Minimal Cleaning Supplies: Keeping Your Home Clean with only 3 Products

I’m a minimalist; I really do like to keep things simple.

Once our children arrived, I knew I wanted the cleaning supplies cupboard to reflect that personality trait. So, I set out every bottle, jug, and cleaning supply I had on my kitchen countertop and weeded down my stash to just three items. I’ve been using only three items for a few years now, and I haven’t needed anything else. Here are the only three cleaning supplies I keep in my home.

Three Handy Cleaning Supplies for a Minimalist Cleaning Cupboard

  1. Bleach. It’s kind of hard to do without bleach, as it comes in handy for laundry and tough stains. It helps to super-sanitize stinky dish rags and towels and helps reverse messes from potty accidents and other mishaps.
  2. All-purpose cleaner. I use my all-purpose cleaner on my floors, in my sinks, and in my toilet bowls. It’s a very useful item whenever something needs to be disinfected or when an appliance could use a thorough, deep cleaning.
  3. Glass-cleaner. This iconic blue spray-bottle cleaner is just… nice. Wiping smudges from windows, refreshing mirrors, or giving the glass oven-top a quick wipe down is so easy when you can apply a few squirts and wipe the grime away.

That’s it! Keeping my cleaning supplies minimal saves me money and saves me space. I store these three items up high where the kids cannot reach them. The only things that live in the cupboard under my kitchen sink are cleaning rags, a sponge or two, and some brown paper bags (you never know when you might need one, I guess).

If you are feeling overwhelmed by how cluttered your cleaning supplies cupboard has gotten, try weeding down. It’s nice to know that you can keep your home clean with only a few things on hand!

How to Decorate When Your Kids are Young

Making the home is plain ol’ fun. Many moms enjoy “feathering their nest” by arranging the furniture and decorating each room. But when there are little feet stomping around and busy fingers that want to get into everything, it’s pretty much impossible to create that Pinterest-perfect home design look.

I’ve come to accept the sight of my home decorated with scattered toys, dropped books, toilet paper pyramids, and breakfast crumbs. That’s just life. But I’ve also found a way to enjoy decorating my home while keeping things practical for the little ones, too. Here are a few ideas.

  • IMG_0081 (2)Keep things simple. The fewer of your precious items that are out and about, the less your kids will be temped to tamper with them. I love my vintage fan. By placing in the back corner of my antique corner table, the little ones can’t reach it. (That way I get to look at it and they can’t touch it).
  • Include kiddie items as a part of your furniture arrangement. This little bookshelf looks cute and is easily accessible for the kids.
  • Decorate with your children’s art. Believe it or not, that painting was created by my toddler. I simply put it in a nice frame, and bingo! It looks like a statement piece.

 

IMG_0079 (2)Here is another way to decorate with kids: combine one of your favorite items with theirs. This is my antique school desk used as a toy station. Inside the cubby are puzzles and search books. (By the way, don’t be fooled. My house is never clean. I picked up right before I took these pictures).

These are just a few ideas. Everyone has a completely unique decorating and homemaking style. Find what works for you and your kids. Happy homemaking!

 

 

Wet Shaving for Women: 3 Reasons to Try It

Old-timey stuff is coming back in style, and shaving is no exception. Over the last handful of years, the traditional wet shaving movement has been growing by leaps and bounds. There tons of new shaving products, new businesses, and new hobbyists. But, what is traditional wet shaving? It seems like a guy thing. Can women try it, too?

You bet!

wet shaving pic

“Traditional wet shaving” is the long term used for shaving with old-fashioned (or traditional) methods: a shaving brush, some shave soap, and a safety razor or straight razor (pictured above is a safety razor). Here is a really simplistic, brief overview of how wet shaving works:

The brush is moistened and used to create a fluffy lather from the soap and then is brushed on the areas of skin that are going to be shaved. The safety razor uses what’s called a double-edged blade (both edges of the blade are sharp and can be used for shaving) to shave the skin.

That’s basically it. (For more in-depth instructions, I encourage you to check out some YouTube videos. There are TONS of them out there and they are very detailed).

It looks kind of scary and daunting at first, but give it a try and you’ll be hooked. Here are my top three reasons why traditional wet shaving is for women, too.

