Simple, Natural & Low Waste Dental Hygiene

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There’s a lot more to oral health and hygiene than sparkly white teeth and fresh breath (though both of these things are quite wonderful). An unhealthy mouth can increase your chances of many other health issues. Cavities and gum disease are known to result from poor oral health, but heart disease, cancer and diabetes are also believed to be linked to the same. Keep in mind that genetics may also either work in your favor or against you. Some of us come from a long line of unhealthy teeth and gums and as a result have to work extra hard to minimize the damage to our health. Regular brushing, flossing and cleanings are the best way to prevent dental issues, so choosing the right products for oral care is essential.

If you’re like me, you want your products non-toxic…but powerful. We’re also on a mission to live a more “low waste” lifestyle so things like packaging and the material of the product itself are important to us. Those three factors play heavily into what we’ve chosen to use for dental care.

Here’s what we’ll cover in today’s post:

  • toothbrushes
  • toothpaste
  • floss
  • mouthwash
  • tooth whitening

Let’s start with toothbrushes. Roughly one billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown out each year in the US. Even though toothbrushes are small, that’s A LOT of plastic!! I consider myself to be a little bit of a realist in regards to waste (I don’t think the “no waste” movement is practical or feasible in today’s culture) BUT I am very much aware of our culture’s lack of stewardship and the havoc it’s wreaking on our environment. GOD has blessed us with a beautiful world to enjoy and as believers it is our responsibilty to be good stewards of the Earth while on it. So while I realize some plastics are necessary, I want to do better to avoid it when possible and choose biodegradable options when I can.

Because we are trying to do better as a family in regards to stewardship, a while back we switched to eco friendly toothbrushes and haven’t looked back since.

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The funny part…I have actually LOVED these biodegradable toothbrushes! I don’t know why I didn’t switch many years ago!! All of my kids like them too. I have sensitive teeth, receding gums and other issues and these toothbrushes have been far better for my teeth than their “cheap” plastic counterparts. The bristles are so soft. They have actually lasted us longer and honestly work out to be less expesnive as well. For example Oral B goes roughly $26 per 12 pack. A basic Colgate 12 pack is over $12. Now prices will vary slightly of course depending on where you purchase your brush but either way, the biodegradeable version was certainly no more expensive than the plastic version at roughly $12-15 per 12 pack. I reccently purchased the EVE ECO brand brushes for $9.99 on Amazon!! For us, there’s no going back to the plastic. As strange as it sounds, I have fallen more and more in love with the look of the natural products than any of the colorful plastic options out there! There’s something about the natural wood that I just love!

Ok so toothpaste…this one I’m still researching DIY recipes and I’m going to be switching to a DIY version asap because I think I can make a more cost effective but powerful version without all of the packaging that ends up in the landfill. Small glass jars are perfect for DIY toothpaste and can be reused over and over again.

As I imagine most kids do, my kids use way too much toothpaste. Someone is always either dropping it on the counter, in the sink or on the floor (occasionally even on a sibling…I don’t know how they manage it but they do). While I want to save as much money as I can, I just can’t make peace with the chemical laden toothpaste that’s less expensive. For years I went back and forth as the budget got tighter and tighter the more kids we added but over the last few years I’ve cut out every possible unnecessary expense I can in order to afford toxin free products.

While I’m excited to try a DIY toothpaste, I need to buy myself some time to do more research and try out different recipes, so in the meantime, we’ve been using the HELLO brand toothpaste. It works very well, has a nice and minty flavor that leaves your breath much more fresh than Colgate or Crest ever did. I ordered it from Amazon and it was reasonably priced there ($15.88). Crest and Colgate were anywhere between $8-16 on Amazon for a 4 pack so the natural version wasn’t much more expensive and I find myself using less of it because it is more potent.

