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Top 10 Recycling Habits from a New Perspective

I came across these 10 recycling habits written by my friend, Ryan, and I wanted to share it with you all. He granted me permission to share it with you all. Some of the ideas may not be new, but may this challenge refresh and encourage you to keep up the work! Thanks Ryan!

You should be all about recycling. If you’re a Christian you should be especially passionate about recycling.

Consider the fact that in recycling you are taking something that is spent, used up, and old, and giving it new life, purpose, and usefulness.

As Randy Alcorn shares: “Psalms 24:1 states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” This is not our place to trash. It’s God’s place to treasure. To care for the world is to care for its people. To care for its people is to fulfill the second commandment, to love our neighbors as ourselves. As we see it mandated in Genesis 1:28, God entrusts us with the earth as He entrusts us with our bodies, and He intends for us to take care of both.”

As a follower of Jesus, listed below are some of the ways both big and small that I think the invitation to recycle is available. It is obviously in no way an exhaustive list, and neither is it listed in any particular order. So without further adieu here are my top ten recycling habits:

1. Food

If you don’t have chickens to give your old scraps to (and thus produce eggs and great fertilizer), then get a compost pile so that your old food will turn into rich soil. Also, using old veggies (flimsy celery and carrots, onion skins, etc) and animal bones to make stock is a great way to recycle stuff that you will not eat.

2. Water

There are some pretty amazing ways you can recycle water. You can collect the water from the bathroom sink in a bucket and use that bucket to flush the toilet. Other creative ideas include collecting water from dishwashers and washing machines drained out to use for gardening, etc. Personally, I don’t do that stuff, but I do collect our rain water and use it to water the garden! I do use my kids kiddie pool water to water my plants (instead of dumping it every few days). Next time you’re about to dump out the remains of your glass of water, dump it in your houseplant instead.

3. Bags

You can buy cloth bags for grocery shopping. We do. But we also forget to use them as often as we remember. So if you have to do the unthinkable (haha) and use plastic shopping bags, they work great as your new garbage can liners. We have nor purchased garbage bags in years because we just use these from our local supermarket. Sure you have to empty the garbage a bit more often, but it’ll shave a few bucks off your grocery bill and it will put those bags back to use. These bags can also be recycled at most grocery stores.

4. Money

Buy locally. If you buy locally from local businesses and local owners and local shops and local food and…then your money stays in the community you love. The money you use to buy your kids a birthday present will go to a local family who owns the local toy shop that employs local individuals who buy things from their local supermarket who…etc. When you spend and shop locally, your money is recycled within your community to grow and develop the community you love.

5. Clothes

Buy from used clothing stores. Give your old clothes to others. Old clothes can also be quite useful for household projects! I grew up with a giant canvas tent for camping. The tent bag for our giant tent was a pair of my dads old jeans. The pockets were where the stakes were kept, the tent slid into the legs (that had been sewed together into one large space), and a drawstring was put through the belt loops. My wife has made purses out of old t-shirts, hats out of old sweaters, skirts out of old shirts, etc. Put those old clothes to work.

6. Travel

Ok, this is a bit of a stretch, but if we change our behaviors so that our travel accomplishes more than getting us from A to B then we are creating more out of something than previously existed. If you ride your bike, not only are you cutting down on emissions and traffic, but you’re also exercising at the same time. If you take the bus, you’re also being able to read or work on homework. If you carpool, your also creating community and relationship.

7. Death

Even in your death you can allow life to emerge by being an organ donor. Don’t hold out, you won’t need your heart anymore, so give it away.

8. Yard

We American’s love our grass. Our yards can be so much more than pretty grass, instead we can make them work for us by building garden plots, by growing strawberries and lettuces where grass might have been before. Get some chickens, grow some blueberries or grapes, allow your yard to do something for you, to be useful, and to bring more to your life.

9. Books

I love books. I hate borrowing them, I love owning them. But as I work to get over my ownership mentality I’m seeing that not only is borrowing books from the library a great recycling practice, but loaning your books out to others and borrowing others books is a great way to let books have a greater life than the shelf. How cool would it be if we began to loan our books out and asked people to mark them up, highlight them, and jot down notes in the margins so that when you got the book back it would carry with it some of the life of the previous reader! Check out your library’s inter-library loan program to find practically any book you may desire. If you must buy a book, buy it used through Amazon, Powell’s Books, and many more sources.

