Category Archives: Everything Else

Awesome Find: Hybrid Planner!

Leave it to me to find the perfect planner in the middle of February when everyone has already purchased their calendars and books for 2019!

I had been looking for a new planner for awhile. For the last couple years I have been using the Happy Planner plus my bullet journal, but I really was only utilizing the calendar piece of the Happy Planner. I thought about refilling it, but the options were really overwhelming and I was still hoping to find a book that would combine my calendar and bullet journal without me having to jump through a lot of artistic hoops.

I’m creative when the need arises, but I am not naturally artistic and I don’t have any interest in making my planner pretty. For me, it’s just utilitarian and the main function is keeping my anxiety under control. Brain dumps help me stay on top of the crazy in my head while accomplishing at least a few of the tasks that are hanging over me! Which is why I love my bullet journal. If you aren’t totally sure what a bullet journal is, here’s a post I wrote on the topic.

After some fruitless searching, I finally came across this little gem that seemed to meet most of my criteria: undated calendar, undated weekly layouts, empty pages in the back, pen holder, bookmarks, stitched cover so it will lay flat. This will solve my problem of combining my calendar with my bullet journal lists in the back!

Now that I’ve handled and tried the Perfect Planner by Bullet Keeper, I’m super happy with all of its features! It’s smaller than my previous planners so it will be a little less bulky to carry around.

One last feature: I am happy to relay that the pages in the Perfect Planner are quite thick and the ink does not bleed through using my Papermate Flair pens!

Awesome right? If you are interested in seeing a video of the book in person, I will be doing a review on my Facebook page later today and will post on youtube for anyone who is interested!

✔ STRUCTURE YOUR LIFE, YOUR WAY! This personal organizer features flexible structures that allow you to keep track of daily tasks. Use it as a planner, organizer, academic agenda or note pad.

✔ UNDATED DAILY, WEEKLY, MONTHLY CALENDARS. This planner is a fit for daily and long-term goal setting and tracking

✔ VEGAN LEATHER HARDCOVER. Luxury and stylish thanks to its leather hardcover soft to the touch. We’ve sourced the materials meticulously to make sure the cover is eco-friendly and long-lasting.

✔ ELASTIC CLOSURE & PEN HOLDER LOOP. This compact A5 notebook planner comes with an elastic band closure and pen holder loop on the side.

✔ BONUS FEATURES! To assist with organizing bringing productivity to your life. We’ve included some additional items: a 6” ruler, 2 bookmarks and a back pocket along with 2019-20 calendars for reference on the back page.

This post contains affiliate links.


Barefoot Dreams Knock-off Cardigan!

This post contains amazon referral links for your convenience.

This is going to be a quick post, but one that I’m excited to share because I’ve been looking for a product like this for about a year. A couple years ago, I read about the Barefoot Dreams Cardigan from a blog. They are pretty pricey (click here for the Barefoot Dreams Cardigan) but I was able to hunt down a gently used one on Ebay and I absolutely loved it. Until I ruined it in an unfortunate laundry disaster (not my first one, either). So sad. 

Ever since then, I had been watching for a deal on the real thing, but it was just really out of my budget (although having owned one, I do kind of think they are worth it). I had recently even been googling “Barefoot Dreams knock-off cardigan” hoping to find something similar at a lower price point. I never got lucky enough to find it, but this week I stumbled across exactly what I was looking for completely by accident! 

The newest version of the Barefoot Dreams Cardigan is the Circle Cardi and I found a very similar knock-off for only $25! I couldn’t believe how similar they are! Check out the two stock photos; they are identical!



Click here for the Costco version, the Max & Mia Travel Cardigan for only $25.I wanted to share that I already received the cardigan and it is very nice. I do feel that it runs a little small and I would recommend sizing up to get the fit that is shown on the model. I ordered the Medium Size in black and here are photos of me wearing it. For reference I’m 5’6″ and 150 lbs. Yes I just shared my real weight on my blog. Seems like a mistake, but we’ll go with it for now. I think I would like to try a large but unfortunately they are out of stock at this moment. Hopefully they will restock because this is a newer item and I’m sure it will be very popular. 

The only difference I want to point out is that the Costco cardigan is recommended to be hand wash rather than machine wash. That’s kind of a bummer, if you ask me, but not a deal breaker. I will most likely just wash it cold gentle and lay flat to dry. 

