How to plan a sustainable childrens birthday party

We just celebrated my little on turning three a few months ago. How time has flown by! She keeps us on our toes. So sweet, opinionated, friendly, inquisitive, and hilarious.

Her birthday is meaningful to me because I love getting to celebrate her growth, and the anniversary of my foray into motherhood.

As a minimalist, I am always thinking about how to keep things simple, cost effective, and environmentally friendly.

Here are some ways I incorporate these values into party planning:

  • Plan ahead- save yourself the stress rushing, and anxiety that party planning sometimes comes with.
  • Avoid plastics, I used compostable plates, cups, and cutlery as needed. Better yet! Use eating utensils that you can wash and reuse.
  • Think small
  • Support local businesses. When I have outsourced our baked goods, I hire local small business women. This year, we purchased  fresh fruits and veggies from the farmers market and the meat came from a local sustainable beef farm. The tortillas came from our local tortilleria.
  • Have a potluck if you can.
  • Write lists to stay organized.
  • Borrow if you don’t have it. I borrow large drink dispensers for the lemonade from close friends every year. We only use them this one time a year , and we all love to share.
  • Delegate if you can to save fuel. My sister in law who was driving from the east side of town stopped to grab my tortilla’s on her way to our house so that they were fresh and I didn’t have to make an extra trip.
  • Ask for no gifts if you need nothing, or ask patrons to make a donation to the child’s education fund. I also ask friends to visit a locally owned toy store as opposed to heading to a big box store if they feel inclined to get a gift.
  • Ditch the wrapping paper (we used play-silks that we will reuse each year) or reuse the same wrapping paper until it falls apart.
  • We typically don’t do party favors, but this year I did get the kids dance ribbons to play with in our backyard and take home with them.
  • Take advantage of your local parks. Find one that’s fun to play in, age appropriate, has shade, good seating, and have your party there! Its free, nature is amazing for children to play in, and its supporting local parks which I am all about.

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

Peace,

Farai

6
Our little bloom

Nourishing Hot Chocolate

My herb teacher rarely gave us measurements when she was discussing abstract comments. Her answer was always “some”, when we asked how much of some herb we should use in a recipe. It might sound incredibly frustrating, but it was actually rather practical and hilarious because even though it was inconvenient,  it taught us how to intimately learn the herbs we would be working with.

The upside is, I know what to use, the downside to this is that I don’t have a lot of  written measurements.

I posted the recipe for this yummy beverage on my instagram several weeks ago and quite a few folk were messaging me and commenting about how much they loved it. I figured it would be lovely to gather with loved ones and drink this as we celebrate harvest season. So, as requested :

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Some Nourishing Hot Chocolate: 

Coconut milk (I used full fat from a can)

Cocoa/Cacao

Raw honey

Cinnamon

I make this on the stove top with a whisk and gently warm it up. It is so so good. Add some water if you choose to use full fat milk like I did and need to thin it a bit. I even added a skosh of Ashwaganda powder.

Stay warm friends if you’re living in the Northern Hemisphere!

Peace,

Farai

 

DIY Mushroom Costume

My kid has a wee obsession with mushrooms, and I thoroughly encourage it. She’s had a mushroom themed Easter, and birthday this year, might as well make it a triple and go the same route for Halloween as well.

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I posted a picture of her Halloween costume and got several people asking me how I made it, so I wanted to make a shareable post.  Halloween can be a super wasteful time of year, and as always I am always trying to figure out ways to be as low waste as possible.

Disclaimer: I am not a perfectionist, I get an idea, and then fly by the seat of my pants. This costume was not the neatest, but it sure is cute.

What you will need for the hat

Umbrella hat/ or a wide brimmed hat

White clothes

Paint (I used acrylic) but you can use whatever color paint your mushroom is going to be

Glue (I used fabric glue and my hot glue gun)

A yard or two of  red fabric – I used red and white because her costume was an Amanita Muscaria mushroom but you can use whatever color fabric for your mushroom.

Half a yard of white fabric – for the bottom of the hat.

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How to do it

Drape the red fabric on the hat or umbrella to gauge how much you will need to cover the whole top, and have some fabric to over lap underneath the brim. Trim the fabric to what you need. Use hot glue gun or fabric glue to secure the red fabric to the hat. Be liberal, and make sure to glue it around the rim too. Don’t make it a tight drape, leave room for natural folds in the fabric.

For the bottom, cut strips of the white fabric, and glue them down around the base of the hat to make the bottom of the mushroom.

Once its all secure, paint on the white dots et voila! A little mushroom cap awaits you.

The bottom

If she had white clothes, I would have just thrown those on her. But she didn’t and my lovely pal Carrie gave me the idea of using white pajamas as the base from primary.com (use code Primaryfaraih4 for 25% off) because after Halloween, she can just wear the jammies for bedtime.

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Ways to be more low waste 

Use whatever fabric you have lying around, or ask a crafty person in your life for scrap yardage. It doesn’t have to be red and white. It could be green, blue, brown, white with other color dots.

Skip the plastic trick or treat bucket for a canvas bag, or pillow case. We used one of the baskets she keeps her toys in.

Go thrift shopping for materials

Happy Halloween!

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

 

 

 

 

Whats In My Bag Wednesday

Welcome back to 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 features 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. 

My first guest is the homey Yolanda, my fellow co-founder of Black Minimalists  . Yolanda is a writer, youtuber , artist and all around badass. Let’s get right to it.

How long have you practiced minimalism or been interested in minimalism, and why? 

December 2019 will mark 7 years since I began practicing minimalism. I started unknowingly because I was stuck and unmotivated in my life at the time and I felt like I needed to go back to the drawing board, so I started decluttering the physical stuff, which then led me to time, commitments, goals and beyond.

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

 Of course I follow you and Black Minimalists. I also enjoy Alyson Simply Grows, Christine of The Afrominimalist, Amanda of Mama of Intention, and Erin of Reading My Tea Leaves. For books, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is a classic and Essentialisms by Greg McKeown is a must-read.

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

I recently scored my bag from my favorite local thrift store for $3! It’s a genuine leather backpack purse by Tignanello. I had a backpack purse before, but this one is way better because it has multiple compartments. Before, I would often have to dig around in my purse to find what I was looking for. It’s also awesome because now I can actually fit my reusable water bottle in my purse and I don’t have to carry it in my hand. After that, I always need some kind of chapstick or gloss, my money, cards, and crystals are tucked away in a little satin coin purse (also thrifted), and I can’t see that far without my prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses. I have sticky notes, a small brown notebook, and a pen I keep for shopping lists and important notes on the go. Finally, I have my “be prepared” stash of tissues (2 packs now that it’s fall), hand sanitizer, wet wipe, suicide first aid card (a holdover from my days of afterschool work), and two essential oil rollers from Dollar Tree which have already come in handy after banging my knee on my car. I usually carry a usb charger cord too, but it seems to have wandered off. That’s all folks! I like to keep it simple. I remove all receipts to save and throw away any trash after outings.

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Thank you to Yolanda for sharing a peak into her life. Find her here 

Peace,

Farai

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