10. Paper

This one should be redundant in our culture, but don’t use paper. Read your newspaper or magazine online. Use email instead of snail mail. Cut down on your junk mail by opting out. Opt out from getting those obsolete phone books as well. Setup your bills so that you don’t receive hard copies but only electronic copies. Dare I say buy a Kindle? Ok, I’m not ready to go there yet, but it’s probably inevitable!

I’m certain there are many other creative ways to recycle. Spend a few hours on and let your brain cram all the amazing and creative ways to recycle old materials. Shop at recycled stores, shop less, etc. There are so many ways we can embrace the beautiful opportunity to be a part of giving old, spent, and used up things new life and purpose. I mean, isn’t this what God does with humanity? Why should we do anything different?

Comments { 22 }

Plan a Declutter Party!

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Summer is a great time for visiting with friends, as well as tackling projects around your home. Combine the two, and invite your friends for a “Declutter Party!”

A “Declutter Party” is a wonderful opportunity to simplify your home by clearing out unnecessary items, as well as providing a frugal option for obtaining some needed things. (Plus having fun with friends at the same time!)

I have enjoyed participating in a few of these events over the years. In pursuit of wise stewardship, it is nice to be able to “recycle/reuse” items when possible.

In essence, a “Declutter Party” functions as a swap. You can bring/take home any number of items. Participants will “shop” through all the items for free. Any leftovers can be donated to charity.

Event Ideas-

  • Women’s Clothing Swap- Set up tables with spaces marked for the various sizes. Provide changing areas for trying on clothes. Make sure to invite women of different sizes; as guests bring too big/too small items, there will be enough for everyone. You can include shoes, purses, and accessories in this swap, too.
  • “Anything Goes”-  A “garage sale style” event; neatly set out items in “categories.”
  • Craft Supply Swap- This is a great opportunity to simplify your sewing/craft cabinet, reevaluate your hobbies, and find some new creative inspiration for the kids. (Have a project that’s been unfinished for the past 10 years? Let someone else have the joy of competing it!)

Planning Tips to Consider-

  • Guests: Is it just for women or will it be a family event?
  • Theme: You can have a specific focus for your items (such as a women’s or children’s clothing swap) or an “anything goes” garage-sale style event. Clearly communicate the swap guidelines in your invitation.
  • Focus: Do you want to highlight a charity or have a ministry emphasis? A clothing swap can feature modest wardrobe ideas or a devotional on modesty for young ladies. A crafty swap can make/sew items for local or international ministries (such as baby items).

In a swap with friends last year, I was able to pick up some wall shelves and more cute glass jars to use for my sewing storage! (I organize the supplies for my sewing business in attractive glass jars at my sewing area in our living room.)

It was so nice to put these unused items (my friends’ “clutter”) to good use in blessing my family with a tidy home. At the same time, I cleared out a large bag full of unused items from our closets!

Have you participated in a similar swap? I’d love to hear if you have, or if you’re planning one!

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Green & Simple Birthday Parties for Kids

Carina asked: I was wondering if you have any tips for a frugal, eco-conscious birthday party for a baby.  I thought that would be a great discussion topic, and since your kids are older than mine, you might have some good ideas!

Birthday parties can definitely be a source of great waste from wrapping paper, to disposables plates and such, and it is wise to consider your options more carefully. For one, what are your goals in throwing a party for your child? Personally, I want my child to feel special, loved, and appreciated, but at the same time I do not want it to be focused on the presents. I want it to be simple, relaxing, and refreshing for all parties, but especially me as the mother and planner! For the first two years we have kept it extremely simple by making cupcakes, or a bear cake, and had family over for dessert. That’s really about it. Here are some other simple ideas for those who want a bit more:

Invitations – Use the online options of invitations to keep it simple and free. is my favorite method for email invitations.

Decorations - Make a simple homemade “Happy Birthday” banner than can be reused time and time again. This can be made out of colored paper or felt. Buy or make a felt party hat for your child that can be passed down to others in the future. Make a princess birthday hat for the girls, and a birthday crown for the boys (skip the number so it can be reused, or attach velcro to the back of the number so that could be changed). If you want to use crepe paper for decor, choose a biodegradable option. Beeswax birthday candles are the perfect natural candle for your celebration.

Tableware – Rather than using disposables, check out the compostable bamboo plates and bamboo silverware or reusable plastic options. We have a plastic picnic set from IKEA that works perfectly for these occasions. Cupcakes eliminate any need for tableware!

