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! 🙂

Slow, Simple & Intentional

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I was going to post an update on the garden, in fact I’d even started writing it multiple times, but each time I start writing, I keep coming back to this topic. It’s been a bit of a personal mission for our family for some time now and we’re still working to figure it all out but it’s the story of the blog. The name and the why.

Scripture is a large part of our family’s life and while we would never claim to live it out flawlessly, it is the driving force behind all that we do. Because of it many will never “understand” us and many will disagree, even ridicule our choices. Nevertheless, we strive as a family to live differently from the world and are learning more about what that looks like each day.

“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 1:14

Many years ago, even before our first son was born, I remember reading this scripture from Ecclesiastes. I remember it struck my interest…and digging into it more. King Solomon, was powerful and wise…he’d done it all and seen it all. Much like most of us are striving to become and do. Participating in the daily race for more and success.

He’s speaking of our material pursuits while here on earth and how no matter how hard we work or how much we work…these things are all like chasing after the wind…the wind which cannot be caught. Materially, we can never have enough. We’re always striving for more success, fame and fortune. Big, shiny, flashy, fancy…popular…fast…disposable. These words and many others come to mind when I think about what’s considered desireable today.

This fast paced, make lots of money so you can buy all the things, don’t get your hands dirty, hire it out, eat it out and grow apart lifestyle that has been made the norm is meaningless…a chasing after the wind. A life wasted.

Marriage is all about my needs being met. Children are a nuisance and anything that requires work is undesirable. This is more often than not the norm of today’s world. Even in the church.

We’ve decided that want to live slower…not because we’re better, because we desire more.

…a marriage that is valued and fits into the schedule. Children that we invest in, even when it’s inconvenient and hard…take the time to raise and teach and cherish.

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We want to live simply without the bells and whistles and do as much of it ourselves as we’re able. The cooking the cleaning, the fixing. When did such things become beneath us? There’s dirty, hard work yes, but satisfaction too.

Homemaking and raising children is not a life wasted, it is the ultimate career.

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“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.” CS Lewis

Living intentionally in terms of devoting our lives to God’s plan no matter where that takes us, a strong marriage that outlasts the disposable nature of our lost world and striving to raise up godly children who love and appreciate the little things that the Lord has blessed them with.

“We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.” Charlotte Mason

So what does that look like for our family, right now in this season of life?

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Family time…as much as we can manage. The six of us…as much time together as possible because these children grow up too fast. Of course work and visits and appointments and such are a part of life but we have chosen to prioritize the time we have together.

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Of course not everyone will agree on this, but for us schooling the kids at home enables us to have even more time together, teaching them about the things that we feel are important and gives them the extra opportunity to slow down and play more while they are little.

“I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.” John Wesley

Get dirty…imagine…have fun. It also enables us to take more time teaching them the things that are harder for them as well as move on faster when they naturally grasp something quicker. Less boredom is a wonderful thing.

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Making meals with love and care at home and learning old skills…less disposable and convenience. Less artificial and more real.

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We’re a work in progress ourselves and we fight the flesh as much as everyone else. We’re on a mission to slow down and live a simple life of chasing God’s good gifts rather than the wind…to take great care of what he has blessed us with.

It’s a journey we’re on as a family.

My hope is that through our journey others will be inspired to join along. That it will leave a positive mark in the world.

 

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

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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.

 

 

Easy DIY Handsoap With Essential Oils

soap2Let’s talk about handsoap. It plays a very important part in keeping our family healthy. Particularly in light of all that’s currently going on in the world with this Coronavirus. I’ve seen friends posting on facebook and instagram about stores running out of handsoap and having to go to multiple stores to find some over the last few weeks so I wanted to share this quick and easy DIY handsoap tutorial because handsoap is not something we can go without, especially during times like this.

Around our home, with 4 little children and 2 adults, we go through A LOT of handsoap. Depending on the kind of soap you’re buying, that can get a little pricey. We generally opt for all natural products in our home and that means we often have to pay a little bit more for certain products. Handsoap is one of those items.

The good news is that buying the ingredients to make a natural & effective handsoap here at home works out to be much less expensive. I also typically always have the ingredients around the house as long as I keep myself well stocked so I don’t ever have to worry about running out of soap and having to run to multiple stores to find handsoap.

