The Benefits of Using a Clothesline

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

Peace.

Farai

 

 

 

My Summer Diaper Bag Essentials

Summer is my SEASON. Growing up in Botswana where it is hot for the most of the year  makes me LOVE this season so much. I like to spend my time outside exploring or swimming and since I prefer babywearing over using a stroller, my diaper bag has to be functional for both my partner and I.

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I am a fan of multi-purpose items and the Kavu Rope Bag works great for us because its spacious, with multiple pockets and has one strap, which is perfect for me when I carry my daughter on my back. It fits all my essentials that and still has room for more items.

Diapering 

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Bag of wipes in reusable wipe bag. We cloth wipe at home, but use disposable wipes on the go.

A wet bag to store dirty diapers

2 pocket cloth diapers. I prefer pocket you because I can adjust the absorbency  and its still a simple snap and go diaper.

A changing mat, because we go places that don’t always have a safe changing table.

Body

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A change of clothes, homemade sunscreen, some diaper cream and hand sanitizer.

Miscellaneous 

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Daniel Tiger never fails to put a smile on my daughters face so we almost always have a DT book and one other toy to keep her amused.  A Kid Kanteen bottle for her water, burp rag and my wallet which has a pen,  cards and chapstick and thats it!

My diaper bag changes with the seasons. I add warmer clothes in the winter and I rotate out her toys weekly too. Not pictured is my water bottle and hat that I shove into the bag when it is sunny too.I don’t like to be weighed down by unnecessary items so I’ve streamlined the bag to the necessities and it works for us.

Peace.

Farai

 

My First Year Baby Essentials

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

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

 

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Thandiwe and her fur brother Duke (my middle baby)

Mind

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

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

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

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

Body

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honorable mentions

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

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Thandiwe loves Daniel Tiger

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace,

Farai

 

10 Ways You Can Become A Part of Your Community

 

Humans need interaction with each other. Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert,or ambivert such as myself, we all need to get together and enjoy the presence of other humans for our sanity and well being. As spring is upon us, the phrase “bloom where planted” has been on my mind. Today, I wanted to share a few different ways you can get out there and be a part of your community and maybe reduce your carbon footprint a wee bit.

  1. Volunteer: Whether its at your local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, a reading to kids program or even a nursing home, get out there and volunteer. Find something that appeals to you and go do it. Its a great way to meet people, have some amazing conversations and give yourself the warm fuzzies inside.
  2. Patron Local Spots: Ditch the big companies and spend your money at local coffee shops, book stores and restaurants. Its a fact (I just made this fact up…but trust me) that local spots are great for people watching and great conversation. Plus there is the added bonus of stimulating your local economy and supporting small businesses.
  3. Ditch Amusement Parks for State Parks: Big amusement parks are fun. They are also expensive and crazy busy. State Parks are a fraction of the price, have fun activities,and give you a chance to be up close and personal with native fauna and flora. Camping is a fun way to meet new people and bond with the people in your life. Buy your camping gear second hand or borrow it to cut the costs.
  4. Host a clothing swap: This is especially a good idea as the seasons change and you are looking for a new wardrobe. Host a free clothing swap among friends and add some new to you pieces to your wardrobe for FREE. Its good for your wallet and the environment.
  5. Take a class: Places like community centers, libraries, and community colleges are great places to learn something new and meet like minded people. Whether its belly dancing, archery or composting there is always something new to learn.
  6. Go to community events: Food truck festivals, Pride parades, and city council meetings are great ways to get involved in your community.
  7. Carpool or ride a bike: Carpooling to work and different events are a great way to save on gas. If you can, riding a bike is an even better way to get places too. If you don’t already have one, get a bike second-hand from local buy/sell/trade group or from a local cycle project so you can save money. Remember, to always wear a helmet.
  8. Cook: Learn how to cook if you don’t know how to. The act of cooking for yourself and others may seem paltry but it is an amazing privilege that we take for granted when so many people go hungry worldwide. Be mindful, meal plan and prepare food that’s good for your body and share a meal with people you want to connect with.
  9. Create or admin a freecycle group or free items group on facebook for your community: I love the idea of a community that shares and barters for things that they need. Sometimes you may want to part ways with something that is in good condition that you don’t need anymore, online give groups are a way to pay it forward and find items you may need yourself.
  10. Visit your local farmers market: Talk to farmers and learn about where your food comes from. Better yet, if your county allows,  start a community garden.

Connecting with people, hearing their stories and sharing mine is integral to my experience on this earth. One of my most favorite online communities is blackminimalists.net . I’ve been working with 4 other brilliant women and our amazing contributors to bring publish an ebook and start an online community. It launches May 1st. I hope you can check it out.

Peace.

Farai

 

 

 

Curly pro-tips

My natural hair plays a big role in my path to living a more eco-conscious lifestyle.Going natural is what started it all.  I have been accosted enough times in the natural hair section of Target to know that its a big deal to other moms and women out there. After being natural for 9 years, here are my pro-tips that make my life a lot easier.

Hair is just hair – I have shaved it all off, braided it, colored it and attempted to loc my fro. At the end of the day, I love my hair, but it does not define me. Remind yourself of that when your twist out flops. Throw a scarf on and move on with your day sis.

