make your own face wash

When I found out I was pregnant with J. Bug, I spent some time with my good friend Google. I had such respect for the tiny life I was carrying, and did hours of research to find out what actions I could take to not only protect that little life, but to help him grow healthfully. Of course, I read all about limiting caffeine and staying away from paint fumes (and dang it if I didn’t have to give up my crack cocaine habit), but that stuff was no surprise. What really shocked me was how toxic all of my household cleaners and beauty products were.

After spending more time than I’d like to admit scouring the internet, I decided to replace all of our cleaners with homemade non-toxic alternatives. I kind of baby stepped this process (mostly so I didn’t freak out Shawn), and I’m glad to say now that ALL of our cleaning supplies are non-toxic. I love that my kids can eat food off our coffee or dining room table, and I don’t have to worry about the chemicals they’re ingesting. I can clean with them right by my side without worry of them breathing in any toxins or accidentally spilling the container. Not to mention it’s cheap as all heck. Most of my homemade cleaning supplies (minus the stuff I use for laundry) are a combination of vinegar, water, and baking soda. Sometimes I use hydrogen peroxide (a bleach alternative). Crazy inexpensive.

So now that I have a good grasp on homemade cleaning supplies, I’ve been highly interested in transitioning to a homemade beauty routine. I’m eventually hoping to make baby soap/shampoo for the kiddos, but I want to do all the experimenting on myself first. Since I couldn’t read half of the ingredients on my face wash, I decided that was probably a good place to start!

So if you’re interested in hippie-fying your makeup cleansing routine (with stuff you probably already have or can get super cheap), read on! 

{My main resource for this information was the Crunchy Betty blog}

1. Wash your face with honey and baking soda. The honey moisturizes and the baking soda scrubs – it’s a homemade mini microdermabrasion!

I used 1/2 Cup honey and 1/2 Cup baking soda. You can make as much or as little as you like, this little tin has lasted me a bit longer than six weeks. You can adjust this ratio according to your skin type – more honey and less baking soda for dry skin. More baking soda and less honey for oily skin.

Stir it together to get this beautiful looking (and smelling!) mixture.

The next step is to remove my eye makeup. Lots of different things will work for this, including extra virgin olive oil if you already have it in your pantry! I used grapeseed oil, and put it in a Burt’s Bees dropper that was empty. I just put a drop or two on my finger, smear the oil over my eye (especially my eyelashes since I only use waterproof mascara – a girl never knows when she’s going to need a good cry, after all), then wipe with a washcloth. It works better than any expensive eye makeup remover I’ve bought, it’s incredibly frugal, it’s non-toxic, AND it’s moisturizing.

The last step is toning your skin! I typically use apple cider vinegar (that I also put in a little dropper I had on hand), although witch hazel works as well. Apple cider vinegar can be found in most stores next to the regular vinegar, and witch hazel can be found in most stores – usually somewhere in the medicine aisles. I drop a few drops on my wash cloth and gently pat my face. Viola!

I didn’t really want to spend tons of money on a skin care system, so I just decided to do my own! I also love that I know the ingredients involved and am avoiding excessive fragrances. Hopefully being kind to my face (and my wallet!) will pay off with healthier, younger looking skin. In the six weeks since I’ve begun this routine, I’ve noticed a drastic difference in breakouts. As in, I haven’t had any. Zilch.

If you’re interested in making sure some of these ingredients are organic, check out Mountain Rose Herbs – my favorite shop for all things hippie. 

Okay, so now you know how to make your own teeth whitening mouthwash AND how to make your own make up remover/ face wash. You better watch it, or you might turn into a hippie, too. It’s contagious, you know!


alive and unboxed…ish

I’d like to say we’re moved in, but the term is so vague and makes me feel like everything has to be perfectly in place to use it. I can say that our stuff is in our house and 92% of it is out of the boxes. Of that 92%, 78% of our stuff is in a designated spot. I’d say that’s actually pretty impressive, considering we bought the house on Monday and started moving stuff on Tuesday!

As I’m sure you can imagine loading, unloading, boxing, unboxing, taping, untaping, arranging, and re-arranging has kept us puh-lenty busy. It’s the kind of busyness that’s joyful though, as we’re spending most of our days making our house a home. We’re so, so blessed.

punkin patch, part…um…a lot.

I’m hoping you won’t notice that I haven’t updated in awhile if I throw some really cute pictures at you.

He’s been doing this stick out his tongue thing when he’s concentrating. Apparently this is a trait inherited from Daddy – along with being really adorable and funny. 