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Next, let’s talk about Floss. We have always preferred the single flossers (mostly because it’s much easier for our kids to use) but to be honest, I like those better as well. The problem is, just like the toothbrushes, they create a large amount of product that ends up in the landfill. I don’t like that. Enter these fantastic little flossers I found on Amazon:

At $14.99 for 200 of them, they are not terribly expensive and they work very well! They’re made mainly from cornstarch and packaged in eco friendly packaging. Since I’m not likely to DIY my flossers in the future, I consider these guys a winner!!

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Now let’s talk about mouthwash. For years we’ve used Tom’s mouthwash which worked very well and we liked using it, BUT at $4 per bottle and 5 people using it (including littles who either used too much or occasionally spilled half a bottle down the drain) it got to be a bit costly. Additionally, the mouthwash comes in plastic containers which I honestly want to get away from.

So I got myself some glass bottles from Amazon, used my trusty YL Peppermint oil, baking soda and some water and made my own mouthwash for very little cost. I will say, without added sweetners and other ingredients, this mouthwash is very potent and will require a little getting used to BUT it works very well at freshening your breath and is very cost effective. The kids were not a huge fan at first but they got used to it.

There are numerous different versions of DIY mouthwash to choose from on Pinterest. Some are made using Thieves oil instead of Peppermint, Tea tree oil and some using clove. You could also include Copaiba oil if you have issues with inflamed gums (which I sometimes do).

Lastly, let’s talk about tooth whitening…

I love a good cup of coffee. I survive on coffee some days. I look forward to it in the morning, around lunch and in the afternoon. With 4 young kids and very little sleep…some days I may have up to 4 cups a day (I jokingly tell the kids that as I’ve had each kid I’ve needed to increase my number of cups per day to match the number of children). Unfortunately, coffee stains teeth. So while I’m not about to use those over priced, chemical laden tooth whitening kits EVER AGAIN, I want white teeth!

Boy do I wish I had known half of what I know about beauty products and toiletries now when I was younger! All the chemicals I put on and in my body!

Fortunately there is a natural, very effective option out there to whitening those teeth!! I’ve done both DIY and purchased activated charcoal whiteners. If you’re not a DIY fan, this one by Oalen is super inexpensive (I think I paid $5.99 and it came with a biodegradeable toothbrush), works great and lasts a long time because you only need a tiny bit at a time. Use it roughly once per day (or a couple of times a week if you have my memory).

If you want to save a few dollars, buy some activated charcoal, pure unrefined coconut oil and a glass jar…mix and brush. It’s as simple as that!

Btw…it wouldn’t hurt to have some activated charcoal capsules on hand for stomach bugs and food poisoning anyway…just thought I should share that.

Do some research on that one 🙂

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So there you have it! Natural, effective and affordable dental care with the added bonus of being low waste.

If you have any other great products or tips for dental care to share, please tell me in the comments below! 🙂

Easy Vintage Floral Banner DIY

Are you looking for some super simple ideas to spruce up your home for spring and summer? I’m always on the look out for easy and very inexpensive crafts to add charm to our home. Today I have one for you that’s as easy as can be and very inexpensive! If you’re like me, most of the supplies needed for this project you already have at home, the others are either free or a few dollars at the craft store.

 

banner

 

What you’ll need:

Twine (or yarn of your choice)

cardstock (I wanted something light and bright…this pretty cream color almost matches our walls perfectly and looks fabulous against the pretty brown antique armoire)

free printables of vintage floral

gluestick

hole puncher

Could these materials be any more simple? Now let’s create that banner…

 

Step One:

Choose your favorite free printables and print them…I simply typed in free vintage floral printables into google and went through a few that I liked and then chose my favorite few to print.

