Clean Face – Happy Face

Given that I spend so much time in yoga pants and a cardigan, I suppose it could be considered odd how much I like makeup. My skin is fair and marks easily… so even a tiny zit leaves behind a red dot that will last for a while. Which annoys me. So I wear make up on a regular basis. I always used either my fingers or a sponge until an esthetician introduced me to brushes. Since then, I’ve broken up with my previous methods and fully embraced the brush.

Essential Oil Make up brush cleaner

Photo Credit/Link: Ann Voskamp’s Facebook Page

The thing with brushes is that you do actually have to keep them clean. If you don’t, you just keep pushing bacteria around your face {whether you mean to or not} and risk infecting your pores. Personal experience says washing is actually worth the two minutes of my time. Ahem. Sephora sells a spray that you can spray on your brushes after each use, but their cost seemed a little silly to me. So I set out to create a cleaner that didn’t break the bank, was gentle on my skin and effective.


I really love how flexible my Dr. Bronner’s Organic Pure Castile Liquid Soap is. I use it to clean the oven, the glass top on the stove, carpets, the washer, for my everyday cleaner, and now my makeup brushes. This recipe is something that I only make in small batches at a time since it uses essential oils and I have a plastic bottle. Isn’t that little bottle so cute? It was a sample of Ecover dishsoap and I just couldn’t throw it away!


Make Up Brush Wash

Mix all the ingredients together in a small squirt bottle. {This is an example from Amazon: 2oz Empty Bottles, but I’m sure you could find something in the travel section of your local drugstore.} Shake to combine. Squirt a little of the cleaner out into the palm of your hand and swish your brush tip in it. You’ll notice the makeup start to come out and mix with the cleaner. {You may need to clean your brushes more than once if you’re like me and didn’t think it was a necessity, but once you start cleaning them, it takes less and less swishing to get them clean.} Rinse the brushes and dry with a clean washcloth.

** Don’t store your brushes upright {like mine in the photos} while they are drying… leftover moisture will run down into where the bristles are attaches and before you know it, you’ll be losing bristles faster than a post-partum woman loses hair! No bueno. **

Need to order some essential oils? Check out That Mama Gretchen’s DoTerra page!


Tuesday was the first  MOPS meeting of this theme year. I’m the mom in charge of the newsletters, so I’ve had lots of opportunities to read through the theme material and consider the goals. This year, it’s to take the opportunity to step and be YOU bravely. In the context of the mothering community, we can rally around one another’s bravery in support… kind of like a good bra… and who doesn’t love good support, right?

I’ve never thought of myself as a brave person. I’m too reserved to be brave. I like to be safe and follow the rules, so bravery never comes as the result of adventure. But you know what I do like? Superhero movies. A tense mystery novel. Action movies. Adrenaline-laced films I can watch from the security of my living room. I’ve always been happy to live vicariously through the creativity of screen writers and actors. Then I became a mother and it felt like every moment was dedicated to an expression of courage. Colic? Be brave. Post-Partum Depression? Be more brave. Building a solid relationship with my mother-in-law? Put on those big girl pants and get BRAVE.

I thought that for myself the theme would be about being brave and standing up for myself. Setting boundaries and taking care of myself. It’s not something I’ve ever done well and I decided at the end of last year that I was going to focus on Presence. But if all you ever do is worry and wonder if you are keeping everyone happy you don’t get to be very present. Oddly enough, once I worked on my boundaries, learned to say no and started to feel more present with my children, I realized that there are areas in my life where I need a little bit of support.

This year, I’ve stepped out {often shaking in my boots} and actively started to seek help for my son. Almost 3 years ago, our doctor decided that his sensory quirks warranted a diagnosis and Occupational Therapy… the gross motor skills needed that therapy. In the past 3 years, we’ve seen 4 different therapists and Liam has grown a lot, and yet, we still struggle on a near daily basis with many of issues that make his {and by default my} life so hard. I reached out, and have discovered so many other families in our circumstance. Perhaps, the best thing I could have learned from the idea of bravery is that sometimes, admitting we need help is more courageous than struggling on alone.

If you’re looking for more great writing from the MOPS organization, check out the Hello Darling blog… lots of fun and challenging posts on that site. And if you’re looking for community, you can also look up a MOPS group in your area and maybe find a little more support for your own bravery.