Find realistic hair goals -Sadly, the most popular natural hair gurus and online accounts tend to have a loose curl pattern. We all don’t look like that. Don’t waste your time coveting a pattern your hair will never confirm to. Find people who look like you and support them. Representation matters.

Get you a bonnet or silk pillow case – Cotton absorbs moisture and our curls need all the moisture they can get. Make sure to sleep with a satin scarf, bonnet or pillow case

Be kind to your fro – braids,weaves, and wigs are cute but if you are not careful, when you take them off, they will take your edges and sometimes even your hair with them. Give yourself time off between protective styles and make sure to do a deep treatment.

Simplify your routine – It is easy to waste money on products that you don’t need. Especially since the natural hair community is inundated with sponsorships and native advertising that suckers us in. Find people that give honest product reviews, find products that you can use on more than your hair (like shea and mango butters, almond and coconut oil) .

My routine looks like:

  1. A deep conditioner or oil treatment
  2. A shampoo
  3. A conditioner or leave in conditioner to detangle with.
  4. A butter to moisturize with after i’m done. Right now I am using a homeade mango butter mixed with a drop of melacula oil.
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Embrace that fro

Dassit. I like to keep it simple.

Peace,

Farai

 

 

 

5 ways to make your home more eco-friendly

My partner has been on a home improvement kick. This past month has seen us visiting several different home improvement stores and weighing our different options. This got me thinking about actual steps folks can take to make their homes more eco-friendly and here is what we came up with.

Re-usable air filters – Did you know that you can purchase re-usable furnace and air filters for your home, depending on the kind you have, a simple power wash is all you need to clean it off and use it for several years.

Programmable thermostats – We have the Nest  but there are a range of different kinds of programmable thermostats on the market. We love being able to keep the house on energy saving mode when we are away.

Energy-saving lights – These have been on the market for ages but it is good to always remind folks to make sure their bulbs are the energy saving kind. Its good for your pocket and the environment.

Better insulation – When we bought our house, we had an expert come check the insulation to make sure we would not be wasting money heating and cooling our home because of poor insulation.

Grow your butts – You read that right. Commonly used veggies like green onions, lettuce or garlic can be grown by just putting their roots or butts in water for a few days. Free food!

What are some ways you make your home a little more green?

Peace.

Farai

 

 

Moon time 

Moon Time, Aunt Flo, Shark week, whatever you wanna call it, some people menstruate. I used to hate my period. I was terrified of staining my clothing, I was ashamed to be seen carrying a pad or tampon to the bathroom because it was gross and embarrassing. I would be incapacitated from the pain and was miserable. One day, I came across Precious Star Pads – a young british tween on Youtube who’s life goal was exploring RUMPs also known as reusable menstrual products and my period was never the same. Today, I wanna share ways that I built a better relationship with my period and how I made my moon time more eco-friendly

What I did to become friends with my period

  1. When I became vegetarian, I ate a mostly plant based diet. Lots of fruit and vegetables. I drank loads of water and avoided processed foods. This DRASTICALLY changed my period. It became regular and I only cramped on the first day. When i’d fall off the wagon and eat a  bunch of processed foods high in sugar or salt then my cramps would come back with a vengeance. I made the connection (duh) that my diet affected my cramps and about a week before my period I would clean up my act and eat clean and hydrate and have an easy period. Something which was novel and amazing to me because I needed heavy painkillers just to cope.
  2. It is common knowledge now that most tampons and pads have known carcinogens in them. They are toxic. Once I started using RUMPs, my periods became lighter and less painful. Every woman I know who uses them has said the same thing too.
  3. I tracked my period using an app and familiarized myself with my cycle. This allowed me be really in tune with my body and my natural rhythms. I knew I was pregnant within ta few days because I was so in tune with myself. I took multiple pregnancy tests and a blood test those first few weeks that came back negative (because it was too early to tell) but I KNEW I was pregnant because I knew my body.
  4. I stopped treating my period like it was an inconvenience like I was told and started taking it easy (this is not an option for all menstruating folks) but made a huge difference for me.

Moon Time Helpers

RUMP’s are great because they reduce the amount of waste going to landfills and they are better for your health. Precious Star Pads has tried and reviewed several different types of RUMPS on her YouTube channel but I will share what I have and continue to use.

  1. Sea Sponge for tampons – I don’t use these anymore but I much prefer them to tampons. I purchased a soft sea sponge. You add water to it and squeeze it into a tiny squoosh ball (they shrink tremendously) and insert it into your vaginal canal the same way you would a tampon. It expands as it absorbs your menses, you take it out, rinse it out real good, squoosh it back into a small ball and repeat. 
  2. Cloth pads – My go-to . I purchased some off of etsy and used them for years, including post partum. Just change them out like you would regular disposable pads and chuck them in the wash or into a bucket filled with water until wash day. Add some vinegar or some tea- tree essential oil for an anti-bacterial boost and you are good to go .
  3. Free bleeding – Lay a towel or two down and go to bed in the buff. It will wash out honey.
  4. Menstrual Cups – I have yet to use these, but they are next on my try out list. It takes a bit to find the right fit, but many people swear by them.

Periods are often a huge source of shame for people who menstruate, I think its time to change that narrative. Once my daughter is older, I plan on making her a moon box filled with different RUMPs, treats, and literature about the  magic of periods so she never experiences the sad emotions I went through. I want to empower her to have a great relationship with her body and to be a friend to herself.

Peace,

Farai