Dessert – When the children are really young, we keep it simple with delicious cupcakes. Make it a fun activity to decorate your cupcakes together at the party. As they get older, I definitely want to make them feel extra special by giving them the opportunity to pick out a special cake that we can make and decorate together. I keep a favorite birthday cake cookbook on hand for them to select their favorite.


Field Trips – Invite your guests to a field trip to the zoo, science museum, fire station, swimming pool, library story time, or park. This helps cut down on any mess in the home and makes it a fun frugal outing for all. For Karis’ birthday this year, we went to the Children’s Museum in Portland and then provided a sandwich lunch and cupcakes for our guests. It was delightful and simple, and she had a blast!

Games - If games are on the schedule, stick with the old classic games that do not require any waste – hopscotch, musical chairs, capture the flag, and charades.

Give to Others - make something together with your guests that could be given to bless others in your community. Make cookies and decorate for the neighbors, elderly, or the homeless. Help teach your children the value and blessing of serving others rather than focusing on ourselves. You could also make cards to missionaries or those in prison, or simple crafts (knitted, sewed, or crotchet) for the Pregnancy Resource Centers.


Gifts can easily be kindly declined and stated clearly in your invitations, but when it comes to grandparents and close family, this can be a different story. Our solution has been to request family to chip in together on a bigger gift item. We compiled a dress up box for Karis for her birthday and everyone purchased an item or two for it. If a friend wants to contribute, it makes it easy for them as well. The previous year we bought a wooden kitchen set and others contributed food items and such. This helps keep birthdays simple without too much extravagance and focus on the gifts. The child receives a special gift that will last and can be shared among others. For their first birthday’s, we honestly only buy them one small gift (Karis received a drum, Titus a sock monkey, and books and clothes from the grandparents). Less is more!

A Time of Appreciation

We want birthdays to be a time of love and appreciation for the child. We want to focus on celebrating the child and commending them for the good qualities that are being exhibited in their lives. Going around the table and sharing one thing we appreciate about the birthday person is a family tradition and always an encouraging time for the recipient. We also like to write a letter to each child on their birthday reflecting back on the previous year and the Lord’s goodness in their life, highlights, and what character qualities we see demonstrated in their life. I received these from my own daddy while I was growing up and they meant the world to me! We keep these in a special journal for our children to be given back when they grow up.

So overall, my vision is to keep things simple and yet special through the decorated cakes, and expressing our appreciation to our children. Limiting gifts and cultivating opportunities to give to others so our children grow up with a heart to serve and bless others.

Further Resources:

How to Throw a Green Birthday Party
Simple, Frugal Birthday Parties for Kids
by Simple Mom

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What are your favorite green and simple birthday party ideas?

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Stainless Steel Scrubber: A New Favorite Tool

For the past few years in my pursuit of natural living, I have been stumped by the ever increasing toilet bowl ring stains and water/soap scum buildup in my shower. Natural cleaners just were not working real effectively for me for these issues (and I tried vinegar, oxygen bleach, hydrogen peroxide, etc). I wanted to avoid chlorine bleach or comet, but that seemed like the only solution, otherwise, just live with it, I thought.

I also have had difficultly finding an easy, natural, and effective means of scrubbing my stainless steel cookware clean. And lastly, the stove top loves to accumulate dried food particles that get caked thoroughly on.

My solution? Enter…Stainless Steel Scrubbers. They do not rust or splinter, are frugal ($2.50 for 2 on Amazon), can be easily disinfected (throw them in the dishwasher or laundry), and do not accumulate food particles like so many other scrubbers. With a little elbow grease, these scrubbers rid me completely of toilet bowl stains and shower scum, leaving me with sparkling clean results. My husband was absolutely thrilled. I had no idea how these things had annoyed him so, and yet he patiently endured all my experimenting.

I now keep one scrubber by the kitchen sink for all my dish washing, and one in the cleaning bucket. They will not last indefinitely, but so far mine have held up very well after three months of daily use. I understand they also work well for scrubbing BBQ’s and cleaning garden tools, shop tools, etc. I am sure you can come up with some more ideas. I did not experience any noticeable scratching on my porcelain, but use with caution and test a small unnoticeable area first.