Here’s a pic so you can see how long it is in the back. I would prefer a little more length, I think. The sleeves are also pretty tight but I believe that is similar to the Barefoot Dreams cardigan and they aren’t too bad for me. It wouldn’t work for layering over a thicker shirt. I hope this was helpful for you! If you happen to have a Barefoot Dreams Circle Cardi or the Max & Mia Travel Cardigan, please let us know what you think!

Cold Weather Capsule Wardrobe and a little Style-Math!

This morning, I decided to do a bit of #stylemath. I counted up the pieces in this capsule wardrobe to get an idea of how many items were thrifted, deeply discounted or purchased at retail price, just for fun.

I am so happy with my outfits and the money I spent this season!

Total: 26 items, including shoes and jewelry.

Breakdown as follows: 3 statement necklaces, 4 pairs of shoes (silver flats, leopard flats, brown booties, Uggs), 3 dresses, 2 jackets (olive, pink), 1 cardigan (grey and black striped), 5 shirts, 1 sweater, 5 pairs of pants (leggings, black jeans, embroidered jeans, olive pants, black joggers), 2 tees (black & white).

Thrifted items: 17

New, but deeply discounted (clearance): 5

Gifted: 1

New at retail price (definitely on sale though): 3

It’s great to finally feel like my closet is #workingforme! I was sick of constantly shopping but still feeling I had nothing to wear. I have finally learned how to build a cohesive, flexible wardrobe with all the tips and prompts from a professional stylist via Alison Lumbatis and the GYPO Style Challenges. There is still time to sign up for the Winter Style Challenge where you will learn to shop your closet and build a wardrobe that you love!

Click here to learn more!

What will you get with the Winter Style Challenge? 

When you sign up, you’ll receive a shopping list of on trend winter essentials with links to shop recommended items online or in store. You’ll also get access to your first 7 days of outfit ideas immediately! This capsule wardrobe builder creates 27 days of mix and match casual chic outfit ideas with dress it up and dress it down options.

As a special bonus, you’ll also receive access to the Winter 2017 Capsule Wardrobe*, doubling your outfit ideas!

*after refund period

What did I learn in previous Style Challenges?

How to utilize what I already have in my closet. Start in your closet, don’t start at the store.

How to wear statement pieces. I have a little bit more confidence about trying trends.

How to shop with a plan. Shopping efficiently can multiply your outfit options without actually spending more $$$.

How to make better choices in the store. If it’s not a HECK YES, it’s a NO! Don’t settle, just wait.

Your wardrobe should be something you enjoy wearing, not something you enjoy purchasing. There is a big difference!

If you have any questions about the Style Challenge, please let me know! 

It’s great to finally feel like my closet is #workingforme! I was sick of constantly shopping but still feeling I had nothing to wear. I have finally learned how to build a cohesive, flexible wardrobe with all the tips and prompts from a professional stylist via Alison Lumbatis and the GYPO Style Challenges. There is still time to sign up for the Winter Style Challenge where you will learn to shop your closet and build a wardrobe that you love! Plus save money by #shoppingwithapurpose

Don’t forget, you’ll receive the 2017 Style Challenge as an amazing FREE BONUS! This way you can double your options easily!


Click here to join the GYPO Winter Style Challenge!

 

 

Relax: Quick DIY Essential Oil Roller Bottle Tutorial

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

I just noticed I have run out of my favorite essential oil blend ever: Relax by Plant Therapy! This is a blend that I absolutely cannot be without.  I just love it and use it basically everyday. This is one I keep in my kit, keep in my purse and keep a couple other spots around the house as well as giving it away to others who need help relaxing! (Basically everyone, am I right?)

Click here to get the 10 ml bottle of Relax for only $9.95!

Relax is also KIDSAFE for children over 2 which is fantastic (my kids have their own bottles also). Plant Therapy’s Kidsafe line has been approved by Robert Tisserand, one of the world’s leading experts in aromatherapy. I feel so much better about using oils that are approved as Kidsafe! A 10 ml bottle of Relax is only $10 (or get a 30 ml bottle for only $15.95….now that’s a savings!) on Amazon and you can DIY your own roller bottles like I do to make them SO cheap. Here’s very simple directions on how to make the roller bottles at home, along with links to what you’ll need.

DIY Relax Roller Bottles

This is barely a tutorial, since the steps are so simple but I know that before I made them I was intimidated about filling up roller bottles, so hopefully this helps!

