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

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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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

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

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

 

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.

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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

Minimalist Holiday Shopping for Kids

It is quite hard to not get caught up in the buying frenzy that is in the air during the holiday season. My spouse and I take full advantage of the fact that our two year old is none the wiser and choose not to buy into the hype. However, we want to build meaningful tradition and ritual for our family and that includes thinking about what we want this time of year to look like for our family.

If you are feeling the pressure this holiday season with all the marketing and ads coming your way, Let me remind you that what your children want most is your time. Toys come and go, clothes are outgrown, but memories last much longer. If you must make purchases, here is a graphic to keep you in check.

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

With winter approaching we have been focused on getting our babe some open ended toys. What are open-ended toys you ask? Basically any toy that doesn’t have a fixed use and can be played with in a variety of ways. I thought i’d share some of the open ended toys that have been on our horizon for months now.

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Image from Sarah Playsilks

Play silks can become tutus, capes, headscarfs, doll slings, dresses, forts, and much more. The soft biodegradable material feels good on little hands too.

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Image from kickstarter

EarthTiles are made from sustainably sourced wood and these magnetic tiles are a beautiful way for babes to engage in STEM play.

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Image from urbanbaby.com

A kinderboard can be a balance board, a reading nook, slide, bridge, booster seat, and much more. I am probably the most excited to see all the ways she will play with this. Much like most open ended toys, it is an investment and will probably be in our family for a long time.

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Image from google search

Rainbow stackers are not only beautiful but are a lesson in math, science, art, and fun in general.

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My two year old unicorn ladybug

As for books, thrift stores and thriftbooks.com are still my favorite place to search for titles. Right now my wishlist is full of books about eating and enjoying food as I try to encourage her to eat more.

At the end of the day, my daughter is most happiest when both of us are playing hands on with her. No toy can match that. Our favorite thing to do right now is play with homemade play-dough and cookie cutters.

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Turmeric play-dough

I hope this holiday season gifts you with time to spend with those you love.

Peace,

Farai

My Green Beauty Basics

If you have been following me along on instagram, then you know our home renovation took a lot of steam out of my eco friendly engine. I just did not have the spoons (or a kitchen or bathroom) to stay as green as I would have liked. However, because my beauty regime is pretty minimal, I had no troubles in this department. I thought I would share my basics in case someone is looking for some inspiration.

Apple Cider Vinegar – In a glass bottle, this powerhouse can act as a skin toner, hair rinse and much more. It works great to balance out my low porosity hair, and added to a bath, it is incredibly soft and moisturizing for those with dry skin issues. I never go without.

Bar soap – Whether its for my body, or specifically formulated for my face. Unpackaged bar soap is what my family enjoys using.

Lip Balm – I have a compulsion to never ever have dry lips. Lip balm or lip stick  in a compostable or recyclable container make my heart and the earth sing.

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Lip balm in a compostable container

Rose hip oil – Not too long ago I realized that I needed to start taking better care of my skin. I tried to be a multi-product girl with the serums and the acids (all in glass bottles of course), but its just not me. Rose hip oil rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants which are essential in tissue and cell regeneration in the skin. After I cleanse my skin, I just throw this on at night and move on about my day. PS. It will stain your skin a bright orange, but it goes away as your skin absorbs it.

Almond oil – The least eco-friendly of basics, because I have only found it in plastic bottles (I buy the biggest size to make up for it). Almond oil can be used as a face, body, and hair moisturizer. It is my go-to make-up remover and probably the product I have used the longest.

Konjac sponge – New to me, this compostable face scrubby comes in clutch when I need to exfoliate my face.

Thats it folks! When I am scrubbed clean, and well moisturized I feel my most beautiful. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

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Stanley and my naked, moisturized face

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

Peace.

Farai.

Yummy Non-Toxic Room Spray

I’ll let the Environmental Working Group let you know why most room and fabric refreshers are terrible for you and the environment. Instead, I’ll share my non-toxic recipe for a spray that I use to sweeten the smell in a room or freshen a fabric

What you’ll need:

  • A small to medium sized glass or stainless steel spray bottle
  • Unscented witchhazel or alcohol
  • Essential oils of your choice. My go to right now is vanilla and grapefruit
  • Label for your bottle

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Fill your bottle mostly all the way up with your witch-hazel or alcohol. Next add 10-15 drops of your essential oils combinations of your choice. Thats it! You can play with different smells and concentrations of essential oils each time you run out. I love citrus scents in the summer, cinnamon and orange the fall, and wintergreen scents in the cold weather. I also adore plain old vanilla as well.

If you prefer to not use essential oils all together, consider using a hydrosol of your fav smelling plants/herbs instead as a room spray or refresher instead. They are easy to make (I spy a future blogpost) or can be purchased on Etsy.

A note on essential oils – Make sure you are using oils from reputable, RESPONSIBLE companies that are harvesting the oils ethically. I’m gonna be bold and state the unpopular opinion that is avoid MLM’s like Doterra and Young Living altogether. This is coming from someone who sold Doterra and has tried all kinds of oils. Dr Aviva Romm has an excellent podcast with Mindy Green, a clinical aromatherapist on proper usage and sustainability of essential oils. The podcast is worth a listen and the show notes page has an excellent resource list I will be referencing for a long time. 

Peace and yummy smells,

Farai

Helina Baby Meh Dai Review

In July, I got to go to the International baby-wearing conference that happened in Iowa. It was fun to meet fellow baby-wearers I have been interacting with for the past two years and meet them face to face. I was especially excited to be around fellow Black baby-wearers.

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Internet friends IRL!

It is no secret that I love supporting POC makers, wearers and artists. A few months ago I learned about Helina Baby Inc  , a Canadian based baby wearing company founded by a black woman. Upon my discovery, I slid rather quickly into their DM’s and joined their ambassador program and they so graciously sent it to me to try out.

First off, I feel like Meh Dais don’t get enough love. As an educator, I like that they are very easy to teach and that they are typically super accessible to caregivers of all body types. The Helina Baby Meh Dai is made with organic cotton and low impact dyes. Its super soft and has the most comfortable feel in hand. Unfortunately, Thandiwe has been on a strict back wearing boycott for several months now, and screams bloody murder when I try to wear her on my back so I only got to try this in the front EVERY SINGLE TIME. She is very strong willed. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the uppies we got from it.

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Breastfeeding while plant window shopping

My favorite things :

The feel of the fabric : This was my first time using an organic cotton carrier and it felt really good to the touch. I think tactile folks would enjoy using this carrier. It was easy to nurse in as well.

The length of the straps : The long straps make this carrier accessible for babywearers of all body types.

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The arm straps : In my experience, Meh Dai carriers that don’t have wrap straps or shoulder straps with lots of material typically aren’t my favorite, but the way this one is created made it comfortable on my shoulders.

Toddler wearing : Thandiwe is a solid 26 lbs at 2 years of age and was very comfortable in the carrier. It works from Newborn into Toddlerhood and doesn’t require an insert which is a win in my book.

Easy to wash : It is so simple to wash, it just requires a gentle cold rinse in the machine and then hang it to dry. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. If you are anxious about carrier friendly detergents, just use plain ol’ water.

My least favorite thing : I loved the color of this fabric, but it will get stomped on and dirtied much like any carrier. Light fabrics show dirt quicker. This is easily solved by how simple it is to wash the carrier however. DSC_0504.jpg

 

If you are in the market for a Meh Dai, check www.helinababy.ca out! They even have free shipping!

Peace,

Farai