Category Archives: Products I Love

DIY Beard Balm, yeah buddy!

Know any good looking lumbersexuals with a beard that could use some love?

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend I made my husband a Beard Balm. I have never made anything like this before and I wasn’t even entirely certain he would use such a product. I found all of the necessary items at the local co-op. There are plenty of ingredients leftover that I’m going to start looking at other items that can be made with them.

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The recipe I used called for the following ingredients:
2 Tbsp beeswax
2 Tbsp Jojoba oil
1 Tbsp Shea butter
1 Tbsp 100% Argan Oil
4-5 drops of Vitamin E oil, which was optional
20 drops of high quality essential oils

So basically in a double boiler grate 2 Tbsp beeswax and heat until melted.

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Once completely melted mix in the jojoba oil and shea butter.

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Again fully melt. Remove from heat and add the optional vitamin e oil and essential oils immediately. I then poured the hot liquid into a tin canister for storage.

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A quick note about the vitamin e oil. I purchased an actual bottle of vitamin e oil however, after thinking a little more about this, I had an idea. I could have also purchased gel capsules from the vitamin isle popped open one and simply squeezed in the requested amount.

I also used the following combination of essential oils:

White Fir
Frankincense
Lemon

I wanted the balm to smell manly, but not be over bearing. I find that the white fir added a nice touch to the mix, if you don’t mind the smell of the outdoors (pine trees). I guess in a way it adds to the ruggedness of the beard haha!

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To use the beard balm take approximately a pea size amount. Rub together in hands until melted/pliable and work into beard. Any “extra” balm can be applied to arms, chest, neck, et cetera as it is basically a lotion.

I just thought with the holidays coming up this might be something fun to make for that special man in your life!

Woodland Creatures via Cricut Explore

So about a year ago my husband and the girl’s purchased me a Cricut Explore for Mother’s Day. Which, happened to be the perfect gift as I had pretty much wanted one my entire life!

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I have really had to curb the amount of time I spend on working on decorating and projects with the girl’s as I need to focus on school for another 25 days or so. I say this because I have somewhat of a addictive personality. For instance, if I allowed myself I could find projects to do with this machine for weeks. Seeing that I don’t have that kind of time or money really, I have to limit myself.

Anyway, a few weeks ago my husband nonchalantly mentioned that I have yet to decorate the nursery. Huh, he was right, but I have had a few other projects going seeing that we just moved in. I had already picked up a crib set that had Woodland creatures on it so I had a theme in mind. I set out to do some looking online to see what my options were. I don’t know about you, but I can not justify spending the amount of money retailers want for anything that has the word baby or nursery in the title. I found some really cute things, but decided I would wait. Then I remembered, I have a Cricut and I haven’t used it since moving into the new house!

So I ordered the vinyl birch trees for the wall because I don’t have the time, patience or knowledge to do these on my own right now and honestly for $20 it was a good investment. Then I ran out to Hobby Lobby and got some paper as I knew I did not have enough in stock at home. I knew I could get the animal designs I desired from the Cricut image store, but how to display them?

I did some more research and found that I really liked the ones on canvas. Having previously been an art major I have a lot of items in stock in my craft room, but I also have an intimate relationship with Hobby Lobby, haha! So I picked up a few packages of blank painting canvas.

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It was another Friday night, the girl’s had gone to bed for the night, the husband was out in the shed getting stuff ready to duck hunt with his buddy in the early morning and I was waiting for the new paint to dry in the living room, but not exactly tired yet. I pulled out all the supplies and set to work. In a matter of hours I had what I needed.

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They actually turned out better than I had anticipated!

The next morning after hanging them I decided that I needed more as there was still something missing from the nursery. So the girl’s and I returned to the store to retrieve more supplies for a fun filled afternoon.

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In total I made 8 woodland creatures. Besides the ones photoed I made a buck to match the little doe. I find this both relaxing and therapeutic. I enjoy making things for my children and saving money. I realize the unit itself is an investment, but for the number of things you can do with it, it was well worth it.

I will work to get some more of the project’s I have done with the Cricut up. Prior to owning my machine I had never used one. I had done plenty of reading about them and looking at project’s on Pinterest. Like I said I was a previous art major and would consider myself pretty crafty so this item was right up my alley and fits well in my tool kit 😉

Homemade Reusable Napkins, Paper Towel and Say it isn’t so Toilet Paper?

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So for the past six years my family and I have been using reusable napkins. On top of being reusable they are also homemade. My sister-in-law gave us the original set with the “B” on our wedding in 2010 and then I asked for a second set one Christmas so there would be enough to last the week with our growing family.

