After getting rid of some of the expensive chemical products in our house that we clean with, I wanted to start getting rid of chemicals we put all over our bodies.  I will tell you that this was an easy transition for me personally, but not as easy for my husband or children.

I have always been one to enjoy experimenting with new products, even on my own body.  I’m not allergic to anything that I know of, and I don’t have very sensitive skin.  It allows me some freedom with testing out new products and routines without worry of causing any serious problems on my skin or hair.  I will, however, only share with you my favorite things that I have discovered that I continue to use today.  Please keep in mind that I tend to have dry skin, not oily or greasy at all, and because I have dry, curly hair I don’t shampoo very often at all.  I do, however, need to make sure my hair stays well hydrated.

1.  Face Wash:  Because of my dry skin I have almost always had some skin flakes on my forehead, which, let me tell you, are not cute.  If I rub my forehead in winter it looks like it is snowing from my face.  Ew.  I have always used a gentle exfoliating cleanser to help take care of this, followed by a rich moisturizer.  After experimenting with a few different natural exfoliants (and even eliminating them from my routine)  I settle on a baking soda paste.  Yes, baking soda.  The stuff that keeps your refrigerator smelling fresh.  When mixed with a bit of water to form a thick paste, I use about a half teaspoon or less each morning.  I rub it all over my face, then rinse off with warm water.  It is not as drying as other exfoliating washes, and it is very gentle on my skin.  After drying, I use plain coconut oil as a moisturizer.

In the evening I do not wash my face again, but rather just remove makeup.  I rub a tissue in coconut oil, then use that to remove all the makeup from my face.  Yes, even mascara and eyeliner if I’m wearing it.


2.  Hair Care:  For shampoo I have tried using the same baking soda paste, but with poor results.  Although it doesn’t dry my skin out too much, it leaves my hair feeling like straw.  I have never been pleased with that.  Instead I use a homemade shampoo/baby wash (it’s basically tear-free).

I combine 1 part baby mild castille soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s brand) with 1 part water.  I usually add some kind of essential oil; lavender is my favorite for this.  I use this no more than once a week to wash my hair.

Every time I shower, though, (which may not necessarily be everyday) I use apple cider vinegar to condition my hair.  In an empty shampoo bottle I’ve combined 1 part ACV with 1 part water, plus an essential oil.  I have been using rosemary oil lately, not for it’s smell but because it helps to soften hair while making it stronger and grow longer.  I’ll use 2 tbsp – 1/4 of this mixture in my thick, shoulder length hair after it’s wet.  I leave it while I wash my body, then rinse it out.  I have always been surprised at how soft my hair feels after using vinegar in my hair.

3.  All Over Skin Care:  To wash I use the same shampoo/baby wash that I use to wash my hair.  In fact, the girls and I all use it.  It’s much easier to make only one product for four uses than to make four different products.  I also find that it works well to clean hair gently while not drying it out.  In another post I will talk about baby/childcare homemade products and more about why we share the same shampoo/baby wash.

Instead of lotion I love using coconut oil most of the year.  In the winter, though, I often need some extra moisture.  I hands especially get so dry they crack and bleed.  For a winter blend I love using:

1 part shea butter, melted, with 1 part coconut oil, melted.  I allow both to cool nearly to room temperature, and I whip them together in my mixer (hand beaters would work, too).  When the mixture is almost whipped to a fluffy consistency I add in essential oils.  For winter, my favorite combination is cedarwood and vanilla essential oils; cedarwood is known to help moisturize dry skin.

Although there are other homemade products I could make (like toothpaste, for example), I have yet to find recipes or methods that I enjoy using enough to share with others.

Tune in next time for baby/childcare natural products!

One of the first ways we started eliminating chemicals and general man-made nastiness from our home was in the form of our cleaning products, something we definitely used our fair share of.

I grew up in a home that was almost always clean.  Of course it wasn’t spotless, no home truly can be, but my mother was and still is an excellent housekeeper.  As a young girl I was taught the value of keeping a clean home that our family can enjoy.  I learned to dust, sweep, mop, vacuum, and clean a bathroom well before I had any of those things of my own to clean.  I knew on Saturday morning I would wake up to some household duties that would need to be done before I could play with friends or do other things I wanted to do.

