MY 2017 FAVES

I love a good list, I love any chance to reflect, and I love beginnings and endings. I also love learning about peoples favorite things because it is always a good chance to learn something new or be reminded of something you had forgotten. So here it is : My 2017 favorite things, some are products, some are concepts, some are new habits that I kept up at. All of these things served me well and brought me joy.

Making my bed – I have loathed this task probably since birth, but the entire year of 2017, I made the effort to make my bed shortly after I woke up. It made me appreciate and love my bedroom space a bit more and I will probably do this for the rest of my life. It made my room more inviting which is exactly what I wanted from the space.

Bijou Babywearing – If you have followed me a while you know how much a I love babywearing. I got my first woven wrap from Bijou for Thandiwe’s first birthday and found a whole new love and appreciation for wrapping from the community and the company. I have the Westy Windmills and Arcadia Goldie wraps and love wearing Thandiwe with them.

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Wearing my snugglebunny in our westy windmills wrap

Journaling – I have always struggled with journaling after my journal was stolen and read by some cruel people. I always wanted to journal but lived in fear that someone would find it and share my innermost thoughts, but I really benefit from expressing myself in writing poems, lists, and prayers. This year I made a point to put my feelings on paper whenever I felt the urge to, it wasn’t regularly (I am hoping to get to that point) but it felt really cathartic every single time and I am looking forward to actually complete a journal and start a new one.
Electric Pressure Cooker – Hot product right now, but anything that cooks dry lentils in 12 minutes has my whole ENTIRE heart.
Lush Coalface soap Seriously, one small piece of this soap lasted my partner and I 8 months. I bought my first bar for my birthday in January of 2017 and didn’t to replace it till August. I used to go through bottles of face wash often before. This is package free and works so well for the both of us.
Public library – With apps like hoopla, and overdrive, my public library gave me free access to so many good books this year. Also for providing free indoor play areas, story times and a rotating access to board books for my little one has been indispensable. Go visit your local library.
Wide toe box shoes with good support – So many brands make a good wide toe box shoe. I love a cute shoe as much as the next girl, but as the mom of a toddler, I cannot afford feet pain while I’m out here in these streets chasing my little one. From a summer sandal to a hiking shoe to a winter boot, I made an investments in my shoes that allowed me to be comfortable all year long.
Going outside – This goes without saying, but gardening, going on walks, visiting the splash park with Thandiwe were all so lovely this year. Can’t wait to do it all again next summer
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Audiobooks/podcasts – Audiobooks and podcasts do the work of making me feel smarter, well-read, and like a multi-tasker all at the same time. I listened to a lot of podcasts about homeschooling and parenting as well as just general stories like those on This American Life. I even started my own podcast with Black Minimalists.
Afro Jams – I am gonna sound old AF here but most mainstream music just does not do it for me anymore. The misogyny and violence is too much and I can’t listen to it around my kid. I need music to get stuff done like clean or put the baby to sleep and African music always uplifts and gets me moving. A few folks who always see us getting down on my IG stories asked me to put together a playlist of some of my jams. Which I did, here.
Dutch oven – I love a good one pot meal and my cast iron dutch oven has been a such helpful addition to my kitchen.
Local B/S/T/Free groups – No need to break the bank when what you are looking for can probably be found free, cheap, or for trade. From toys, clothes to our awesome new to us breakfast nook, buying second hand is good for the environment and your pocket.
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Yay for craiglist! 

Bottles with loose tea filter – I stopped buying bagged tea and use bulk loose leaf tea.  My bottle with an infuser is super convenient for this process not only because it reduces waste, but because it has a lid to keep my warm beverage closed to exploring toddler hands and faces.
 Cloth diapers – 18 months into cloth diapering and I am still a fan. The money I have saved makes them so completely worth it to me. And the cute prints are fun too. Ill work on a blog post about my cloth routine soon.

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Community Supported Agriculture – a.k.a. CSA’s is a great way to get involved in your community. You get locally grown (sometimes organic) produce at a discount, support farmers, and meet cool people. Our summer CSA was full of yummy greens and lots of fruits and veggies and grass fed meats.
 Mango Butter – My go to multi-use product. I can make a moisturizing, yummy smelling diaper cream, hair cream, body moisturizer, salves, and lip balm with mango butter. Its a staple in my home.
There’s way more on this list but these are my MVP’s. Happy New Year y’all!
Peace,
Farai

Enough is Enough – Zero Waste Changes You Can Make Right Now

Have you seen the recent video footage of  human trafficking victims being sold for about $400 in Libya? Sisters, Brothers, Uncles, Cousins, Sons, Daughters taken from their homes and auctioned off to the highest bidder. The truth is our capitalist society needs cheap labor to keep up with the demands we have for cheap, quick, things. Our consumerism is a burden that weighs heavy on the backs of disenfranchised, stolen, overworked,  and underpaid people.  Then there’s the video of this Mother Whale carrying around the body of her calf who died because of plastic pollution for days. Our consumerism then goes on to harm the Earth and the defenseless animals who suffer because of our excess. At what point will we decide that enough is enough?

