic, human beings in general have done a number on the eco-systems we are a part of. Without pollinators like bees, birds, and other insects, we have no fruits and vegetables. Without beautiful, green, lush, biodiverse earth, the cows have no food to give us our beloved beef. Our fish have plastic in their bellies too. How are we continuing to destroy the place that we depend on for our survival? It is counterintuitive, I acknowledge that I am a part of nature. When Earth is sick, I am sick too. When bees die, I die too.  

Instead of trying to separate myself from the seasons, I remember that I am a part of them too. In Autumn, I wind down, harvest, eat the squash and corn that is ripened in this season. In the Winter, I hunker down with twinkly lights, warm drinks, blankets, and hibernate. In the Spring, I perk up, I do the hard work that comes with sprouting, and learning, and growing. In the Summer, I do a little bit of everything while enjoying juicy summer fruit and remembering to rest.

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Peony from Tete’s house

 

I do not despair anymore because I know we have the tools at our disposal to make a difference. Conversations surrounding capitalism, climate change, our government, and the shitty corporations that brutalize people and the planet for their profit is bigger than what I want to get into in this post. I originally meant to share some prose about how I feel so close to this lovely flying rock I call home after thanks to weather, and yet here we are, I hope this helps someone. 

Small things I do to make a difference

  1. Don’t fucking litter
  2. Growing my own food when I can
  3. Eschew capitalism when I can
  4. Bartering when I can
  5. Supporting local farmers and makers
  6. Eating less meat
  7. Using less plastic
  8. Only buying grass fed beef  and pastured chicken when cooking  with meat
  9. Buying food that is in season
  10. Buying organic when I can
  11. Only getting what I need or really want
  12. Buying second hand
  13. Getting things repaired when they break
  14. Trading instead of buying

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Lilac heart from a neighborhood walk

I hope this helps someone feel less alone, and more connected like I do. Give a tree a hug and remember you need each other. I cannot believe I have lived so long yet failed to stop and sniff at a lilac bush, or crush some lemon balm (which smells like an actual loving hug) between my fingers and smell its heady aroma. We need each other, friends.

Peace,

Farai

 

Mother’s Day Mindfulness

According to google, Mindfulness is defined as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” Most days my brain is going a mile a minute- writing lists, meal planning, remembering when the last diaper change was, whether or not I had a playdate scheduled, or when I need to wash the linens. Punctuate that with parenting a rambunctious toddler and constantly distracted by my phone and you have a very busy brain on your hands.

This May 12th marks my 3rd (!) year as a mama! I have been on a slow journey to tap into mindfulness as a way to reconnect with myself. I know that when I am nourished and well rested, that I am a better mom.

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Getting yard work done with my poppet

I attempt the habits I am about to share only when I can, and when they feel good. Never forcing anything.

Going on a small solo walk and talk to nature

My newest habit feels really good, I just walk down a couple blocks and point out the flora and fauna I see to myself. Sometimes I greet them, or thank the trees for the oxygen they provide me. This exercise requires me to focus and to be present. Which works great for me since I tend to live in the clouds.

Taking a hot bath with herbs, Epsom Salts or ACV

I’ll let you, reader, find out the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for yourselves. They are both a bath staple in our home. I don’t take baths often, I can barely scrounge up time for a shower, but I have been making a point every so often to slow down, put on a face mask, dry brush my skin, and hop into the bath for 15 mins or so. Sometimes with a book, sometimes with just my thoughts.

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Bath with epson salts and lilacs from my friends garden

Making a nourishing meal for myself

This one is hard for me, because a lot of my own energy goes in to taking care of the people in my families dietary needs, I barely have the spoons to eat something nutritious for myself when I do make the time to sit down and eat. Slowing down though and eating a meal rich in good fats and amazing spices or drinking an herbal infusion always hits the spot.

