My Boar Bristle Brushing Routine

I’ve been using my new boar bristle brush for only a week and a half, and I already love the results! I have started making hair brushing a part of my nightly routine. Here are a few reasons why:

1.) Less Frequent Washing

I have already noticed that my hair doesn’t need washed as often. The boar bristle brush helps prevent frequent washing, by evenly distributing oils that would otherwise build up at the scalp.

2.) More Volume

My long hair is fairly fine in texture and usually lacks in volume. I notice an immediate increase in volume after brushing my hair. I can’t say from personal experience, however, I’ve read about the great benefits of this brush for all hair types (including curly hair!).

3.) Shiny, Frizz-free Hair

Because the brush evenly distributes oils throughout your hair, my hair has become less dull and frizzy, and more soft and shiny.

4.) Repairs Damaged Hair

This brush repairs damaged hair as the oils are brought from the scalp to the ends of the hair (where most hair damage takes place).

In general, brushing increases blood flow to your scalp, which ultimately stimulates hair growth (if you’re trying to grow out your hair). The massage on your scalp is another added bonus!

A boar bristle brush is used a bit differently from a regular brush. Using it the wrong way can create tangled and damaged hair. Here are the steps for using the brush:

1.) First use a comb throughout your hair to remove all knots.

2.) Brush in sections. Don’t run the brush through your hair (this will create knots), instead do one section at a time. Start from the bottom/back of your scalp and work towards the top/front.

3.) Brush from root to tip. This is how the brush becomes effective in working the oils through the hair.

*Note: Do not use on wet or damp hair!

Be sure to clean your brush regularly.

Each night before bed, I go through this short hair brushing routine, and I feel as though I can relate to women who lived long ago, who would sit and take time to gently brush through their hair with their boar bristle brushes.

 

woman-1079473_1280

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Merry Christmas Eve! I’ve decided to leave you with my very own chocolate chip cookie recipe, in case you’re still needing something sweet to make this Christmas. And who doesn’t like a delicious batch of chocolate chip cookies?

These cookies are made with coconut oil instead of butter, and can easily be completely dairy free if you use these chocolate chips.

IMG_7260

Brittney’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 3/4 cup of coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup of flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Use a mixer to combine the coconut oil and sugars. Mix in the egg and vanilla.

Sift together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add the ingredients to the original mixture. Turn your mixer on low, and mix all the ingredients together for several minutes.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Scoop dough into individual balls of cookie dough, and place them on a cookie sheet. This recipe makes about 2 dozen medium-large cookies, or 3 dozen small cookies. (I usually make the smaller cookies and use a tablespoon scoop.)

Bake until the edges of the cookies have just turned golden brown (over baking will make these cookies too hard), about 13-15 minutes (depending on the size of your cookie, the time will vary).

* Note: Because these are made with coconut oil, do not refrigerate the dough for later use. I’ve tried this before, and you will just end up with very hard cookie dough!

I hope you enjoy these warm chocolate chip cookies, and have a Merry Christmas!

IMG_7262

 

Lotion Bars

The cold winter months can be tough on our skin. I know mine gets extremely dry and rough from the blistering cold weather. These moisturizing lotion bars are a wonderful relief on itchy, dry skin, and they are great for Christmas gifts. In fact, I just finished up a batch for some gifts!

I love knowing what ingredients are going on my body. These lotion bars are extremely easy to make, and can be as simple as three ingredients (extra add-in ingredients are optional). They are completely natural and healthy for your skin.

You’ll start by measuring out 1/2 cup of beeswax, 1/2 cup of coconut oil, and 1 tightly packed cup of grated cocoa butter.

Place all the ingredients in a glass measuring cup and create a double boiler for melting the ingredients. Melt over medium-low heat until all the ingredients have melted. Stir occasionally.

Once melted, you can pour the mixture directly into your mold. You can use a soap mold (that’s what I used), or muffin pan (you can line the tins with muffin paper for a textured edge). You can also use any add-in ingredients you’d like, such as vitamin E, jojoba oil, or essential oils for fragrance. If using any extra ingredients, let the mixture cool a bit before adding the ingredients and pouring the mixture into your mold.

Once the lotion bars are completely cooled, remove them from the mold and cut into bars.

I doubled my recipe to get 8 lotions bars (each bar is about 2 ounces).

Lotion Bars:

1/2 cup of beeswax

1/2 cup of coconut oil

1 cup of cocoa butter

Vitamin E, jojoba oil, or essential oils (optional ingredients)

Melt first 3 ingredients together in a double boiler. Pour into a mold (such as a soap mold or muffin pan).

If adding extra ingredients, allow mixture to cool down a little before adding. Usually a 1/2 teaspoon of vitamin E and/or jojoba oil are plenty. For fragrance, it can take up to 1 teaspoon of essential oil to achieve a nice fragrance from the bars.