Something like this…

blue-and-yellow-gallery-wall-printable-art

https://www.simplymadebyrebecca.com/2015/03/16/free-printable-royal-blue-and-yellow-botanical-art/#jp-carousel-1500

or this…

printable-botanicals-

https://www.onsuttonplace.com/library-of-free-printable-botanicals/

You can even use a vintage Patriotic print like this one for Memorial Day and Independence Day:

https://www.tinkerabout.com/4th-of-july-print/

**this specific printable is formatted for an 8×10 frame but I thought it was a great inspiration for a 4th of July banner as well. I’m hoping to find some other fun freebies and inexpensive 4th of July decor and DIY’s to share with you all soon** 

Step Two:

Once you’ve printed your images, cut your cardstock and prints into whatever shape you would like. I really enjoy the triangles, but anything you prefer will work.

Step Three:

Glue your prints to the cardstock and punch holes at the top in the center.

Step Four:

String the banner and hang it.

 

We don’t currently have a fire place so I hang our banner on our antique Armoire in the living room but it would also look lovely hanging on a mantle or even the wall.

It’s a wonderful way to add a little extra charm and seasonal decor on a small budget.

 

 

5 Simple & Practical Ways to Use Essential Oils

If you’ve stopped by here before, you probably already know that Essential Oils are a staple in our home. We use them every day, multiple times per day. There are so many reasons why we chose to start using them and I want to do a post on that as well someday but for today I want to share 5 practical ways we incorporate them into our every day life.

Before I get started, I would encourage you to do your own research. We have done ours and have been using Young Living oils for several years now based on that research. If you have questions about eo’s or Young Living, feel free to ask in the comments. 🙂

Now, onto the 5 simple and practical ways we use our oils daily:

  1. Immune System boost: I set a daily reminder on my phone to get out our Thieves roller so the boys can put some on their feet before bed, along with taking their vitamins. I make sure it’s just before bedtime so I can make sure they’re showered and ready to go by the time the alarm goes off (most of the time anyway). You can also take Thieves internally either in a capsule or in a small amount of water. I tend to take mine orally when I feel like I’m fighting something but for the kids, the roller bottle works the best.

 

immunity

2. Boo Boo’s: Three boys…we have a lot of boo boos. We use a variety of oils for these            since it depends on the type of injury/ailment.

  • We use DiGize for tummy troubles by rolling it on their belly.
  • Then there’s Lavender, Copaiba and Frankincense for various skin issues (Eczema, rug burns, minor scrapes, bug bites). I also use Frankincense for my nightly skincare.
  • Deep Relief for sore legs from growing pains and other similar pains.
  • RC for congestion and sniffles.
  • I have a roller bottle with Oregano, Basil and Thyme that we use for ear aches along with a salt sock (the minerals in the coarse sea salt have healing properties as well as the heat which helps with the pressure and pain…you can add in lavender for added benefits. There’s lots of info on this one and why it works but one of my go to’s is this one: https://wellnessmama.com/59372/lavender-salt-ear-infection-remedy/). By the way, Oregano oil is one of the best antibacterial oils. It’s actually also a great remedy for skin tags…AND removing ticks! It’s a hot oil so you’ll want to research it prior to use but this is one of those oils I’d consider a “must have”.

Booboo

3. Aromatherapy: We typically have at least one diffuser going at all times while                   we’re at home. I have one in the kitchen/dining area, one in the living room and                 one in each bedroom. We diffuse everything from Grapefruit for an uplifting mood to Thieves for purifying the air and Lavender or Stress away for a calming scent. Gently baby or Aromaease for night time…there are so many others and it honestly just depends on the mood and situation.

diffuser

4. DIY Toiletries: I’ve been making many of our toiletries myself for quite some time             now. Mouthwash with Peppermint oil, handsoap with Thieves oil, Skin ointment                 with Frankincense and Lavender…Deoderant and Chapstick are next on my list of               things to try.

mouthwash

5. DIY Household products: DIY Household products are also a very big part of our daily eo ussage. I make everything from dishsoap to laundry soap and “soft scrub” with Lemon oil, to dryer balls with Lavender to replace toxic dryer sheets.