  1. First, open the roller bottle using the tool included in the set (it will just pop right off).
  2. Then add the amount of oil drops from the Relax bottle based on a dilution chart. I use this one: Plant Therapy Dilution Chart. I add 15 drops of Relax to each roller bottle.
  3. Then, I fill the bottle the rest of the way with a carrier oil. With the pump, you can just pump it right into the roller without needed a funnel or anything. SO easy!
  4. Put the roller top on the bottle, using the included tool. These bottles can be re-used also, so they are really a great value.
  5. Add a label or create your own label. I have tried doing this a few different ways and have had trouble with some of my labels sticking. For my last batch, I cut out a piece of scrapbook paper, added a written label or printed label from my label maker, and then secured it really well with packing tape onto the bottle. These labels have stayed on better than any others have!

That’s it! Apply this whenever you are feeling anxious or stressed. I use mine all throughout the day. Last night I used it when I woke up in the middle of the night and it helped me fall right back asleep. Relax Synergy by Plant Therapy is a mixture of: Lavender, Marjoram, Patchouli, Mandarin, Geranium and Chamomile. I’m just telling you, it smells AMAZING and calms me right down.

Want to get your hands on a roller bottle right away? You can buy it ready made for only $8.95! Don’t stress, just relax!

What’s your favorite essential oil blend? Maybe I’ll add it to my Christmas list!

 

 

Win a FREE Force of Nature Starter Kit!

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. I will receive a commission from items purchased. Thank you for supporting my little blog and allowing me more time to write!

It’s time for another amazing giveaway! I’m really excited about this one because this is a product that will definitely make your life easier and less stressful, particularly at this time of year. Are you excited?!?

I have been using Force of Nature for a few months and I am SO happy with the product. Like many of you, I know that most cleaning products have a lot of dangerous ingredients, so for years I have been trying to improve my cleaning routine and make it safer for my family. Unfortunately, in the past my efforts meant ditching conventional products like Clorox or Windex for “green” brands like Mrs. Meyer’s or Method. A few years ago I started learning that even those brands had dangerous fragrances and additives! It’s frustratingly difficult to protect yourself from dangerous substances.

If you want to read more about dangerous ingredients in “Natural Cleaners”, click here. 

In my family we have tons of allergies, asthma and a history of auto-immune disorders. So it is SERIOUSLY important for me to minimize every possible risk to protect our already compromised health. 

After being disillusioned with Mrs. Meyer’s and Method cleaners, my next step was to try Young Living’s Thieves Cleaner. I know so many people who love this product but I still wasn’t super happy with it. It was definitely an improvement on other products, but I still had concerns. I have read medical research that suggests these oils are not safe for young children or asthmatic and immune-compromised individuals.

Here’s a helpful article that talks about the risks with thieves blends used around children. 

Please note that I love and use essential oils, including Young Living brand and I still have a bottle of Thieves cleaner that I’m finishing up. I just didn’t think that was where I would land as a permanent cleaning solution! I finally found a cleaner that I have no worries or concerns about and that is Force of Nature Cleaner.


So what is Force of Nature, exactly?

electricity + salt, water, vinegar = electrolyzed water

Electrolyzed water is an industrial technology that’s commonly used for its efficacy yet lack of harmful chemicals, fumes & residues. The active ingredient, hypochlorous acid, is even used as the active ingredient in wound, eye & veterinary care products. Force of Nature creates electrolyzed water by using electricity to change the chemical composition of salt, water & vinegar.

Don’t miss the AMAZING coupon code at the bottom of the post and save 50% on the starter kit! 

Well, is it safe? 

 

Absolutely! Click here to read more about the safety and efficacy of the product.

Now, to the giveaway! 

Force of Nature has generously offered a free Force of Nature Starter Kit to one of my readers. Sign up for the Giveaway Here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What exactly will you get if you win?

You’ll be getting this package: Force of Nature Starter Kit

Force of Nature can save you up to 80% on every ounce vs typical natural cleaners. At just $.07 per ounce, it can save you money within the first year, even after buying the Starter Kit. The Starter Kit comes with:

  • 5 Activator Capsules, enough to make 5 bottles
  • Activator Base
  • Power Cord
  • 12 oz Spray Bottle
  • Quick Start Guide
  • User Manual

Each Force of Nature Capsule makes one 12 ounce bottle of multi-purpose cleaner, disinfectant & deodorizer that lasts 2 weeks. Light, clean scent and no added fragrances. We promise you’ll love it – 100% Happiness Guaranteed.

