A Minimalistic Approach to Summer

After binging on busyness for nine months, I’m spending the summer purging commitments from our lives. This year, my minimalistic approach to summer includes three Rs: Rest. Rejuvenation. Refocus.

By Hilary Bernstein, Contributing Writer

Whew. The school year is over. Does anyone else want to breathe a huge sigh of relief with me?

In many ways, it feels like my family’s been on fast forward since school began last August. And I’m tired.

Even though I homeschool my two children, our year’s been jam-packed with co-ops and lessons. Strangely enough, I tried to be intentional with our plans this year,  yet somehow we ended up with at least one family member having some sort of a commitment five nights of the week. That left us Friday and Saturday nights as a family without having to run around – only if we didn’t make other plans with family or friends.

I don’t mean to complain. We weren’t busy just for the sake of being busy, and we certainly tried to only commit to worthwhile groups and activities. But too much is too much. When our commitments started to wind down last month, we all breathed sighs of relief.

  • We could linger at the dinner table instead of rushing through dinner and running out the door.
  • We could play board games or card games or outside games together before bedtime.
  • I could teach my children how to cook or bake or garden.
  • I could finally start to tackle the mess that had now crept into most rooms of my house.
  • We could be more intentional about our lives.

After binging on busyness for nine months, I’m spending the summer purging commitments from our lives. This year, my minimalistic approach to summer includes three Rs: Rest. Rejuvenation. Refocus.

After binging on busyness for nine solid months, I’m spending the summer purging the commitments from our lives. Oh, sure, we still have swim lessons and vacation plans, but we’re ditching the non-essentials.

This year, my minimalistic approach to summer includes three Rs:

Rest.

Rejuvenation.

Refocus.

After binging on busyness for nine months, I’m spending the summer purging commitments from our lives. This year, my minimalistic approach to summer includes three Rs: Rest. Rejuvenation. Refocus.

Rest

I’d love to imagine that I’m going to catch up on my sleep this summer, but with two elementary-aged kiddos roaming my house, that’s not going to happen. (They haven’t reached the sleeping in phase yet.)

Rather, my rest is going to come from refusing to run everywhere all summer long. Our commitments are few, and we’re trying to stay at home. It may mean long, boring summer days for our kids – which is OK!! – and hopefully it will mean more time spent as a family, whether we’re eating out on our deck, reading books together on a blanket in the shade, or going on neighborhood walks together.

After binging on busyness for nine months, I’m spending the summer purging commitments from our lives. This year, my minimalistic approach to summer includes three Rs: Rest. Rejuvenation. Refocus.

Rejuvenation

What good is a summer without some fun? Since it’s finally warm in my corner of the world, I want my family to get outside as much as possible and soak up the sun and warm weather. I just know that running through the sprinkler, eating tomatoes fresh off our garden vines, or chasing fireflies at dusk will do wonders in reviving our spirits.

Refocus

As much as I’d like to ideally spend my summer resting and having fun, I do need to keep some responsibility in my life. Over the next couple months I’ll try to refocus on what is truly important and ask myself the hard questions:

  • What needs to stay in our lives during the coming school year?
  • What needs to be eliminated during the coming school year?
  • What should our family focus on in this next year of our lives?
  • What should we learn about?
  • How can I improve our education, home, business, outreach, and relationships?

Along with my time of reflection, I need to refocus the efforts in my house. My school room must get cleaned up before another year begins. My basement desperately needs a new way of organization. (I know, I know … minimalism is all about getting rid of what you don’t need, which I’ve done. But I use our basement to store clothing my children will grow into and their toy rotation, among other things.)

After binging on busyness for nine months, I’m spending the summer purging commitments from our lives. This year, my minimalistic approach to summer includes three Rs: Rest. Rejuvenation. Refocus.

If I can refocus my home and my family’s priorities by Labor Day weekend, I’ll be thrilled.

And if I can stick to rest, rejuvenation and refocus this summer, I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished much with my minimalistic plans.

If you’re culling commitments from your summer, what does your minimalistic approach to summer look like?

Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products You Really Use

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This week’s top deals:

BHSJune Savings at Bulk Herb Store

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Give Dad a FREE Beesilk pocket size bar from MadeOn Hard Lotion.  Just pay shipping.  Add the Beesilk pocket size bar to your cart. Apply code “DAD2015″ and the bar is free.  You can even send a bar straight to Dad, along with a gift note included with your order.  Offer only good for TODAY.  Coupon code ends at midnight Tuesday, June 16, 2015.abeslogo_r

AbesMarket.com

Natural for the People

Check out the sales at Abe’s Market.  Loads of natural, organic and eco-friendly products on sale!  Here are just a few:

chocjarnew-squareRegular $4.99 On Sale $2.99  Chocolate Powdered Peanut Butter  6.7 oz on sale at Abe’s Market

syrupRegular $12.50 On Sale $7.50 Organic Ginger Syrup  3 Pack/ 8 oz ea.  on sale at Abe’s market 

jesbenitph.sqRegular $7.98  On Sale $3.99  Jesben Slow Cooker Sauces on sale at Abe’s Market

Several great deals at Tropical Traditions right now!

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Buy 1 Get 1 FREE Virgin Coconut Oil Liquid Soap Pumps  Only $10.99 for 2  Sale ends Thursday, June 18, 2015

soapBut 1 Get 1 FREE Virgin Coconut Oil Scented Bar Soaps  Only $7.99 for 2 Sale ends Thursday, June 18, 2015

 

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60% OFF Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil for Hair Treatment Only $9.99/16oz.  Sale ends Sunday, June 21, 2015

 

Organic-Herbal-Breath-Spray35% OFF Herbal Breath Spray  Only 9.99.  Sale ends Sunday, June 21, 2015

 

organic-maple-syrup-16-oz-glass30% OFF Organic Grade B Maple Syrup Only $18.90/16oz.  Sale ends Sunday, June 21, 2015

 

lip_webBuy 1 Get 1 FREE Virgin Coconut Oil Lip Moisturizers Only $3.75 for 2. They come in 5 varieties: Cinnamon/Peppermint, Tea Tree Oil, Orange/Cinnamon, Citrus, Vanilla, Coconut, and Unscented.  Sale ends June 21, 2015

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Lowest Price To-Date! Just $2.40  Are You My Mother? (Bright & Early Board Books(TM)) Board book  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

Hat tip to Jungle Deals and Steals!
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palm sugarJust $5.49  Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Coconut Sugar, 16-Ounce.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

vacuumA great Father’s Day Gift Idea!

List Price $107.95 On Sale $48.99   Shop-Vac 5986000 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum.  Qualifies for FREE shipping.

FREE Kindle eBooks:

(Note: Prices can change without notice so please double check the price before purchasing)

paleoPaleo Gluten Free Slow Cooker Recipes: Against All Grains (Paleo Recipes Book 4)
GFGluten-Free Recipe Sampler: Delicious Recipes for Pizza, Biscuits and More from Our Favorite Cookbooks
groceryThe Strategic Grocery Shopping Guide: How to find the best food, save money and improve your health

Kindle eBooks for Less Than $1:

debt freeDebt Free for Life: The Ultimate Guide to Get Out of Debt

Hat tip to Money Saving Mom for these eBooks!

This week’s best coupons:

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!
About prices: Though we do our very best to post only current deals and prices and to let you know when offers expire, companies can and do change their prices and offers at their own discretion, and we have no control over this. If you notice that a deal has changed, please let us know and we’ll change the post to alert other readers that something is no longer available. Thanks for understanding!

My 10 Favorite Real-Food Recipe Sites

Looking for some new real-food recipe sites? Check out my favorites!

Need some help finding great real food recipe sources? Here's ten great sites to start with, and tips to modify non-whole food recipes!

By Jessica Smartt, Contributing Writer

I have recently started meal-planning for the month. It is just amazing to look at the month of meals, PLANNED, in my calendar! While it is a bit of a bear to plan 30 days of meals at once, the rewards far outweigh the trouble! Anyone with me??