Mighty Mommy Monday – What’s next?

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year! Join us!


I finished my last laps last week. 30 miles. 30 miles spent swimming back and forth in silence, praying about my fears and dreams. Thinking about all the things I was hoping to accomplish… planning out sewing projects and homeschool activities. I wonder if I could finish out the year with 50 miles?

To that end, I’m working to figure out my new routine. This week, I’m planning to spend more time in the pool since the temps are nice and I won’t freeze coming home. I know. I plan my life around the weather. I’m a wimp.

Monday: Swim 1 mile/Abs

Tuesday: Swim 1 mile

Wednesday: Abs/Arms

Thursday: Ellipitical and abs

Friday: Swim 1 mile

Saturday: Elipitical/Abs/Arms

Sunday: Rest

So here we go… finding a routine and hoping to settle in. My foot is healing nicely, and I’m being more careful. No more crazy. More sanity and structure.


When I was a senior in high school, my parents adopted the cutest little boy… EVER. The adoption process started my sophomore year and every so often once we were placed with his cuteness, we’d get an updated photo and a letter about how he was doing. And I’d stare at those photos dreaming of the day we could snuggle together and all the fun things we would do. But the Indian government was taking it’s sweet old time and it took until Homecoming weekend my senior year for him to come home.

My parents had to fly out to New York to pick him up {lots of drama throughout the whole process suffice to say} and when I woke up a week later, there was this precious, precious little boy with enormous brown eyes staring at me. It was a Saturday morning and my parents were exhausted so they went back to bed and I got to stay up with him. And just absorb his sweet face, his chocolately skin, his curious eyes. Typing this, my eyes are welling up with tears remembering wanting to cuddle him so badly, but needing to wait 3 painfully long days for him to trust me enough.

In the last 16 years, he’s grown up a lot. He’s experienced many things that children his age don’t and when I see him, I am amazed at how life has changed him. Sure, sure I knew he’d grow up and lose his baby face. I knew his braces would come off and he’d start shaving. And I knew he’d eventually graduate from high school and move on with his life. But what I didn’t anticipate is how I’d feel.

I’ve said before he changed me as a person. I finally understood the sacrifices a parent makes and how deeply you love a child. And then I had my own children and I think my heart grew to love my brother even more. It’s odd. These maternal urges just take over! This week, he played his final game of the regular soccer season. He walked across the field as a senior and was presented with a soccer ball from the team. The announcer said he wanted his teammates to remember how funny he was and that he’s going to study engineering.

Last night, I put the kids to bed and slipped over the field to watch the last part of his final home game of the season. His final season as a high schooler. I realized how much I am going to miss watching him play on these chilly evenings. He’s chosen a college that is close enough we could make a weekend trip out of seeing him play, but it’s not the same. I won’t pass him as he drives home from school. And Liam won’t get to run up to him after church for a hug.

As much as I respect my parents for choosing adoption, I’m grateful to his birth mother for choosing adoption. I’m so grateful she chose to give him to us. To give him a safe and healthy life. I wish I could tell her how much her decision has changed my entire life. I wish I could thank her for loving him that much. And I wish she had the opportunity to be as proud of him as I am.

Labeled {product review and discount code}

Courtesy of: Kidecals
Every one needs a little boost from time to time, don’t we? My happy boost comes from neat, tidy and labeled. Every year, I make jars of jams and jellies to give as gifts to my MOPS table, neighbors and lucky family members. But every year, I have a hard time coming up with a label I love.


I want the label to hold my name (so they know the source of the yumminess) and the name of my gift. But I also want it to be cute. Kidecals gave me the opportunity to test out their products and after a long, long time scrolling through all the options, I happened on their pretty canning labels. And just like their name, they are definitely pretty! I’m really excited to give away my jars this year… now I just need to start collecting baskets to put them in!
The labels are thick and stay put on the top of my jar lids. If you’re into freezer cooking, these labels might just be the ticket for you! And for the child who has serious allergies, I am really impressed with the variety of labels they’ve created to help you give a head’s up for those who might be caring for your children.
Check out the Kidecals website and don’t forget the discount code they have graciously provided for my readers when you check out! Discount Code:  fashion
Are you thinking about your Christmas gifting yet? What’s your favorite homemade treat to give?