dryer ball

Getting started with essential oils can feel a bit overwhelming at first. Start small. Invest in a good starter kit and get familiar with a few staples. Then add a few more at a time. Do your research and invest in some educational books on oils.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful and if any of you are interested in trying out Young Living, please feel free to let me know in the comments and I’d be happy to help! 🙂

For the month of May, while supplies last, YL is giving away a free Lushious Lemon handsoap with the purchase of a Welcome Home starter kit, CBD starter kit, Ningxia starter kit or Oils Premium starter kit with a Dewdrop or Dessert Mist diffuser.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions about how we use our eo’s. 🙂

 

DIY Laundry Soap

It’s been a chaotic and uncertain time for many of us these past couple of weeks so this space has been quiet a bit longer than I’d intended. Fortunately we are all well in my home and I pray those of you reading are healthy too!

As promised, I wanted to share a simple tutorial on making inexpensive (and easy) laundry soap. The more things you can make from home (using simple ingredients that we typically keep at home in bulk anyway) the less trips to the store you have to make. At the moment that’s a wonderful thing!

Even when life returns to normal, skills like making your own laundry soap help make life a little slower and more simple. If you’re like us and living on a small budget, DIY laundry soap along with other simple laundry ingredients and accessories, will save you quite a bit of money. 

laundry soap4

Here’s some info on the basic items that I buy regularly and try to keep on hand at all times:

A large jar like this one is what I use to store my powder laundry soap. You can find these at Walmart for roughly $9. I believe this one is their Anchor Hocking line. I can’t remember where I got the scooper from but I am pretty sure I didn’t buy it. It came from some other packaged item.

laundry soap

Next, you’ll need washing soda, borax, baking soda and Fels Naptha bar soap. I usually buy the large box or bag of baking soda but during my last grocery run they didn’t have any so I had to settle for the little boxes. I usually keep multiple boxes and bars at the house so I have extra and can make it without having to run to the store for ingredients. With 4 kids I have a lot of laundry and make a lot of this stuff!

I also bought a grater from the dollar store that stays with my laundry supplies specifically for making laundry soap.

The washing soda is approximately $4 per box. The baking soda is $4 for a 5lb bag. The borax is $4.50 and the Fels Naptha bar is less than $1.

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In addition to the ingredients listed above, I have purchased the dryer balls in place of dryer sheets. Mine are old and need to be replaced so I’ve been looking around on Amazon for a replacement. These are what I’m going to be ordering soon:

SnugPad Wool Dryer Balls XL Size 6 Pack, Natural Fabric Softener 100% Organic Premium New Zealand Wool, Chemical Free and Reduces Wrinkles, 1000+ Loads

They go for about $9 on Amazon.

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Lastly, I use white vinegar in place of fabric softner as needed. Walmart has it for less than $3 for one gallon. I store some in a small glass jar with a lid to make it easier to use.

Ok, so now you know approximately what it’ll cost to get you started and what ingredients you’ll need. Now lets talk about what to do to put it all together. It’s going to take you about 10 minutes at most to make it. It really is that simple.

You’re going to fill about 1/4 of the jar for each of the powders (baking soda, borax and washing soda). Leave about 1/4 of the jar for the bar soap.

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Next, you need to shred the soap into fine shavings and add it in. Then mix it all together with a spoon.

laundry soap3

Now you have about a gallon of laundry soap. Depending on how much laundry you do, this will last you quite a while. I think for us it usually lasts about 2 weeks. I typically will use about a scoop to 1 1/2 scoops depending on the size of the load. The soap works very well to remove odor and stains. In fact, for stubborn stains, keep a whole bar of Fels Naptha on hand and soak the item in cold water and rub with the bar soap. Be sure to always use cold water with stains.

Side note: if you want the laundry to have a stronger scent when you pull it out of the dryer, you can add some drops of your favorite essential oils to the dryer balls. I really enjoy using Young Livings Lavender or Geranium oils for my laundry.