This giveaway will only be open for four more days so please don’t miss this opportunity! Thanks for entering and good luck!

Feeling UNLUCKY? Even if you don’t win the giveaway, you can still score an awesome deal on the Force of Nature starter kit. Just click here and use code FALLSAVE to get it for 50% off. You’ll need to hurray, because this coupon code is good only through the end of October so there are only a few more days to take advantage of this deal!

 

Urban Chic Jewelry by Oana Design: Invisible Clip-on Earrings!

Does it seem like all I write about lately are products I love?  I do have other upcoming topics in the works but recently I’ve been lucky enough to test some amazing products and sharing awesome stuff is truly one of my favorite things: so keep reading for more product raves!

Why invisible clip-ons? 

I waited patiently until I was  almost 18 years old to get my ears pierced. I loved how a pair of earrings elevated an outfit and gave it a little extra “something”. Despite following all of the care instructions to a “T”, my ears turned out to be sensitive from the start. I was never able to wear cheap earrings and often couldn’t tolerate wearing them for long periods of time.

Years later, after I had my first pregnancy, it was harder and harder for me to find earrings that wouldn’t irritate my skin. Finally, I stopped wearing them altogether because even gold or titanium would cause redness and irritation and it just become more trouble than it was worth. At one point, I even tried wooden earrings with wooden posts but nothing helped!

So I sadly stopped wearing earrings altogether. Ever since that time, I have been searching for an improved clip-on earring that is comfortable and offers some of the same cute trendy styles you find in pierced earrings. Recently, I found some wonderful earrings that are perfect for my daughters! Click here to read about invisible Clip-ons from Smart Co Jewelry! My girls love them and the dainty, candy-colored choices are perfect for them at age 11. I was hoping to find something similar in more sophisticated styles for me!

Enter Urban Chic Jewelry by Oana Designs! I was browsing Etsy and found this store with the most amazing chic designs in the same easy-to-wear invisible clip-on styles. I was thrilled and I contacted Oana about reviewing her jewelry for the blog. She generously offered three beautiful sets of earrings for me to try.

Click here for the Honey Comb Earrings!
These are beautiful geometric gold colored dangle earrings! I received several compliments the first time I wore them. They reflect the light as you move and you get that wonderful “swing” just like pierced earrings. These are very light-weight and the soft plastic clasp is MUCH more comfortable than the traditional tight clip-ons. You can gently open the plastic clasp to allow a better fit. Each time I wore them, they seemed to fit better. This design is sophisticated and understated. I seriously love the look!

As you can see, the plastic clasp truly is nearly invisible. I actually positioned it a little bit to the side so it would show better for this photo. 

 

 

Click here for the Gold Dipped Feather Earrings! 
Feather earrings are totally “in” right now and I was specifically wanting to try something a little more dramatic than my usual under-stated jewelry. These lovely graceful, gold-dipped feathers are exactly what I had hoped. They are elegant and boho at the same time with a very pale pink/peach feather that’s gentle dipped in subtle gold. They are as lightweight as you would imagine and the resin clip is super comfy. You’ve got to try these!

 

 

Click here for similar 80’s acrylic earrings!
I think these may be my very favorite! These are chunky 80’s style cut-out acrylic earrings and the color on the linked pair is a little different than the ones I have, but the design is the same. These earrings are perfect for this time of year, as summer slips into fall. The fun floral design is reminiscent of palm trees and beach wear but the browns are perfect for autumn time.

I would love to hear what you think about Japanese inspired invisible clip-on earrings. Be sure to click over to Oana Designs to check out the styles and let me know what your favorite is. Maybe I’ll review those next!

I received free products for the purpose of my review, but I was not compensated for writing it and every word is my personal and original honest opinion. Thanks for reading!

Awesome Find: The Cutest Clip-ons!

I’m SUPER excited for ya’ll to hear about this new product! It’s the perfect solution for a problem I’ve become far too accustomed to. I’ve always had super sensitive skin and haven’t been able to wear earrings for probably 8 years. Against my better judgement, I let my sweet girls get their ears pierced for their tenth birthday and despite meticulous care, they both got terribly infected and had to give up earrings also.

It’s seriously such a drag. I’m a low-maintenance, light makeup kind of girl but I always loved wearing a pair of earrings. I felt like it elevated my look and helped me appear a bit more put together! So losing the chance to wear earrings was really disappointing. I also felt terrible whenever the girls couldn’t wear their own birthday presents. Of course, we all tried clip-ons but they are just plain uncomfortable. And when they annoy you, you take them off and they get lost anyway!

