As promised, this week I'll be sharing some of our family's go-to products and practices for cultivating a happy, healthy home.
For those who don't know, our family just moved the first of the year, and we have just gotten settled in to the new digs. We lived at our previous house for 5 years. And while that's not an incredibly long period of time, it is definitely long enough to have accumulated things that were not going to make the move. I know many people dread change and especially dread moving. I, on the other hand, love change and don't mind moving at all. Over the past 4-5 years, I have gradually been "becoming minimalist" and this move was one last hurrah to get rid of anything that I did not find to be useful, beautiful, or sentimental. If you've never attempted to downsize before, these 3 questions are a wonderful tool to use when you're deciding what stays and what goes:
1. Do I find it to be useful?
2. Do I find it to be beautiful?
3. Is it something sentimental that is irreplaceable?
If you cannot answer yes to one of those questions, then sell it, donate it or pass it along to someone who could answer yes.
The beautiful thing about being a minimalist is that I spend very little time cleaning and maintaining things, which is wonderful for my mental health as those are not life-giving for me personally. I spend only about 1 hour per week cleaning and doing laundry (in case you were wondering). Speaking of cleaning, throughout this post I'll be sharing our family's personal care and hygiene products, cleaning products, laundry products and medicinal products, as well as other products and practices from our family's home.
Ready for the tour?
Natural light. It's a must for me--a necessity for my mental health. We have windows all along the south and west sides of the house. And, for cloudy grey days, I have my "Happy Light".
Did you notice that table? A large community table is another necessity in my home. After all, "if the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating center, the sustainer of life and health." Quote by Shauna Niequist, author Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table.
Another helpful tip for improving your mental health is to clear off your counters. For many of us, a chaotic environment equates to a chaotic self. The only exceptions allowed to linger on the counters at our house are the produce basket and a water boiler for tea (simply because we use it multiple times per day). Tea, in my opinion, is a must in every home. We've got an entire cupboard dedicated to all things tea (and organic fair trade coffee for Shea). I have been known to sip 5-6 cups of tea per day, especially during the cold months.
You may have also noticed my cookware on the stove. Cast iron is my go-to for cooking. I also use stainless steel pots and pans for cooking needs that cannot be met with cast iron. Some of the staples in our produce basket include ginger, garlic, onion and apples. Very few days go by that we don't use these foods, both for culinary and medicinal reasons.
Our "medicine drawer" is also in the kitchen and includes a variety of homeopathic remedies, calendula salve, bandages, elderberry syrup and other herbs, essential oils and heating pads. I believe every household should have a cupboard or drawer filled with self-care remedies and options to treat acute illnesses and injuries from home. One of my passions is equipping others with basic knowledge about home remedies.
Our nutritional and herbal supplements can also be found in the kitchen of our home. I keep them in the freezer simply because it's easy to contain them all and know where to find them.
And, there is almost always something fermenting in my kitchen :)
A few final notes about the kitchen...
I recommend (and use) natural and eco-friendly products in the kitchen for cleaning, food storage and dishwashing. For food storage I use glass containers almost exclusively. The only exception is my BPA free Tupperware products. I use stainless steel utensils to avoid mold and plastics. For dishwashing, I use Biokleen automatic dish powder (it gets an A on the Environmental Working Group page) and for handwashing and counters I have an antimicrobial kitchen soap bar and Norwex Envirocloths.
I love that a soap bar reduces plastic waste from dishwashing liquid and pump soaps. I do (however) use pump soap as well in some bathrooms, but I choose to buy in bulk and refill containers rather than buy new containers. A couple other ways I reduce waste in the kitchen are by using reusable bags and by recycling our paper, plastic, metal and glass waste. I also cannot wait to get our compost box moved to the new house in the Spring. It is amazing how much food scrap waste there is when you eat a lot of produce!
Ready for the next room?
The Living Room...
I strongly believe that every house needs an electronic free room. There is no television in this living room. No radio or computer either. In fact, the only thing "plugged in" is the record player in the corner (not photographed). An unplugged space allows for quality time and connection that are essential to our wellbeing.