My cleaning bucket has really simplified as of late. A stainless steel scrubber, my enviro cloth, oxygen bleach (for disinfecting the toilet), an old toothbrush (for those nooks and crannies) and a toilet bowl brush. Ahh! Simplicity…

What frugal tools have you found for effective natural cleaning?

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4 Items You Don’t Need In Your Bathroom

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Here are four standard bathroom products that you can eliminate rather easily. Yes, the market tries to persuade you that you need this and that for the best look or feel. But are they truly all necessary? Here is your opportunity to fight back!

1. Shaving Cream

What is the purpose of shaving cream? Supposedly, it is to protect you from cutting yourself while shaving, correct? So I thought, until I really evaluated whether or not it served its purpose. Maybe 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time I would get cut, scratched, or hurt in some way. Both my husband and I shared this experience. Then I decided there had to be some way I could just live without it.

Alternative #1: Hair Conditioner. Conditioner is a perfectly useful alternative to shaving cream, and yet it clogs the razor and dulls the blade quicker. And as you will see in #2, we’ve eliminated this product, so its no longer an option at our home.

Alternative #2: Bar of Soap. Yes, the simplicity of a bar of soap does the trick! Scrub yourself down and shave in the process and you just eliminated another purchase for your bathroom. Guess what? My husband prefers this method too. We both agree that we cut ourselves far less, our skin remains soft and moistened, and we get a perfectly clean shave. My technique in order to avoid extra waste is to lather up one leg with soap, and before washing it off, I shave immediately, and then wash down. This works to help use the least amount of soap possible for both jobs of washing and shaving. We recommend a good natural bar of soap such as Dr Bronners.

Alternative #3: Nothing. Some would argue that you can use a little water and go for it (but I personally prefer the soap). :)

Save yourself a few dollars each month and take it off the list. It works.

2. Hair Conditioner

Hair conditioner is a nice product to have. It does help produce that silky smooth appearance. But is it necessary? We’ve lived without it for quite some time.

Alternative #1: Apple cider vinegar (Approximately 1-2 Tbls. cider to 1 cup water). If you don’t mind the fragrance, try a squirt of apple cider vinegar in your hair for its natural de-tangling ability. Or add a bit of essential oils to balance out the scent.

Alternative #2: Coconut oil. Applying coconut oil after showering as a leave in conditioner is very effective. It can be used as a curling gel for my hair, or a smooth gel for my husbands hair. Just remember…a little dab will do you. Too much and you can have a greasy look. It is wonderfully nourishing for the hair.

Save yourself a few dollars and use something you already have or skip it altogether.

3. Make-up Remover

Alternative #1: Soap and water. Yes, it works quite nicely.

Alternative #2: Coconut oil. Apply a little coconut oil to a cotton ball and apply to eyelashes to remove mascara and all other products on your face. Moisten your skin while removing make-up at the same time.

4. Aftershave

Alternative #1: Shea Butter / Coconut oil Combo. Check out our homemade aftershave recipe. (The hubby thinks this works the best!)

Alternative #2: Coconut oil (surprise!). While not as soothing as the combo above, coconut oil makes a great alternative in a pinch.

I could go on to share how you can also make your own shampoo or go the no-poo/baking soda route, how to make an effective homemade deodorant, and so on, but we’ve already been there before. Check out all the wonderful uses for coconut oil that we have compiled for further inspiration.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays.

What items have you eliminated in your bathroom? What creative alternatives have you discovered?

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Enviro Cloth: A Simple, Frugal & Natural Cleaning Tool

If you have been around here for long, you know that I love simplicity, multi-purposing, and natural living all-in-one. I love finding items that will help simplify my homemaking to help preserve time and energy, but also good for our health and the environment as much as possible, on top of accomplishing these things without breaking the bank. It is a tall order. So you would imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon Enviro Cloth…and it appears to be the ultimate in meeting these criteria.