When I had my own home, I was already in a rhythm of keeping my living spaces fairly clean, and so keeping house came somewhat naturally to me.  I knew what chores I wanted to do each week or each month, and I knew what kinds of cleaning products to keep in the house.  My must-haves were always a window/glass cleaner, a furniture dusting spray, a bathroom disinfectant, a toilet scrubbing powder, and a floor mopping solution.  Never being much of a brand-loving girl myself, I would buy generic items, but they certainly started to add up.

In an effort to squeeze more out of our monthly budget, I researched cheaper homemade cleaners, and I was happy to find the internet was full of them.  It wasn’t until after using our homemade cleaners for several months that I learned they were also healthier for our family.

After testing and re-working several different recipes I am happy to share with you the homemade cleaners that have replaced my old repertoire of cleaning products.  I have found these clean well and smell pleasant.  I am also not worried about having the girls help out and using these products.

You will find that I use the same few ingredients to make these different cleaners.  There is a reason why:  they work.  Rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly, leaving glass surfaces sparkling clean.  A bit of olive oil helps to grab dust gently off of wooden furniture.  Distilled vinegar is a great disinfectant, and when combine with either oregano or tea tree essential oil, it will kill nearly all the microbes in your home.  Lemon or lavender essential oil are added in more for their pleasant scent.  Baking soda and borax are gentle on the skin, nor are they harmful if accidentally ingested in small quantities, but they are rough enough to remove any soap scum or other things sticking to the sides of your sink, tub, or bowl.


Window/Glass Cleaner

1 part rubbing alcohol

1 part water

Mix in spray bottle and use as you would any glass cleaner


Furniture Dusting Spray

1 cup water

1 tbsp olive oil or other liquid cooking oil

5 drops lemon essential oil

Mix in spray bottle.  Spray on cloth, then wipe furniture.  Shake before each use.


Bathroom Disinfectant

1 part water

1 part distilled vinegar

Either:  10 drops oregano essential oil and 10 drops lemon essential oil

or 10 drops tea tree essential oil and 10 drops lavender essential oil

Mix in spray bottle for easy use any where in bathroom or kitchen.


Bathroom Scrubbing Cleaner

1 part baking soda

1 part borax

Either:  10 drops oregano essential oil and 10 drops lemon essential oil

or 10 drops tea tree essential oil and 10 drops lavender essential oil

Mix enough only for one use.  May use in bathroom sink, tub, and in toilet bowl.


Mopping Solution

1 gallon warm/hot water

1/2 cup distilled vinegar

2 tbsp dish soap (I use regular blue Dawn)

Either:  10 drops oregano essential oil and 10 drops lemon essential oil

or 10 drops tea tree essential oil and 10 drops lavender essential oil.

Mix in bucket and use once to mop kitchen, bathroom, or any other mop-able floors in your home.



Today I’m going to kick-off a series that I have had rolling around in my head for months.  I finally decided to put it to paper, and I realized I’ll have quite a few posts and goodies to share with you guys.  I’m seriously excited about this.

I honestly cannot remember when this journey began, but for the past few years I have been working towards eliminating different man-made, chemical-laden products from our lives.  I know part of this journey, for us at least, has had to do with cost.  Many times store bought products like cleaning products, bath and beauty products, and baby care can be very costly; even generic brands can really add up if you are cleaning your home and bathing regularly!

So both in an effort to relieve some pressure on our budget and journey towards eliminating chemicals from our lives, I began to research natural things I could replace commercial products with.  I would often start on Pinterest or Google, and I would acquire the ingredients necessary to make whatever natural replacement I’d found.  Many times I wouldn’t be satisfied with the final product, but I would tweak, adjusting recipes, adding essential oils, or changing the steps in a method to get something I was satisfied with.