Unprocessed 2014

Tomorrow is the first day of October. And oh-my-goodness has this year just zipped by! This is my fourth year signing the pledge for October UNprocessed and by now, as September closes, I just know it’s time for the CLEAN.

It just so worked out that today was my scheduled grocery shopping day and so I walked into Kroger at 740 this morning, list in hand and an exciting coupon for money off on produce! I’ve been working really hard on creating a menu for our family that actually works. Meals that can be prepped in advance or are low impact on my day are meals that help me to be successful. Menus are planned out 2 weeks at a time and I make sure that I keep money back in my budget so that about a week or so in, I have plenty left over to buy more fresh fruit and dairy products.

When I got home, I washed all the fruit, put it in containers on the lowest shelf in my fridge so the kids can help themselves and refilled the fruit bowl. I give it 5 days until I need to refill considering Sylvi has already eaten 2 apples since this morning!

So. If you haven’t taken the challenge yet, check out Andrew’s blog and see if you feel inclined to participate. I hope so! Join the challenge and make sure you check out all the resources on his site.

In my sidebar, I have a tag specifically for October UNprocessed posts you can see my past experiences and recipes. Condiments are my greatest challenge so I always use this time as an opportunity to break my dependence on Kroger to provide me with “necessities”. This year, I also created a Pinterest Board for all the pins I find with how-tos and recipes so I can be as unprocessed as possible!

Join up! And share with me your tips and tricks for kiddo snacks!

Mighty Mommy Monday – Adjusting

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year! Join us!


Throughout the summer, I’ve had significant pain in my feet and lower legs. My calf muscles are huge so I assumed that they were just tight from all the work I’ve put in. So I’ve iced, foam rolled and toughed it out. I’ve rested and slathered myself in Deep Blue. But nothing really alleviated it. So after a month of stabbing pain in my foot, I called the doctor and got an order to get an x-ray. It took me about another week to actually get in to have it done. And on said x-ray was a crack on a bone in my left foot.

Ironically, those muscular calves {according the doctor} have been part of the problem. They got strong faster than my feet muscles and placed additional stress on my bones. So they gave me an order to get off my feet and not run at all for at least a month. This of course, came a mere 6 weeks before the 1/2 marathon. At that point, I was only up to a 6 mile stretch and I knew that even if I were to resume training after the minimum 4 week break, I’d not be able to complete the race to 1.) my best abilities and 2.) my own satisfaction.

My options were limited and I opted to get rid of my bib, rest my foot and HEAL. It was a hard decision and I {as usual} cried pretty hard over it. But I do feel that I’ve made the best decision for my health. Physically, I think I’m doing a lot better… my health had become quite an issue in the last 6 weeks or so and I was concerned that I was doing more long-term harm than good. At this point, my foot pain has diminished, and my deep fatigue is resolving. I haven’t had a headache in 8 days and I’m so incredibly grateful for that.

Today marks the beginning of my 4th week since my x-ray. And I’m back to exercising. I took the 1/2 marathon off my goals, but I’m only 1.5 miles out from my swimming goal. I need to figure out a workout routine, though. What I Ioved the most while training was the order. I liked knowing I had a plan and right now, I feel like I’m floundering. So this week, I’m going to meet my swim goal and figure out my new routine. But don’t worry, it will still involve a lot of my beloved elliptical. I tried jumping on Thursday. It was painful.

Life Lately

Last night, I told Matt I needed a break. I wanted two hours to just process all that has happened in our life, write a little and write out a cohesive to-do list. He not only did he agree, he took it as an opportunity to take the kiddos and go visit his mother and go to a local festival. It’s been 4 and a half hours… the house is… quiet. In honor of the quiet, here’s a life lately post :)

Reading/// One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp {affiliate link}  Wow. I was blown away within the first few pages. I’m an analyst of life. Why did things work out this way? What did I eat that made my body ache and cramp for two days? What is the key to this person’s reaction? So many questions always swirling in my mind and then I read the line “Just that maybe… maybe you don’t want to change the story, because you don’t know what a different ending holds.” And deep in my soul I wondered if perhaps all my analytical thoughts aren’t in fact, working against me. I can’t wait to read more!

Drinking/// Oh thank God. The Salted Caramel Mocha is back. End of story.