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They really aren’t anything fancy. Pretty much unbleached muslin with a design stitched on. I am surprised at how well they wash up and how long they have lasted. Yeah there’s a few stains, the one has purple marker or something on it, but that’s fine. I can’t even begin to imagine how much money these have saved our family over the years.

After taking these photos I have determined that I need to gather material and make a few new ones as they are a little more dingy than I thought. This will have to be another, in my spare time projects, haha!

Something that I was looking at prior to our relocation was reusable paper towels. They are pretty sweet, it’s pretty much the same concept except they have snaps on them and then roll up on this plastic tube. They still sit on the holder like a normal paper towel, but you can wash them. I think now that things are pretty much back to normal this is something I need to purchase.

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I just did a quick Google search to pull the photo above and was pleasantly surprised to see that the prices have significantly dropped since I started considering them. Price was the main reason that I had originally held off. It was one of those items that I wasn’t really sure if I was ready to give up yet, ya know?

The other frivolous item that I can’t seem to give up is a kleenex. I don’t know about you, but a hanky just seems really gross to me. My husband uses them profusely, but there’s just something (to me) about sticking my nose in a soiled linen and blowing it again?! I don’t call me strange. Also, I really appreciated the lotion in the kleenex. The few times I year that I get sick I get really sick and end up going through a lot of kleenex. I’m not really sure that I have the time or patience to wash a hanky?

Things could always change I suppose.

Don’t worry, I haven’t considered reusable toilet paper yet 😉 Hahaha, boy that would be an interesting topic to broach with the husband….

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However, again doing a quick Google search. (Man what did we do before Google?) Anyway, after doing a quick search there is such a thing. I had better stick a spare roll of toilet paper in my car because if I ever roll up to a friends house and see this……I’m sorry I’m not really sure I can come over anymore as this is a bit much, even for me.

Glamglow Supermud

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As mentioned I’m super frugal, however every once in awhile a girl needs to treat herself. This is one of those instances as 1.2 ounces run $69.00. For a period of time I was a Birchbox member and trialled new(er) products and then gave reviews. With each review posted members earned rewards that were equal to dollars. Anyway, I ended up first reading a magazine review on this product and then saving up my points to purchase this product.

For being such a small quantity I have been pleasantly surprised at how long the product has lasted. This is not a treatment that I do all too often as I have oily skin and fear it would over promote the oil production and worsen my complexion. However, every once in awhile it’s a nice touch.

I use a small brush to apply a light amount of product.

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Then, I find something relaxing to do while I wait for the mask to dry. As it dries you can see each pores “release” of oils and dirt.

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I find that the product really doesn’t smell. If it does it’s obviously not a bad smell and anything that I mind. I have noticed that as the mask dries it becomes harder and harder to move your face. I imagine this is what Botox is like, haha!

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Generally, it takes this product about 10-15 minutes to fully dry. Seeing that it is relatively expensive I am sure to wait until it is completely dry before literally washing my money down the drain. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m fascinated by the amount of oil that comes out of my pores and like to inspect before washing off.

Once, completely dry use a mild soap and water and proceed to remove. It does take awhile to fully come off and I would recommend avoiding any light colored towels or wash cloths as the charcoal may stain them. Once fully removed I like to apply my favorite moisturizer and enjoy. My skin feels so soft and clean.

I’ve used this product about six times and I think the next application will be the last of the it. Seeing that it is so expensive I was starting to do some looking around and found a DIY charcoal mask recipe on Pinterest that I’m going to try. Once I give it an honest try and have some feedback I will give an update. If it’s something worth sharing maybe I’ll start whipping up my own batches and selling them, hahah. Not really, but I would be willing to share the recipe with you.

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Otherwise, have any of you found a charcoal based mask that would be comparable? I am open to recommendations.

Simply Amy

Summer Buggin’

Last Christmas my oldest daughter received a bug vacuum and a critter case to provide a home for special catches.

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Needless to say this summer has brought a plethora of fun bugs into our home. I have to admit that I have even found the bug vacuum to be handy when trying to catch a rogue spider here and there. It sucks the insect up and puts it into this small vile with a built in magnifying glass for your viewing pleasure.

To date she has hatched on moth and one Monarch Butterfly. Presently, we are awaiting two additional Monarch Butterflies to hatch. If you are looking for an fun gift to give a young child I would highly recommend this combination as it has provided our family so much fun. It’s also a great learning experience for our girls who happen to be into science and the environment. Imagine that!

**Quick Update: Since my original post the two additional Monarch Butterflies that we were waiting on have hatched and were successfully released into their natural habitat. I won’t get around to posting much about this in 2015, but at our new house next spring/summer my girls’ and I are going to be putting in a “Butterfly Garden.” I have been doing some research and trying to get a good list of the plants/flowers that would do best for our region and will work to put together a section on this in the month’s to come! Stay tuned…

Envirosax

Another staple in my life are my reusable shopping bags (Envirosax).

