Minimalist Holiday Shopping for Kids

It is quite hard to not get caught up in the buying frenzy that is in the air during the holiday season. My spouse and I take full advantage of the fact that our two year old is none the wiser and choose not to buy into the hype. However, we want to build meaningful tradition and ritual for our family and that includes thinking about what we want this time of year to look like for our family.

If you are feeling the pressure this holiday season with all the marketing and ads coming your way, Let me remind you that what your children want most is your time. Toys come and go, clothes are outgrown, but memories last much longer. If you must make purchases, here is a graphic to keep you in check.

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This post contains affiliate links. The HillbillyAfrican may earn small commissions from purchases made.

With winter approaching we have been focused on getting our babe some open ended toys. What are open-ended toys you ask? Basically any toy that doesn’t have a fixed use and can be played with in a variety of ways. I thought i’d share some of the open ended toys that have been on our horizon for months now.

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Image from Sarah Playsilks

Play silks can become tutus, capes, headscarfs, doll slings, dresses, forts, and much more. The soft biodegradable material feels good on little hands too.

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Image from kickstarter

EarthTiles are made from sustainably sourced wood and these magnetic tiles are a beautiful way for babes to engage in STEM play.

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Image from urbanbaby.com

A kinderboard can be a balance board, a reading nook, slide, bridge, booster seat, and much more. I am probably the most excited to see all the ways she will play with this. Much like most open ended toys, it is an investment and will probably be in our family for a long time.

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Image from google search

Rainbow stackers are not only beautiful but are a lesson in math, science, art, and fun in general.

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My two year old unicorn ladybug

As for books, thrift stores and thriftbooks.com are still my favorite place to search for titles. Right now my wishlist is full of books about eating and enjoying food as I try to encourage her to eat more.

At the end of the day, my daughter is most happiest when both of us are playing hands on with her. No toy can match that. Our favorite thing to do right now is play with homemade play-dough and cookie cutters.

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Turmeric play-dough

I hope this holiday season gifts you with time to spend with those you love.

Peace,

Farai

My Green Beauty Basics

If you have been following me along on instagram, then you know our home renovation took a lot of steam out of my eco friendly engine. I just did not have the spoons (or a kitchen or bathroom) to stay as green as I would have liked. However, because my beauty regime is pretty minimal, I had no troubles in this department. I thought I would share my basics in case someone is looking for some inspiration.

Apple Cider Vinegar – In a glass bottle, this powerhouse can act as a skin toner, hair rinse and much more. It works great to balance out my low porosity hair, and added to a bath, it is incredibly soft and moisturizing for those with dry skin issues. I never go without.

Bar soap – Whether its for my body, or specifically formulated for my face. Unpackaged bar soap is what my family enjoys using.

Lip Balm – I have a compulsion to never ever have dry lips. Lip balm or lip stick  in a compostable or recyclable container make my heart and the earth sing.

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Lip balm in a compostable container

Rose hip oil – Not too long ago I realized that I needed to start taking better care of my skin. I tried to be a multi-product girl with the serums and the acids (all in glass bottles of course), but its just not me. Rose hip oil rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants which are essential in tissue and cell regeneration in the skin. After I cleanse my skin, I just throw this on at night and move on about my day. PS. It will stain your skin a bright orange, but it goes away as your skin absorbs it.

Almond oil – The least eco-friendly of basics, because I have only found it in plastic bottles (I buy the biggest size to make up for it). Almond oil can be used as a face, body, and hair moisturizer. It is my go-to make-up remover and probably the product I have used the longest.

Konjac sponge – New to me, this compostable face scrubby comes in clutch when I need to exfoliate my face.

Thats it folks! When I am scrubbed clean, and well moisturized I feel my most beautiful. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

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Stanley and my naked, moisturized face

This post contains affiliate links. The HillbillyAfrican may earn small commissions from purchases made.

Peace.

Farai.

Building Ritual and Traditions

Being a third culture kid has its pros and cons. On one hand, I am adaptive, can pick up languages very easily and love being a citizen of the world. On the other hand, I suffer from some sort of identity crisis sometimes. I used to wish I had one culture. A set of rules and rituals I could lean into during life’s moments. Practices that are set in stone and were practiced by my people and their people before them. Instead, I have a mix of Setswana, Shona, British, and Kansan culture and traditions in my head.

Colonialism took away a lot of culture and tradition for some African tribes and I mourn the loss of our traditions that were demonized by western Christianity. I’ve tried hunting down records of how my people lived before colonization but the information is scarce.

As my toddler gets older, my spouse and I are questioning everything we know. Will we celebrate Christmas? Yule? Easter? Birthdays? If we do, how can we do it in a way thats authentic to us and our values. Its important to us to engage in rituals and traditions that are meaningful and bring true joy to us. Not just because they are the norm.

She is only two though, so for now, having these conversations looks like singing rhymes and lullabies. Going on walks and exploring nature as it changes before our eyes. Jumping in rain puddles, picking up dandelions, acorns, pumpkins, and sticks.