On the other side of the kitchen, we have our "family room" which does have a TV. However, we have opted out of cable since 2009 when we moved to Germany, so the TV in our home is really only for watching DVDs and playing Xbox Kinect (Shea's Christmas present to the kids to keep them moving in the winter months). The family room offers a cozy spot to sip my tea :)
Notice all the plants? Thanks to KatieCasey Designs, my house is full of oxygenating plants that breathe life into our home--literally and figuratively (with the pops of green that energize and encourage me throughout the day). You may have also noticed the wood floors. Something that is very important to me is avoiding carpet in our home. We were able to sand and seal the hardwood on the main floor of the house which was an added bonus! Not only is hardwood and tile much easier to clean, it doesn't hold dust, dander and other allergens like carpet does.
Shall we head upstairs?
We've tried to create lots of "yes" spaces in the house for kids to be able to create, play, and get energy out. A few highlights are the art nook, the trampoline (also great for adults wanting to get some rebounding/lymph flow going), and a swing (for sensory play).
Toys that encourage creativity and don't involve screen time are our favorites, and good toy storage is a sanity saver for sure! Side note about screen time. About a year ago we got rid of internet/wifi in our home. That has been such an amazing protection from too much screen time--for both our children and Shea and I. I highly recommend! We've found we can get everything we need done by just using our cell phones' mobile hotspots for the internet when needed.
You'll notice that the entire upstairs of our house is also wood flooring. I find area rugs to be much easier to keep clean, and to replace if needed, than carpet.
You may remember my post the other day about our kids' bath products. We check all of the products we use on the EWG's Skin Deep rating site. It's amazing how many chemicals and unnatural ingredients show up in body care and hygiene products! In addition to handmade bar soaps, EO and Babo Botanicals are the products currently in our kids' bathtub.
Laundry is another area of our home where I've introduced lard soap. We've been using Mossycup "Old Lady" laundry soap for nearly two months and I absolutely love it. Simple ingredients. Cleans the clothes. And, it provides another avenue for Mossycup to utilize lard from their fatty breed pigs. We love supporting producers who strive to use the entire animal.
Last but not least for your tour, the master bedroom and bath. When we moved, I decided our bedroom was going to be a place of rest and restoration. I avoided the temptation to put a desk in the room because desks=stacks of things to do. And that doesn't promote restful sleep for anyone. In addition to having a space to sleep, I wanted to have a sunny spot to read and space to stretch and practice yoga. We are currently in the process of scoping out organic beds. I've read so much about the chemicals in beds, and since I spend about 8 hours a day laying on my bed, I want to make sure it's promoting health not contributing to the toxin burden on my body.
If fact, I have made a diligent effort to remove as many toxin burdens as possible from our home. This is especially true in the master bath. Activated charcoal soap and a gluten free/corn free gentle shampoo that my hair stylist found for me are the only shower products I use.
My face washing routine includes Root activated charcoal face wash, CocoRoo Coffee Scrub, organic witch hazel (toner) and a face oil made with avocado oil, jojoba and essential oils. For deodorant I use Schmidt's. I prefer the charcoal magnesium scent, but we had a tea tree that needed to get used up so I took one for the team ;) For dental care, I use Bronner's toothpaste and a Norwex Silver Care toothbrush.
For female monthly issues, I've completely eliminated tampons with a DotCup. Amazing company. Amazing product. And it's good for 10 years! Most of these products are available at Simply Nourished, if you were wondering. I keep some homeopathic remedies stashed in my bathroom as well. Garlic mullein oil ear drops and essential oils for relaxation can also be found in my bathroom drawers.
Bronner's soap and lotion on the sink. This is the soap that I buy in larger sizes to refill my smaller pump container. I'm a big fan of Bronner's products. Simple ingredients and quality product.
Something else I've added to my dental routine is oil pulling. This product is available at Market 124 in Mason City.
My cosmetic routine is a bit ridiculous. I am not a make up girl. Literally, this is it. I comb my wild brows and use a brow balm that is supposed to help regrow hair (I've always struggled with very thin brows, largely because of thyroid issues). I curl my eyelashes and swipe on some Root mascara. I rub Root pretty booster clear moisturizer all over my dry skin and smear My Matcha moisturizer on extra dry spots and my lips. And finally, I blush on some Root bronzer. My make up routine takes an average of 4 minutes per day hahahah.
And that's the tour. I hope you've been inspired and have discovered some new ways you can make small changes within your own home to make it a happier, healthier place to be. If I can leave you with one final word, it's this---simplify. Life is complicated in so many ways. Why not simplify what you can. Whether it's your home, your schedule, or the food you eat, keep it simple and you'll be simply nourished.
Stay warm this week!