Have I told y’all about my dad? He’s a great guy – funny, outgoing, friends with everyone he meets. A great cook. Incredibly hospitable.
He’s got a sassy side and likes to do things his own way (that’s where I get it from). And he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t wait for things to happen. Which means when he needs something, he goes out and gets it.
Which makes it incredibly difficult to buy him gifts.
Before Christmas, or his birthday (which is a few weeks before), I ask him, “Is there anything in particular you want this year?” He usually raises his eyebrow and replies, “Nope. I needed ________, so I bought it.”
There was one year when he wanted me to crochet him a scarf – I was very happy to do it. But generally, he has zero items on his wish list which leaves me wondering what I can get him on special days (I love giving gifts – it’s my love language).
Eventually, I learned to stop asking and, like my dad, took the situation into my own hands and decided that since Dad has everything he needs (or gets it himself), I would find a way to give him gifts without cluttering up my parents’ home with stuff he won’t use.
So if you need gift ideas for the person who has everything, these are the three options I typically choose from when it comes to giving to my Dad:
My dad has a massive sweet tooth (also got that from him) and enjoys cookies, chocolates and pastries. So guess what? I like to oblige. He’s fond of many of these edible gifts in jars.
He also likes when I give him some of my homemade natural remedies from my shop. Last year I gave him soap, lip balm and my healing balm, which were gladly used. He even mentioned he wanted more this year!
I love spending time with my dad. Like I mentioned before, he’s quite funny. Plus he tells some awesome stories of when he was growing up in Mexico (the sassy, independent spirit runs deep in our family).
So rather than making stuff for him, I sometimes opt for time together by taking him out for coffee or a lunch date. Though he usually insists on paying, so I’m not sure who’s getting the gift there.
3. Gifts in their name
You know what else is lovely? Handing him a Christmas card telling him that we gave a few pairs of chickens in his name to some families in need in Asia. It usually sparks a funny story from growing up on a farm.
Gospel for Asia has a wonderful Christmas catalog that allows you to purchase all sorts of gifts that will help empower families living in poverty. We LOVE their gifts from the stable. You can check it out the catalog here.
Another great organization that we discovered a few years ago is SEED (Sustainable Empowerment through Economic Development). They do something similar to Gospel for Asia and aim to help families all over the world who live in poverty and need sustainable ways to support their families. They also partner with local artisans in those countries to sell their goods to create a sustainable income. I love, love their mission. See all the Christmas giving options here.
Want to help us send more chickens to people in need? Purchase handmade remedies from my shop using the code CHICKENS to get 15% off and have a portion of your total used toward gifts for the Gospel for Asia catalog.
What do you give to the person who has everything?
Today’s post comes from Tiffany Kresinksi, a blogger and reader who shared with me some easy ways she’s found to live more sustainably.
I’m continuously modifying my own lifestyle to make it more sustainable and I love to share my discoveries with other people who really care. If that’s you, check out my list of ways to get in touch with the natural world and reduce your impact on the environment:
1. Become a regular at your local farmer’s market
Chances are, there is a farmer’s market near you that is held regularly. Buying your groceries there means that you are supporting your local family farms and some small businesses, enriching your own neighborhood, and helping to build a strong, close community.
You also get to eat the freshest and tastiest food around.
At the farmer’s market you can actually talk to the people who raise the animals and grow the plants that you eat, so you know exactly where your food comes from and understand exactly how it was prepared.
I can usually find great organic farmers who care about what they do and are committed to providing healthy food free of any additives. (Watch why sustainable food systems like these matter.)
2. Read up and spread the word
There are tons of groups, organizations and businesses out there that are looking for ways to create a more sustainable future, becoming more involved in specialized sustainability certification programs, and making strides to improve the way goods are produced.
A major challenge they face, however, is being able to get the word out about the more sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives that exist. You can lend a hand by doing some research and learning about the different projects going on now. There’s always something more we can do to reduce our personal footprint on the planet.
By reducing what we use and what we waste, we support the sustainability movement with much more than just talk, actually making practical steps towards building a smarter, more ecologically-friendly society.
I’ve read up on some different ways leaders in the industry have been making a positive impact:
- Begley’s Best – a brand of eco-cleaners created by actor Ed Begley Jr. A long-time advocate for sustainable initiatives, his home is powered by solar and wind energy. Ed has also written a guide to sustainable living.
- Cradle-to-Cradle – It’s a program that improves the way products are made, and I suggest checking it out. It was developed by a green architect named William McDonough, and gives guidance to product designers and manufacturers that want to create environmentally sound products.
- OrganicARCHITECT – an alternative to traditional design, designed by Eric Corey Freed, organicARCHITECT helps architects, builders and homeowners use sustainable methods to improve the overall design quality. The program basically improves the design and operations of buildings to make them more efficient and is definitely a game changer in the way we plan for the future of our environment.
