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:
Can I repair what I already have?
Do I really need it? How will it serve me/bring me joy?
Can I buy it secondhand/refurbished?
Can it be traded or borrowed?
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.
Ditch cable and instead share streaming services among friends/loved ones
Mount the TV to a stud in the wall to clear up space in living areas. TV stands are hubs for collecting clutter.
Digitize DVD’s and CD’s and purchase digital copies
Buy it second hand/refurbished if possible
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.
Get a new battery if its not charging well
Improve digital clutter by arranging like apps and content in folders together
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.
I am often accosted in Target by exasperated well meaning white caregiver’s with multi-racial children who have curly hair. They need tips, and I have lots, but not always while i’m shopping. The internet has a smorgasbord of awesome content for just how to maintain a thriving curly mane but sometimes you need just the basics. If I could keep this infographic on me to pass around I totally would.
This is my introductory advice on how to get thriving curls:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
Buy Bulk . Things like beans, rice, pasta, nuts, quinoa
Avoid plastic packaging, try to go for cardboard or reusable containers
Ditch plastic bags, take your own bags to carry groceries
Stop using tinfoil or plastic wrap – try beeswax wrap and using stoneware or silicon baking sheets instead
Use real utensils and plates instead of plastic and paper utensils
Use washable napkins instead of paper towels
Mend and repair clothing you already own
Buy second hand or do clothing swaps with friends
Support ethical or small businesses
Ditch fast fashion companies
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.
Switch shaving cream for coconut oil or bubbles from soap
Depending on your hair, you can buy unpackaged bar versions of deodorant, conditioner and shampoo as well
Get a reusable stainless steel razor if you shave
Get a compostable bamboo toothbrush
Get toothpaste or toothpowders in a reusable or compostable packaging
Use wooden toothpicks or compostable dental floss instead of plastic versions
Say NO to straws. If you need straws, try stainless steel or glass straws instead.
Carry your own silverware in case your only option is plastic
If you are someone who never finishes their food, take your own container to bring home your leftovers.
Carry a cloth napkin to use.
Bring your own reusable bottles for beverages like coffee or tea
Make your own cleaning products
Get things like appliances repaired, cleaned or try to sell them before tossing them out or replacing them.
Get a washable air filter for your home
Switch to reusable menstrual products
Learn to say No
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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!
Every month I get to interview an amazing minimalist for the Black Minimalists podcast. This is basically a dream come true and I get to do it from the comfort of my home. If you get a chance, give it a listen!
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.
Pregnancy left me with some rough and raggedy skin on my body. I chalk it up to negligence on my part combined with some hormonal changes. I’m working to combat it. Anyway. Once upon a time I tried out a sample of this amazing scrub from a company that shall not be named. I loved the scrub, and once I finished the sample I made my way to their website to order a full size for myself. Lo and behold, the scrub and the shipping cost were ridiculous. Back to the drawing board I went and recreated the same simple scrub with the same (if not better) quality ingredients.
What you will need:
Fair trade organic ground coffee
Wild Orange Essential Oil
Almond Oil (organic if you can find it )
Mix a cup of ground coffee together with a few tablespoons of the almond oil till you have a consistency that feels good on your skin. Add 10+ drops of the wild orange oil and keep the concoction in a sealed glass jar. Use whenever you need a moisturizing and invigorating body scrub down. Fair warning, coffee grounds are messy AF in the shower but I love how I feel after using them.