Traditional Wet Shaving for Women

  1. It’s the perfect shave. Welcome to the closest, best shave of your life. Safety razor shaving truly cuts the hair right down to the skin without creating irritation. Your legs (and any other areas you wish to shave) will stay smoother, longer. Yes to that!
  2. It’s cheaper. In the long run, converting to traditional wet shaving equipment will save you money. If you’re like me, you dread putting cartridge razors on your shopping list and then scanning the store aisle for the cheapest option that doesn’t look like it would massacre your legs. When you learn how to use a safety razor, you’ll be saving money. (And you won’t look like you just walked through a thorn bush).
  3. You’ll feel pampered. This is my absolute favorite reason for wet shaving. My skin feels so smooth. The soaps are moisturizing, natural, and healthy for your skin. There are so many beautifully crafted soaps and scents to choose from. I look forward to every shaving session! (As a mom, getting some pampering time is definitely something I look forward too).

There you have it! Three great reasons why women can use traditional wet shaving. I hope this brief overview whet your appetite a little bit. I’m planning more posts about women’s wet shaving soon, including lists of my favorite soaps, brushes, and razor.

Are you a wet shaver? Why do you enjoy it?

 

 

 

The Signs of Postpartum Depression

For many women, pregnancy is a time of joyful anticipation. For nine months, expectant mothers daydream about what their baby will look like, about cuddling and feeding the baby, about how wonderful life will be with the baby. I know I did. When I was pregnant with my first child, I thought about beautiful things every day. I couldn’t wait to hold my little bundle in my arms. Life was going to be perfect.

But once baby had arrived, reality unfolded a completely different scenario. Sure, I was overjoyed to meet my baby. But I wasn’t happy. I didn’t feel like cuddling. Each day seemed to go on forever. I didn’t… enjoy being a mom.

I thought things like, “Is this normal? What’s wrong with me? Why do other new moms seem so happy? What am I doing wrong?” I never seemed to feel better.

It wasn’t until I delivered my second child (and had a completely different postpartum experience) that I realized that my first postpartum experience was a difficult one. Although I was never diagnosed, I believe that I was suffering through postpartum depression.

If you are a postpartum mom and are feeling down, lost, uncomfortable, sad, hopeless, or just unhappy, you might be suffering through some PPD (postpartum depression), too.

Here are some signs of PPD:

According to the mommy-favorite book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” signs may include:

  • crying and irritability
  • sleep problems
  • eating problems
  • persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness
  • an inability or lack of desire to care for yourself or your newborn
  • social withdrawal
  • excessive worry
  • aversion to your newborn
  • feeling all alone
  • memory loss

This is a pretty large and comprehensive list. But what I’d like to do is share more specific, real-life examples gathered from my own experience. PPD is not easy to talk about. But if you’re reading this post, I’m glad you’re here. Here are the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression that I experienced.

  • When people would ask me, “don’t you just love being a mom?” I would say something like “oh yeah, it’s great.” But I didn’t really feel that way. In my head, I was saying things like, “no. I hate it. I don’t like being a mom. It’s hard. I can’t do it.”
  • I had no desire to cuddle with my baby. I don’t remember ever just randomly scooping up my baby just to cuddle out of love and affection.
  • I hardly ever smiled or laughed.
  • I was beyond exhausted – I was only getting broken sleep and was seeing hallucinations.
  • I daydreamed about putting baby in the car seat and just driving away – just “escaping” somehow.
  • I felt stuck. I felt like this day-in, day-out job of caring for baby was torturous. I didn’t enjoy it, it was just something I had to do.
  • I felt guilty. “What’s wrong with me? I’m a terrible mom. I suck. I don’t deserve this child.”

These are some of the main signs and symptoms of postpartum depression that I experienced. If you are feeling similar things, you may be suffering through some PPD.

So what’s the next step?

First, tell someone how you’re feeling. Tell anyone – your husband, mom, sister, grandma, friend. Let someone know what you’re going through. This the very first, most important step. Talk. Share how you’re really doing. It’s not easy! I know this, mama. It’s very difficult to talk about it. But be brave. You can do it!