- The 11th Hour – a documentary about the impact of humans on the environment, narrated, written and co-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. He has also hosted a sustainability series, “Planet Green’s Eco-Town” which focused on the rebuilding of a town in Kansas that was destroyed by a tornado.
3. Consider wild foods
It doesn’t get much more natural than finding and eating wild foods, which are usually much better for us than even organically grown food. Instead of paying for the growing, shipping, packaging, and selling of food, you can get a lot of your food from foraging on your own or with friends.
Remember, when you pay for food you’re supporting the entire industry that is built around that food.
Did you know that you can eat dandelion leaves and flowers, for example? They’re full of beta-carotene, and are perfect for salads. Pick them while they’re young, because they start to get bitter as they mature.
4. Decrease your paper towel use
This might sound odd, but you’re most likely using paper towels wrong, and it’s hurting the environment. Joe Smith can teach you how to use them correctly, however. There is a proper technique to drying your hands completely, using far fewer paper towels in the process.
If everyone in America reduced their paper towel use by just one per day for a year, we’d save over half a billion pounds of paper towels. It’s a simple change that can have a huge impact.
Even someone with the busiest of schedules can lend a hand to help the environment. Above are only a few of the simple steps we can take to improve the way we use products and resources.
What tips can you share for helping the environment?
Tiffany Krezinski is a wife and mother making little steps to “live the green life.” She is always looking for new ways to improve her lifestyle and support the environment, keeping track of her experiences at, responsible-tourists.blogspot.com.
Chances are, if you’ve stumbled on my site, you’re interested in learning more about using more natural personal care products and want to transition in a way that’s simple and sustainable. You’ve come to the right place.
Maybe you’re intrigued at the thought of saving (and maybe even making) money. Perhaps you’ve noticed some side effects from the products you’ve been using and think you might need to make the switch. Or maybe you’re completely sold on the idea and just need a little help getting started.
Whatever the case, I encourage you to keep it simple so you continue on this journey, without getting (too) overwhelmed.
Here’s what I suggest.
1. One at a time
It’s easy to get overwhelmed at the thought of switching out all of your current personal care products for natural ones all at once. So don’t. (Unless, you know, you’re like me and just can’t help yourself in your zeal.)
Pick your top item to replace, or your top three. It can be any number really. Well, any number between one and five, or it really defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
Once you’ve chosen your top items to start with, decide whether you’ll be buying the replacements or making your own. Then do it.
Contrary to what many brands want you to believe, one size does not fit all. So don’t be alarmed if you try something and it doesn’t work for you. It could be something from Whole Foods, or one of my recipes. Not everything works for everyone.
What works for you, might not work for your husband or kids. Or vice versa. So don’t be afraid to experiment.
Also, please note that there can be a transition period, especially if you’ve been using conventional products you’re whole life. So give it a few weeks at least before moving on to something else. Unless, you know, it’s painful, or you get a funky rash or something.
I love making my own personal care products. It’s the perfect way to blend my creativity with being a cheapskate. Often, my results turn out well. Well enough to sell and make a little money. Or give as gifts so I can save money.
If part of you’re reason for making the switch is to save money, this is the best way to do it. Yes, there is a little investment up front in supplies and ingredients, but like any investment, it yields a great return.
And you can always sell your surplus or go in with a friend to buy what you need and split what you make.
Plus you get to feel like a mad scientist as you’re melting and stirring things in the kitchen. Who doesn’t love that?
Want some great DIY recipes? Here are some of my favorites from around the web:
And there are more ideas here.
What’s been your favorite natural personal care product, either DIY or purchased?
Word on the street is that I’m crunchy. Or, as my mom likes to call me, a hippie. While I’m still not sure if that’s how I’d describe myself, I know it all started when I decided I was going to DIY my personal care products.
It started out innocently enough – I was going to try out this ‘no poo thing to see if it would help my itchy scalp (turns out not eating sugar and other foods that feed candida are most helpful for that). Plus I wanted to save money so we could pay down our debt.
It all kind of snowballed from there. And now I don’t even wash my hair with anything but water and every personal care product I have was DIY or purchased from someone who made it themselves.
If you’re wanting to start making your own products but aren’t sure if it’s time (I’m still not sure if being called a hippie is a good thing or not), check out these reasons for taking the plunge.
You’d be appalled at the amount of toxic chemicals that go into your average personal care item. You’ll find known carcinogens, hormone disruptors, skin irritants, etc. And you’re putting all of this on your skin, where it is absorbed and circulated throughout your body. Shudder.
Want to see what’s in your personal care products? Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Guide.
The reason I love to DIY my own items is because I know what goes in them. I use natural, organic ingredients like shea butter and coconut oil, which offer helpful benefits to my body, not harmful side effects.