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Pumpkin patch 2018

Things that I know for sure are that I want to celebrate and cherish the beginning and ending of each season wherever we are living. Recognizing the growth and harvest time in Summer and Fall, and the rest and renewal of Winter and Spring. Knowing where our food is from and giving thanks to those who grew, picked, and cooked it. Recognizing our role as stewards of the land and the First Nations people who were here before us. Cooking Zimbabwean food for her so she knows her culture even though we are so far away from it. Standing up for her rights and those of others. There is so much I want to show my babe and I am excited to learn it all with her through her eyes.

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Week without Violence walk 2018

For now, i’ll keep her close.

Peace,

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

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 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

 

 

 

Lush products review

I celebrated my birthday a month ago and treated myself to some Lush products. I wanted to buy myself something from an ethical company that was conscious of their packaging. The closest Lush is over an hour away and In a huge mall full of other tempting stores,  so I chose to spring for shipping. Sadly, the soaps did come wrapped in plastic, but the box and packing peanuts they used are completely compostable so that was a positive. In store, you can buy the soaps package free.

After a month of incorporating these products into my life, I am ready to share my opinion and whether or not I would repurchase them. This post is not sponsored in any way, I just enjoy sharing good products.

 

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Yes, Yes,Yes to everything about this soap. A little goes a long way. I use it a few times a week and I have not even made a dent. It smells good, it is cleansing and not drying and my hair responds well to it. Would definitely buy again.

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This conditioner was a huge fail for me. I was skeptic anyway. I have thick curly hair and I need a deep moisturizing conditioner that has slip for me to detangle my hair in the shower. I will not be purchasing this again.

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Not my favorite scent, but this deodorant does its job. And it lasts a long time, which I love.

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This adorable scarf is made from 2 water bottles. How neat! You can use it for several different things around the house, but I have been using it to protect my curls from my daughter’s grabby hands. It would make a great gift for eco-friendly peeps and it comes in different prints.

 

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This soap has fennel in it,  which I am not very partial to, but it does a great job of cleansing my face. It has a big job on its hands as I have continued eating like trash since the holidays. I may try a different cleanser, but this one is still good. I would repurchase.

Often times hygiene and beauty products come in a lot of wasteful packaging. I’m glad I get the chance to switch up my routine for something better. 

Peace,

Farai

Why Minimalism

In early 2016, several months pregnant and as big as a house, I was overcome with the inexhaustible need to nest. To prepare a place for my little nugget.  I looked at the 3 bedroom home that I shared with my partner and two dogs and panicked. We had NO space. The baby room was full of various unopened baby gifts and we hadn’t even added a crib to her room yet. I toyed with the idea of renting a storage space but it did not fit into my budget. I was flabbergasted that at 25 years of living, I had already amassed such a large amount of crap that I needed extra space to hide it away.

This was unacceptable to me.I decided that I needed to get organized. So like any good millennial, I took to google- specifically, YouTube where I discovered an entire movement dedicated to organization. I was HOOKED. I watched countless videos of women changing clutter-filled rooms into DIY heaven, Pinterest-worthy masterpieces. I knew I had found my people. I learned about the Life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo and applied its principles to some of my life. I threw out, sold and donated gobs and gobs of stuff. It felt great. For the first time, I felt in charge of my belongings. I said bye bye to gifts I had received (that were not my style) from well-meaning relatives and friends that I had kept out of obligation. All my mismatched socks and dresses that used to fit me kicked the bucket. I let my closet be a space that held things that I loved and brought me joy. So what if that meant I had only two pairs of socks?

Minimalism made me question my spending habits. It made me wonder where my money was going when I made a purchase.Before I swiped or hit buy, did I really need or love the item I was about to bring into my life? It reconnected me to my public library after I realized I never touched the books I had purchased after I was done with them. What a waste. It made me fall back in love with DIY’s and crafting. Enjoying the satisfaction of a job well done after creating something for my family.

A home is supposed to be your sanctuary, but for a long time, my home was a place that brought me anxiety and shame. I did not know what to do with my gobs of stuff. Minimalism helped me make my home a sanctuary that I loved being in.

Minimalism is not a strict set of rules that you can follow. It looks different for everyone. For me, it looks like the William Morris quote – “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” It is a journey. Since I’ve had my daughter, my closet has filled back up with clothes (most of which I do not wear…again, how wasteful) to accommodate my changing body and my kitchen is in need of a good spring cleaning from all the random mismatched lunchboxes and plates that my partner and I apparently attract like magnets. But, I can look around my house and tell a love story about almost everything there.

All this brings me to why I am blogging about this. In all my research and countless HOURS spent on the interwebs learning about organizing and minimalism, the number of POC I found who were having these conversations has been small. Like under 10 people small.  My background in media and the fact that I am a black person makes me super passionate about the representation of POC in all avenues. This blog and information is for everyone but I do want people of color to know that there is someone like them out here engaging in this predominantly white space, and they can too. Everyone deserves freedom from stuff. To quote the minimalists, love people, use things.

Peace.

Farai