There are a lot of ways we can help encourage each other toward more natural living. Whether it’s a DIY cleaner recipe or tips for avoiding the dreaded cold and flu season, I’m here to help. I’ll share what’s worked for me and my family and I hope you’ll do the same in the comments!
Tiny Home Living
Unless you've been under a rock for the last 5 years, you're very familiar with these words. There has been a huge surge in tiny home popularity, even HGTV has taken notice. And I would venture to guess that you've spent time daydreaming, at least once this week, about a simple life on the road. You know how I know? Well, first, because you're reading this post. Second, because I have too! All the time. Literally.
In fact, I finally talked my husband into it and we're going to move into an RV later this year to tour the national parks with our kids. I know! I'm pretty darn excited about shopping for and choosing an RV, remodeling and decorating it to fit our needs, being that close to my kids and my husband, road schooling the girls, and so many other aspects of our trip.
It's a pretty huge decision to move your family into a small space and there are a lot of things to consider, even more so if your kids are tweens or teens. But today I'm more interested in the reasons you feel compelled to make the transition and a few ways you can curb that desire until you can make the change.
Reason #1: Freedom to Roam
A house or apartment ties you down to one place. Sure you can move but every time you do, you have to load all your belongings into a trailer and cart them from place to place, in and out of boxes. With a tiny home, you're able to take your home with you and leave all your belongings where they belong. No packing required to go wherever the wind takes you. Sunny beaches? Snowy mountains? Family on the other side of the country? Just roll out!
Solution: Be a Tourist at Home
Someone somewhere thinks it would be the bee's knees to visit the place where you live. So imagine being that someone. Figure out the things a tourist would do in your region and go do those things as if you've never been there. I can think of at least a dozen amazing waterfalls within an hour's drive of my house which I've never taken the time to visit. This may not curb your wanderlust for long, but it could easily buy you a few months.
Reason #2: Closer Relationships with Family Members
As a mom, you're super busy! Running kids from place to place, constantly planning for and preparing meals, cleaning up after everyone, resolving issues between your kids, and doing all the work and other life stuff you have to do. It's easy to get this romantic idea in our heads that tiny home living will be one long vacation. No one will have things to run off to and we'll sit on the (small) patio and watch the sunrise, sunset, and stars. We think simplicity will grow this incredible bond which seems out of reach right now.
I totally get this reason (I think it all the time), but I'm going to be real with you: It's not a very good one. If your family relationships are strained right now, then magnifying the issues by squeezing everyone into a tiny home is NOT the solution. Living close to each other can bring your family together, but it can also send it flying apart in a thousand different directions.
Solution: Build or Fix Relationships Now
Maybe you're a mom of preschoolers and you feel like you've lost yourself in the grind of motherhood. Maybe you have teens and you can feel them drifting away from you with no way to reel them back in. Perhaps your marriage is strained or your mental health has you seeing things that aren't there or you made mistakes early in your parenting that cost you now. Whatever's going on, you need to address that elephant. Get help or have a family meeting. Take time for introspection, consult a trusted but honest friend about how you as Mom can be better or stronger or let go more. Major changes can heal families, but time and attention do it better.
Reason #3: Lower Financial Strain
Living in a house is expensive. You have the mortgage or rent plus the utilities plus the cost of upkeep if you own. Tiny home living still has expenses but, with a smaller footprint, you can usually expect lower bills. Especially if you downsize from a 2000+ square foot living space.
Solution: Find Ways to Reduce Your Bills
If you can't increase your earnings, think about decreasing your spending. Do you really need cable? Is that second or third car truly necessary? Can you turn down the heat or turn up the AC? There are a ton of ways to decrease your spending, all you need to do is get serious about implementing a few of them.
Another thing to think about is that full-time RVing and tiny home living aren't as cheap as you might expect. I've spent a lot of time considering the cost while planning our next adventure. When we break down our travel budget, we expect to spend about the same as we spend now on a newer 1800 square foot home. Add to that the start-up costs of purchasing an RV or a tiny home, anywhere from $10-100k+, and you might be better off staying put.
Reason #4: Design and Aesthetic
Tiny home living looks so darn cute on Pinterest, am I right!? Those adorable eaves and lofts, the uncluttered surfaces and well-designed layouts, and the picturesque views through the many windows and skylights are enough to make any design-minded mama swoon. And because the tiny home is, well, tiny, it's cheaper to design and furnish to our tastes. A tiny house can be dressed to the nines for the same price as one or two well-designed rooms in a traditional home.
Solution: Invest in Your Current Home One Project at a Time
Start small. Refurbish your dining chairs. Purchase a new piece of art for your main living space. Build your own unique piece of furniture. Invest in beautiful and functional window coverings. But make sure that whatever you invest your time or hard earned money on is something that makes you happy and fits your style.
And don't make the same mistakes I have. Design for the place you live now, even if you only expect to be there for a year or two. You never know when you'll end up spending three or five or ten years there instead. Second, design for the style you want. Don't buy or make pieces you don't truly love so that they fit better with that second-hand living room set you were given. Better to invest in what you want to keep than in what you can make work for right now.
