For the love of shoes

What if I told you that you could wear a pair of shoes all day and after an active day, experience no foot pain? What if I told you that a majority of the shoes we wear and buy are trash for your feet?

We all know about bunions, corns, and callouses on feet but many of us don’t know that they are typically caused by prolonged wear of uncomfortable and improperly-sized shoes. Wearing tight or unsupportive shoes can damage the feet over time as they cause the many different bones, muscles, and ligaments in our feet to atrophy.

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Image from Ali-express.com

I love a cute shoe. Before I discovered minimalism, every time Old Navy had their $1 flip flop sale or Charlotte Russe was having their $20 boot sale you would find me there spending my hard earned money. It never occurred to me that the poorly made items lasted me less than a year and even though they hurt my feet a few hours into the day, I never made the connection between comfort and quality because I was trying to be cute.

In the beginning of my pregnancy, I was working full time and going to school full-time. I was interested in finding comfortable shoes that would support me and my hectic schedule. I also knew that once my kid was born, I wanted to be active with her, playing, hiking, going on walks, and I needed shoes that wouldn’t have my feet aching at the end of the day.

After some trial and error and research, I found that the best shoes are:

Flexible -They should move with your feet. Your foot shouldn’t be doing extra work to keep them attached to your feet like the action you make when walking with a flip flop. Not great.

Zero-toe drop – In a nutshell that means there should be no heel in the back of the shoe. The sole of the shoe should all be the same height so that your feet aren’t putting all the weight on your toes because of the height difference.

Wide-toe box – Give those toes room to breathe and flex in the shoe. This is especially important for kids as their little feet are still developing.

I slowly built up my comfortable game over the past two years and phased out my uncomfortable shoes and wanted to share some of my favorites brands, tips, and tricks below.


THIS POST CONTAINS SOME AFFILIATE LINKS MEANING THAT AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU, I WILL EARN A COMMISSION IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND MAKE A PURCHASE. 

Flip-Flop/Water shoe

During summer, I am try to spend as much time in/near water as possible and I was looking for an easy on and off shoe that works well at the pool/splash park with Thandie and that is perfect for running errands in the Kansas humid weather. I found that Teva makes an amazing strappy, flexible, flip flop that changed my life. I am NEVER going back. NEVER.

Walking Sandal

I visited a local Browns shoe fit and got measured for some walking sandals. My favorite thing about visiting stores that focus on ONE thing (as opposed to big box stores that sell many things) is that  even though their employees main goal is to sell you something, they typically are knowledgable about the shoes, materials the shoes are made of, the company and what works best for your feet.  I tried on several sandals and ended up leaving with a pair of Chacos that ended up seeing me through a few 5 mile walks while 32 weeks pregnant in Texas during our baby moon. Side note: Chacos are definitely a try on in-store shoe.

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Babywearing and good shoes are a must

 

Tip: Shoe sizes vary per style/cut of shoe as well as company. Go to a professional shoe store and have your feet measured properly. Also try shoes on and don’t assume based on size and if ordering online make sure to order from places that allow free returns. 

Sneakers

I had to kiss my cute, beloved and old ass adidas trainers that did nothing but leave my feet aching and sore after a workout to the curb. I went to a different small store that focused on shoes for runners and athletes called Gary’s Gribbles Running Store. I invested the most I have ever spent on a sneaker on the comfiest Saucony shoes that really support my feet through workouts.

Winter shoe

I mentioned my Keen Boots in my January favorites post but I have to shout them out again because it’s seriously like walking on a cloud.

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Cute shoes

My latest challenge has been finding cute sandals. A lot of the brands like Keen and Teva that make ergonomic, wide toe box shoes typically make fugly sandals but as they try to reach out to a younger audience their styles are improving. Jhene Aiko recently had a campaign for Teva that resulted in some cute “flatforms” that I have been searching for second-hand on eBay too.

Kids

It is imperative for children to wear shoes that make room for their feet to grow. So far for Thandiwe I have purchased or been given pairs of See Kai Runs , Roobeez, and Tevas all of which I am comfortable with because they are flexible and allow her feet to move and flex within the shoe. If they are going to be in flip-flops, make sure they have a back strap.

Peace and Happy Feet,

Farai

January 2018 favs

Things that made my birth month a little sweeter, easier, or more comfortable.

This post contains some affiliate links meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Afrifitness – Probably the only way to get me to work-out and have fun at the same time, and it is free!

Mindfulness Mudra Charm – Added this little sweet charm with a jump ring to my fave necklace as a small birthday gift to myself.

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Onbuhimo – Rediscovering my love for this kind of carrier and grateful I can borrow and return it from my local babywearing lending library as needed.

Kavu rope bag – My go-to last summer, this bag is making a comeback as I chase around my active toddler. I wrote about it in my summer essentials diaper bag post last summer.

Embroidery – Probably my favorite fiber craft to do, I am enjoying creating and sharing some needle art.

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 Seedlings – I dream about when my favorite fruits and veggies will be in season again. I also love perusing Baker Creek Seeds and ordered my first seeds of the season for my spring/summer garden.

Homemade lipbalm – A simple mix of beeswax, mango butter and some lavender, it has kept me supple and moisturized all month long. Simple to make, cheap, and lasts forever.

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Keen boots– After a few close slips I finally decided to say goodbye to my old raggedy bearpaw boots and invest in some quality footwear. These Keen boots are warm, waterproof, and easy to style and I know will last me forever. I pretty much wear them everyday in winter.DSC_1126

Witch wave podcast– My favorite podcast right now.

Happy mid-February!

