Making time and nature a priority

My family and I have recently returned from a glorious 2-week camping vacation in Glacier National Park ( If you have not visited, it is one to add to your bucket list.

I am desperately clinging to the feeling of hiking in the park, with no worries beyond what we had in our daypacks for lunch. But why do I need this feeling of space, of release, so badly in my daily life? How is it that I have allowed my life to become so cluttered up with activities and stress that I must constantly seek relief from it all?

Courtney Carver of Be More With Less has this to say on the subject:

So I am asking myself: what can I let go of? How can I simplify my life further in order to allow for the spaciousness I am craving?

This will be a work in progress.


$100 to keep my home, family and myself clean (and moisturized!)

Washing Hands Under Faucet

I’ve been experimenting with natural, non-toxic substitutes for my personal and home care for about the past six months. While I’ve been trying lots of different products and combinations, I think I could set up a kit to take care of my family, my home and myself for less than $100! Here’s what my kit would contain (prices are what I paid last time I bought them) and what I already use these products for:

Apple cider vinegar ($4/32 oz., store-brand):

  • all-purpose cleaner (showers/tubs, glass, mirror)
  • hair rinse

Dr. Bronner’s unscented castile soap ($17/32 oz.):

  • all-purpose cleaner for just about everything if it is diluted enough, including dishes
  • body wash and shampoo
  • laundry detergent (not the best but it can do the job)
  • toothpaste (OK, I don’t use it for this right now, but it would work)

Avocado oil ($14/16-oz.):

  • moisturizer
  • shaving cream

Jojoba oil ($16/8 oz.):

  • hair conditioner
  • moisturizer

Lavender essential oil ($12.50/.5 oz.):

  • treatment for a host of skin conditions including rosacea and acne
  • perfume
  • sleep aid
  • amazing additive for moisturizing oil
  • air freshener

Tea tree essential oil ($8.50/.5 oz):

  • treatment for more skin conditions than I can list including acne
  • antiviral and antibacterial for small wound care
  • great for dandruff and athlete’s foot
  • deodorant

Peppermint essential oil ($9/.5 oz):

  • helps with stuffy noses and headaches
  • air freshener (especially good for bathrooms!)
  • mosquito repellant

Microfiber cleaning cloths ($6/3-pack):

  • clean EVERYTHING with these – every brand I have ever used has worked well enough

The grand total: $87! Yep, that’s it. All I need to keep my family clean and my home shiny. With the leftover $13, I would buy some baking soda, which I already keep in my kitchen anyway, and I would hope to finally find a non-toxic SPF solution for my family (I’m thinking of making a cream using zinc).

I can guarantee that my family would complain a LOT if I actually did this to them! Yet, it would work wonderfully and we would all be a lot less toxic personally and for the sake of our environment.

What about you? Leave a comment: Could you take care of all of life’s essentials for under $100? Am I missing anything really important in my list?



Digital clutter – when to let it go

no clutter

Late in December, I subscribed to an online yoga class service, for a reasonable monthly fee. I had used this service in the past and enjoyed a few of the classes immensely. Many of the classes were not to my liking; however, since I could pay for only the classes I liked, I thought it was a great deal. Then, the delivery format changed and my favorite classes were no longer available at the click of a button (nor available for download any longer). I thought I would give the new format a try and see if I could broaden my horizons a little bit at the same time, while I tried out new-to-me styles of yoga and streamed classes created by new teachers.

Alas, I did not like the new format. I could tell almost immediately that it was not going to be a good fit for me. Still, perhaps out of loyalty to the old format and teachers, I decided to continue using the service a while longer to see if I had been too quick to judge. For three months, I logged in to the service every couple of weeks to try another class. About two weeks ago, after suffering through another class that did not suit me, I had finally had enough. I cancelled my subscription.

I’m glad I gave the service a chance. While I could have cancelled my subscription earlier, I feel as if I thoroughly tested the format before I decided to hit that “unsubscribe” button. I’m not sure I would have unsubscribed from a free service, though, which leads me to wonder if I have any other digital clutter floating around in cyberspace. In fact, I am certain I have many accounts at a random assortment of sites and services. I am vowing to unsubscribe from them as I come across them – if they don’t have any value, it is time to let them go!


Leave a comment: Do you have any digital clutter? Does it bother you or concern you? How and when do you decide to let it go?

Minimalist wardrobe revisited

Aahhh, the beginning of April! Time for spring and time to refresh my closet with my April-June “capsule” wardrobe (go to for more information).