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Overnight cleavers cold infusion

Reading a daily devotional or journaling

Journaling regularly has always been a dream of mine. But the truth was I couldn’t get to it everyday, then felt ashamed at the large gaps between my entries until I had finally discouraged myself from even trying. Thankfully I released that hang up a few years ago and happily journal when the mood strikes. I have also been reading a couple of day books. I don’t get to them every day, but when I do, I don’t try to play catch up, I read the message for that day, because thats the one I need to see. I’ve been reading Simple Abundance a Daybook of Comfort and Joy, and 365 Tao Daily Meditations.

I hope you find the time this week to celebrate yourselves in one some way. I leave you with the words of Asia Suler:

“No matter who you are, what you’ve done or what you’ve yet to accomplish — you are seen, cherished, and welcomed into the fold. The Earth, and the family of beings to which you belong, cares about you as an innate part of the whole.

You are as precious as the winged seeds of the maple, as beloved as the first cherry-colored blossoms of spring. As integral as the bee, pollen-dusted and in love with everything. You are seen in the same rose-tint as the bee sees the bloom and the soil sees the seed.”

Peace,

Farai

 

Earth Friendly and Minimalist Easter Practices for Kids

Happy 2019! I hope this blog post finds you, reader, in good spirits.

So let’s get right to it. Easter stuff is already everywhere you look. I purposefully tried to avoid all small holidays in the USA the first few years of Thandiwe’s life because it just seems like a giant excuse to ply kids with candy. But now, as my little one is getting older and has shown interest in things like birds, bees, bunnies, and mushrooms, I see an opportunity to use Easter to teach her about rest, renewal, and the beauty of transformation.

Christian Easter will be celebrated on April 21st, but we are tying our Easter celebration to the Spring Equinox which will be on March 20. Whatever beliefs you have, I hope you find time to find the beauty in the green blooms that will be coming out to say hello.

This post contains affiliate links. The HillbillyAfrican may earn small commissions from purchases made

The Easter Basket

Reuse a basket/box you already own or go to a local thrift store and get a wicker one for cheap.

This is the perfect time to get your child spring and summer items they may have outgrown. Each season I go through Thandiwe’s wardrobe to find out what she has outgrown or needs repaired. In her case, she had outgrown her swimsuit and water shoes.

Other ideas include

  1. Raincoat
  2. Rainboots
  3. Hat
  4. Umbrella

Since she has an obsession with mushrooms (like her mama!) I reached out to my IG friends who recommended so many good books, but I liked this one the best. Our lesson this Easter will be around the life cycle of mushrooms.

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Instead of Easter grass, I will be using a playsilk that I plan on dyeing with blackberries. Really any scarf will do. Scarves are great open ended toys because they can become a cape, bandana, tutu, or baby sling. I have a post about toys here.   You could also use newspaper or craft paper to make your own compostable easter grass.

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Play silks I made her last year
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If I had any crocheting skills, I would make these myself, but instead I pay my lovely talented friends instead.  Here is a link to the Etsy store pattern for these . You don’t have to add toys to the basket, but Easter isn’t only about bunnies and chicks, there is ample opportunity to chat about nature in general. 

The Easter Egg hunt

I got a bag of the plastic eggs from the thrift store to use. I spent some time researching biodegradable and recyclable ones (there are not many options) before decided to just buy some second hand and take care of them so we can use them for many years to come. Luckily, the ones I found were slightly bigger than a standard size, so if I chose to fill them with something bigger in the future I am set.

Ditch the candy if you can. Instead use

  1. Coins or cash (kids love money)
  2. Crackers
  3. Yogurt bites, or yogurt covered nuts/ fruit
  4. Gummies that aren’t full of gross stuff
  5. Marbles
  6. Lip balm/Nail polish/Lip stick for the makeup loving kiddo in your life
  7. Rings/ Beads and string to make jewelry
  8. Homemade playdough
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I hope this gives anyone searching, some ideas. At the end of the day all our babes want is to connect with us.  I look forward to restart our walks in the neighborhood where we point out all the cool flora and fauna that is local to us. She recognizes spots from last spring/summer where the bunnies hid and where mushrooms sprouted and she searches for them whenever we do make it outside. I love this graphic from Little Oak Learning. 

Peace,

Farai