Reason #5: Live Simply/Reduce Stress
A smaller home equates to smaller responsibility. I can't wait to swap my two and a half baths for our RV's single just for the time I'll save cleaning those toilets! Tiny home living also requires you to purge your stuff, meaning you have fewer things to wash and care for and store and put away. Think of all that time you could be saving! I'll be real with you, my knees go weak when I think of how quickly I could clean 300 square feet. For real, Mama!
The flip side, obviously, is that you have less stuff. Only a few kitchen items, a significantly pared down wardrobe, fewer books. There is less to take care of, but also less to enjoy. My books will be the most difficult things to part with, but I know I'm going to have to make some tough decisions.
Solution: Implement Minimalist Strategies Today
Start with one drawer. Clean it out and ditch everything that is broken or unused. My general rule is if I haven't used an item in the last month, get rid of it. If I've used it more than five times in the last month, it stays. Anything that falls between that range is judged individually but, generally, if I can replace it for less than $20, I don't hang on to it. This is especially true when you start clearing out larger areas like closets, sheds, and the garage. Will you really do something cool with that broken chair you've been storing for two years? If the answer is anything less than 'definitely' than, girl, get it out of your house!
What are your reasons for wanting to downsize? What makes you swoon over tiny home living posts and pictures? Let me know in the comments and, as always, may you be blessed today, Mama!
Blessing upon blessing,
Diffusing Essential Oils Is Super Easy
Have you heard great things about essential oils but no one's taught you how to use them? Confused by all the information or jargon? Perfect! This post is just for you! Learning how to diffuse essential oils is the first step into natural health care for your family. And it's easy peasy!
We're still in the throes of cold and flu season and, maybe it's just us here in the pacific northwest, it always seems like the changing of the seasons brings more viruses around then the coldest days of winter. As spring takes its sweet time springing, I'm relying heavily on my oils to keep my family healthy.
How to Diffuse Essential Oils
I get asked all the time how to use essential oils. I know it can be overwhelming, but it's really not. It can be quite simple. There are three options for using oils: inhalation or breathing them in, topical application meaning rubbing them on your skin, and internal consumption meaning you eat/drink them. The easiest, and safest, method is inhalation.
While you can always just twist open your favorite oil and give it a sniff, using a diffuser can spread the benefits of that oil over your whole family, classroom, office, etc. Diffusing is easy peasy, but make sure you have permission from those who will be sharing the air with you. We've got some relatives who are allergic to cloves, so I always make sure I'm not diffusing an oil containing cloves when they come over.
I've rounded up my favorite ways to spread the love with those beneficial oils.
5 Ways to Diffuse Essential Oils
1) Traditional Diffuser
A small, semi-portable electric diffuser is my go to. It acts as a diffuser, humidifier, and optional night light. I have two of these which I fill up anytime I hear the least bit of a sniffle. One lives in my daughters' room and the other travels around the rest of the house as needed. With a 150 ml capacity and 4+ hour run time with auto shut-off, this diffuser works great for a bedroom or living area up to 250 square feet.
How to use it: Add cold water to fill line, plus 4-6 drops of oils or oil blends, replace lid and turn on. When diffusing in a child's room, place diffuser out of reach and make sure directional spray doesn't mist over the top of your sleeping baby.
(left to right) Slightly Cheaper, Prettier, Larger Capacity, Made from Bamboo, Travel/Car Version
2) Mini Diffuser
These little guys pack a big punch. With versions you plug into an outlet and those you can plug into your car's cigarette lighter, you can take your oils with you wherever you go. Some of these little units do not have auto shut-off settings, so do be careful not to run them overnight or you risk overheating.
How to use it: Add a few drops of oil or oil blend to the filter (or the water reservoir in select models), plug in and position in the upright position. Add more oil as scent dissipates. Unplug when not in use.
3) Aromatherapy Necklace
This is my second favorite way to diffuse. Not only are these necklaces beautiful, they can wrap you up in an oil safety bubble. I never go to a substitute job without fighting five on my necklace diffuser.
How to use it: Place 1-2 drops of oil or an oil blend on the felt or pumice insert, close up the necklace and enjoy your good health.
4) Wax Burner
If you have one of those scentsy style flame-free candle warmers, you can repurpose it into an oil diffuser. There is some debate about the efficacy of this method, as heating oils can reduce their potency and, in some cases, change their composition. Therefore, this option, as well as the wall unit option above, is best when the scent is what you want. For battling a cold or flu, allergies, or other medicinal uses, it's best to use a water filled diffuser.
How to use it: Place a tablespoon or two of water or coconut oil in the wax reservoir along with 4-6 drops of oil or an oil blend and turn on. Be careful not to leave it on after the oils/water have dissipated.
5) Sniff from hands
This last method is our go to when we're dealing with congestion, but it's also great when you need a little pick me up. First, make sure the oil or blend you want to use is not hot, meaning it won't cause skin irritation. When in doubt, sniff straight from the bottle (feel free to ask about certain oils in the comments and I can let you know).