Once the bars are completely cooled, remove from the mold(s) and cut (only cut if using a large mold that requires cutting for separate bars). Wrap in wax or parchment paper for storing. You could also use a tin to store the bars.

Makes about four 2 ounce lotion bars.

To use, just rub the bars into your hands, or directly on your body.

Store for up to a year. Keep away from heat to prevent melting.

IMG_7254

 

I hope you will enjoy making and using these moisturizing lotion bars!

 

 

 

Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas

nativity-447767_1920

Christmas is a day set aside for Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus. If it’s His birthday – what are we giving Him? This question has motivated my husband and I to focus on giving to those in need more than we give gifts to each other (Matthew 25:35-40).

One neat way that you can give gifts to each other and give to those in need at the same time, is an awesome organization called Fair Trade Friday. You can join the club and pay a fee each month, and receive 3-4 handmade, fair trade items. Joining this club means that you’re providing employment for women who would otherwise struggle to provide for their children. My husband and I are not a part of the club, but we have chosen to purchase a one-time box every few months. We then use the items we receive as gifts for birthdays and Christmas. I especially like the ‘home box.’ We’ve received beautiful handmade bags, potholders, soaps, pillow case covers, and more.

We have started to simplify Christmas more and more each year, in order to keep our focus on Jesus, others, and family, instead of being stressed out with finances. One big way we’ve simplified Christmas, is by decreasing our Christmas spending budget, and increasing the amount of homemade gifts we do. My husband and I still get each other one or two inexpensive store bought gifts that we know the other person has been wanting. But we’ve found that homemade gifts can be so much more thoughtful and special, because you’re giving the gift of your time and talent. I love giving natural, homemade gifts to others, and putting thought into what each person could use or would appreciate.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been putting together a homemade Christmas gift list for babies, kids, teens, women, and men. I decided to list the simplest homemade gift ideas that I could think of. Lots of these are very easy and don’t require sewing machines or crocheting/knitting skills. I hope some of these homemade gifts make it onto your Christmas ‘shopping’ list this year. Or maybe you will find most of these supplies in your home and can skip most of your Christmas shopping!

(WARNING: If you are a family member of mine, you might be receiving one of these gifts this Christmas!)

 

2015 Homemade Christmas Gift Idea Guide

Ideas for Babies:

  • Baby powder (Use arrowroot powder in an empty and clean spice jar. Add a drop or two of lavender essential oil for scent.)
  • Baby bottom cream (Here’s a great recipe that is also safe to use with cloth diapers.)
  • Lotion bars (I’ll be posting my recipe on the blog before Christmas!)
  • Gentle baby soap (Try this recipe.)
  • Blanket (Crochet, knit, or do an easy no sew blanket.)
  • Framed art for the nursery (Purchase a printable image from an etsy shop, and use a dollar store frame.)

 

Ideas for Kids:

  • Play dough (Try this natural recipe.)
  • Finger paints (Here’s a recipe to follow.)
  • Finger puppets (Here are some adorable forest friend finger puppets.)
  • Lace princess crown (Follow this tutorial for a beautiful princess crown.)
  • Superhero cape (Follow this neat tutorial for a no sew superhero cape.)
  • Felt stuffed animals/letters (These animals are so cute! And I love these letters.)
  • Framed art (Purchase a printable image from an etsy shop, and use a dollar store frame.)

 

Ideas for Teens:

  • Crochet or Knit a scarf, hat, or gloves. (Or try this no sew scarf.)
  • Homemade personalized mug ( Try this neat tutorial.)
  • Pencil or make-up brush holder for girls (This is beautiful!)
  • Marshmallow gun for boys (Check out this tutorial.)
  • Lip Balm (I’ll be posting my recipe down the road, but for now, this is a wonderful recipe to follow!)
  • Lotion bars (I’ll be posting my recipe on the blog before Christmas!)
  • Sailor bracelets (Here’s a great tutorial.)
  • Framed art (Purchase a printable image like this or this, and use a dollar store frame.)

 

Ideas for Women:

  • Homemade candles (I love making candles for gifts all year long! Here’s a great tutorial for candles from one of my favorite blogs.)
  • Tinted lip balm. (Follow this tutorial and add in beet root powder to create a natural tinted lip balm.)
  • Lotion bars (I’ll be posting my recipe on the blog before Christmas!)
  • Sugar scrub (Mix equal parts organic sugar and olive oil or coconut oil with a few drops of essential oils for scent.)
  • Crochet or knit potholders
  • Cookies in a jar or soup in a jar (These cookies look delicious, and so do all of these soup recipes!)
  • Fruit Butters (These look so good!)
  • Body soap… or laundry soap! (I made these for gifts one year, and think this recipe looks like a great idea too.)
  • Framed art (Purchase a printable image from an etsy shop, and use a dollar store frame.)