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I carry them in a reusable thermal bag in my trunk with my reusable glass milk jug bags and my mesh produce bags. They conveniently roll-up and snap which makes them perfect to carry in your purse. I use to do this, but with two children I find there are too many essentials to carry around these days.

What I love about these bags are that they are ridiculously strong and come in super fun patterns. The original bag that my mother-in-law purchased for me is going on like six years old and it still looks like new. They hold an exuberant amount of grocery items. Often times I find that I am unable to fill them to capacity as they are then too heavy for me.

I occasionally wash my bags, again not putting them in the dryer. They have more than paid for themselves and best of all they keep plastic bags from over taking our garage. I realize they are a bit of an investment, but are well worth the money. They would also make a perfect gift (that’s how I got mine).

Reusable Produce Bags

As I stated on my progressive hippie page one of the first changes my family and I made was reusable produce bags.

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I have had this exact set of bags (well actually I possess like three sets because we purchase mass amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables). Anyway, I have had these bags for roughly five years. I use them every week and have no complaints. Actually, I do have one complaint I have not been able to find a comparable product locally.

I have left items in these bags past their expiration (they rotted) and everything washed out leaving them looking like new.  I have not put them in the dryer as they come out of the washing machine pretty much dry. These bags have become a staple in our Saturday morning grocery shopping.

Lunchskins

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 2.48.29 PMContinuing on with my pursuit of cutting “waste” I have recently invested in lunch skins reusable sandwich bags. I have only purchased the velcro bags up until this point, but in putting together this post I have since discovered the also sell zippered bags. Which I will soon be purchasing so that I may put smaller items like raisins in a bag and know that they will not fall out.

The velcro ones have been amazing and have more than paid for themselves. They wash up nicely and come in fun bright patterns, which has assist me in keeping track of them. I recommend these over the disposable plastic bags.

doTERRA Essential Oils

So one area of our lives that we have recently started saving significant money on is cleaning supplies. I have found that by using doTERRA essential oils and common household items I can make just as effective and less harmful cleaners.

Starting out with the oils I did not know much about them, their uses or what each oil was recommended for. Therefore, my initial purchase was for the Family Physician Kit  and the following book:

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I really found this particular book useful as it lists each individual oil, how to use it (aromatic, ingested, topical, et cetera) and then a list of ailments that the oil is known to be good for. There is a nice quick reference guide to know which oils are safe during pregnancy. (Please note that not all of them are safe for a mother with child.) There is also a section for the blended oils and how to use them.

This book does not have any recipes enclosed, but I have done extensive research on how to make your own cleaners and will work on uploading them in a user friendly format in the near future.

I know some of the doTERRA essential oils can be a little pricey and that there are cheaper brands available. I have not used any other brand(s). I will tell you that I have had my kit for well over a year and have not had to re-order any oils. I didn’t use them as much when I was first learning about them as I do now, but when you use them it’s only a few drops at a time. In this instance, a little bit really does go a long way.

This past Christmas I received a doTERRA Lotus Diffuser.

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I absolutely love my diffuser and use it a minimum of twice a day. My favorite oil to run is On Guard. It’s a blend of Wild Orange, Clove, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary essential oils, which smells amazing and promotes immune support. Anytime one of the girls starts to get sick I immediately turn this on and it seems to assist in keeping everyone from either catching the cold or passing it on to others. This blend can also be ingested, but I have not personally tried this as I have not had the need. In the event, I do start to get sick I will be trying this out and letting you know the outcome.

I’m very excited to try out their TerraShield this summer and cut harmful insect repellents out of our lives. My mother-in-law swears by it and I’m going to give it a try. I would prefer to expose my children to this than Deet any day.

Kelty Pathfinder 3.0 Frame Child Carrier

As I mentioned we have two small children that we take on our all our hikes with us. We go on fairly long hikes and many of you may have been wondering how we do that with a child under the age of one?

We invested in a Kelty Pathfinder 3.0 Frame Child Carrier from REI when our first daughter was born. You can’t put a child in the carrier until they are able to hold their head up on their own, but then depending on the size of the child they can ride during hikes for years to come. I think our oldest rode in there until around age two, then she desired to get down and do more exploring of her own.

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The top mesh cover does come off and stores in the pack. That way if it starts to rain, snow or the sun is in your child’s eyes you can cover them or remove as needed.

We have used ours for more than just hiking. The pack gets a lot of use at our local farmer’s market and various activities where a stroller would take up too much space. I don’t know if a lot of people use these as we often get many odd looks and lots of questions. This is by far one of the larger purchases that our family has made that, but has given us much enjoyment and use.