Every few months I google “Clip on” earrings to see if something new and awesome has developed. Finally, something did!

I discovered an Etsy shop that makes the most adorable invisible clip on earrings! They are comfortable, lightweight, and my girls love them! Smart Jewelry Co was generous enough to send us a couple pairs of earrings to try and I have to say, we love them! Here’s the quick review from my tweens:


They are CUTE. Clip on earrings just aren’t usually cute the way popular studs are, but these are adorable and trendy, perfect for kids and tweens! There are animals, stars, flowers, and, my favorite, druzy styles.

They are COMFORTABLE. According to my girls, you can’t feel these at all! In fact, my daughter kept asking if they were still on because she can’t tell.

They are LIGHTWEIGHT. The plastic clasp makes these super light, which is why they are so very comfortable. Also, of course, plastic is great for so many of us who have metal sensitivity, which brings me to the next point.

They are HYPOALLERGENIC. Tons of folks have metal sensitivity and some just can’t do metal at all. (That’s me). Plastic is safer by far!

They are INEXPENSIVE. These are a great price at less than $10 per pair. Plus, the money goes to a small business owner which is so much nicer than purchasing cheap jewelry at the mall.

Click here to check out Smart Jewelry Co….I hope you enjoy their products. I know we will be ordering some more earrings soon!

I received free products for the purpose of my review, but I was not compensated for writing it and every word is my personal and original honest opinion. Thanks for reading!

 

My favorite DIY beauty product EVER!

If you know me, you know that my “beauty routine” is super minimalist and I really use only a handful of products. Today I’m going to show you how to make one of my very favorites, and it will take you like five minutes! This is the PERFECT product for holiday gift-giving and is one of the best multi-use items in my stash!

Please note this post contains affiliate links. Today I’m introducing you to Plant Therapy, my favorite Essential Oils Company with great quality standards, careful safety guidelines, unbeatable prices and free, fast shipping each and every time!

Click here for Plant Therapy Essential Oils! 

This sugar scrub is smooth and smells AHHHMAZING. I’ve made this recipe for years but recently discovered a couple tips that make this product even better. You can use any essential oils that you want, but I’ve used Peppermint Oil in the past because of it’s fantastic, invigorating scent. Click here to buy Peppermint Oil, Lavender & Lemon Oil from Plant Therapy. Today I’m using Immune Aid to give my family a little extra immune support during this particular season! Click here to buy this fantastic organic blend for only $9.95 with free shipping!

DIY Essential Oils Sugar Scrub

1 Cup Sugar

1-2 Cups Coconut Oil*

5-10 drops of your favorite Essential Oils

Equipment: Hand or stand mixer, Stainless Steel bowl and spoon, Silicone Squeeze Bottles. (These bottles are what have taken this DIY recipe from a nice handmade product to my very favorite travel-friendly, shower-friendly, convenient product that I can carry anywhere. You can squeeze the sugar scrub right out easily and it works just perfectly. Great for shower, purse, etc. Right now they are only $10 for a 3 pack….awesome deal!)

Step One: Pour your Coconut Oil into a bowl and beat with your mixer for about 5 minutes until it’s smooth and fluffy. (This is what keeps your finished product from separating and gives you the lovely, store-bought beauty product feel!)

Step Two: Next stir in your sugar until combined.

Step Three: Finally, add your essential oils and blend on low until combined (about 15 seconds should do the trick).

Step Four: You’re done! Add your sugar scrub to a shallow, wide glass jar like this or the silicone travel tubes.
Hint, it’s not super easy to add the scrub to the tubes. One sort of easy way is to use a ziplock bag to squeeze it in (cutting off the corner like an icing bag). Just take your time and you will LOVE how easy it is to squeeze the scrub out once you’re done!*

Note: This recipe filled up all three tubes and left at least 3 oz left over

This sugar scrub is awesome for hands, feet and face! I love to keep some by the kitchen sink, in the shower and of course for travel. It’s also the first thing I grab after chopping onions or garlic and I even like to use it on my legs before shaving to prevent ingrown hairs and get a smooth shave. My hubby actually loves this product too! Enjoy!

*IMPORTANT NOTE: Although I have made this recipes tons of times, I have only used the silicone tubes twice. The first time, it worked perfectly but I have just realized that I’m having trouble squeezing out the scrub this time. My suggestion is to increase the amount of coconut oil to get a thinner consistency, particularly at a colder time of year. A squirt of fractionated coconut oil or even olive oil might help make your scrub more squeezable also!

