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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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

Minimalism, 3 years in

Fourscore and about three years ago, I got tired and overwhelmed by all the stuff in my life and began my journey into minimalism. Here is what I have learned so far:

It’s work – Once you get past all the decluttering, and figure out how you want whatever you minimized to look, you have to do regular maintenance to keep it that way. Things pile up, and if you don’t take stock regularly then you can slip back in to old habits. This was true for me with our home renovation. My home was a mess, everything was boxed up and stacked away and so I would find myself buying doubles of things, and making purchases I didn’t truly need or even like. The Target runs to escape the noise of the renovation waylaid all the work I did to disconnect myself from using retail therapy as a way to feel good. Luckily, I was able to check myself constantly because I know my goals and what I needed in my life because of minimalism.

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My baby crab and I, 2018

 

Its good for me and the planet – “Do you really need this?” Is a question I never used to ask myself. If I liked it, and I had the means, I got it. That ended up in piles of unused or discarded items. Now, I take into account the story of how the object that I am bringing into my life came to be. This makes for a lot less impulse choices, which is good for everyone.

Its easier – When you have less stuff, its easier to clean, to be honest, to be still, to take stock.

I am not a one handbag kinda gal – I like cute things, but with minimalism, I’ve learned to look at something and imagine how it would work for me through all seasons of my life. If I can’t see it withstanding some wear/tear then I don’t need it, but I am not stopping myself from owning/enjoying beautiful things.  Some minimalists have one utilitarian bag that they use for everything. I have a few vintage, adorable, and gifted bags that I enjoy wearing and switching out often. Not very minimal, but they bring me joy.

Everyone will look different – Living with less looks different for everyone. That’s it. No need/room for judgement.

I make room for beauty more – In a way that I never did before minimalism. Sure I had beautiful stuff before, but it got lost in the noise of clutter. Now I can look at the art on my wall and really see it. It has been great for my creativity too.

You see everything – Clutter does a good job of  hiding dirt. When walls and floors are bare of clutter, you see all the dirt and grime. When you have two scraggly dogs, a messy toddler, and a mechanic for a husband, the floors and walls hide nothing. But that’s just life.  If you come over, I am probably sweeping up dog fur, scrubbing at a grease stain or wiping blueberries from EVERYTHING. Or I am saying this let’s go outside and look at my garden and ignore my filthy house.

It makes me a better person – Clutter makes me anxious. Anxiety makes me controlling, angry, distracted, and unmotivated. That is not fun for me or anyone around me. So, bye bye clutter.

You don’t have to follow the norm – Your life and your space should suit YOUR life, your functional and emotional needs. Play with it and figure out what works for you.

You question everything – I am not quite sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, because it elicits a couple eye rolls from people around me every once in a while. It looks like me cuddling an item and thinking about whether or not it will serve me or bring me joy in the thrift store, or journaling to understand my thoughts and feelings about life’s many questions. Tedious? Maybe. Worth it? Yes.

Learn more about my minimalist journey here: Why Minimalism

An interview with Black Minimalists : Black Minimalists

A 15 minute intro to minimalism I did for my Minimalists of Color facebook groupIntro to Minimalism

Peace,

Farai

My thrifty summer

As a type A Capricorn, labels, lists and general definitions of things warm the cockles of my heart. Defining my style was fundamental in allowing me to figure out exactly what I was looking for when I began furnishing the house and adding to my closet.

I have a whole post about what how I discovered my style preferences and the little dilemma that led to my discovery in the works.  In the mean time, this podcast I did with Roe of Brownkids and this quiz by Dacy of Mindful Closet were super helpful. 

 

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Effortless, garage sale find 

I used to destest thrift shopping. I felt like it was a messy, stinky, pile of garbage that I had to sift through to find something cool. Having a clear idea of what I was looking for changed the game for me. Instead of being pointless, it became a treasure hunt, where I got to find and welcome items into my home and give them a second chance at life where they could serve my family and I, or bring me joy.

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The perfect watering can from a art walk

I began imagining what I wanted for the different spaces in my house. For the wall space above my breakfast nook, I wanted art made by my friends, things that reminded me of my family, and lots of embroidered and wicker things. I should pause and say that I define my style as ’70s-boho-earthy-dirty hippie’. I like lots of earth tone colors and fabrics. So that is what I look for. Thankfully Anthony loves my style and is cool with it, I like to include him in the choices I make when decorating the house because I want him to enjoy the space too. I try to include art that he likes as well.

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The beginnings of the gallery wall in my dining room. Much has been added to it since then.

So, how did I find all the things I wanted this summer? 

Make a list. I wanted mugs with mushrooms on them, I found two for under a buck. I wanted a wicker hutch, got it. A peacock chair, I got it the next day I posted on my facebook feed. Put out what you are looking for and more than likely you will find it. Maybe not instantly, but it will come to you.

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Esmerelda the Peacock Chair of my dreams

Going to art walks to find art from local artists.

Thrift stores sell the best frames hands down. If you have a piece of art you need a frame for, go there first.

My artsy friends and I bartered my skills for their art.