The most expensive part of making your own products is the initial investment. After that, making your own personal care products costs a fraction of what you’d spend on commercial products that are free of all the junk you don’t want.
And the great part? You can find creative ways to make that investment easier on your budget:
- Split the cost with friends and have a DIY party
- Choose projects that include the same ingredients so you’re spending less money overall (here are my favorite multi-purpose ingredients)
- Sell your extras to friends and family or open a shop on Etsy (here’s my guide on how to do that)
- Swap with your friends who make things you don’t
- Start by replacing products you use every day and take the money you would have spent on those to buy ingredients
- Add a small amount to your monthly budget for supplies and natural ingredients
When I started making my own personal care products several years ago, I was just hoping to save a little money. I was a bit overwhelmed and wasn’t sure if I’d ever get the hang of it.
Fast forward a few years and I can’t imagine not doing this.
Making your own personal care products is so fun and rewarding, that it soon becomes an enjoyable habit. Instead of wondering how you’re going to get started, you’ll soon find yourself wondering what you can make next.
How do you get started
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend and you want to get a feel for what this will entail, check out this list of 40 DIY projectsthat you can get started with.
If you want a comprehensive guide with everything you need in one place, then I highly recommend DIY Organic Beauty Recipes. It contains over 50 all-natural recipes to help you start making all of your personal care products. You’ll find it here.
What DIY Personal Care Products did/would you start with?
One of the simplest ways to create a natural home is by choosing one room or routine at a time to make changes. Like your laundry routine for instance.
Today I wanted to share some easy, money-saving for greening something we all have to deal with – the laundry.
Make your own detergent
Eco-friendly laundry detergents are expensive and still contain harmful chemicals you don’t want in your body. Why bother with the added expense and toxic chemicals when you can easily make your own detergent? (more…)
A few years ago, I was desperate to cut our living expenses so I could quit a job I hated and stay home with my kids. After making a plan to get out of debt, my husband and I committed to “living like no one else, so later we could live like no one else.” So the budget cutting began.
I quickly found some obvious ways to reduce our monthly expenses: ditch the satellite, change our cell phone plan, cancel the gym membership.
When I looked at our trash bill and decided we could do with a much smaller can, I didn’t realize that I was making a decision that would impact more than the size of our garbage receptacle. In order to switch to the smallest garbage can, we had to make some serious changes in our house, changes that we’ve stuck to because they lower our budget and lower our family’s footprint:
I had never recycled before. Our city’s garbage service didn’t offer it as an option and I grew up in a house where everything went in the trash. When I looked at all of the garbage we were producing that could have been recycled, I knew it was unacceptable and I needed to do something about it.
We started a simple recycling system (if you could call it a system – we just put stuff in a big box) and took the stuff in to the recycling center when it
got full started overflowing. I might get actual recycling bins someday.
My parents have chickens, so when I became more aware of all the waste we were producing, I decided that we needed to save our kitchen scraps (there were also efforts made to reduce food waste) to give to the chickens since we were at my parents’ house so much.
When we moved a little farther away, we started a compost pile in the backyard so we wouldn’t have to throw more stuff away. Someday, I’d like a compost tumbler or two to speed up the process.
I was bringing in a lot of unnecessary waste and I didn’t even realize it. Food packaging was the main offender, so I got a lot pickier about the products I would buy and made sure I had my reusable grocery bags on hand when I entered the store (if I don’t remember, I’ll often just carry the stuff out, which helps me remember the next time).
Here are some ways I refuse to bring in waste:
- Refill liquid castile soap at Whole Foods
- Refill maple syrup
- Purchase honey in bulk (reusable gallon jars) from a local farmer
- Purchase food from bulk bins, either reusing the same plastic bags or using cloth bags
- Use reusable produce bags
- Buy milk in glass bottles that can be returned or reused at my house
- Refill printer ink at Costco
- Buy bulk food that comes in bigger containers, rather than a bunch of small ones
- Take a mason jar with my cuppow or reusable water bottle when I’m out and about
- Make my own stuff, like kombucha, yogurt, etc.
The move to a smaller garbage can also prompted me to buy things I could reuse. I realized that pretty quickly with diapers – it’s really easy to fill a tiny garbage can with diapers when you’ve got two kids who aren’t using the toilet. The decision to ditch disposables really reduced our waste and made a huge difference in our budget.
These are some of the things we use now instead of disposable goods:
- Cloth napkins
- Kitchen hand towels
- Glass spray bottles for homemade cleaners
- Egg cartons
- Plastic zipper bags
- Cloth diapers and wipes
- Menstrual Cup
- Glass jars of all sizes
This isn’t a complete list (some stuff has become so normal that I forget we never used to do it), but it’s a start. There are numerous ways you can lower budget just by addressing what’s creating waste in your home (I didn’t even talk about energy waste!).
Have you lowered your budget by reducing waste? What did you do?