Whatever your method of planning meals (or not planning meals!) there probably comes a point where you think, what am I going to make for dinner? I need some inspiration! Here are the places I go for real-food meal-planning inspiration:

  • Keeper of the Home, of course! Sometimes I type “meal plan” or “recipe round-up” in the search bar, and this is the jackpot, because you’ll end up with lots of meal ideas!
  • For The Love of Cooking: Nothing fancy-schmancy, just normal good food.
  • The Pioneer Woman: No, not every recipe is 100% real food, but I can often adapt (for example, using this cream-of-soup recipe, or other homemade versions of things).
  • All Recipes: I like the reviews and comments feature of this site. I often use this site when I want a recipe for something kind of common (chicken enchiladas, for example). I’m able to see which recipe is most popular and get ideas that way. You do have to weed through a lot of standard-American recipes, but many are real-food!
  • Damn Delicious: I know, I know…the name! I wish it were different! But the recipes sure are…delicious.
  • Nourishing Home: I love Kelly’s recipes, especially the sweets!
  • Stacy Makes Cents: You’d be surprised how many things you can make in a Crock-Pot, even in the warm-weather months!
  • 100 Days of Real Food: It seems she has a recipe for everything!
  • Kitchen Stewardship:  I don’t know what I like more…the recipes, or Katie’s adorable sense of humor!
  • Pinterest: Real earth-shattering news here! We all know Pinterest is great for recipe searches, but I do have to give a specific shout-out to my allergy-friendly dinner board. It is a great place to look if you have dietary restrictions, like our family. Nothing gets your mouth watering like browsing Pinterest late at night for recipes!

So now it’s your turn. Where’s your favorite real-food recipe sites?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

 

Weekend Links

{Keeper of the Home}

Links for this week:

Stranger Danger: Just Buy the Burger @ Grace Table

The Day My Son Gave Up on Me @ Huffington Post

Paleo Chocolate Beet Cake Recipe @ Paleo Spirit

Please stop telling me you’re too busy. @ John Acuff

Always Look for the Light @ (in)courage

16 Recipes and Tips for Real Food Camping @ GNOWFGLINS

Searching for a More Balanced Life @ Nomadic Matt

when you want to thrive instead of just barely survive @ A Holy Experience

It’s almost officially summer! What vacation plans do you have?

4 Tips for Eating Real Food While Traveling Abroad

After traveling to Costa Rica, the biggest lesson I learned was that eating real food while traveling abroad is only as difficult as we make it out to be. Real food truly is simple.

By Tiffany Crumbs, Contributing Writer

For six years, my husband and I scrimped, saved and pinched every penny we could for one big purpose: a family trip to Costa Rica. We worked hard for YEARS to get out of debt, so being able to take this big of a trip – without going back into debt to do so – was important to us.

My type-A, list-making foodie self worked in our favor when we were in extreme savings mode. When we saw the potential of savings if we kept a meager grocery budget, I started making monthly meal plans. When combined with all the little ways you can save money in the kitchen, our far-fetched savings goal for Costa Rica soon became a reality!

Naturally, when it came to preparing for our first trip abroad as a family, I wrote lots of lists to ensure I had the bases covered. Packing lists, shopping lists and even a list of healthy airport snacks.

I felt completely prepared… until I realized that once we touched ground in Costa Rica, everything food-related eating would be on the fly.

There was no plan because I didn’t know what types of food we’d eat. There would be little making from scratch because I didn’t know what tools I’d have, or if we could find the ingredients. I still had to figure out which store was the grocery store and how to get there in the first place!

I was completely out of my comfort zone on every front I could imagine. I couldn’t speak (or read) the language, understand the currency and I didn’t have access to any recipes. Of course it all worked out in the end, but I learned some pretty valuable tips that we’ll be using the next time we’re traveling abroad, no matter where that might be!

After traveling to Costa Rica, the biggest lesson I learned was that eating real food while traveling abroad is only as difficult as we make it out to be. Real food truly is simple.

4 Tips for Real Food While Traveling Abroad

#1 – Keep it simple.

My natural inclination at home is to cook the best meal I can using cheaper cuts of beef, whole chickens that I cut up myself, lots of homemade spices and an array of fresh produce. This just wasn’t feasible in Costa Rica.