I’m now pleased to say that we have replaced over 20 commercial products in our lives with a natural alternative.  These replacements can be found in my cleaning repertoire, my bathroom, my purse, and our bedrooms.  I can estimate that we have saved at least $30/month on bath products alone, and another $15-$20/month on cleaning products since moving towards homemade products.  I find the ingredients I buy are often inexpensive (though some of them are definitely not), and they often last much longer than products I would buy in a store.  I’ll be posting more this week about each product I have mastered making for our family.  Stayed tuned this week!

In the last several months I haven’t been blogging very regularly.  Part of that has been due to tiredness and not feeling well during this pregnancy, but another large reason has been because I had been working part-time outside the home.  After feeling a bit listless as a stay-at-home mom for a couple years I jumped at the chance to do some administrative work for our home church when it was available.  I honestly hadn’t cared what the pay would be, what my hours would be, or how I would find childcare; I simply wanted to be out of the house a bit and make a bit of money.

Although I enjoyed working for our church and loved being able to support the specific ministries I supported, it grew more and more obvious to me that I had not specifically been called to do that work.  I had simply felt idle at home and wanted the opportunity to feel more productive.  I did reap some benefits from being on our church staff, not the least of which was working with the rest of the amazing staff there, but I felt a lot more stress and was more often in a time-crunch because of it.  I certainly felt the consequences of my hasty decision.

After not working for almost two months now, and after taking almost two weeks to unpack and settle in, I have already begun to feel the familiar angst to “do something else” again.  It can feel as though I get nothing done in a day; it seems like I waste hours doing nothing more than watching the girls, cleaning a bit, and cooking some.  I ache to see some productivity in my day, and even more so, a product of my own work.

I lamented to my husband about this feeling.  I was frustrated that I was feeling it all over again, even though after resigning from my job I had resolved to keep my mind, heart, and hands at home to work.  He sympathized, but also warned me not to jump into anything that would put me in over my head.  We are, after all, expected our third child in a few short months.

Rather than worry over it, I prayed through it for a couple days, and the Lord reminded me of this verse that I read recently:

“ whatever your hands find to do, for God is with you.”  1 Samuel 10:7.

Samuel spoke this to Saul after anointing him ruler of Israel and giving him instructions to find his father’s lost livestock in order to bring them home.  The key phrase in this verse is that God is with Saul.  Whatever work his hands find will be suitable and pleasing to the Lord because he is already filled with His Spirit.

Since taking this long prayer journey that has changed our lives and moved our home, I have felt closer to the Lord than ever.  Although not in a proud way, I can confidently say that I know the Lord is with me.  That said, this verse comforted me in my time of angst.  Though I do still desire to see fruit of whatever labor I do, God promises that whatever labor he puts before will bring Him fruit.

Right now I am engrossed with supporting my husband as he learns and works at his new job, helping the girls settle in to our new home, cooking meals for our family plus my husband’s grandparents who have been hard at work outdoors since before we arrived, and making sure to keep on top of laundry and straightening up.  Writing these responsibilities down makes them seem more real, and although I may not see fruit daily from each of these things, I will someday.  This is the work my hands have found right now, and it is what He has for me to do.

I continue to seek and pray for work that my hands can do, but I know not to jump at any task.  I have learned to proceed more cautiously into taking on more responsibilities, especially in light of upcoming family changes.  Although my expectations for myself can be astronomically high at times, the Lord knows me, and knows what He can give me to do.





It has officially been one full week (and a day) since we arrived at our new home in Wisconsin.

First, let me remind you that our new home isn’t really ours at all.  We are staying with my husband’s grandparents for the time being.  Our home in Virginia still hasn’t sold, and we are not interested in paying for housing twice if we don’t have to.

We were fortunate enough that my husband started his new job this past Monday.  He hasn’t had much time to fool around out here, which I know he prefers.  Given too much time off of work or a very engaging project my husband can go a bit stir crazy.

Can’t we all.

The girls and I, on the other hand, have had plenty of time to get a feel for this new place.  Oh we have been here before, and we have slept here before.  This is different, though.  We are making this place our home, even if it is temporarily.