What I learned in my first round of The Project 333 is that I actually need two capsule wardrobes – one suitable for a professional office and one for home. My clothes for these two purposes are vastly different, and I’ve found there is no way to mash all of them into one 33-item list. For example, I have 2 ball caps which I wear all the time around home (why two? one is for yard work – blech – and the other one is for everything else), and there is no way these ball caps could be re-purposed for work. This is not to say that my clothes for home are sloppy or not presentable; on the contrary, most of them are perfectly fine for buzzing around town doing errands. Yet they are not appropriate for work, so there can be very little overlap between the two wardrobes.

boy in hat crop

Living with far fewer clothes has been a wonderful change in my life, helping me to simplify my daily routines and consistently wear clothes that are more flattering. But almost every day, I need to get dressed twice: once when I leave for work in the morning and again when I change my clothes after work. While I would dearly love to have the kind of job where I can wear jeans and a t-shirt every day, I can’t see that happening any time in the near future. For the time being, I am going to continue to allow myself to have two separate wardrobes.

On my journey to Live to Be 100, I’m going to be realistic about my life and as kind as possible to myself. What about you?

Safer Skin Care – Soap

Over the past several months I have learned a lot of valuable lessons about how soap is made. Specifically, I have learned that most commercial soaps we use here in the U.S. are full of chemical compounds that I do not know anything about. What’s the point of all of that junk in soaps and shampoos, anyway? I want to use soaps made from ingredients I can relate to, especially since I smear soaps and shampoos all over my skin every day!

About two months ago, after doing quite a bit of research, I switched to using Dr. Bronner`s Magic Soaps (DBMS) on a trial basis. The Dr. Bronner’s company is very straightforward with all of its ingredient and process information. Its Magic Soap products are time-tested, made from basic ingredients (organic, whenever possible), and they really work!  Note: I really did not intend for this post to be all about DBMS, but once I started writing, I realized how important these products have become to me over the past several weeks.

The first switch I made was to try DBMS as a shampoo (why I decided to start with something as visible and obvious as my hair is a mystery to me!). I have thick, straight, coarse, oily hair (which I have worn in a pixie cut for the past several years) that has required daily washing and conditioning since I was a pre-teen. That amounts to a lot of water and chemical agents applied to my hair–and going down the drain–over the last 30 years! I used the liquid unscented Baby Mild DBMS (diluted 1:1 with water, which I find is a bit easier to use in the shower) as a shampoo daily for a couple of weeks, and though I learned that I also need to use a rinse of diluted apple cider vinegar, within two weeks my hair was shinier and softer than I can ever remember.  I had a few odd days where my hair looked a bit dull, but many folks experience a transition phase when making the switch (nearly every review of DBMS out there warns about the transition, but I did not really find it to be a big deal).

Then, since my hair was so incredibly clean and shiny, I got brave and decided to try washing my hair only every other day (something I had only been able to risk in the past while we were camping!). I got fantastic results: my hair easily stays clean for two full days, even after sweaty workouts and wearing winter hats. I still wet it down every day in the shower, just to make it easier to style, but that’s it.

Three weeks ago, I asked my 11-year-old son to switch to the Tea Tree variety of DBMS (his hair is a lot like mine except slightly wavy and with dandruff). Lo and behold, after a week of using DBMS, he, too has been able to go two days between washes, and his dandruff is well under control (he does not need to use the apple cider vinegar rinse). As an added bonus, his hair has no odor and is shiny and very healthy-looking.

I have now switched all of our liquid hand soap to a diluted 1:4 DBMS to water, I use DBMS diluted 1:3 for hand dishwashing (though I have not been able to convince my husband to make the switch…yet), and I use the solid soap Lavender DMBS in the shower, including on my hair. I have also started using the liquid Tea Tree DBMS for my own face wash (but I will discuss my skin care woes in another post) and it is absolutely the best face cleanser I have ever used.

In my neck of the woods, DBMS is available in a variety of formulations at all major grocery and big-box stores, as well as in natural food stores and co-ops. If you live in the U.S., it is available to buy online. If you live in a country that does not have access to DBMS, there are a number of other safe, eco-friendly vegetable-glycerin-based soaps that are most likely available to you. I highly recommend giving this type of soap a try for you and your family.

Leave a comment: which back-to-basics soaps have you tried and how would you rate them? What formulations do you like and what tricks do you use to make them work for you (such as my diluted apple cider vinegar rinse)?