Another laundry tip: if you have problems with mildew odors in towels, use hot water to wash them and add a few drops of Melaluca oil. It’s an antifungal and significantly decreases that problem.

You can use this laundry soap on all of your laundry, delicates, towels, baby clothes and cloth diapers!

You can check out my post on what cloth diapers we use here:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2020/02/26/cloth-diapering-essentials-favorites/

You can also check out how I care for our cloth diapers here:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2020/03/08/caring-for-cloth-diapers/

I hope you find this information helpful and that it inspires you to live more simply.

Feel free to share any great laundry tips and tricks in the comments! 🙂

Stay healthy friends!

Homemade Butter & Buttermilk

I’ve been baking bread for a long time. The store bought stuff just doesn’t compare. It’s worth the extra time and work every time! So what do you do with a fresh loaf of homemade bread?! You pair it up with some fresh homemade butter, of course! It sounds crazy…making your own butter, I know. A couple of years ago I was a little nervous to try it. If you have a mixer, it’s basically making overwhipped whipped cream! Within a few minutes you can turn a 32 oz bottle of heavy cream into about two sticks of butter. Just make sure to stay by the mixer because it goes pretty quickly and if the mixer is turned up too high it’ll make a terrible mess. I recently stepped away for a “second” to change a diaper and returned to buttermilk splashed all over the mixer, the counter, the floor. It wasn’t pretty.

Here’s what you need:

32 oz bottle of heavy cream

bottle or jar to store the buttermilk in (I reused a bottle from juice)

mixer with whisk attachment

butter dish and parchment to store the finished butter in (I put one in the dish and store the other in parchment in the fridge)

butter 1

Step One: pour the whole bottle of cream into the mixer and set to about medium speed.

butter 2

You can see the bubbles starting to form.

butter 3

Getting close to “soft peak” whipped cream.

butter 4

butter 5

Step two: Here we’re at about overwhipped whipped cream stage. At this point I would turn the mixer down just a little.

butter 6

butter 8

It’s getting thicker now. Not much longer before it starts to separate.

butter 9

butter 10

Step three: it’s separating now and most of the solids will stick to the whisk attachment.

butter 12

Check out that buttermilk! It’s great for biscuits, pancakes, homemade ranch and more!!!

butter 13

Step four: take the butter out of the mixing bowl and work out the rest of the buttermilk using either your hands or a wooden spoon/spatula.

butter 15

Step five: shape the butter the way you like it. Sometimes I leave it like this but most of the time I separate this into two sticks of butter.

butter 16

Step six: pour buttermilk into your jar or bottle. I generally prefer glass over plastic.

butter 17

There you go! Six easy steps to fresh butter and buttermilk!

butter 18

Now make yourself some English muffins and enjoy! 🙂

english muffin

DIY Pinecone Bird Feeder

OSFL_0023We are a bird watching family. We get a pretty decent group of birds that stop by multiple times a day just outside of our living room windows. Since their presence brings us a great deal of enjoyment, I’m always looking for inexpensive and creative ways to feed our little feathered visitors. This bird feeder idea I’m sharing today, happens to be a very simple one to make! You’re likely to have most, if not all, of the items needed on hand already. In case you’re looking for some fun winter crafts to do with the kids, it also makes for a great project for little helpers!

Here’s what you’ll need:

OSFL_0014

  • Pinecones
  • Ribbon
  • Hot glue
  • scissors
  • knife
  • bowls/plates
  • all natural peanut butter
  • bird seed

How to make the bird feeder:

Start by cutting yourself the ribbon to hang the birdfeeder from the branch. Cut it however long or short you prefer as long as it’s long enough to fit over the branch. I kept mine fairly short.

Side note: You’ll want to make sure you hang your feeder somewhere that has a good spot for the birds to perch. I didn’t have mine in a great spot at first and had to relocate it before they were able to use it properly.