Meat in general is very expensive. Buying large quantities of several spices to make my own mixes would end up being a waste for our short two-week stay. Fresh produce was abundant, but the selection is limited to what’s available in the area that day rather than the luxury of choosing whatever fruits and vegetables we wanted. It was the epitome of eating local!

We learned that for the trip, our meals needed to be very, very simple. Protein + starch + produce. It didn’t matter what type of meat we cooked and whether or not it went well with leftover rice or homemade tortillas. Mangoes, pineapples, carrots and green beans all held equal status at the table. We reminded ourselves that food is meant to nourish our bodies.

Whether it was chicken at breakfast or oatmeal for dinner, so long as it was real food, what it looks like on a plate didn’t matter.

#2 – Eat what the locals eat.

Locals know what’s in season, what tastes good and what’s affordable. Take a cue from them when shopping for food and ordering meals.

Remember that the imported/exported situation might be different. Bananas, mangoes, avocados, tomatoes and pineapple are local and abundant in Costa Rica, so they’re very affordable and very good! But apples are not local and the price showed. Four very small apples at a market were priced at over $5, and they were imported from the States!

Locals sold ceviche on the beach, but we rarely (if ever) saw people eat beef because of the poor quality and high cost.

After traveling to Costa Rica, the biggest lesson I learned was that eating real food while traveling abroad is only as difficult as we make it out to be. Real food truly is simple.

#3 – Don’t expect (and in some cases, even try) to find what you’re used to.

What’s normal for the U.S. isn’t normal in Costa Rica. Going in with the expectation that you’ll find what you’re used to finding is merely setting yourself up for disappointment. Plus, there’s a good chance it’ll be very expensive.

We kept our expectations pretty low at the grocery store, but what we found on store shelves was still very different from the options we were used to. There was only one brand of olive oil (that wasn’t extra virgin), two options for oats (plain rolled or flavored instant) and one brand of butter. There was however, a section of ready-to-make sugary drinks and an entire aisle dedicated to rice and beans!

#4 – Plan ahead when, or if, you can.

If you’re traveling abroad, there’s a good chance you’ll end up doing typical tourist stuff. Planning ahead for these trips – and for coming home – can really help save your sanity in the long run. Think of items you can pack that don’t require a cooler, like nuts, dried fruit and rice bowls with chicken and vegetables, and take them with you.

Or consider prepping dinner before you leave the house. Having a pan full of chopped onions and potatoes ready to be thrown in the oven as soon as you get back from the pool or excursion will be a huge time saver. Even more so when everyone’s hungry when they first walk through the door!

After traveling to Costa Rica, the biggest lesson I learned was that eating real food while traveling abroad is only as difficult as we make it out to be. Real food truly is simple.

So what did a normal day’s menu look like in Costa Rica?

Before we went shopping, we made a rough sketch of how many meals we wanted to plan for in accordance with what we’d be doing. Here’s what our shopping list looked like:

whole chicken, butter, flour, rice, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, coffee, oats, eggs

We supplemented this list with what we found at the fruit stands and ended up bringing home:

onions, potatoes, carrots, green beans, bananas, mangoes, LOTS of pineapple, cilantro, tomatoes, jalapenos, lettuce

We took these items and did our best to make the following from memory:

Aside from these tips, the biggest lesson I learned was that eating real food while traveling abroad is only as difficult as we make it out to be. Real food truly is simple, so keeping it that way made for a fun, stress-free trip without any sacrifices in deliciousness!

Have you ever traveled out of the country? Did you have difficulty finding or eating real food when traveling abroad? I’d love to hear what the average meal was for you!

Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products You Really Use

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This week’s top deals:

abes

50% Off Healthy Snacks at Abe’s Market.  Limited time offer.  FREE shipping on orders over $49

yogiJust $2.88!  Yogi Honey Lavender Stress Relief Tea, 16 Tea Bags.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

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As Low As $6.78-$7.58  McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract-16 oz is on sale for $7.98.  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

ninjaThis deal is still available!