We have unpacked our clothes and bathroom things, putting them into dressers and closets and cupboards.  We have unpacked some of our kitchen items, adding them to the pantry here.  We have unpacked some toys and put them in places where the girls can play.  We are making this home.

I’m finding that after a week here one of the strongest urges I feel is to set some type of routine for us at home.  I have always been a lover of routines, especially with kids, because they allow me to find the time in a day or week to get done what I need to, care for the girls, spend time with my husband, and still find some time to myself.  We had routines in Virginia, and I liked them very much.  I knew what time to wake each morning to get my morning activities (exercise, quiet time, make lunch and breakfast for my husband) done before the girls woke up.  They knew what times to expect meals and naps, as well as which days to expect outings or different chores.

I find we are slowly sorting through a routine here.  Of course, the one hour time change has thrown everyone’s sleep off schedule, making it difficult for me to get enough sleep and still wake up early enough to get a few things done before the girls wake.  I still treasure that morning to myself, though.  Here, my runs are not on a road, but on beautiful rolling hills of corn alfalfa fields with views like this:

FullSizeRender (4)

We have found a new wonderful addition to our morning routine here.  After breakfast, the girls and I feed Bruno outside, then head straight to the barn behind the house to visit the baby kittens.  Most days we have stayed in the barn for 30 minutes or more, just petting, holding, and chasing the eleven kittens plus mother and father cats that make that barn their home.  
FullSizeRender (8)Madeline has taken to the kittens very well.  She bursts in each morning and grabs the nearest furry thing to her foot and gently holds it against her chest.  She lovingly pets the kittens and calls them each her favorite.  Whenever Clara and I decided it is time to move onto other activities, she asks for “six more minutes”.

Yes, specifically six.


FullSizeRender (5)Clara is a bit more stand-offish with the kittens.  She is more of a large animal lover, and has been sticking close to Bruno ever since we got here.  She will ask me to pick up a kitten to give to her, but rarely holds it for more than a minute or two.  She does enjoy watching the kittens play in the hay and wrestle around a bit.

For now, aside from meals and nap, this barn kitten visit is the most important things on our daily schedules, and we wouldn’t miss it for the world.  As we continue to settle in, I hope to add a bit more routine to our week.  I hope to create themes or routines for the days as I see them form (a day to do chores, a day to do art, a day to run errands, etc.) as I had this kind of basic structure in Virginia.  

(Aside:  This may sound overly A-type to some, but the fact that my girls knew every Monday we changed sheets and went to the library and every Thursday we would run errands, for example, meant that they weren’t surprised by these activities.  It is much easier to talk a four year old into a grocery store if she knows ahead of time it’s inevitable.)

Oh, and as for me, I hope to be better able to find the time to blog.  It is not only enjoyable but theraputic.  I love getting a day’s thoughts out of my head before bed.  As my energy levels stay up, I hope to continue more regular blogging.

Here’s to more than one post per week!



This may seem like an odd interlude in my series of posts about our big cross-country move.  I assure you, it is not.  I stumbled upon this simple and inexpensive way to care for burns while caring for my own burn only two and a half weeks ago.

I will confess that I am not what one would call graceful.  I can have two left feet, seem like a bull in a china shop, and trip over myself walking on flat ground.  Needless to say, I’ve had my fair share of injuries, some more preventable than others.  I have recently had the unique opportunity (note my positive thinking) to have experienced two second degree burns within only a few years of each other.

The first burn I acquired on our honeymoon.  Being too young to rent a car without the extra “under 25″ penalty, my husband and I opted to rent a moped.  It was much cheaper and oh so much more glamorous.  Until, of course, I climbed off the moped and rested my calf against the muffler.  Never having experienced any significant burn, I was completely unaware of how to care for a burn.  My husband and I rushed into the nearest store and bought some gauze, tape, aloe, and burn cream.

After a couple days we returned home, and I saw a doctor about the proper care of my burn.  He suggested I use an antibacterial cream (Bacitracin or Neosporin) in a thick layer under gauze that I should change three times daily.  Each time I changed the bandage I was to gently wash the burn with water and antibacterial soap.