OSFL_0015

Next, glue your ribbon ends together and then glue it to the top of the pinecone.

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Now you’ll want to spread the peanut butter over the entire pinecone.

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Either sprinkle the bird seed onto the pinecone or roll it on a large plate with bird seed.

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Lastly, hang the bird feeder and enjoy the view.  🙂

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From start to finish, this project takes only a few minutes to make. It’s simple, frugal and fun!

Now the clean up with the kids…let’s just say they had fun and we had a trail of evidence from the table out the door and all the way to the tree.

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Stay tuned for more DIY projects, recipes, natural home ideas and more!

 

 

 

Dried Orange Garland Tutorial

Don’t get me wrong, I love a little sparkle here and there but natural decorations are my favorite! These dried oranges are absolutely beautiful hanging in a window, as well as on a green Christmas tree. Not only are they pretty, they are also inexpensive and simple to make!

Let me show you:$(FILE_NAME)_05

To start, you’ll need some fresh oranges. I ended up using 8 oranges for my garland but that’ll vary depending on the size of your window. I like to cut more than I think I’ll need in case some slices turn too brown. Slice them very thin and place them on a baking sheet with parchment.

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You’ll want to keep your oven set pretty low. I kept mine on 170 and let them dry out over several hours. Flip them every hour or so to make sure both sides dry out evenly. Patience is going to be key. The first time I made these oranges I wasn’t patient enough and turned the heat up too high because it was taking too long. I ended up wasting several oranges because they got too dark.

Once they are completely dried out and cooled, they’ll look like this:

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Now you’ll want to gather your needle and sturdy string:

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Gather all of your oranges on the string.

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Once the oranges are dried, this project takes very little time to complete. You’ll have a beautiful garland hanging in minutes!

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Last year we even used the oranges to make ornaments. I haven’t gotten around to it this year, but here’s a picture from last year.

IMG_4680

I hope these pretties inspire you to add some natural elements to your Christmas! What are some of your Christmas must haves?

Also, check out my tutorial on mini Christmas wreaths here:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2019/12/08/mini-wreath-tutorial/

Coming up: 5 simple & frugal ways to decorate for Christmas.

Mini Wreath Tutorial

We love Christmas! Decorating for Christmas is a big deal for our family. I’ll be sharing more about some of our handmade deocrations and traditions we’ve created over the next couple of weeks!

Today I want to share with you a new item for us! This is the first year I’ve made these and I’m loving how they turned out! I will definitely be making them again.

These mini wreaths are very simple, fast and easy to make. They’re also very affordable as well! If you’re on a tight budget, these little wreaths are a great way to add a little Christmas charm to your home!

Here they are displayed on my antique armoire in my living room. This is one of my most favorite pieces in our home and it deserves to be dressed up a little for Christmas! _MG_9453.jpg

Aside from a couple of items that I already had at home, all of the materials came from Hobby Lobby. I was able to get all of those items either 50% off because I used the seasonal items and they were on sale (YAY!) or I used the 40% off coupon code (from the Hobby Lobby website). The greenery I used came from our back yard. It’s Leyland Cypress and works very well for Christmas crafts! I love having these trees in our yard at Christmas time!

Supplies you’ll need for this craft:

_MG_9310

  • hot glue gun/glue
  • craft wire
  • command hooks
  • ribbon
  • pine cones
  • mini wreaths
  • greenery

Directions:

  1. Start by arranging the greenery around the wreath._MG_9383.jpg
  2. Next decide where you want to place the pine cones._MG_9400.jpg
  3. Tie the ribbon into a bow and glue it onto the wreath._MG_9410.jpg
  4. Add craft wire to the top of the wreath and the command hook to the door where you plan to hang the wreath. _MG_9371.jpg

That’s it! So easy!!! Let me know what you think! What are some of your favorite DIY Christmas creations?

Coming up…

Christmas Tree Decorating Day traditions.