List Price $249.99  On Sale $159.99  Ninja Mega Kitchen System (BL771) Qualifies for FREE shipping.

legoList Price $12.99 On Sale $9.87  LEGO Star Wars Geonosis Troopers.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

medelaList Price $18.99 On Sale $11.59   Medela Pump and Save Breast Milk Bags, 50 Count.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

tomsAs Low As $7.85-$8.78 ($2.62-$2.93/tube) Tom’s of Maine Fluoride Free Children’s Toothpaste, Silly Strawberry, 4.2 oz, 3 Piece  is on sale for $9.24.  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

Hat Tip to Jungle Deals & Steals

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25% Off Site-Wide for DaySpring’s Customer Appreciation Sale.  Starts today!  Receive 25% off site-wide with code THANKYOU at checkout. There are no exclusions with this sale. Free shipping will apply to any $50 purchase (including clearance).  Ends July 12, 2015
Green_Your_Life-3d_book_cover_500-e1383542210309Just $0.99  Green Your Life: A Guide to Natural, Eco-Friendly Living.  Sale ends June 10th at midnight!  Get the PDF version here, also just $0.99.

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Father’s Day Gift Idea!

List Price $75.00 On Sale $27.98  Gerber 31-000749 Bear Grylls Survival Series Ultimate Multitool with Nylon Sheath.  Qualifies for FREE shipping.

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FREE Kindle eBooks:

(Note: Prices can change without notice so please double check the price before purchasing)

GF

Gluten Free and Wheat Free Guide With Recipes (Boxed Set): Beat Celiac or Coeliac Disease and Gluten Intolerance
laundry

The Tidy Laundry Room: A simple system for keeping your laundry room clean, organized and clutter-free
debt

Debt Free for Life: The Ultimate Guide to Get Out of Debt
paleo

Paleo Breakfast Recipes: Quick and Easy Gluten-Free, Low Carb, High Protein Solution Recipes to Start your Day!!

This week’s best coupons:

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!
About prices: Though we do our very best to post only current deals and prices and to let you know when offers expire, companies can and do change their prices and offers at their own discretion, and we have no control over this. If you notice that a deal has changed, please let us know and we’ll change the post to alert other readers that something is no longer available. Thanks for understanding!

How to Make Your Own Sunscreen Lotion

You can easily make your own sunscreen – and it's easy! Why bother doing that? Because store-bought isn't exactly the safest option, the chemicals can be worse than getting a sunburn!

This post was originally published in June of 2008, but this topic is always an important one as the days grow longer and the summer sun returns each year!

I have a small list of things I never thought I would make myself, and sunscreen happens to be on that list. It feels good to prove myself wrong, and realize that yet another product that felt so elusive and out-of-reach to me is actually dead easy to make.

Last week, a friend and I gathered in my kitchen with our oldest daughters to attempt to create some safe and chemical-free, SPF 30 sunscreen… without fancy equipment, without any previous know-how, without an FDA stamp of approval.

First things first… do we even need sunscreen?

Most of the time, I would say no. Our family rarely uses it because I don’t believe it is generally helpful or even wise to use frequently. Particularly for us, living in the gray West Coast, we need the Vitamin D desperately (and I recently learned that it takes us until September each year to get back up to optimal levels after the winter!).

Instead of frequent sunscreen use, we employ a lot of common sense tactics to stay safe in the sun.

Occasionally, though, I feel like it’s the right move to pull out a bottle, to avoid burning during long periods of sun exposure (like a day at the beach). If you’ve been around this blog for long, you’ve probably already guessed that I won’t use the conventional sunscreen products lining the store shelves. I want something safer for my family.

So what does “safer” sunscreen mean?

From my understanding based on what I’ve read, the safest sunscreens are those with the same types of natural ingredients that you would want in any other type of skincare product.

Nourishing oils like coconut, shea butter, jojoba, almond, etc. and potentially other ingredients like green tea extract or other antioxidants to protect the skin. Minerals (zinc oxide being the most common) provide the actual barrier between the sun and your skin.

This is just a very short list, but these are some of the ingredients we want to avoid:

  • Oxybenzone (found in 65% of sunscreens)- a hormone disrupting chemical
  • Retinol palmitate (a form of Vitamin A- fine in the body, but probably harmful on skin)
  • Methoxycinnamate or Octinoxate
  • Padimate O/PABA
  • Nano or Micronized mineral particles

If you really want to learn more about what to avoid, and what to look for I would highly recommend the EWG Sunscreen 2012 Guide.