This sounds like pretty standard wound care to most out there, I’m sure.  I will tell you it was excruciatingly painful.  Washing a second degree burn with soap made me really want to scream.  Every single time I did it.  The antibacterial cream was my only relief.

I didn’t learn until later (after having researched care for my most recent burn) that the antibacterial soap was continuously drying out the healing skin, as well as removing some of the precious new skin that desperately needed to heal.  Using this method my burn healed in about 3 1/2 – 4 weeks to a point that I no longer needed to bandage the area.

More recently, while my husband was in Wisconsin for a job interview, I experienced my second second-degree burn.  With our house on the market, I’d been keeping a good eye on our lawn, and I knew it would need to be mowed before my husband could come home to mow it.  One afternoon, while the girls were napping, I got the big Snapper out of the shed and took care of most of the front lawn.  I ran out of gas before I could finish all of it, and I hoped to just come behind with the push mower to finish up.  As I pushed the Snapper out of the way I felt my left knee go numb.  Walking back into the house for a drink of water I saw singed skin and two large white spots on my knee; there was no pain yet.

Familiar with the feeling of a second degree burn, I quickly got inside to run my knee under lukewarm (not cold!) water.  The pain came shortly after, and I had to take a few pain killers to get around the house that day.

As I researched online, I found some intriguing methods for caring for burns naturally.  I chose to combine a few of these methods to make a salve that I used in lieu of the antibacterial cream.  This salve included items that I already had in the house, and it was fairly inexpensive to make.

First, upon realizing I had burned myself on a DIRTY lawn mower muffler, I realized I had to clean out the wound a bit.  I diluted some apple cider vinegar 1:1 with water, and I blotted this on the burn.  I cleaned the burn like this only once, and it was quite painful.  I knew, though, that using the vinegar would kill any microbes I might have picked up from the muffler while also not disturbing the pH of my badly injured skin.

From there on out I used my homemade burn salve (recipe below) on the wound 3-4 times a day, covered with a non-stick gauze pad and wrapped loosely with an ACE bandage.  I found that taping the gauze pad to my leg was completely ineffective.  It would move or fall off within an hour or so, and it gave me little mobility.  The ACE bandage allowed me to move the easiest.

The first several days of this treatment were definitely still painful, as it is simply painful to touch a fresh wound.  As blood vessels regrew and healed, I felt each one sting and burn.  I was, however, seeing a lot of skin regrowth.  That was encouraging.

By day 4 I had to carefully use tweezers and toiletry scissors to remove some dead skin in order to allow the new skin to properly heal.  At this time the more lightly burned areas had already changed color from bright red to brown, indicating that they were well along in the healing process.

For a week and a half I continued with this process:  3-4 times a day I changed the bandage and reapplied the salve, never wiping or cleaning the wound, nor leaving it open to the air for any significant period of time.

By then, I was able to use a wet washcloth (lukewarm water again) to gently slough off dead skin and scabs at one bandage changing each day.  I saw great improvement daily by this point.  The two spots that had been large and white on the day of the injury were healing and growing smaller and smaller.  I felt much less pain, if any at all, and I was able to bend my knee with much greater ease.

At about 2 1/2 weeks out from the injury today, I can see that this burn is healing much quicker than my previous burn.  I have been able to sleep without the wound covered up for three nights now (coating it with coconut oil for moisture before bed time).  I hope to be bandage free by three weeks out, as well as nearly scar free by 5-6 weeks out.

I apologize for any excessive details about injuries in this post.  I hope that someone finds it helpful for treating their own burn some day.

Without further ado, my homemade, natural burn salve recipe:

Natural Burn Salve

1/4 cup raw honey

2 tbsp pure aloe gel

1 tbsp coconut oil

5-10 drops lavender essential oil


Melt coconut oil if solid.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and store salve in a jar with a tightly secure lid.  Will keep in a dry cabinet for a month or refrigerated for three months.