I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I am lax about recycling sometimes. I live in the Midwest where damn near all restaurant food and drinks come in Styrofoam and I still go out to eat even though I know Styrofoam is NOT biodegradable and is not going anywhere but instead will breakdown and choke up our water streams and animals. But. Enough.Is. Enough. I have decided that I can and WILL do more to make a difference or at least do better for my life. I am not here to make anyone feel guilty. Instead I hope you get inspired to make some simple changes for yourself and this planet.

Kitchen

  1. Buy Bulk . Things like beans, rice, pasta, nuts, quinoa
  2. Avoid plastic packaging, try to go for cardboard or reusable containers
  3. Ditch plastic bags, take your own bags to carry groceries
  4. Stop using tinfoil or plastic wrap – try beeswax wrap and using stoneware or silicon baking sheets instead
  5. Use real utensils and plates instead of plastic and paper utensils
  6. Use washable napkins instead of paper towels

Fashion

  1. Mend and repair clothing you already own
  2. Buy second hand or do clothing swaps with friends
  3. Support ethical or small businesses
  4. Ditch fast fashion companies

Bathroom

  1. Ditch your most likely toxic bodywash for a unpackaged bar soap. Luxurious, exfoliating and sweetly scented soaps exist all over and are much better than the plastic bottles that are so heavily marketed.
  2. Switch shaving cream for coconut oil or bubbles from soap
  3. Depending on your hair, you can buy unpackaged bar versions of deodorant, conditioner and shampoo as well
  4. Get a reusable stainless steel razor if you shave
  5. Get a compostable bamboo toothbrush
  6. Get toothpaste or toothpowders in a reusable or compostable packaging
  7. Use wooden toothpicks or compostable dental floss instead of plastic versions

Eating out

  1. Say NO to straws. If you need straws, try stainless steel or glass straws instead.
  2. Carry your own silverware in case your only option is plastic
  3. If you are someone who never finishes their food, take your own container to bring home your leftovers.
  4. Carry a cloth napkin to use.
  5. Bring your own reusable bottles for beverages like coffee or tea

In home

  1. Make your own cleaning products
  2. Get things like appliances repaired, cleaned  or try to sell them before tossing them out or replacing them.
  3. Get a washable air filter for your home
  4. Switch to reusable menstrual products
  5. Compost
  6. Recycle
  7. Buy local
  8. Buy organic
  9. Learn to say No
  10. DIY

There is a lot more we could be doing and I will add to this list as time goes on. I have written about different ways I am more eco friendly around the home, kitchen, bathroom . If you would like me to go more in depth on anything or share my cleaning product recipes or elaborate on anything else please let me know in the comments or on Instagram or Facebook.

Peace,

Farai

Mother Earth News Fair 

The Mother Earth New fair is a trade fair that travels around the country addressing issues surrounding sustainability, eco-friendliness and other “hippie dippe green peace crap” as my brother likes to put it .

I’ve always wanted  to go but never could find either the time or money as a college student. Lucky for me I was gifted with some tickets and got to take my friends and Thandiwe along as kids got in for free. I had a blast and with over 150 speakers , lots of vendors and even some hands on activities.

A few people on my Instagram wanted to know what I learned and in the spirit of accountability I thought I’d share some of the lessons I want to incorporate into my life. This is not sponsored in any way, shape or form.

Fermentation – Much like minimalism and zero-waste, fermentation is becoming a buzzword on the internet. Fermented foods exist across cultures and date back hundreds of years. They are known for their gut-healing benefits and are a great addition to any diet. The Fair opened my eyes to just how easy it is to ferment foods at home. Sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, and sourdough bread are all on my list of gut healthy foods I want to make at home.  I took a sourdough starter class and made my own sourdough starter that I can use to make my own bread for years to come (once I actually get around to it haha)

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Beth, the sourdough starter I made at the fair

Growing herbs for home-made tea – I attended a tea-making class by an herbalist who shared several different herbs and their properties as well as how to grow, harvest and store some of them. As someone who grew up on tea out of a bag it was cool to learn about how simple it is to make your own teas. I’ve been drinking loads of echinacea and nettle tea to boost my immunity as the weather turns cold and I can’t wait to grow my own herbs next year.

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How I drink my tea

Elderberry – Elderberry is an another amazing plant that grows wild in Kansas. I have been making my own elderberry syrup for about a year now and try to take a shot of it every day or every few days. I was reminded of the amazing properties of this particular plant and hope to get a shrub of my own next year.