SoCal Curls Hairtie Review And Giveaway!

Welcome to ChasingSantee’s very first giveaway courtesy of SoCal Curls.

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience!

I love unique, natural, and American made products and SoCal Curls Hairtie is one of my favorite hair discoveries, EVER! Why? It’s heat-free, takes about 90 seconds of effort, and is portable, light-weight & comfortable to wear (also, only $18.99, which is a steal!).  For those who know me, I really don’t want to spend time on my hair, makeup, clothing or general morning routine. But I want to look nice, is that too much to ask? NO IT ISN’T! Here’s how you can get simple beachy curls, without pulling out the damaging (and pricey!) hot styling tools! Woot!

Scroll down for a coupon code that will score you 20% off and FREE SHIPPING!

Step 1: Heat it (microwave: 30 seconds)

Step 2: Wrap it (click here for a video!)

Step 3: Unwrap it (I’m sure ya’ll can figure this out!)

Step 4: Do all the things you need to do in life! Who has time to waste getting ready with everything else you have on your plate!

Click here to see my tips for using SoCal Curls Hairtie with Short Hair!

How it works: I started with second day hair that was a little damp from the shower (not washed, just went along on my head for the ride).  I simply microwaved the band for 30 seconds, wrapped my hair around the tie using these instructions, gave it a light spritz of hair spray and left it in for about 30 minutes. Voila! Beachy waves!

Ready to buy? If you’d like to buy directly from SoCalcurls.com, I’ve got fantastic news! We have a special coupon code just for you that will give you 20% off and FREE SHIPPING! Click here and use code: chasingsantee to take advantage of this awesome offer!

How to customize your curls: Just like any styling tool, there’s a learning curve to using SoCal Curls and, obviously, everyone has a different head of hair. You can customize your results by tweaking the time (even 15 minutes gets some nice waves in my hair), wrapping your hair damp v. dry or using different products like gel, hair spray, or sea salt spray (here’s my favorite- Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Sea Salt Spray).  Also, you can never go wrong with a spritz of dry shampoo for extra grip (here’s my favorite- Aveeno Dry Shampoo). You will also get different results depending on if you wrap the hair straight up and over the hairtie, or twist as you wrap. Just give it a few tries to find out what works the best for your hair! It might take a bit of experimentation but imagine the time you will save in the long run.

Now, on to the giveaway! I can barely contain my excitement!

What are you giving away?
We are giving away one SoCal Curls Hairtie in Pinup Blue, valued at $18.99. Thank you so much SoCal Curls for making this giveaway possible!

Who Can Enter this sweepstakes?
You must be over 18 years of age and live in the US to be eligible for this giveaway

How do I enter?
Enter below starting on August 1, 2017! The contest will close at the end of the day on August 7, 2017!

How will the winner be chosen?
We will be selecting the winner via Rafflecopter.

How will the winner be notified?
Winner will be announced via Facebook, so be sure to like our page! We will ship your prize within 3-5 business days of receiving your shipping info. Good luck!

Anything else I should know?
Yep, the fine-print stuff: No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Odds of winning determined by eligible entries.

Disclaimer: I received a free product from SoCal Curls in exchange for my honest review. These are all my own thoughts just as if I were talking to a friend about the product. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#momgoals and re-learning

We are taught as kids that we should have high lofty goals for our careers and futures. We are encouraged to “reach for the stars”. You can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do! If you work hard you can succeed. Awesome, right? The American dream is still alive today!

Yet once we start a family, we are bombarded with a completely different message:
“Find a new comfort zone.”
“Survival mode is normal, and lasts for 18 years.”
“Lower your standards.”
“Your house will never be clean again”
“If you’re sleep-deprived, nutrient-robbed and have no time to yourself, you are doing it right”.

Part of being a parent is realizing that it may not be possible to reach your goals (or that the ultimate goal of nurturing a family is more important than some personal goals we may have). A lot of my “progress” as a mom for the first few years was basically making peace with lowering my own standards. (I am a natural perfectionist and I do struggle with pride). After all, moms can’t have it all (indeed, no one can). Houses will be messy, bedtimes will be late, meals will be torture. That’s what we learn as a mom.

What if all of that is a distortion of the truth?