In particular, take a look at the sunscreens that rated the best, and then some articles on sunscreen safety and efficacy, such as What’s Wrong With the Sunscreen Protection Business, Health Agencies Question Sunscreen Efficacy, Sunscreens Exposed: 9 Surprising Truths, and Does Sunscreen Damage Skin?.

Additionally, Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has done some amazing research into sun protection over the last couple of summers. Of particular interest are her posts Do Mineral Based Sunblocks Work?, Sunscreen, Skin Cancer and Safety: How Much Do You Need?, and Natural Sunscreen Updates (on her VERY thorough and looong list of sunscreens that she has personally reviewed).

Which leads me to making my own sunscreen

This recipe intrigued me because it’s the same basic list of ingredients in MadeOn’s hard lotion bars, which are entirely pure and non-toxic (and which my skin loves). It’s been adapted to create more of a smooth lotion texture, with the addition of zinc oxide power (not in nano or micronzied particle form), for UVA protection. If you’re curious about the safety of zinc oxide, read more here.

It comes from the ebook, My Buttered Life: Summer Edition (which includes several other summer skin recipes, like bug repellant and after-sun skin conditioner). In the book, Renee addresses the issue of SPF and this is what she says:

According to an article on Badger Balmʼs website, zinc oxide should be 20% of the formula in order to get an SPF30. This recipe is right at 20% so this would be considered SPF30

Not bad. SPF 30 is as high as we really need. In my Skin Deep Database reading, I read that although many formulas claim even higher SPFs than that, they realistically may not be and provide a false sense of protection. If we think we need something higher, then maybe we shouldn’t be out in the sun for that long.

Here’s how we made our own sunscreen:

Our simple ingredients:

  • 1/2 oz. beeswax granules/pastilles (I believe we found this to be 1/8 cup when we converted it)
  • 1/4 cup shea butter (2 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (2 oz.)
  • 2 Tbsp. zinc oxide powder (1 oz.)

We added the two oils and then the beeswax to a glass bowl.

This is our makeshift double boiler, a glass bowl sitting on top of a pot with boiling water turned to a low simmer. It’s a blurry picture, but I thought it may still be helpful to see how we did it. We just had to be very careful with the hot glass bowl when we lifted it off, but other than that, this worked fine.

Once the oils were melted, we removed the bowl (set it on a folded towel on the counter) and dumped in the zinc oxide powder.

The book had recommended a stick blender, but mine is broken and I couldn’t find another one at the thrift store. So, I settled for using a regular hand mixer and it did the job just fine. The goal was to thoroughly blend in the zinc oxide until there were no clumps, and to whip the oils just a bit.

Once it was smooth, we poured it into glass mason jars.

The day we made it (after it cooled off) it had a thinner consistency. I took this picture on a cooler day, and you can see that it’s quite a thick lotion now. I was worried that it might not rub into our skin well, but I shouldn’t have worried.

This is how it looked as I first began rubbing it onto my daughter’s arm, but within a few seconds it softened and went on very nicely.

I wondered if it would leave a pale, ghostly white look, but it didn’t. You can see that the arm on the left is slightly lighter (this is the one with sunscreen). But, the difference isn’t very noticeable.

I want to tell you that we’ve been using it in the hot sun with great success, but where we live (the gray West Coast) we’ve had so few sunny days that I haven’t been able to properly test it out. I intend to as soon as we get some sun, and then I’ll update this post with how it works for us. What I do know is that in the past we’ve had success with natural-brand mineral sunblocks, so I expect that we will have a similar experience with this one. If anyone else has tried this, I would love to hear how it worked for you!

Update: We finally got a day to try it! We used it at the park on a very hot, sunny day. After over an hour of direct sunlight, plus another 45 minutes of on and off sunlight, no one was pink in the slightest, not even the baby with his super-fair skin (and we weren’t covered up, using hats, etc). Next I’ll try it on a water day and update again. :)

Update a year later: We’ve had opportunities to use this recipe while in the hot, glaring sun of southern Europe in the summer time. It provides us with excellent coverage, combined with our common sense techniques, and when we use it, we don’t burn. Even better, I recently bought one tube of a highly reviewed mineral sunscreen made by Badger, wouldn’t you know what the ingredients were? Simple oils like the ones we used, beeswax, zinc oxide, and just a bit of Vitamin E to preserve it. I guess we made “real” sunscreen after all!