The Enviro Cloth is produced by Norwex, a company committed to preserving quality of life while reducing chemical expose in the home and on the body. It is made out of microfiber cloth with an innovative design that uses anti-bacterial silver particles integrated into the synthetic microfiber, ensure (according to their website):

• Single-celled micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, yeast, and viruses cannot survive or adapt in silver exposure
• Surface-to-surface cross-contamination is eliminated
• Rapidly drying cloths prevent bacteria growth in the cloth itself

This material can hold up to 7x its weight in water.  Unlike many other types of cloth that smear dirt across the surface you are trying to clean, the MicroFiber cloths act like bionic sponges removing dirt and bacteria, to leave a highly polished and clean surface. And all this can be accomplished with just the simple use of water. You don’t need any other all-purpose sprays, window cleaners, etc. Sound too good to be true? It sure did to me. According to the company, Laboratory tests have proven that Norwex antibacterial microfiber reduced bacteria by 99.99% in 24 hours! With this simple tool, which can be used dry or damp, you can clean walls, tiles, bathtubs, counters, metal surfaces, car interiors and more. Dry for dusting and damp for all other uses.
I purchased the Basic Cleaning Package which included one Enviro Cloth and one Window Cloth (pictured left). I have used the Enviro Cloth for all my basic cleaning. I even had success spot cleaning carpets with it. I have loved it! The Window Cloth (which is smoother in texture to the Enviro Cloth) especially blew my husband and I away. It produced a beautiful lint-free and clean window with just water!
To clean, simply spray a little water on the surface and polish with a dry window cloth. I found it most effective to wipe down a surface with the damp Enviro Cloth and then dry and polish it with the Window Cloth, especially for windows, mirrors, stainless steel appliances, etc. I never imagined I could get such clean polished streak-free windows. There is absolutely no residue remaining. We have used it successfully for all our windows, mirrors, laptop screens, piano surface, and windows in the car. Pretty impressive for one little cloth. So these basic clothes can replace practically all your cleaning supplies. Simplicity in action! I loved just taking one damp Enviro Cloth and wiping down all our household surfaces so easily and know that they were clean. The only thing I need beyond these closes is a toilet brush and some oxygen bleach for the toilet bowl.

How to clean them?

Clean these cloths by simply wringing them out and hanging to dry. Very fast drying. For slightly dirty cloths, hand wash with a little dish detergent under warm running water. Wring and hang to dry. They also may be laundered with other lint-free laundry. Washing with other items will destroy their lint-free properties.

Where to Buy?

Norwex is a multi-level company, so unfortunately they can not be purchased in store, so you have to purchase through independent consultants.  I recommend purchasing through The Urban Homemaker, a Christian family run business.
At just $14.50 per cloth that can be reused indefinitely, this cleaning tool could save you a lot of money! Norwex offers many other cleaning solutions from mopping, to innovative toilet cleaning tool, in addition to natural body care products. Check it out! All their products come with a 60 day money back guarantee and have a two year warranty. I’m tempted to host a party to see more of these products in action.

Any one else tried these clothes yet?
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2010 Health Goal: Drink More Water!

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What do you, the trees, and every animal have in common? We all drink and require water to survive! One of my most important health goals this year is to simply drink more water! I honestly believe this is the number one step to better health and wholeness. It is the most practical and frugal step we can both take this year to better health. Without water, our bodies will die in a matter of a few days. Water makes up more than half of our bodies. Water is necessary for every part of our bodies to function properly.

Why drink more water? It…

- Increases your energy. Adults lose as much as 10 cups of fluid each day through sweating, exhauling, urination, and bowel movements. Water provides more oxygen which is necessary to burn fat and allow your body and brain to function at their fullest potential.

- Sustains healthy skin. Did you know that water is the single most important element for cellular health? Water moistures your skin inside and out, so the more you drink, the less likely you will have problems with dry skin.

- Regulates the body’s temperature by allowing you to sweat. Water regulates the body’s cooling system.

- Elminates toxins. Water is essential for your digestive tract to function properly. Water helps get rid of excess nitrogen, urea and ketones.

- Moves nutrients and other substance throughout the body. Water is essential for proper digestion, nutrient absorption and chemical reactions. The carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food are metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream.

- Helps assist in weight loss and balance. Dehydration decreases protein synthesis, the task of building muscle. With water, fat gets burned and converted to energy. Without its presence, fat increases.

- Reduce Your Risk of Disease and Infection. Body cells deteriorate when they are not hydrated and will be susceptible to attack from various diseases: heart disease for one. These cells will try to draw water from other places like heart, which will then have to work harder to pump blood causing additional problems.

Get Well: Water helps restore the body. It can help control a fever, replace lost fluids and thin out mucus.

How much water?

To determine your specific recommended water intake, divide your weight (in pounds) by two. The resulting number is the number of ounces of water you need each day. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., try to drink 75 ounces of water daily.