Planning/// Christmas for my darlings. Stockings are done, but now I need to buckle down and figure out what exactly we want to do for them. I want this year to be simple. Last year I started with making something for each person on our list and I fully plan to do something similar again.

Writing/// newsletters for the MOPS group I am a part of. Our year starts in just 3 weeks and I am excited to see what we all learn as we explore our bravery.

Linking/// I haven’t written much lately, but I have been reading and making discoveries thanks to my blog subscriptions and pinterest

  • Not sure how I didn’t read this blogger before, but I am now and loving her posts!
  • I’m considering making these for my living room soon.
  • I really need to make this again. Thank God for soup season!
  • Just bought this for family photos next month. Sylvi will look adorable in this with her leopard tights.
  • Am I the only one who loathes stink bugs? I’m not messing around this year.

And now, I’m off to continue on my Mama Day… I’m looking forward to getting in a little time at my sewing machine!

Biblical Womanhood

Oh Monday afternoon, I sat out on the back patio while the kids played and relished the fact that my assistance is not called for every 2 minutes. And I read. I’m back into the swing of reading again… this season in my life has made it so simple and easy to leave a few books around the house and grab one to read every few hours. Seriously. My children will probably remember me as the mother who stood in the kitchen stirring caramel sauce and reading a book. Thankfully, our library has an online account where I can reference book reviews I see, add them to my cart and set a pick up location. And for the forgetful ones like myself, I can renew {and pay fines} from my desk as well.

Anyway, Crunchy Chicken is doing a book club with the book Almost Amish  {that’s another post} and while I was ordering that one, I came across the book, Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. I recognized the author because she writes very intelligent, provoking blogs that are frequently shared by people in my Facebook feed. On a whim, I snatched it up.

Now listen. I grew up in church so the concept of the Proverbs 31 woman is not foreign to me. But it irks me that it is either used to put oneself down or to judge another. As I read through the beginning of the book, I realized that while I might not be challenged to fit into the guideline, I could certainly learn from all her research.

Out of the entire book, there were two portions that stood out to me: the discussion about a woman of valor and the challenge to be mindful about where our purchases come from.

Why did “Woman of Valor” stand out to me? Because we don’t support each other enough. Because we spend time talking about how “she” does things differently and is therefore cray cray. Because we can’t seem to wait to pass along the next little bit of gossip. Because if “she” is a dedicated runner/crossfitter/yogi/fitness buff she’s “obsessed with herself”. Because if “she’s” opinionated, she’s a B. I know I’ve said it before, but dude! We have GOT to stop comparing and judging and just link our arms and be a team. So if you get a text from me calling you a Woman of Valor, it’s a compliment. Embrace it.

The challenge regarding our purchases cut pretty deeply. Chocolate isn’t a huge issue, but coffee is and I just felt so sad thinking of the children who are abused because I need that cuppa. I realized that once again, I’ve slipped into cheap and convenient over what I know I should purchase. Rachel’s trip to Bolivia really hurt my heart in a good and convicting way… so much so that there was coffee shopping last night.

The book was a quick read… I finished Tuesday afternoon. And entertaining? Oh gosh, I laughed out loud at several points… who doesn’t love a good kitchen disaster story?! And I must say that I have great respect for the amount of research Rachel needed to put into this book. It opened my eyes to the reality of how great our lives are in the 21st century. I know that already, sure, but to really consider what those women thousands of years ago endured just because of their gender? Big stuff there. I may never, ever complain about how embarrassing the purchase of feminine products is. After all, I could be sitting in a red tent for a week!

Sight words and life lessons

Welcome to the September 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Home Tour

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have opened up their doors and given us a photo-rich glimpse into how they arrange their living spaces.


When we moved into this home 4 years ago, I struggled to make it my home and get over that it was my grandmother’s home my entire life. Initially, I picked darker colors for all the walls… Covering every inch of the stark white paint I could. The hardest room for me to “transform” was the dining room.


For one thing, it’s in the middle of the house, and filled with the massive dining room suite I couldn’t sell when we held the auction after her death. Dark and formal, it’s never been the style that is practical for our family. And the added worry of little ones opening the glass doors and breaking the china? No thanks.


As the years have passed, I’ve taken things out of the china cabinets and packed them away. The table no longer has a centerpiece or a table cloth for that matter. And little by little, the table became the place to settle in and draw or paint. So when we decided to homeschool, I knew right where we would set up.