See this cow? He looks innocent enough, right? 

That is, until he aggressively nudged J. Bug’s leg. This same cow also nudged my butt at some point, so I can attest to the fact that it was indeed aggressive, surprising, and maybe a little delightful.  

I would like to point out both J. Bug’s and Shawn’s faces in this next photo. This photo very well captures J. Bug’s look of DEATH, and Shawn’s look of DELIGHT. Yep, my husband delights in our kids’ misfortune. Don’t judge – it was funny. 

“What? I’ll do it again. Try me.” 

Did I successfully make you forget that I haven’t posted consistently? As I promised we’re pretty busy with signing our lives away for a house, and packing up every item we own to move across town. At some point, our stuff will successfully be in boxes. Those boxes will eventually get moved by very thoughtful and giving guys. Then those boxes will get unpacked in our dream house, and their contents will be carefully placed and organized. We will hang our photos on the walls, our boys will put their stains on the carpets and their voices through the hallways, and our family will – day by day – make our new house our home.

And then somewhere in there – probably right about the time our clothes get hung in the closets, we stop eating off of paper plates and unpack the “real” glasses, and we figure out where on earth we packed the bill organizer – somewhere in there I’ll find time to blog again.

Because as much as I love you guys, it turns out that making sure my boys adjust to the transition well, making sure I know where that dang bill organizer is, making sure we induct this house with our yelling, our praying, our wrestling, our cuddling, our ministry, our…quite frankly…crazy – making sure all THAT happens just holds a higher place of priority than making sure I give voice to my thoughts and share family experiences and photos.

Still, I do have lots of thoughts and a fair amount of photos to share, so worry not my friends! Until then, enjoy your week of Thanksgiving!

a letter to bug

Dearest J. Bug,

Three years ago today we met one of the most wonderful gifts God has ever given us. Your Daddy and I spent many, many months praying for you before that moment, and we were so eager to see you, to hold you, to smell you, to know you. Amazingly, we had absolutely no idea what we were in store for.

Sweet Bug. You have become my little friend. Your eyes light up when you make me laugh (which is often), and I spend the good part of my day talking to you. The moments I’ll treasure forever with you are when your little bootie is scootched next to mine, and you fit perfectly in the crook of my arm. Sometimes I just stare at you – at your sweet profile – and soak in the wonder and awe in your eyes about the world around you.

There are some things we suspected about your personality even during my pregnancy that – after three years – we’re seeing realized on a daily basis. In full disclosure, I think you get most of these personality traits from me. So…you’re welcome and I’m sorry.

You are strong willed. I would say stubborn, but I happen to know how much it irks me when I’m called stubborn (probably because I’m stubborn), so we’ll call it strong willed. If you set your mind to something, you do it. If you set your mind against something, you don’t do it. It really is that simple. From personal experience, I’ll tell you that this trait can keep you out of a lot of trouble and can help you accomplish amazing feats. The flip side of it though, can be an unfair level of guilt or shame from not accomplishing something you set out to do. I can already see this trend developing in your life, so I want you to know (oh, how I want you to know!) that I am proud of you. Not for what you do or don’t do, but for who you are.

You are spunky. My goodness, are you spunky. You don’t really have an “off” switch. You live your life full-throttle, which means you run everywhere you go, you speak as loudly as I’ll let you get away with, and you feel the need to explore every object you see. And by “explore,” I of course mean climb, jump, throw, or push. You yell random non-sense words all the time, and at any given moment you’re climbing furniture, or jumping over your brother, or spinning in circles, or running full tilt until you literally run into the wall. Honey, strangers get tired when they watch you. Your Daddy and I joke that you’re kind of like having a Labrador Retriever. We have to make sure we “run you,” and give you lots of time to be physically active. If not, you’ll start chewing our shoes.

You are smart. You love learning and soak up new information like a sponge. Your teachers love to tell me about how you surprise them on a daily basis with something you know. You also love teaching, which is sweet to watch. You’re so patient with your brother, and you really enjoy teaching him sign language, animal sounds, and how to push the walker over the bumps on the floor thresholds. You even hold up your flashcards for him and ask him what the shapes, colors, or letters are. He doesn’t have a clue, but you’re very affirming and usually say something like, “Yeah, Co-Co Bear! That a twiangle!”