First, let’s look back on America’s generations before us, say pre-WW2 and earlier. How was parenting different back then? I’m sure there were lots of differences but just a couple stand out immediately to me. First, there was a supportive family structure in place for most young families. Parents were more likely to be living close to Aunts, Uncles, and Grandparents. It was normal and accepted that the “village” would help in child-rearing. Not to mention, most parents were simply not spread as thin between career and family.

Secondly, consumerism hadn’t taken hold of our culture. Instead of being bombarded with empty advertisements and sometimes dangerous “health” tips from a corrupt pharmaceutical industry, parents would get advice, for the most part, from the previous generation and raise their children accordingly. I can only assume there was less guilt and pressure for the most part…was the neighbor silently judging you over your fence as pervasive as the ever-present “mom wars” are today? I imagine not.

Now, I have to say right here that I understand that the above is dramatically over-simplified. I try not to look back on America’s history with rose-colored glasses, although I do sometimes feel envious of the simplicity of the past. I do know that social patterns are far more nuanced than I am describing and I have not researched these statements. Still, I think the two points stand: for the most part, there was a closer extended family unit and individuals were not bombarded with commercial messages and a corporate agenda to the extent we are now.  So how does that affect the way we approach our lives as parents?

I used to think I wasn’t exactly affected by commercialism. Because I never picked up the phone to order from an infomercial, I didn’t subscribe to popular magazines, and I wasn’t likely to buy the latest thing from the mall. It’s only since I have started to work toward minimalism that I realized I was affected by commercialism in a far more subtle way.

I truly and sometimes literally bought the idea that MORE was better and that success was defined by a large house, plenty of amenities, disposable income, and carefree consumerism. This is hard to admit,  because my own family has always been frugal and thrifty and in so many ways challenged the status quo. For me this dichotomy translated into a bargain-hunting version of shopaholic lifestyle. So I would try to emulate the lifestyle of excess in a second-hand, clearance rack, bargain basement way. It worked pretty well, I was able to find most of the latest and greatest at a fraction of retail. But I missed the fact that I was still buying the lie. 

More stuff doesn’t make us happier. It didn’t make me happier and it won’t make you happier. For most of us, more stuff, better stuff, nicer stuff and upgraded stuff does not make our existence easier or life burdens easier to bear. It simply adds more chaos, noise, and confusion to an already complicated existence. And it perpetuates this dangerous lie to our children that collections and accumulation leads to a better life. I am working hard to end this deception in our home and I know our lives will be better for it.

Are you ready to make a change? Read more about our journey to Minimalism. 

The Ultimate Guide to Rock-Painting

Welcome to the world of rock painting! My family is new to this hobby but we are happy to share what we’ve learned so far and hope you will comment with any ideas or products you’ve had success with!

First of all, if you haven’t heard much about rock painting or wonder what exactly we are talking about, check out this week’s article from Martha Stewart!

If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know I am pursuing minimalism with a passion, and consequently I’m pretty choosy about starting new hobbies or collections. Rock painting fits PERFECTLY into the minimalism lifestyle. The best part of this hobby is that the art is shared instead of hoarded, and each rock is created to be a blessing to the community. I love that!

So let’s get to the specifics of rock painting, are you ready? Here is what you will need:

Rocks: “River Rocks” are usually what you want, because the surface will be nice and smooth to apply paint or markers. The Dollar Tree sells small bags of smooth black rocks that work well and are an easy way to start out. I’m looking for a good local source currently. These rocks on Amazon look like a good price for the weight. 

Paint: Most acrylic paint should work fine for painting rocks. We used whatever we have on hand for solid colors including craft paint, spray paint and leftover paint samples from the hardware store. My daughters can free-hand well with fine paintbrushes; but for someone like me, (who is artistically challenged) I needed something more user friendly. Which is why we ordered markers…

Markers: These markers by Uni-Posca are AMAZING for rocks! The color is so vibrant, the tip perfect for fine details and it’s pretty quick drying as well. The colors even layer well, with just a brief drying in between. This makes it easy to draw and write on even the smallest rocks.

Rock ID tag: If you are part of our Facebook page, you will want to tag your rock so that it can be shared and re-shared. Click here to download the labels for free! (For smaller rocks these will need to be trimmed to size).

Sealing Spray: The most important step is to waterproof your rocks before you leave them out in the weather. There are lots of clear spray products that will work for this, such as Mod Podge Spray or Krylon Clear Coat Spray. A few light coats should do the trick. You will be ready to hide just as soon as these have dried!