Next, let your listener help you determine the next steps. Should you visit your pastor? Schedule an appointment with a counselor? See a doctor? Let your listener help you. They care about you, and will want to help you in any way they can.

During my PPD journey, I never took the next steps. I was barely able to share with my husband how I was really feeling, and I never spoke with a pastor, counselor, or doctor. Taking these steps would have helped me out; I am sure of that. Speaking out and getting help will be good for you, mama. Share how you feel. You can do it!

If it is determined that you are going through PPD, the next part in your journey will be learning how to cope and recover. I’d like to discuss that in another post. For now, I’d like to give you a hug and help you determine how you really feel. If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of PPD mentioned about, talk to someone about it. Then determine what to do next.

Dear Mama,

I’m glad you’re here. I’m sorry you are feeling the way you do. I’ve been there, and I would never wish that on anyone else. May I pray for you? I will ask that Jesus would send you His love, peace, and grace. I will ask that He would help you find loving people who will listen and walk through this journey with you. I will pray that you will get through this. Jesus loves you, mama. I do too! Hang in there.

Feel free to leave a comment or contact me. Have you gone through PPD before? What were some of your signs? How did you step toward help and recovery?

Healthy Smash Cake: Baby’s First Birthday

Your baby’s first birthday has arrived! It’s definitely a momentous time to celebrate. Bring on the colorful decorations, gifts, family, and a stupendous cake!

But if you’re hesitant about introducing mountains of sugar-loaded icing and cake batter to your little one, here is a healthier, alternative option: it’s an almond flour cake with blueberry sauce topping.

birthday cake

I’ll admit, it’s not the prettiest thing to look at, but it’s kind of cute in a way, too. And boy, is it delicious! My little one had no hesitations about munching on this nutrient packed birthday treat. It was simple to make and requires very few ingredients. Here is my recipe:

Healthy Smash Cake (Baby’s First Birthday Cake)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup water

Other equipment:

  • coffee grinder or food grinder
  • 4″ diameter food storage container

Directions:

Grease and flour a round 9″ cake pan. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Grind up one cup of rolled oats and place in a large mixing bowl. Add one cup of almond flour. (If you don’t have almond flour, you can grind up some sliced almonds in your coffee grinder, too). Mix together. Add the remaining ingredients in the order listed and mix well. The batter will have a medium thickness.

Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan. Place in the middle of your oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Let the cake cool for five minutes, then remove it from the pan onto a cutting board. Let it cool completely. Then, place a 4 inch diameter food storage container (or some sort of round object) on top of the cake and use it as a stencil. Cut out two circles from the original 9 inch cake. Stack the two layers on top of each other. Your cake is complete! (You can enjoy the remaining cake yourself).

Baby can enjoy the cake as is. It’s easy to pull apart and it’s delicious.

If you’d like to include the blueberry topping, here is what I did.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 medium pear
  • sugar to taste (you don’t have to add any)

Equipment:

  • food processor or blender

Directions:

Peel and slice the pear. Place in a small or medium sauce pan. Add one cup of blueberries. Bring to a boil. You may need to add a splash of water so that the fruit doesn’t scorch. Stir well, then remove from heat. Let the mixture cool down a little bit. Next, pour the fruit into your food processor and blend until it reaches a desired consistency. Pour the fruit mixture back into the sauce pan and add sugar to taste. I think I added about two tablespoons of regular cane sugar. Mix well. Pour directly over the cake.

birthday cake

Stick in a candle, and your baby’s first birthday cake is ready! Sit back and watch those little fingers dig in to this fun, tasty, healthy baby smash cake. Happy birthday, baby!

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoying Your Hobbies during Motherhood: Five Tips for Children’s Writers

One way to be good to yourself during motherhood is to keep enjoying your hobbies. There is far less time for them, of course. But it is important – it’s healthy – to find little bits of mom-time here and there and delve into your interests.

I enjoy writing. Last month, I submitted a children’s picture book manuscript to ten publishing houses. I had a blast, and boy, did I learn a lot! I thought I’d share a little bit about my experience and try and give some basic helpful hints that I gleaned through this process.