In order to form the habit of drinking more water, it is important that you start small. Don’t try to drink 75 ounces the first day! Start by tracking your current consumption and add 8 more ounces each day or so. I regularly drink at least 28 oz a day (which is one water bottle full), but my next step is to bump that up to two water bottles. I will fill my water bottle up in the morning. My goal will be to complete that bottle by noon before proceeding onto the next bottle.

If you need further help, check out the water calculator. The water calculator will also help take into account if you are pregnant, nursing, sick, elevation, etc.

How to drink more water?

– Designate and label a special water bottle for your personal use. Fill it up first thing in the morning. Make it one of your most important tasks to begin the day. Try to keep the bottle with you wherever you go. If you are at home most of the day, you might want multiple bottles to place in different rooms.

– Set a timer to go off every 30 minutes. When the timer rings, drink a glass of water.

– Add lemons to your water to improve the taste, if desired.

– Drink quality herbal teas to increase your fluids.

How to get the kiddos to drink more water?

Children need water to function properly as well. They are more prone to ignore the thirsty signs especially when they are in focused play, resulting in dehydration, headaches, pain and fatigue. Watch out for juices and sodas though. They may add fluids, but they also add sugars that decrease the health of their bodies.

Encourage the kiddos to drink more by:

- Providing them with a special water bottle of their own. Karis has a special green sippy cup that she loves.

- Allowing them to keep the special cup with them in bed or in the car.

- Adding Emergen-C or other special healthy supplement powder to their water. We add Emergen-C to Karis’ water and she calls it her “juice”. Helps increase her vitamin intake as well.

- Set the example! The more water my children see me drinking and enjoying, the more they will desire it as well. Every time I take a drink, I offer my kids a drink. They need reminders and normally drink just fine.

A final caution…

Drink Little With Your Food.

According to nutritionist Lori Lipinski, “…Simply drinking too much water with your meals can affect your ability to properly breakdown your food. Drinking too much liquid with meals dilutes the concentration of hydrochloric acid and enzymes needed for proper digestion. So to get the most out of the foods you eat, it is best to avoid drinking lots of liquids 20-30 minutes before and after your meals.”

My water bottles are filled and now I am off to drink them! Care to join me and keep me accountable? Do you have any tips to share for increasing your water intake?

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Homemade Creative Play Gifts for Kids

How about offering your children fun and creative play gift ideas this Christmas? By creative play I am referring to supplying items that will help spur on and encourage their imagination, giving them freedom to explore and develop their minds. Here is a list of items that you can make at home inexpensively that will entertain your children for hours. We all love those frugal gift ideas, and the special touch of handmade items is an extra bonus.


Screen shot 2009-12-03 at 3.23.42 PMPlaysilks are a simple creative play item made out of fabric and dyed various colors. These playsilks can be used to play peek-a-boo, doll blankets, forts, dressup clothes, head scarves, and numerous other ideas. There is no end to the ideas that little ones can come up with for their use. Playsilks can be a bit spendy to purchase, but you can make your own with white silk scarves sold through Dharma Trading Company. Include your little ones in a fun project of dying them with Kool-Aid. Yes, it’s that simple! For a easy tutorial, visit here. You can also buy playsilks through A Toy Garden or Let’s Explore.


There are numerous free patterns online for costume and dress-up ideas that you can make yourself. Here are some favorites I have seen:

Fairy Wings
Tulle Skirt
Ladybug Costume

Add old watches, old oversized clothing, jewelry, wigs, hats, gloves, handbags, etc. and you will have a fun dress-up box! You also might want to check out the fun dress-up outfits produced by Melissa and Doug. They are cute!

Play Dough

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What kid doesn’t like play dough? Give them a batch with a knife, rolling pin, and a few cut outs, and they love it! Try your hand at making your own. It is safe for your family and easy! Make your own play dough with a few basic ingredients that you probably already have on hand: salt, flour, oil, cream of tarter and various food colorings. For this easy recipe, visit here. Make all different colors and store in little baby food jars to keep it fresh and soft. Or try yummy edible play dough made out of almond butter.

Building Blocks

Screen shot 2009-12-03 at 3.21.55 PMWooden building blocks are a perfect gift for any little boy or girl. There is no end to ways you can assemble them in building castles, houses, and the like. Find scrap wood from your local lumberyard and Make your own wooden blocks with this tutorial.