DIY creams and candles – I make small batches of creams here and there for my family but I was inspired after seeing all the yummy handmade products at the fair. I went home and used up the rest of  my mango butter to make a lavender whipped butter that functioned as a healing diaper cream, a hair butter that made for an amazing twist out that left my hair moisturized and a body butter that is keeping Anthony’s dry skin at bay. So many uses from just one product reminding me that we don’t need a bajilion products for each part of our body and home.

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Lavender Whipped Mango Butter 

It felt good to learn and be around people who cared about the same things that I did and about issues that affect us all. If you ever get a chance to go the fair I recommend it!

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My happy little moisturized family

 

Peace,

Farai

 

10 things I have stopped using.

I wanted to share a few products I stopped using a few years ago to inspire people to question what exactly they are bringing into their houses and putting on their skin. Thanks to great marketing from the creators of these products, I used to feel that my house, my cleaning routine, and my beauty regimen was incomplete without these products . I can honestly say I do not miss them. Some of them may have been convenient, but their impact on landfill waste or just how toxic they actually are did not make them worth it to me.

Perfume : I used to be all about body sprays and scented items when I was younger. But they always made my skin feel dry and itchy. Once I became aware of the toxic ingredients in most perfumes I stopped purchasing them. Every so once in a while I’ll make myself a spray using essential oils but I never remember to use it  so it’s rare.

Antiperspirant:  Your body is supposed to sweat. Anything that stops you from sweating clogs your pores, which is dangerous because your body releases toxins in sweat. I use the Herban Cowboy deodorant sometimes, but mostly nothing.

Conventional menstrual products: I’ve written about my experiences with menstrual products here. But other than postpartum, I prefer cloth pads because they are much more comfortable.

Shaving cream: Coconut oil or soap is a much friendlier, gentler, less wasteful way to shave if you choose to.

Air freshener/febreeze : Nasty, harmful air fresheners and fabric fresheners have been replaced with an essential oil mix in my house. A spray bottle or mister with water or witchhazel and your favorite EO is a great replacement.

Underwire bras: This one was hard because we all love the shape that underwire gives, but we never discuss the discomfort and health risks it has. I try to only wear tank tops and soft bras or nothing.

Fabric softener or dryer sheets: Also laden with toxins, I either use nothing, or my wool dryer ball sheets. Unfortunately, my dog Stanley thinks the balls are his toys and they somehow always end up going missing.

Stanley, the wool dryer ball thief

Lip Balm in Plastic Tubes : This has been such a fun switch for me. I detest chapped lips and always have to  have a lip balm near me. My friends over at TheEcoBaby.Co have lip balms in compostable tubes and my problem has been solved. The code HILLBILL10 will give you 10% off and free shipping from this plastic free store.

Shower Gel : Wasteful plastic packaging. I use an unpackaged bar soap I get from my local health store and it is much better for me.

Paper Towels : More unnecessary landfill waste. I use cloth napkins instead and  throw them in the was as I go.

I hope this inspires you to get a little more free.

Peace,

Farai

 

Soul Slings Meh Dai Review

If you don’t know this already, I am a huge fan of babywearing.  With baby wearing, I was able to bring my babe to work with me for 6 months and also maintain my sanity at home when I needed to get stuff done. I am on the path to get certified as a baby wearing educator and was looking to try out different carriers. I was really excited when I found out about the Soul Sling Meh Dai because even though its a soft structured carrier, it has these amazing hybrid wrap straps which allowed me to try out different finishes and practice before I started learning woven wraps. I reached out to Soul Slings and they were gracious enough to let me host a carrier for 2 weeks. We had blast using it and took the carrier on lots of walks, errands and just around the house to test it out.

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The carrier is made of linen and is super breathable and great feeling. I was able to carry my 21 lbs, 11 month old  with ease and wiggle around for a few nursing sessions and naps.I will say that the head rest ties are hard finagle when baby falls asleep on you but we figured it out and I loved the overall feel and look of the carrier.

I was excited to work with Soul Slings because it was started by a fellow cloth diapering, attachment parenting, baby wearing family of color in India. I love working with fellow POC all day everyday!

The hybrid wrap straps on the carrier were padded and super comfortable and stayed comfortable on my 3 mile lake walks.

 

 It’s also daddy dancing baby wearing approved . 🕺🏽🕺🏽🕺🏽

​  Thank you to Soul Slings for letting me try out this gorgeous carrier. 
Peace,

Farai

 

The Benefits of Using a Clothesline

I never had a dryer growing up. I never knew that I needed it. We used a machine or our hands to get our clothes clean, then we took them outside still dripping and hung them in the bright sunshine. I’ve been looking to recreate the peace that came with doing such a simple task now that I am a homeowner and I am happy to say I have my own clothesline courtesy of my spouse.  Read more about why I love them over at my guest post on the Black Women Do Cloth Diaper blog.