I posted pictures of items I was looking for online. Sometimes friends, and people local to you may have what you are looking for. This is how I got my peacock chair and wool rug.

If you know someone who loves thrifting and garage sales (shoutout to my Godparents), ask them to keep an eye out for you. This is how I got rugs, and my hutch.

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I’ve always wanted a hutch. Not quite sure what I want in it quite yet

I have said this already, but have a clear idea/list of what you are looking for. I wanted a denim skirt all summer. I finally found one at goodwill that I know I will wear for years! Having a list stops you from buying crap you don’t need or spending money on a fast fashion item that won’t hold up as long.

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My denim skirt

Kitchen items like scales, ladles, bowls, cups, even good quality stainless steel and ceramic cookware can be found while thrifting too. A lot of kitchen stuff got broken in the renovation and I had to replace some things.

Go to garage sales and estate sales.  Doing it as a family is fun surprisingly enough.

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My favorite prayer. This was made in 1975 ! ❤

Shop vintage shops/thrift shops on etsy and ebay.

Don’t be afraid of a little work, sometimes something needs to be cleaned, washed or given a little repair. You will appreciate it more for taking the time to work with it.

I truly love the idea of finding something that I am looking for second hand and giving it a new home. I hope some of you can find joy in that too.

Peace,

Farai

 

 

How to keep it minimal with technology

I am a ex-tech lover. Don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate all that technology has done/does for me. My kindle e-reader kept me sane while night-nursing a sleepy Thandiwe. My phone keeps me connected to my loved ones 24/7 and that is such a blessing. However, I have unplugged from the rat race that is “the next best thing” . I no longer stare at my glitchy screen, excited to replace it with the newer model that isn’t that different. Instead, I ask, how can I make this work for me? Minimalism has ingrained in me the impact that my actions have on the earth and fellow mankind. My iPhone was not made by a robot, it was assembled by underpaid people whose work I value. The coltan used to make the capacitors that power so many of our electronics is mined by Congolese workers who live in a war zone that was destabilized by the west so they could have cheap and easy access to Congo’s resources.

So, here is how I keep it simple:

  1. Can I repair what I already have?
  2. Do I really need it? How will it serve me/bring me joy?
  3. Can I buy it secondhand/refurbished?
  4. Can it be traded or borrowed?
  5. Get a warranty if I must get it brand new

Asking these questions is a good way to establish whether or not the item is worth the hustle. As for tech we typically already own, here is how I handle it.

TV

  1. Ditch cable and instead share streaming services among friends/loved ones
  2. Mount the TV to a stud in the wall to clear up space in living areas. TV stands are hubs for collecting clutter.
  3. Digitize DVD’s and CD’s and purchase digital copies

Phone

  1. Buy it second hand/refurbished if possible
  2. Get screen repaired if it cracks and do a factory reset if its acting glitchy to extend its life and get a good case if you are a clutz like me.
  3. Get a new battery if its not charging well

Apps

  1. Improve digital clutter by arranging like apps and content in folders together
  2. Your library card is key to so many cool free apps that you may be paying for: Hoopla and Overdrive for ebooks and audiobooks Libby for audiobooks. Mango for language learning.

Hope this helps

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

How I keep it simple

I’m a homebody. I love being home, hanging out with my family, dogs and plants. I’ve talked about in a previous post that my old homes used to bring me great anxiety but since I adopted a minimalist approach to it, ive been happier, healthier, and more inspired. Minimalism has brought me so many gifts- but like anything worthwhile, it takes work. Here are some ways I keep it simple.

Internet be damned- Pinterest is amazing for ideas and inspiration, but don’t get caught up in aesthetics or envy because your house does’t look that way. Embrace the space you are in, if something does not vibe with you, do something about it. In another world, Joanna Gaines from the TV Show Fixer Upper would decorate and organize my entire home for me…but thats not the world I live in so I have to make do with what I have and keep what serves me and brings me joy.

Multi-use products are in – I use Castille Soap as a general cleaner, baby wash, dog wash, hand soap and much more. A pound of mango butter becomes diaper cream, body lotion and a hair moisturizer. My stylist recommended I start using my conditioner as a styling product as well for my hair and it is thriving. I love a good multi-use product.

Get to planning- Whether its writing out my grocery list or my meal plan for the week, planning it out makes sure I don’t buy what I don’t need and that I only have what I need in my kitchen. This inspires me to explore, cook more and eat out less. I like to visit the library and check out different cookbooks during the weekend before meal planning and shopping on Monday.

Say no – To the straw, to the free sample, to giving your email out, to the toxic relationship or friendship, to anything that doesn’t help you grow or serve you.  It will be hard at first but it will get easier.

Nothing is set in stone- Things change, I am constantly evaluating different areas of my life to see ways that I can improve or change to make my life easier and more joyful. We are not going to make it off this hurtling rock  alive as they say and I want to spend the time I have being in the now. Be open to change, see a therapist, practice self care and keep it simple.

 

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Babies are a good way to remind you of how little you need to be content. Image is of Thandie and her Uncle Josh on the KAW River bank

 

 

 

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