How to use it: Place 1-2 drops of oil or an oil blend (safe for topical use) on your hands, rub together, and cup hands around nose. Breathe deeply 3-4 times.
What Oils to Diffuse
The only thing to decide now is what oils you should be diffusing! I'll be adding more posts about our experiences with essential oils and our awesome health victories in the weeks to come but, for now, I'll leave you with some of my quick favorites.
Why I Recommend Eden's Garden Essential Oils
One last note about why I recommend the oils I do: I use Eden's Garden essential oils almost exclusively unless my MIL gifts me some DoTerra goodies. I did a ton of research when I first started using EO's. What I discovered was that there is a whole spectrum of oils, both in cost and in quality. My mission was to find the highest quality oil at the most affordable price, from a company with a wide enough selection to serve my families needs. Everyone seems to have an opinion when it comes to oil brands, so that decision is best left to you and your family.
I chose Eden's Garden because of their dedication to quality, the fact that their oils pass all the same tests as those of the big 2, and for their lower price tag. Same quality oils, way less money invested! And for the record, I don't sell their oils or get a kick back in any way from EG. If you purchase any of the oils or diffusers that I've linked to on Amazon, I receive a small commission from Amazon through their affiliate program which doesn't cost you a dime extra and allows me to keep putting my time and effort into this blog.
Now, on to the oils! These recipes are all for a standard size diffuser, requiring 5-6 drops of oil in total.
Cold And Flu Buster
2 drops Fighting Five
2 drops Oregano
2 drops Tea Tree
2 drops Lavender
2 drops Peppermint
2 drops Lemon
3 drops Fighting Five
3 drops Breathe Easier
3 drops Bergamot
2 drops Purify
1 drop Lavender
6 drops Anxiety Ease
6 drops Energy Boost
6 drops Good Night
6 drops Stay Alert
To save even more money, you can piece together a custom 6, 12, or 32 oil set on their website at edensgarden.com. (For which I receive no kickback, but I want to make sure you, Mama, are getting the best deal possible! I would never recommend something I didn't fully trust myself.)
Let me know what other questions I can answer in the comments and don't forget to subscribe for more helpful posts!
Blessing upon blessing,
When we moved into our new house, I wiped the slate clean. In the packing process, I left all my old cleaners out of the boxes (since cleaning the empty house was the last step anyway) and ditched them all at the curb on my way out. I brought only four store-bought cleaners with me to the new house--toilet bowl cleaner, laundry detergent, wood floor cleaner, and disinfectant wipes. These are the only things I haven't replaced yet, but we'll get there.
Out With The Old, In With The New
One of the first things I replaced was a disinfecting countertop spray in my kitchen. I threw out the old and replaced it with a vinegar based DIY version that is much healthier, way less expensive, and just as effective. I use it on my kitchen & bathroom counters, my black stove top (which is annoyingly streaky when 'cleaned' with anything but this spray), cabinets, appliances, mirrors, windows, table top and chairs, door knobs, light switch covers... You get the idea. It's awesome for everything.
The great thing about it is that I use regular old apple cider vinegar so it's non-toxic. Even if my kids got a hold of it, it would be no different than giving them a pickle (except the essential oils, but those aren't even close to dangerous in the quantities we'll be using). It's so quick and easy to make that I mix up more the moment I run out, which is usually once a month in my four-person, large-kitchen, three-bathroom household.
If you find the smell of vinegar to be too strong for you, you can dilute it with more water or more oils but I spent lots of time achieving the right balance of cleaning power and mild scent for my vinegar-hating husband so I hope it works for you too.
DIY All Purpose Cleaning Spray
1/3 cup vinegar, apple cider or white (apple cider is less pungent)
1 2/3 cups tap water
20-30 drops of Essential Oils (My favorite combo is 15 drops Cleaning, and 5 drops each Lemon and Grapefruit)
Combine all ingredients in a clean 16 oz spray bottle and label clearly. Shake before each use.
One note about the glass spray bottle: It's not totally necessary. I only recently switched from a plastic spray bottle, which I picked up at a local big box store, to the amber glass bottle pictured here. I used the plastic bottle with no noticeable issues for about a year, but three reasons made me switch. First, essential oils can actually deteriorate plastic containers over time, meaning it won't last forever and likely won't be reusable for another purpose down the road. Second, the oils lose some of their potency when stored in a clear container and exposed to sunlight. Probably not a huge issue considering how quickly I go through this stuff, but something to keep in mind. Lastly, glass is a renewable material, as opposed to plastic, so I can either repurpose the bottle later or recycle it. For those reasons, I finally sprung the extra few dollars for the glass bottles and I won't go back!
That's it! Enjoy your streak-free shines and unassaulted hippie sensibilities.
Blessing upon blessing,
p.s. If you have suggestions for natural replacements for any of my four crutch cleaners, do tell! Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading.