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.
One of my ultimate goals in life is to grow my own food. As an ex-black thumb, I had to shed the idea that I couldn’t keep plants alive.That began with me drilling holes in a few plastic tubs and planting some seeds and seedlings. That was last year. This year, my successes and fails (R.I.P. to the extremely overwatered tomato plant of 2017) bolstered my courage to get a little more adventurous with my garden. This led to my foray into raised bed gardening.
If you follow me on instagram , then you are privy to some of the ups and downs that went into creating the garden. It has been an extremely rewarding and challenging labor of love. In a nutshell, My husband and I sectioned of a part of our yard, laid down some landscaping fabric to kill the grass. We then used cinderblocks to form our garden bed outline which we then secured with rebar and then filled with good quality garden soil. We also fenced the garden in to keep our dogs and the neighborhood bunnies out.
What we planted:
2 types of Lettuce
Different types of peppers
2 types of cauliflower
Spinach (which I already killed)
2 kinds of Rosemary
2 kinds of Sage
Lavender (which I am killing)
3 kinds of tomato (Duke my dog has already murdered two tomato plants)
Eucalyptus (in their own containers doing well)
Strawberries (In a hanging basket)
Blueberry (bought as a struggling seedling on clearance, I am hoping it pulls through. It has its own fenced off area elsewhere in the yard)
I wanted to learn how to grow the foods we eat daily as well as produce I don’t buy as often as I’d like because of the steep price tag of buying them organic. Hence the variety. As a gardening newbie, I am being gentle with myself as I learn how to plant, take care and harvest each plant. If I was more organized I would keep a plant diary but I am not there yet.
Only the spinach and kale came from my own purchased seeds. The rest were purchased as seedlings from local greenhouses/garden sales or given to me by community members.
The cinderblock, rebar, fencing, landscaping fabric, and mulch were all purchased from a local hardware store.
The yummy garden soil was also purchased locally.
A hose to water the plants.
A can-do attitude.
Cool Stuff that has happened :
I have already cooked meals and made salads with the spinach, lettuce, and tomato from the garden. I am enjoying watching everything grow.
Fun fact about me, I am obsessed with mushrooms and would like to study Mycology indepth one day. For now I get to ooh and aahh over all the cool mushrooms that have sprouted from the healthy soil in the garden.
Pests decimating my collard greens and cauliflower leaves. I now know to spray a solution of Diatomaceous earth on the leaves and check for the creepy bastards each morning.
The ladybugs and praying mantises I purchased as natural pest control took off and left me high and dry.
If you can’t tell by this post, I am having a blast nurturing my green thumb. I hope this inspires anyone who thinks they can’t garden to give it a try. We should all get cosy with Mother Nature when we can.
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.
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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 make it a point to be mindful of what I bring into T’s life. From toys, to clothes, books, and even what she eats on. I want to teach her to value what she brings into her life and it’s important for the both of us that we are not overwhelmed by clutter or an abundance of stuff. I want for her to have good quality things she can enjoy and learn from and today I thought i’d share just how we do that.
Take stock of what you got
Firstly, as a toddler (OMG she is going to be 20 months in a few days!) she is growing in leaps and bounds! I go through her clothes and toys every couple of months and take stock of what fits, what needs mended, what she has outgrown and needs to go. I don’t hold onto any clothes or toys but I do immediately scrapbook something I want to keep. This process allows me to figure out what she needs and I create either a mental or physical list to keep track.
Check with friends and family first, then check your local second hand toy stores or thrift stores before finally checking facebook marketplace, ebay, or craigslist. A bunch of Thandiwe’s toys were her dads, my friends handmedowns or thrifted gems. Good for the wallet and good for the environment. I use this strategy for things like strollers and carriers too. Check for wear and tear as well as recalls before purchasing . A quick search will get your answers
Sometimes a project can be created at home, its much more meaningful (also possibly time consuming haha) but a fun experiences nonetheless. I got to spend time an afternoon with some family learning how to make felt fruits and veggies for Thandiwe’s farmers market box and that time was invaluable. Also fixing things when they break instead of replacing them.
Places like museums, libraries, and non corporate toy stores will almost always have designated play areas where you can take your kiddo to enjoy and play with toys. Bonus because you can play and walk away!
I try to avoid plastics as much as possible, especially when it comes to her eating and drinking utensils – but almost all kids toys, especially second hand toys are plastic since plastic lasts forever. If I do buy something brand new, I am looking for stainless steel, wood and fabric materials.
Use your local library, check out thrift stores, and buy books second hand from places like Better World Books. I always appreciate being given old books from friends and returning the favor as she outgrows them.
Embroidery – Probably my favorite fiber craft to do, I am enjoying creating and sharing some needle art.
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.
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.
When Nicole reached out to me to be on the Real Talk Radio Podcast I was excited, not only because she does an amazing job of highlighting real, diverse, viewpoints and stories, but also because she also could relate to mine. Its an honor to be in a guest in Season 14 of the podcast and join the ranks of people I know and admire on the interwebs.
We talked about so much – my childhood and the culture shock of moving to the US when I was 18 years old. We talk about my minimalist lifestyle, debt, how I found minimalism, and how I detach from the hustle and bustle that comes hand-in-hand with living in the west. I had a blast speaking to her and sharing my life and can’t wait to listen to the other guests.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
A note about second hand cloth diapers, always give them a simple bleach soak to clean them before using them on your kid.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As I mentioned in my 7 ways I Boost my Family’s Immunity post, Pumpkin Pie spice is a favorite tool in my arsenal because of how anti-inflammatory and healing ingredients it contains. 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. As requested, see the recipe below.
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.
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.