Lessons Motherhood Has Taught Me

I am Jon Snow, I know nothing. No amount of books, anecdotes, podcasts, or documentaries prepared me for childbirth or motherhood. I had the birth I had, not the one I wanted. Thats a story for another day though.

I am constantly in awe of the gifts that motherhood has given to me, and the things it has taken away too. I thought i’d share some of the lessons I have learned over the past two years.

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Community is so important because caregiving can be isolating. Reach out.

Being a steward of the earth is important. Maybe you don’t give a heckin heck about animals, or have no interest in growing plants or going vegan. But you can recycle, and buy ethically raised and organically grown foods and meat if your life allows you to. You can teach your kids where their food comes from and how to be ethical consumers because you owe it to them to teach them how to survive on this planet and not trash it.

I have to be gentle and kind to myself.

My body is magnificent. Even though sometimes I am dehydrated and sleep deprived, it continues to show up for me and my grabby toddler each day with minimal complaints.

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I owe it to myself and my kid to follow my own dreams.

Constantly access what is in front of me and be creative.

They are watching you (your kids, that is…not ‘the man’ lol).

You will probably lose friends. Certain friendships are seasonal, and when you enter a new season in your life its ok if they don’t want to join you. Even if it sucks.

Your kid is a product of their environment. They will learn how to cope, manage their emotions, and express themselves from how you do the same.

Your kid will probably lose it in the grocery store.

If someone is acting like they have their shit together, they are lying.

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

Helina Baby Meh Dai Review

In July, I got to go to the International baby-wearing conference that happened in Iowa. It was fun to meet fellow baby-wearers I have been interacting with for the past two years and meet them face to face. I was especially excited to be around fellow Black baby-wearers.

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Internet friends IRL!

It is no secret that I love supporting POC makers, wearers and artists. A few months ago I learned about Helina Baby Inc  , a Canadian based baby wearing company founded by a black woman. Upon my discovery, I slid rather quickly into their DM’s and joined their ambassador program and they so graciously sent it to me to try out.

First off, I feel like Meh Dais don’t get enough love. As an educator, I like that they are very easy to teach and that they are typically super accessible to caregivers of all body types. The Helina Baby Meh Dai is made with organic cotton and low impact dyes. Its super soft and has the most comfortable feel in hand. Unfortunately, Thandiwe has been on a strict back wearing boycott for several months now, and screams bloody murder when I try to wear her on my back so I only got to try this in the front EVERY SINGLE TIME. She is very strong willed. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the uppies we got from it.

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Breastfeeding while plant window shopping

My favorite things :

The feel of the fabric : This was my first time using an organic cotton carrier and it felt really good to the touch. I think tactile folks would enjoy using this carrier. It was easy to nurse in as well.

The length of the straps : The long straps make this carrier accessible for babywearers of all body types.

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The arm straps : In my experience, Meh Dai carriers that don’t have wrap straps or shoulder straps with lots of material typically aren’t my favorite, but the way this one is created made it comfortable on my shoulders.

Toddler wearing : Thandiwe is a solid 26 lbs at 2 years of age and was very comfortable in the carrier. It works from Newborn into Toddlerhood and doesn’t require an insert which is a win in my book.

Easy to wash : It is so simple to wash, it just requires a gentle cold rinse in the machine and then hang it to dry. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. If you are anxious about carrier friendly detergents, just use plain ol’ water.

My least favorite thing : I loved the color of this fabric, but it will get stomped on and dirtied much like any carrier. Light fabrics show dirt quicker. This is easily solved by how simple it is to wash the carrier however. DSC_0504.jpg

 

If you are in the market for a Meh Dai, check www.helinababy.ca out! They even have free shipping!

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 Raised Bed Garden

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.

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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:

  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Zuccini
  • Cucumber
  • 2 types of Lettuce
  • Different types of peppers
  • 2 types of cauliflower
  •  Brocolli
  • Collard Greens
  • Kale
  • Spinach (which I already killed)
  • 2 kinds of Rosemary
  • 2 kinds of Sage
  • Lemonbalm
  • Oregano
  • Mint
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender (which I am killing)
  • 3 kinds of tomato (Duke my dog has already murdered two tomato plants)
  • Cilantro
  • 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.

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Supplies used:

  • 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.

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Challenges:

  • 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.
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Dried DE solution on a leaf that a bug took a bite out of. 

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.

Peace and Compost

Farai

 

 

Curly Kids and their Fro’s

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:

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For the love of shoes

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

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

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Image from Ali-express.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Flip-Flop/Water shoe

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

Walking Sandal

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

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Babywearing and good shoes are a must

 

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

Sneakers

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

Winter shoe

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

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Cute shoes

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

Kids

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

Peace and Happy Feet,

Farai

Kids and stuff

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.Open shelving for her toys so she can access everything

Thrift it

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

DIY it

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.

Visit it

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!

Avoid plastics

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.

Books

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.

Peace.

Farai