The cabinets now hold workbooks and books I’ve been collecting in the last year. The drawer that once held fancy silverware now holds my Montessori letters and 100s board. And the table that was only used for holidays now is the table I will always hold dear as the place where Liam learned to read.


Every morning we settle in at the table and I’m grateful that although I never thought I’d find a way to make this room ours, it fits like a glove. We watch the cardinals out the window and spread our words out on the table. We high five our success, jump out the frustrations and soak in our lessons.

For us, the room that didn’t fit is now the room I look forward to spending more and more time in as the years pass. In that, we all are learning together – sight words and life lessons.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon September 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Being Barlow Home Tour — Follow along as Jessica at Being Barlow gives you the tour of her family’s home.
  • A Tour Of My Hybrid Rasta Kitchen — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes you on a tour of her kitchen complete with a Kombucha Corner, a large turtle, her tea stash, and of course, all her must-have kitchen gadgets. Check out Hybrid Rasta Mama’s most favorite space!
  • Dreaming of a Sisters Room — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, dreams, schemes and pins ideas for when her younger daughter is ready to move out of the family bed and share a room with her older sister.
  • Building a life — Constructing a dream — Survivor at Surviving Mexico-Adventures and Disasters shows you a glimpse inside the home her family built and talks about adaptions they made in constructing their lives in Mexico.
  • Why I’m Sleeping in the Dining Room — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook welcomed a new baby but didn’t have a spare bedroom. She explains how her family rearranged the house to create Lydia’s nursing nest and changing room in spaces they already had.
  • The Gratitude Tour — Inspired by Momastry’s recent “home tour,” That Mama Gretchen is highlighting imperfect snapshots of things she’s thankful for around her home. Don’t plan to pin anything!
  • Our Home in the Forest — Tara from Up the Dempster gives you a peek into life lived off-grid in Canada’s Yukon Territory.
  • natural bedding for kids — Emma at Your Fonder Heart shows you how her family of 3 (soon to be 4) manages to keep their two cotton & wool beds clean and dry (plus a little on the end of cosleeping — for now).
  • I love our home — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings explains how lucky she feels to have the home she does, and why she strives so hard to keep it tidy.
  • Not-So-Extreme Makeover: Sunshine and Rainbows Edition — Dionna at Code Name: Mama was tired of her dark, outdated house, so she brightened it up and added some color.
  • Our little outdoor space — Tat at Mum in search invites you to visit her balcony, where her children make friends with wildlife.
  • Our Funky, Bright, Eclectic, Montessori Home — Rachel at Bread and Roses shows you her family’s newly renovated home and how it’s set up with Montessori principles in mind for her 15-month-old to have independence.
  • Beach cottage in progress — Ever tried to turn a 1980s condo into a 1920s beach bungalow? Lauren at Hobo Mama is giving it a try!
  • Conjuring home: intention in renovation — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama explains why she and her husband took on a huge renovation with two little kids and shares the downsides and the ups, too.
  • Learning At Home — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling helps us to re-imagine the ordinary spaces of our homes to ignite natural learning.
  • My Dining Room Table — Kellie at Our Mindful Life loves her dining room table — and everything surrounding it!
  • Sight words and life lessons — The room that seemed to fit the least in Laura from Pug in the Kitchen‘s life is now host to her family’s homeschool adventures and a room they couldn’t imagine life without!
  • A Tour of Our Church — Garry at Postilius invites you virtually visit him in the 19th-century, one-room church where he lives with his spouse and two kids.
  • Preparing a Montessori Baby-Toddler Space at Home — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the Montessori baby-toddler space she’s created in the main living area of her home along with a variety of resources for creating a Montessori-friendly home.
  • The Old Bailey House — Come peek through the window of The Old Bailey House where Erica at ChildOrganics resides with her little ones.
  • My New House Not-Monday: The Stairs — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shows you her new laminate stairs in her not-so-new-anymore house.
  • To Minimalist and Back Again — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she went to the extreme as a minimalist and bounced right back. Read how she finds it difficult to maintain the minimalist lifestyle when upsizing living space.
  • Our Life As Modern-Day Nomads — This family of five lives in 194 square feet of space — with the whole of North America as a back yard. Paige of Our Road Less Traveled guest posts at Natural Parents Network.