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. 

 

Friday Favorites March Edition

It’s been a while since I have done a Friday Favorites, but I do a have a few new fun things that we are loving lately. Things have been super busy for work and homeschooling and my personal blogging has been put on the back burner, but I don’t want to leave it there! I only have a few minutes to create this post, so let’s get right to it. This post will contain affiliate links for your convenience! Don’t worry, it’s not all stuff!

Organic Mascara: I asked for this Organic Mascara (Endlessly Beautiful) for Christmas and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a bit pricey for me, but I have a really hard time with mascara irritating my eyes and have tried many brands. This is a nice, basic black mascara that is by far the gentlest I have found (better than Neutrogena, Almay, and Physician’s Formula). This doesn’t have some of the amazing features of drug-store brands (no extra crazy length or super waterproof coating) but it goes on nicely and stays well. Mostly, I am happy that I am not rubbing it off, so if you have sensitive eyes, I would recommend it.

The God-Centered Mom PodcastI’m ridiculously late to the Podcast Party, but I’ve recently been catching up and mostly choosing minimalist topics. But my friend recommended The God-Centered Mom Podcast and it’s been fantastic. The handful of episodes I have listened to have been incredibly thought-provoking and relevant to where I am right now as a Christian mom and wife! I am still processing the last episode I heard about “Smiling Depression”. If you have ever struggled with shame or perfectionism I think this will really interest you. Thanks Susan for letting me know about The God-Centered Mom!

A Streamlined wardrobe. I am loving my simplified wardrobe. I have not made the transition to a true capsule wardrobe. However, I am trying to move in that direction slowly, with practical steps. I have cleaned out my closet in phases so that after each purge my clothing becomes more “me”, more simple, and more functional. I’m loving it. I have been forcing myself to experiment with monochromatic choices and it has been surprisingly helpful. Just another way of cutting out decision fatigue in my life! Specifically, I purchased a couple of these soft and comfy tees in grey and black and have been wearing them weekly. 

Just one purse. I had no idea the bags I owned were really complicating my life until I got rid of them. I knew that I had neck and back issues so I decided to eliminate all of my heavy bags (even though they tend to be *nicer*: Goodbye to my lovely leather Michael Kors tote!). Also, I realized the patterned bags were just to difficult to match (Vera Bradley, I’m looking at you). Plus switching bags by mood or color was causing the clutter to build up and receipts to become lost. Guess what? I don’t miss those bags a bit! I received a lightweight Thirty-One hipster for my birthday last summer and have used it every day. Recently, I decided to make one more handbag purchase keeping in mind my vow for embracing neutrals: the Houndstooth print Kavu rope bag. The compartments of this bag have taken me a little time to get used to, but I LOVE how light and comfortable it is. It feels almost strangely light on my back compared to a shoulder bag with the same contents! It’s obviously a casual bag, but it was time for me to admit that 99.99% of my time I am dressing casually, and HELLO!? there is nothing wrong with that!

Our evening routine: For the first time as a mom, I feel like our evenings (and mornings for the most part) are truly productive and we have formed actual habits instead of forcing ourselves through painful routines that just never became second-nature. Although I can’t completely explain how this process has been crystallized I will tell you it has 100% been about simplicity and mindfulness and all began by eliminating excess in every room of our home. Just embracing the idea that motherhood does not have to be a series of complete failures and looking for actual solutions to the problems has been revolutionary for me! It has become blissfully simple to leave our house neat each morning and go to bed with everything (at least in the living areas) in their proper place. I will try to blog more about this later! Right now, I just really intend this to be an encouragement. As moms, sometimes we don’t need to hear over and over: “it’s normal, everyone struggles like this, don’t strive for perfection”. Sometimes we need to hear, “Being a mom is hard. Look for the best way to succeed as a mom and work for it”. That’s what I am telling myself from now on.

Ellie HolcombMusic used to be a huge part of my day…. when I had my days virtually to myself. Now there is so much NOISE that I often hesitate to add to the audible clutter by turning on anything. But I realized that I missed inspirational Christian music, so I was pulling out my old CDs from the 90’s. Then a friend on facebook suggested Ellie Holcomb (thank you Rebecca!) and I have got to tell you that I AM HOOKED. She has a beautiful voice and a wonderful message that I really relate to. Here is one of her music videos, but I have been listening to Ellie for free using Spotify! Click here for her Album Red Sea Road.

That’s it for now! Have a wonderful weekend!