You are tender hearted. I have to be very careful when I’m talking to you to make sure my tone is firm rather than harsh. I’ve literally watched your spirit crumble when I’ve spoken harshly to you in frustration, and that’s a sight I never want to see again. Our approval means so much to you, and it breaks your heart when you don’t think you have it.

You are older than your years. I guess you could say you have an old soul, but you also have such sweet innocence and boundless energy. Nonetheless, Daddy and I find ourselves talking to you sometimes as if you’re a ten year old. Your teacher told me one time that she never has to worry about talking over your head, and that you respond best when she talks to you like an adult. You’re not confused by big words, complex ideas, or over-explanations. In fact, I think you may just thrive on it.

You are loved. Oh boy, are you loved. I love everything about you, Bug. I couldn’t possibly love you more and I wouldn’t possibly love you less – no matter what you do or don’t do. I love seeing you smile and watching your eyes light up. I love when you so excitedly want to tell me something. I love how your little hand fits so perfectly in mine. I love how grown up you look when Daddy fixes your hair for school. I love watching you process the world around you. I love you.

I love you.

And as much as I love you, there is Someone whose Love is even deeper, more perfect, and more selfless. He knows every hair on that blonde head of yours, He knows the exact shade of blue of your eyes, He knows your most secret fears and thoughts. He created you with careful precision, Bug. And when I think about how privileged I am to watch His plan unfold in your life, my face busts out in a grin.

Man. You’re a great kid, Bug. Happy 3rd Birthday, sweetheart. I love you.



make your own teeth whitening mouth wash

This post marks an important milestone for me. I’m coming out of the closet. I’ve tried to conceal the fact that I like being a hippie, but I’m afraid I can’t hide it any longer. Sure, there have been hints. I make cloth diapers, after all. I freely share about how I make my own laundry detergent, and I’ve not been ashamed to admit that all of my cleaners are all-natural, toxin-free, and homemade. But considering families are facing the realities of our economy and our environment, these things aren’t looked on with wrinkled noses and rolling of eyes any longer. In fact, they’re pretty standard steps people are taking to make their homes more safe and their budgets more flexible.

But see, I’ve gone even further down the path of hippie-hood. Or hippie-dom. Or a hippie-lifestyle? I’m certain you’ll be seeing future posts filled with ideas and ways you can join me on the dark hippie side, but allow me to start with a relatively simple one.

We haven’t bought mouthwash at our house since probably our first year of marriage. It’s just one of those things in life that you find you don’t need. It’s nice to have on hand, but we just never said, “Oh no! We’re out of mouthwash! We need to stock up!”

Also, I love coffee. I drink about two cups of it a day, and this habit does indeed take its toll on the whiteness of my teeth. I’ve previously been a big fan of whitening toothpaste and whitening strips, but I’m a little uneasy about ingesting those chemicals.

So I did my research and decided to make…….

Homemade Teeth Whitening Mouthwash!

Ingredients needed:

2 Cups filtered water

1 Cup lemon juice

2/3 Cup salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

12 drops wintergreen (or peppermint, or spearmint) essential oil

5 drops tea tree oil

{You can buy essential oils, including tea tree oil, at a variety of places. Whole Foods and Mountain Rose Herbs are my favorites. I know they can seem pricey, but 1) A single bottle will last you forever. I’ve had that tea tree oil for almost three years and 2) Once you start down the hippie path, you’ll find an amazing amount of uses for these oils.}

I chose to put my homemade mouthwash and teeth whitener in an old pedialyte bottle we had on hand. Of course I thoroughly washed it beforehand.

You seriously just put the ingredients into your chosen vessel, and voila! Because of the ingredients involved, it does settle a little. Just give it a good shake before you do our gargling thang, and you’re good to go!

I’ve been using the mouthwash for about two weeks now and love it! I know it seems silly to think lemon juice and salt could whiten your teeth, but it does actually work.

Hooray for fewer chemicals in my house, for spending less money, and yes I’ll say it – for being a hippie!

on the homefront

Don’t be mad at me, I tried to warn you. I tried to tell you my posting would be more scarce as we got closer to buying a house and moving. I’m sorry. Don’t hate me.

Shawn: Shawn is pretty much the best Dad in the world. Now, that’s not really anything new or surprising, I just feel like I should mention it. Our boys LOVE him and their faces just light up with joy when he comes home. He’s amazingly great at giving them his focused attention (which usually involves lots of wrestling, throwing around, hanging upside down, kissing, and squishing), and it’s almost like I can just SEE their little hearts filling right up.