So, let’s get started on making some natural & effective handsoap!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Soap dispenser bottles

A couple of years ago I switched to these foaming handsoap bottles because it seems like the kids don’t waste quite as much of it this way.

I have both glass and plastic bottles currently. I prefer glass but I also use the plastic ones for the bath soap I make for my kids. I purchased these from Amazon and so far they’ve worked quite well.

Pure Liquid Castile Soap

I’ve used Dr. Bronners Baby Unscented for many years. I usually purchase the big bottle because I use it for handsoap, bath soap and dish soap as well.

Essential Oils

You could leave this ingredient out if you don’t have any but honestly, I think it’s 100% worth it to invest in at least a few quality essential oils for your home.

I’ve tried many different brands over the years. For the last few years, I’ve used Young Living oils because I trust their quality. I don’t buy separate oils for my household products and personal products so it’s important that our oils are safe for us to use on our bodies as well as internally, not just for our cleaning products. I can trust Young Living to be safe and effective for our family so after researching them myself, that’s my number one choice. 

I use Essential oils in my handsoap to help kill bacteria and viruses (they smell so good too). Thieves oil and Citrus blend works extremely well for handsoap, dishsoap and cleaning products. You can look into that some more here:

https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/thieves-essential-oil-blend

https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/citrus-fresh-essential-oil-blend

*Be sure to do your own research on oils. If you’re interested, you can check out Young Living’s seed to seal quality commitment and its three pillars- sourcing, science and standards right on their website! They’ve been doing this for 25 years and have made it their mission to be the best available on the market. You can also ask me as well! 

The only other ingredient you’ll need is water. 

So, now that you know what you’ll need, let’s get started. This is literally so easy to make that you’ll have handsoap for all the bathrooms in minutes!

Step one: 

Fill the bottle about 1/4 of the way with castile soap. It doesn’t have to be exactly 1/4 but try to get it to about 1 part soap 3 parts water.

castile

Step 2:

Add about 7 drops of Thieves oil and 3-5 drops of Citrus oil.

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Step 3: 

Fill the rest of the dispenser with water. Just make sure you leave some space at the top to add in the pump.

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That’s it! It’s so easy and believe me, it works! It smells pleasant and saves you money! Give this soap a try…you won’t regret it!

Hang in there guys! Hopefully this Covid19 nightmare will be over soon! Make sure you stay home as much as possible and wash those hands!

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. 

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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.

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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.

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Getting close to “soft peak” whipped cream.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Now make yourself some English muffins and enjoy! 🙂

english muffin

Day in the Life of a Homeschool Mom & Homemaker

Today we’re going to do just a fun sneak peek into an ordinary day. Josh was away on a business trip this particular Friday so things were slightly off from our usual routine but overall this is what most Fridays look like around our home. We do have school Fridays, but it’s our “catch up day”. Monday through Thursday is when we schedule the bulk of the schoolwork and then Friday we can take a more relaxed approach to school, work on housework that needs to be done, grocery shop, appointments, if the weather is nice, we can go outside and play in the afternoon, etc.

I pretty much took photos all throughout the day and the lighting was terrible so the photos aren’t the best quality. They do the job of telling the story though so we’ll just have to look past that.

This particular morning I ended up getting a bit of a late start, the kids and I didn’t really get “moving” until about 8:30. First thing I always do once I get up is get coffee going (that’s very important). That’s the cardinal cup Jaden got me for Christmas. He knows I love my birds and my coffee! Sweet boy!

coffee

It was a rainy and cold Friday!

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Next I got started on breakfast for the kids. I made them a bowl of my vanilla, cinnamon and brown sugar old fashioned oats. This is one of their favorite meals that in a pinch (like at the end of the biweekly grocery haul when you’re scrambling for meal options), I can feed them anytime of the day without any complaints. I always have these ingredients on hand, it’s easy and fast!

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While I worked on breakfast the boys played with legos.

Once breakfast was ready, everyone sat down to eat (and read…Jaden is my little bookworm).

This little girly had some teeth pop up!! See it?

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After breakfast the boys get ready for the day (this is also usually when I like to get myself ready.

After that we work on chores…look at that mess! A certain someone had some dried mud caked to his boots and when he put them on INSIDE to take out the recycling…well…there was some extra housework for me, lol. Apparently I need to be more specific about where to stomp the mud off!

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I also took a few minutes to work on laundry while Evi played and the boys finished chores.