Felt Toys – Kitchen Food Items

How about some fun homemade felt food? Kids love pretending like they are cooking. Why not encourage the creative chef in them? Check out these ideas for cute felt food to get you started:

Homemade Bread, Pan & Mitt kit
How to Make Felt Food – cheese, cookies, carrots, eggs, strawberries and other fruits
Food Sandwich

Waldorf Dolls

Screen shot 2009-12-03 at 3.18.48 PMA homespun doll made out of completely natural and cuddly wool and cotton materials? I love it! Waldorf dolls are intentionally simple in order to inspire creativity, improving and strengthening the imagination. Check out the simple waldorf doll making kits available through Wier Dolls & Crafts or Magin Cabin. Boy & Girl patterns are available. Simple instructions are included with the kit or for further help, visit this tutorial.

Doll House

Screen shot 2009-12-03 at 2.55.19 PMI love this idea of making it yourself doll house with a simple cardboard box and cut out pictures from magazines. You don’t need delux dollhouses when it comes to little girls. Inspire creativity and simplicity with this homemade edition. How fun!

Making Make-Believe: Fun Props, Costumes, and Creative Play Ideas – a fun book offering children ideas for creating a life-sized igloo from empty milk jugs or putting on a puppet show in their very own Lighted Box Stage. This book is filled with wonderful storybook play ideas, games, cooking fun, making costumes, and so much more.

Do you have any homemade creative play gift ideas to add?

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Homemade Aftershave Salve – A Gift for Him

Screen shot 2009-11-30 at 3.26.01 PMWant to give that special man in your life a simple, natural and yet useful gift? How about homemade aftershave?

Recipe #1: Coconut/Shea Butter Salve

I made this concoction for my husband and he says it works great. Avoid the chemicals and yet nourish the skin with the healing properties of coconut oil and shea butter. Shea butter is rich in Vitamins A, E, and F, which help to soothe, hydrate, and balance the skin. Make sure to select raw shea butter, because many companies use bleaches, deodorizers, or chemicals to alter the scent and appearance of shea butter. These processings deplete the product of its healing and medicinal properties, and also destroy the vitamins and minerals present. You will know if it is raw by its distinguished nutty smell. Coconut oil is also very nourishing and moisturizing to the skin and has great anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. This is the same basic recipe I use for diaper salve cream. This recipe is creamy in consistency. It works beautifully for both tasks!

1/8 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup shea butter
essential oil of your choice – a few drops of clove, cinnamon, bergamot are preferred manly scents

Whip your ingredients together with a small hand blender or by hand. Place in a small container of your choice and give to that special guy. ;)

We buy our extra virgin coconut oil and raw shea butter from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Recipe #2: Apple Cider Aftershave

This second recipe is a wet consistency due to the liquid astringent. Store in a glass jar. An empty spice container with the  holes works great because you can simply dab a little bit on a cotton ball to apply. Apple cider vinegar is great for the skin and completely natural! Vinegar contains acetic acid, which has anesthetic properties if you cut yourself during shaving. It also moisturizes the skin, closes the pores and soothes razor burn. It has all the benefits and none of the chemicals in traditional aftershave. No fear of the scent either because it will disappear as it dries and can be easily covered up with a few drops of essential oil.

3  Tablespoons witch hazel
5 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
a few drops of essential oils of your choose – bergamot, clove & cinnamon again are the recommended manly scents
a clean, empty bottle to hold the aftershave, an 6-8 oz clean spice container works great or for special gift giving, check out the cute glass cork bottles from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Combine all the ingredients, close the jar and shake it to make sure everything really is mixed thoroughly. Put the jar in a cool, dark place and keep it there for 3 or 4 days, making sure to take it out and shake it well once a day. Shake before use.

For dry skin: Add 1 Tablespoon of aloe vera gel, vegetable glycerin, or rose water to the aftershave.
For oily skin: Add 1 Tablespoon vodka.
For sensitive skin: Use apple cider vinegar alone for a great simple aftershave or dilute the apple cider aftershave with a little distilled water.


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Gift Ideas for the Natural Mama

Welcome to the first in my series of posts on gift ideas for the family with a focus on natural, nourishing, and green. Today, I would like to share some recommended picks for the nourishing mama – simple kitchen and household accessories that will help you provide good healthy cooking for your family, but at the same time not adding additional clutter. I avoid gadgets at all costs, but I love receiving gifts that are very practical and multi-purpose.


Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 2.07.36 PMAdjustable Measuring Spoons – I don’t know about you, but I love having only two spoons in my kitchen drawer for all my baking needs! Pampered Chefs sells this wonderful set (Tablespoon & teaspoon collection) for only $8. Easy to clean, and easy to use!

Wooden/Bamboo Kitchen Utensils – Wooden or bamboo kitchen utensils are simply wonderful for natural home cooking. You will find wooden tools work so much better and no fear of plastics or scratches! Amazon sells a great variety of wooden utensils for your kitchen. The pasta tool is on my wishlist this Christmas! These bamboo salad tongs are awesome! Check out this cool maple soup ladle! Wooden utensils are usually cheaper than their plastic competition, $4-7 each!

Wooden Cutting Boards – I absolutely love wooden cutting boards! They are long-lasting, durable, and wonderfully useful for all your cutting needs! Check out Totally Bamboo for great quality and sustainability in various sizes and prices.

Stoneware – Since receiving a few items of stoneware from Pampered Chef after hosting a show this summer, I cannot say enough as to how wonderful they work in the kitchen. Completely natural cooking surfices that provide well balanced heat distribution. No chemical linings or glazes, and always produces beautiful results! I have the pizza stone, muffin tin, and square baker and they are used all the time now in my kitchen! Check out the Pampered Chef stoneware.

Cuisinart Safe Non-Stick Pan – I received this pan last year for Christmas and highly recommend it! Safe non-stick surface that works perfectly for crepes, omelets, eggs, and many other uses.

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 3.13.08 PMBlendtec Total Blender – This machine does it all! A great way to get quality but simplicity in your kitchen. The Blendtec Blender is a commercial-quality 1,560-watt countertop blender with 3 HP direct-drive motorcan that can grind grain, make ice cream, knead dough, function as a basic food processor, and most importantly a very high powered blender. Vitamix is in the same line as the Blendtec and another great alternative, but I choice the Blendtec because it fits under your counter top cupboards, shuts off automatically, and has easy digital touchpad controls, making it easier to use while juggling other kitchen tasks! This a true multi-purposing kitchen item that will last! At $400 it is spendy but worth every penny, especially if you are wanting a mixer, grinder, food processor and cannot afford each of these items individually. I use it several times a day making homemade raw apple sauce, peanut butter, salsa, protein bars, muffins, green smoothies (yes, it blends those greens so smoothly you never know they are there!), and numerous other uses.


Bare Minerals Get Started Make-Up Kit – This basic set of natural mineral makeup has lasted me for two years now! ;) Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 2.40.06 PMBeyond buying another container of warmth (their variety of blush) I still have plenty of all the other items in this well-rounded make up collection set. I highly recommend it! For my full review, visit here.

Make some homemade deodorant or homemade perfume for some nice natural skin care!

Vegetable/Soy Wax or Beeswax Candles - Candles made from beeswax are very natural and safe for your home. Paraffin is a substance that is rather toxic and is the standard ingredient in most candles. I love candles! Look for 100% beeswax or soy wax…they like to combine them with paraffin to trick you! ;)


Sewing Green: 25 Projects Made with Repurposed & Organic Materials – Do you like sewing? Check out this fun book with lots of ideas for repurposing items around your home into fun, new, inventive clothing and household items.

Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses – want to learn how to make cheese? Check out this fun book! Also check out the Mozzarella/Ricotta cheese making kit from Cultures for Health.

Womanly Dominion: More Than A Gentle and Quiet Spirit by Mark Chanski- my favorite read this year on Biblical womanhood. Highly recommended!

From Clutter to Clarity: Simplifying Life from the Inside Out by Nancy Twigg – my favorite read this year on simplifying! I love it!

The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity – my favorite book on seeing mothering as a mission from God!

The Kindle Wireless Reading Device is an amazing gift idea. It’s on my wishlist (maybe someday -for now I am happy with the free Kindle edition for the I-phone)! ;) Books require a lot of paper and energy to make. Reading digitally saves on resources and saves us money. It is a portable reading device with the ability to wirelessly download books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers. Kindle is also easy on the fingertips. With Whispernet, you can be anywhere, think of a book, and get it in one minute. I love the idea of having a book with me at all times without wasting paper and is also easy on the eyes! Not too bad at $259.

What is on your wishlist? Have any good natural gift ideas for her that you might recommend?

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