Farai

 

My Cloth Diapering MVP’s

I was cloth diapered, and I always knew that if I had a kid I would cloth diaper too. I wanted to do it because of how much cheaper it was, but also because of how better for the environment it was. Disposable diaper waste accounts for 30% of our landfill waste and as I attempt to minimize my carbon footprint I knew that this was one way I could do my part.

Read more about just how crappy *lol* disposable diapers are here.

Now that I have been cloth diapering for 18 months, I feel like a pro who has been through it all. I have tried all the decently priced cloth diapering systems (pockets, covers, AIO’s),dealt with diaper rash, and figured out our perfect wash routine. I have a system now that works great for us and thought this might save anyone looking to get into cloth diapering the trouble.

This post contains some affiliate links meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

The cheapest and most eco friendly option for cloth that worked out for my family is using a diaper cover and  inserts. Inserts can be anything from an old cotton tshirt, receiving blankets, flour sack towel, or pre-fold inserts that many cloth diaper company’s sell. These inserts can be cheaply bought new, made, or purchased second hand.

Covers

The waterproof layer of the diaper that traps the waste is known as a cover. They come in a few different styles with limitless prints. The great thing about covers is that unless they get any poop on them, they can be used for multiple diaper changes since the only thing that you change out is the diaper insert. My favorite cover style is the very affordable happy flute diaper cover (butterfly diaper pictured below). My friend Alyson (another WOC mama blogger) sent me the cover and I have loved it ever since.

Pink Posy: Buttons diapers. White diaper with trees: Thirsties diapers and Butterfly diaper: Happy Flute Diapers

Prefolds

We use medium and large pre-folds on Thandiwe. A little bit on the bulkier side but very absorbent. All mine we either hand me downs from friends or purchased second hand.

Medium pre-fold

A note about second hand cloth diapers, always give them a simple bleach soak to clean them before using them on your kid. 

Inserts

Available in many blends, from cotton, to hemp, bamboo, and much more, inserts are a trim, buildable and easy way to add absorbency to diapers. My favorites are the alva bamboo inserts pictured below.

Alva charcoal bamboo insert

Flour sack towels and Receiving Blankets

My favorite and the cheapest way to cloth diaper by far. Receiving blankets are incredibly absorbent and we had several to spare from Thandiwe’s infancy. FST’s are also great. A 4-pack typically costs anywhere from $3-4 and they work great. They are simply folded into a long rectangle and used a prefold or insert would in the diaper.

Folded receiving blanket

Folded flour sack towel

Poop and Pee

A common question: Breastfeed poop is water soluble and can go straight into the wash with other diapers.  Formula fed and food eating baby’s poop should be rinsed off into the toilet and toddler solid poop can simply be tossed into the toilet. We store her diapers in a sealable wet bag next to her changing table and wash her diapers 1-2 times a week.

Left: Button Diaper with charcoal bamboo insert Right: Happy Flute diaper with receiving blanket

 

Happy flute cover stuffed with receiving blanket and charcoal bamboo insert for extra absorbency

 

Washing routine

Each machine is different . I suggest visiting Fluff Love University to figure out a system that works for your machine as well as picking out a good detergent to clean the diapers with.

Peace, Love, and fluffy butts.

Farai

 

7 Ways I Boost My Family’s Immune System

Kansas was just named the sickest state in the USA with just under 29,000 people sick with the flu this winter season. I for one, am not about that life. Since we don’t get the flu shot in our house I take simple steps to boost our immunity and help our bodies fight against any exposure to the yuckiness. So far it has worked. We are flu free *knock on wood* but I also know that if we do happen to get sick *again, knock on wood* that the severity and duration of any illness would be diminished because of these steps. I live by Hippocrates “Let food be they medicine” adage and that is where I put in the most work.

I am not a medical professional and the information shared here is what works for my family and I based on our research and discussions with our doctors. The information shared is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment in any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Applesauce – At first read, that may sound gross right? But like I have said before, I am the queen of multi-use products and a good quality pumpkin pie spice blend typically consists of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and clove. Together these spices are a powerhouse that go really well with seasoning my homemade applesauce or baked goods. Add the blend to your morning oatmeal or smoothie to for some warming, anti-inflammatory, and healing goodness. Comment below or on IG if you want the recipe to my applesauce.

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Pumpkin Pie Spice Oatmeal so yummy she had to put her foot in it

Elderberry syrup – Elderberry is having its moment in the spotlight and for good reason. Studies have shown that not only is it a powerful anti-oxidant, but that it can also slow down a virus. You can purchase elderberry but like my applesauce, I prefer to make my own in my pressure cooker. Here is the recipe I loosely follow.

Tea – Specifically ginger, echinacea, and stinging nettle. I like to buy bulk loose leaf tea, and these three will forever live in my tea cabinet because of their healing properties. Teas are a great way to get down fluids as well as an infusion of minerals and vitamins.

Probiotics- A healthy gut is a happy gut and probiotics are a great way to introduce healthy bacteria back into your body to promote immunity. They can be found in fermented foods, but I also like to give my daughter a kid-safe powdered pro-biotic in her water bottle every few days as well as take a probiotic myself.

Water- A lot of people with the flu end up hospitalized because of dehydration. DRINK SOME WATER.

Cooking with Immune boosting spices and herbs – This one is probably my favorite, because it is like a fun puzzle where I get to figure out how I can fit as many immune supporting foods into my cooking. Foods like oregano, onion, garlic, tumeric, pepper, and celery have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and I try to incorporate them in all my meals.

Humidifier- Dry winter air is harsh on your sinuses and struggling sinuses are less resistant to pathogens. We sleep with a humidifier on at night and it has made for much peaceful nights. This article spells it out great but in a nutshell it is important to have some moisture in the air. Even putting a bowl of water by the heater at night helps.

Share your immune boosting tips in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.

Peace,

Farai

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