 

Ideas for Men:

  • Shaving cream (Here’s a great natural recipe.)
  • Grill seasoning mix (Yummy! Here’s a delicious recipe for a ‘Basic Grill Seasoning Blend’ if your man likes to grill. Pack it in a jar and tie on a label!)
  • Lip Balm (I’ll be posting my recipe down the road, but for now, this is a wonderful recipe to follow!)
  • Lotion bars (I’ll be posting my recipe on the blog before Christmas!)
  • Hand warmers (These are great for tucking into your pockets before heading out into the cold! You could even buy some fabric glue to seal these up even faster!)
  • Crochet or Knit a scarf, hat, or gloves. (Or try this no sew scarf.)
  • Body soap (I made these for gifts one year.)
  • Framed art (Purchase a printable image from an etsy shop, and use a dollar store frame.)

 

I would love to hear what your homemade Christmas gift ideas are!

5 Tips For Eating Organic On A Budget

grapes-690230_1280

I used to think it was impossible to eat organic without having to increase our budgeted amount for groceries. And when I first ventured down the road to a natural lifestyle, our grocery bill did increase. But along the way of that journey, I’ve found a couple of different methods for getting our grocery bill almost right back to where it was before. If you want to switch to an organic and wholesome diet without having to change your monthly grocery budget, these tips might be helpful to you!

1.) Coupon

It took me a while to learn that you actually can coupon for organic products. It is definitely more challenging, but it is possible. I save anywhere from $5-$15 a week on coupons. The key to using coupons with organic foods, is to be flexible to change what products you buy, based on what coupons are available. But be sure not to buy a product that you don’t really need just because you have a coupon, or you’ll end up spending more in the end. I don’t get my coupons from a newspaper, I print them off from online. Here are my favorite places to print coupons from:

Mambo Sprouts

Common Kindness

This site always posts great deals on organic products:

The Green Backs Gal

In addition to those sites, I check websites of specific brands we buy for coupons as well. Some sites you have to subscribe to in order to get coupons, so I’ve made a separate e-mail address just for coupons. It takes a little more time to look up individual coupons, but the savings is worth the few extra minutes!

2.) Have a Plan

I know if I didn’t meal plan each week/month, we’d quickly lose track of our grocery money! There are plenty of nutritious and delicious meals that can be made at a low cost. We try to do at least one, if not two, meatless dinners a week to help save money, since quality meat is more expensive. Rice and beans doesn’t have to be boring (we’ve found lots of yummy ways to make them)! Veggie quesedilllas and black bean quinoa burgers are just a few of our favorite meatless meals. We also try to do fish once a week, ground beef once or twice a week, and chicken usually two or three times a week. Other favorite meals get added in to the mix as well, such as a pot roast or breakfast for dinner. I also try for at least one or two of our meals per week to be crock-pot meals (which I try to have them pre-made in freezer bags) for those extra busy days.

3.) A Little Extra Time in the Kitchen

I absolutely love being in the kitchen and cooking from scratch. But if spending hours in the kitchen isn’t your thing (and I rarely have hours to spend in the kitchen!), there are still so many things you can save money on by making homemade, without spending countless hours in your kitchen. I pre-make a lot of things in a big quantity, and then freeze most of it. Once you start getting a stash built in your freezer, you’ll spend a lot less time in the kitchen. When I make bread, I make extra and then wrap it up in and tuck it away in the freezer.

bread-of-dead-mexico-989160_1920

A few other things I make ahead and freeze are, cookie dough, muffins, granola bars, homemade chicken nuggets (a healthy and quick alternative to store bought), applesauce and breakfast wraps to name a few. And by making things yourself instead of pre-made, you’re saving money and knowing exactly what ingredients you’re putting into your body!

You’d be surprised at how many store bought items you can make in a matter of minutes. I make ranch dressing with yogurt for salads and dips, and it takes all but 5 minutes to whip together the 6 ingredients!

4.) Consider Buying in Bulk and Shopping Online

Buying in bulk is an initial up front cost, but it is so worth it! We save a nice chunk of money through doing so. Look into a membership at a place like BJs or Costco, or compare prices online. I shop at BJs and order from both Amazon and Vitacost. I’ve recently heard of another source called Azure Standard (I haven’t placed an order yet, but their prices seem very reasonable). Online ordering is so nice because it’s pretty easy to order enough for free shipping, and then you save on gas money as well. Plus it’s so nice getting grocery’s delivered right to your front door!

5.) Buy Local (and store up for the winter!)

vegetables-790022_1920

Produce is obviously the cheapest in the summer time, and it’s usually the cheapest when bought straight from a local farmer. Find a farmer nearby who grows organic produce and stock up! Buy double of certain items to freeze or can for the long winter months when produce is expensive and not fresh or local. Having a full pantry or freezer will help save money when winter rolls around! Check out this site to find farms in your area:

Local Harvest

I hope these tips can help you save money on healthy food, so that you can stretch your dollar even further. I’d love to hear how you save money on organic food!