5 Things to Consider When Submitting a Children’s Book Manuscript

1). Do Not Write to Get Published

What I mean is, write for fun! This may seem obvious, but I cannot stress this enough (and I say this for myself). If you write and do not find any enjoyment in it, then don’t put yourself through it. Write because you want to, or because it’s your hobby, or it brings you joy, or because you want to share your own story with your kids, or because it’s a creative release, or whatever. Write because it’s what you like to do. And, if someday you do get published, great!

2). Complete Your Work without a Deadline

I gave myself a deadline. I had no reason to; I just wanted to complete the writing process and turn in my work by a certain date. Do not do this. What ended up happening to me is that I wasn’t 100% satisfied with my story but I still turned it in. I just thought, “well, it’s as good as I can make it.” But I was wrong! After I submitted it, I went back and made more revisions, and I ended up liking my story better. So, give yourself as much time as you need and hang on to that manuscript until you haven’t changed a letter for at least a few weeks! (This will be hard to do if you are as excited as I was).

3). Let Another Set of Eyes Proofread Your Work ONE MORE TIME

I read, and reread, and proofread. I had two other people proofread. I maybe changed one or two lines, proofread again, and sent my little story in the mail. What happened? I left out one little set of quotation marks!

Yes. That’s right, everyone. I turned in a grammatically incorrect manuscript. Ughhhh. I was so mad at myself. BUT… it’s my own fault. I made a last minute change to my story, and I should have had someone proofread it ONE. MORE. TIME. It will never hurt to proofread more than you think is necessary.

4). Spend Time Researching Publishing Houses

I am still learning about this. There are so many publishing houses out there. Some are large, some are small. Some accept unsolicited submissions, others do not. Most of them have a specific “feel” to them. (Sorry, that was really vague. But I don’t know how to explain it). Learn what you can, and try and send your story to a place that you think would be a good fit. That’s all you can do!

5). Be Confident in Your Work

I like my story, but I never felt perfectly satisfied with it. And if I don’t, why in the heck would a publisher? (For me specifically, I had trouble crafting the right plot). Work on your story until you feel absolutely satisfied and happy with it. You don’t have a timeline, and you don’t need to compare yourself to anyone else or any other work. Write what you love, and write until you have it right.

I am working on another story. And after this one, I’m sure I’ll write some more. Most likely, I’ll try and submit again. Because it was fun! I like writing, I liked completing the process, and it only cost me the price of postage. And I know I’ll keep learning along the way.

I love to write, but that’s just me. Find something you enjoy doing – even if it’s browsing Pinterest or taking a nap – and do your best to fit it in your hectic schedule. Whatever brings you delight and joy is worth pursuing!

 

The Moving Game: A Testimony to the Grace of God, part 2

It’s been a while since I’ve continued my testimonial moving saga, but here comes part 2.

A quick recap: my husband and I were stuck in a funky situation. We were living on campus housing at the graduate school that he had just decided to stop attending. We were in an unfamiliar city, a day’s drive from our home state, with an extremely meager bank account. I was working a job that didn’t pay well. My husband, having just decided that more schooling wasn’t the right choice for him at that time, now was faced with the dilemma of trying to figure out what in the world he was supposed to be doing with his life. You can read the full post here.

And then we found out that we had two months to find somewhere else to live.

Two major, God-sent blessings happened next: one, we found a short-term housing option, and two, we were BOTH offered jobs.

Remember my old supervisor from my awesome first post-college job? I emailed him one day, just to catch up. I couldn’t help but spill our current scenario. A day later, he emailed me back with cheerful words, encouragement, and most amazing of all: a chance for employment. “Would you consider moving back to [that state]? I’ve got a mission opportunity for both you and your husband.”

I thought he was joking! I really did. Nope. He was serious. Had I not sent that “oh hey, how are you doing” email, we may have never reconnected and been presented with this opportunity. God at work, people. He provides!

Not only did He bless us with a job opportunity, He blessed us with housing. We found a little apartment with a short, three-month-long lease. And that’s all we needed. At the end of that three months, we’d be packing a U-Haul trailer and making a two day journey to a brand new town, new housing, new jobs, new mission, new people. This was a chance to serve the people of God as missionaries, and we were up for – and thankful for – the opportunity.

And although this God-given fresh start was exactly what we needed, it would still present us with new obstacles and challenges.