Then around 10:30 we started school. This day we only had group work to do. We’d completed all of the core subjects like spelling and math earlier in the week.

We were continuing on with our bird unit study. We combined nature study and art for a little project.

We had a few other things to do for school and then we had lunch break.

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Because we were running behind all morning and it was already about 1:30 by this point, we opted for our “snack lunch” rather than what we had on the menu. This is a favorite quick meal at lunch for my kids.

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I started grading (I’m a little behind at the moment) but then had to get back to other things like prepping for our Friday night pizza).

The sour dough crust has to sit for a while so I like to do it several hours before I need to use it.

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After that we read aloud and then the kids played with legos some more while they waited on me to finish some chores around the house.

Evi girl kept her mamma company through it all. She’s so close to crawling!

After this point, it’s all a blurr honestly, lol. I remember finishing up some laundry (mostly putting it away). I kind of lost track of time but I think it was likely around 6:30 or so. I went ahead and started the pizza at that point and let the boys start watching “Little House on the Prairie” episodes. That’s been our Friday night family activity lately. They love it.

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I ended up making one half veggie/half pepperoni pizza and one cheese pizza since Josh wasn’t there to have any. Usually I make three or four pizzas and then we can have leftovers for lunch on Saturdays.

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We ate our pizza on the couch and watched a couple more episodes before the boys went to bed and then Evi and I cleaned the kitchen and fed the sour dough starter. We jokingly refer to it as “sour Sam” since it requires food and water like the rest of our pets. 🙂

sour dough

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After that, we went to bed too. We were all ready to just get to Saturday to have Daddy back home with us! We kind of like him! ❤

I hope you enjoyed a little glimpse into a normal day for us. I’ve always enjoyed seeing what a normal day looks like for other moms. There’s always something to learn from each other and sometimes it’s nice to just see that we all have things like laundry piles and muddy kids boots and dinner messes!

 

 

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:

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  • 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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

Christmas Tree Decorating Traditions

Today we’re talking about a super fun family time! Picking out and decorating the Christmas tree! This is such a wonderful family activity that costs very little once you have your initial cost of ornaments and lights out of the way. It creates lasting memories for your family, especially your kids! We started this tradition when our oldest was still a baby (he’s 9 now). It’s changed some here and there over the years as we’ve gone through different seasons but the tradition, the anticipation, the process and the memories created by it are something we hold dearly and we’ll continue on with it as long as we’re able to.

When we choose our tree picking day, we make a day of it. We pick the tree, buy a special ornament or decoration for that year, bring it home, decorate it from start to finish and pull out all the other decorations. We get done as much as we can that day and we celebrate. We have cookies & hot chocolate (like a special, made from scratch, sprinkles and marshmallows…the works). We listen to Christmas music and watch Christmas movies.

Keep in mind that some years will look a little different depending on what your current season looks like but I’m telling you, this is such a sweet tradition! Our kids get so excited to do this every year! This year they had a count down written down on the school white board to keep track of how many days before we’d get our tree! My prayer is that these memories will stick with them well into their parenting years and that their children will also look forward to it with bright and eager eyes!

So what does this day usually look like for us? This year, we got a little extra excited and decided to get the tree the day before Thanksgiving (it’s usually our “black friday” tradition because we don’t really do black friday. To be honest the day before Thanksgiving was not the best day for it and if we decide to do it earlier next year I’m voting for the weekend before Thanksgiving.

We got up that morning and drove around pricing out the different trees in our area. Unfortunately we don’t have any tree farms close to us (that we’ve found anyway) so we usually end up at either Lowes or Home Depot. We’ve found Lowes to have the lowest price on trees in our area usually so that’s where we usually end up.

Then we went home and we ate lunch. After that, we got the tree prepped and pulled out all of the decorations from the attic. The boys and I got the cookies started and the hot chocolate. The boys worked on some Christmas themed crafts, and the rest of the day was just spent decorating and doing all things Christmas! I’ll leave you with some fun photos from our day.

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The 2019 Tree!!

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Getting it all set up.

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Christmas crafts! This one was a super cute gingerbread man ornament set. Simple and fun!

Helping with the hot chocolate and cookies.

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Enjoying their masterpiece!

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Admiring the hard work.

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Here they are posing for Christmas cards in front of their fully decorated tree!

What are some of your most favorite, inexpensive and simple Christmas traditions?