So beyond working hard at winning Daddy of the Year, Shawn is doing great. He just got home from the Guys’ Retreat, which went well, though that means he’s pretty tired. He’s just as excited about the prospect of buying a home as I am, and we’re both working hard at making sure all of our ducks are in a row.

Jen: I’m feeling blessed and humbled. I’m well aware that I’ve done nothing to deserve the husband, kids, and life that God has given me, and I’m just lately feeling overwhelmed with how much I’ve been given.

I ran five miles for my long run this past weekend, which has me feeling a little like a rock star. I’ll be adding one mile a week until I’m prepared to run that half-marathon!

J. Bug: After a series of preschool reports detailing his choices to not stay on his nap mat during nap time and even needing to be taken to the “principal’s” office twice, I think J. Bug is finally making some progress. He had a substitute assistant teacher last week who apparently knew just how to get through to him. When the regular assistant came back, she took copious notes from the substitute, and tried the same tactics. Amazingly, it worked! I haven’t had a chance to talk to his teachers in detail about what they’re doing that’s working so well, but they have mentioned that it involves them flipping a switch in their tone. He apparently needs to realize that they are very serious, and speaking in a low, firm tone is what he needs to see that. They also mentioned that they put his hands up to his face, gently turn his eyes towards them, and use their hands as “blinders” to keep him from getting distracted. I’m just glad they’re finally getting to see that he IS very sweet and pleasant! His teacher actually teared up when she told me how proud of him she was, and what great decisions he’d been making.

My sweet Bug is continuing to be very, very talkative and likes to tell me every thought that crosses his adorable little mind. Usually three or four times, in fact. He’s saying sweet phrases like, “I not know!” (I don’t know!), and “I sure stand!” (I sure do understand!). He also loves to tell everyone we see what exactly we’re doing, “We goin’ on a walk!” “We go to store!” “We ride bus!” with delight and awe. I kind of absolutely love it.

C. Bear: Bear is getting fast! He can actually keep up with J. Bug – he swivels, he pivots, he dances, he’s got some moves! He’s also talking more and I’ve even been able to have some “conversations” with him. The word he most often says is a very deadpan, “Yeh.” When I ask if he wants to eat he says, “Yeh.” When I ask if he had fun at church, I get a, “Yeh.” If I ask Bear if he wants to go on a walk, he answers, “Yeh.” And when I ask if he’s ready for a nap, he vigorously shakes his head. He’s not saying the word, “no” yet, but he definitely knows what he’s saying when he says “Yeh,” and when he shakes his head “No.”

Aside from all the growing up he’s doing, Bear’s also getting a new tooth! The new tooth plus the time change has him being a little more whiny than usual, but hopefully we’ll get through it quickly and he’ll soon be back to his sweet self.

Okay, so will you forgive me for taking so long to post an update? Maybe next time I’ll even include some pictures…if you’re lucky!

pumpkin patch part deuce

Our local pumpkin patch is seriously amazing. It’s so pretty and has a plethora of activities for kids – a playground, a play area with bales of hay and tires, old tractors for the kids to climb up, a hay house, a tiny tractor racing area, a petting zoo, a corn maze, and hay rides – to just name a few! The boys and I went a total of three times this season and I think we loved it more each time!

[We’ve trimmed up C. Bear’s hair since this photo, so he’s looking a little less like Paul McCartney]

[The boys playing on the kid-size tractors. Neither of their feet could touch the pedals, but that didn’t stop them from having fun!]

[That’s right. I got kettle korn on my bottom lip. Don’t be jealous.]

[This is a fantastic photo of me and Shawn…a little less fantastic of a photo of the boys.]
[Y’all, that was some dang good kettle korn. I like to say Shawn and I shared that bag, but the truth is I ate most of it by myself. I was trying to look sneaky when Shawn took this photo. After he snapped it he said, “You’re not gonna like that one. You look like you’re trying to be sexy eating popcorn.” Clearly I should just never try and be sexy. It’s obviously not working out well for me.]

[And for this photo, Shawn told me I look like I think I’m a celebrity. Maybe I am, Shawn. Maybe I am. Because this is a better-ish photo of the boys, this would be the photo we’d probably use if we did Christmas cards. We don’t, though. So if you’d like, you can print it off, grab a red Sharpie and write, “Merry Christmas!” across the side . Then stick it on your fridge, and it’s just like we sent you a Christmas card!]

[I can’t say why exactly, but I love this photo. Goofiness, and cuteness, and innocence, and sweetness…these are my boys.]