Peace.

Farai

 

 

 

My First Year Baby Essentials

I’ve been a mom for almost a YEAR now. Holy crap. It’s been amazingly fulfilling and challenging. My daughter is growing into a smart, beautiful, hilarious ham and I am so glad I get to be her mom.

I thought I’d share some products, services, themes and advice on what got me through this first year of motherhood.

 

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Thandiwe and her fur brother Duke (my middle baby)

Mind

Therapy – I started seeing a therapist a few weeks after she was born to get a handle of my PPA, and PPOCD. It was amazing to have a professional assure me that I was not alone and that other mom’s went through what I was going through.

Baby bookworms – A free book club for infants at my local library that introduces literacy. It was a perfect FREE excuse to get out of the house and be around other parents and babies.

Minimalism – I have written about this before here but minimalism freed my house and mind of clutter. I only allow items that are useful or bring me joy in to my house. That goes for Thandie’s clothes and toys too. I have a clear idea of what I want for her (the strict african mom in me dances with joy) so If she is gifted something that does not fit then it gets passed on to another kid who may enjoy it better.

Lactation Consultant – Thandiwe spent the first 9 days of her life in the NICU and I had to pump every  2-3 hours so she could be bottle fed. When she came home, we struggled to latch. Without the help of Gale, the amazing lactation consultant from the hospital and her continued support and encouragement I think our breastfeeding journey would look a lot different.

Body

Toy and Clothing Rotation – This has been an amazing money saver for my friends and I. Thandie gets hand me down toys and clothes from my friends kids that have outgrown their stuff and she passes them on to my friends with younger kids when she has outgrown them too. I rotate her toys around weekly so she has something different to play with often.

Buying used – Kids are gross. Thandiwe is almost always covered in cantaloupe stains (she’s obsessed with cantaloupe) . My parents encouraged lots of outside play and I was a filthy kid too, which makes me a big fan of letting her be outside and exploring. My head would explode if her brand new items got holes and stains on them too. Buying used toys and clothes when you can-is better for the environment and my wallet. Her summer wardrobe for this year was almost completely second hand and free except for a few new gifts.

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Me being a filthy kid. Check out my cool sagging cloth diaper lol

Baby wearing – Ive written about my love for babywearing and its benefits before here.  I had Thandiwe at work with me for 6 months before I became a SAHM. My lillebaby  carrier was a life saver. Now that she is older I am excited to try out different carriers.

Baby wed leaning – I had this beautiful vision of me feeding my baby pureed organic foods that I made myself. She quickly squashed that by refusing all pureed foods. She only wanted what was on my plate. I learned about baby led weaning and started giving her soft hand held vegetables and fruits that she could eat when she wanted at meal time and she has been happy as a clam ever since. She loves cucumber, potato, broccoli, melons, and apples.

Mango butter – The main component of my handmade diaper cream. I love a good multi-use product.  I buy mango butter in bulk and make diaper cream, body lotion and hair moisturizer for my family. I use different essential oils to tailor the butter for its different uses.

Chewelry – Chewable jewelry made of silicone or wood are great to have around if you baby wear or breastfeed. It is entertaining for little twiddling hands to explore and to soothe little teething gums. I have a coupon for 20% off some cute pieces from Okrosh etsy store if you are interested in investing in some pieces for your wardrobe. The code is HILBILL20

Cloth diapering and wipes – We’ve been cloth diapering since Thandie was 1 month old. I was cloth diapered and I knew it was something I wanted to do so save money and reduce my contribution to landfill waste. My favorite diapering system is pocket diapers followed my covers. Learn more about different types of cloth diapering options here.

Envelope System – I am a fan of the envelope system for keeping things organized. It allowed me to keep my diaper bag/purse in order. My diaper bag was very minimal. One pouch had her wipes, cream, diapers and wetbag, another -my wallet, keys and lip balm. Id use the pockets to keep a water bottle and some toys for her and that was it.

Honorable mentions

Daniel Tiger – Shout out  to PBS for producing sweet, educational content. Daniel Tiger has provided many a distraction while I attempt to manage Thandiwe’s thick curls and his catchy songs have brought many smiles to her face.

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Thandiwe loves Daniel Tiger

Lullaby renditions of Rihanna has brought on many naps for which I am ever so grateful.

Discovery Center and other free programs – It is so fun to watch my little one engage with toys and other kids. Free programs and places like splash parks and drum circles are a great way to socialize your kiddo.

BWI – My local chapter of Baby wearing international was a great help in teaching me how to safely use and try out different characters as well as meet parents with kiddos of similar ages.

Podcasts – For keeping me company and making me laugh and cry.

Online communties – For advice about cloth diapering, to breastfeeding and meeting kindred spirits.

I hope you find a simple system that works for you and your littles.

Peace,

Farai