Want to make your own sunscreen?

The recipe came from this book, My Buttered Life: Summer Edition. The oils and zinc oxide powder came from a DIY kit from MadeOn Skincare.

Just for KOTH readers from MadeOn! Right now you can get a free order of zinc oxide on orders over $25.00! Once your cart reaches $25.00, add the zinc oxide to your cart, use code KOHZINC and the zinc will be free! Expires June 30th, 2015.

She also shares some ideas for purchasing the products yourself in the ebook, if you wanted to buy them individually and not in the kit. Two websites that you could use for purchasing these ingredients are From Nature With Love, as well as Mountain Rose Herbs (but it looks as though they do not carry the zinc oxide powder, only the other ingredients).

You can also try viewing the videos that Renee has made, this one for making the regular sunscreen that we made, as well as this one for making a different version that goes in a pump.

Here's how to make your own sunscreen – safe and chemical-free, SPF 30 – without fancy equipment or ingredients.

What is your stance on sunscreen… do you use it or not?

Disclosure: I received this kit and ebook for the purpose of review. This post includes affiliate links.

Weekend Links

{Keeper of the Home}

Winner of the Once A Month Meals Giveaway!

Congratulations to Lauren M. who won our Once A Month Meals Giveaway last week!

Links for this week:

Clunky Me @ SheLoves Magazine

Hallelujah for the morning (or, how I pray) @ Sarah Bessey

Roasted Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon @ 100 Days of Real Food

Tell your story, then live it. @ The Art of Simple

A Better Kind of Ambition @ (in)courage

Strawberry Meringue Shells with Lemon Curd @ GNOWFGLINS

Keep Walking @ Redemption Pictures

Minimalism & The Pursuit of Happiness @ Becoming Minimalist

June Sponsors

Are you looking for companies that share the same values you do? Here at Keeper of the Home we curate a fabulous selection of companies that fit well with our audience. Here are our sponsors this month!

Plan to Eat | Eating at Home is About to Get Easier

EntreFamily | lead an uncommon life

Tropical Traditions | America’s Source for Coconut Oil

MadeOn Hard Lotion | Hard Lotion For Dry Skin

The Healthy Lunchbox | Sandwich-free Secrets to Packing a Real Food Lunch

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Also, have you seen our Natural Living Guide? It’s a fantastic go-to resource for natural products and services from companies we know and trust! Check it out!

Tell me about your week. Let’s catch up a little!

How to choose a natural, non-toxic nail polish

Sometimes a coat of nail polish is all we need to feel a bit better about ourselves – but what about the chemicals?? Here's a great guide for buying non-toxic nail polish to add some fun color to your toes and fingers!

Just because I can’t reach (or barely see) them past my 9-month pregnant belly, doesn’t mean I don’t like having cute, painted toenails in the summer time.

I’ve never been a huge fan of fingernail polish, because I find it chips too easily with cooking and cleaning, but I’ve always loved to keep my little piggies brightly polished.

Painted toenails helps my feet to look pretty and makes me feel more put together and cheerful. Sometimes it’s the little things, right?

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What I’m not so in love with is conventional nail polish

The chemicals used to make these bright and charming colors can be particularly toxic, especially when you consider how strong nail polish fumes can be.

We’re breathing it in the whole time we’re painting, and then after as they linger in the bathroom.

What exactly is in nail polish, anyways?

Common nail polish ingredients include the “big 3″:

  • Toluene – A moderate skin irritant, but more importantly, it can cause issues with the central nervous system. It also has developmental and reproductive toxicity concerns. EWG actually rates it as a 10 (the very worst/highest rating) and recommends avoiding it completely.
  • FormaldehydeMost concerning is that formaldehyde is well-known as a human carcinogen (something that causes cancer), as well as being recognized as a general toxin or allergen to the immune system and our organs. It also receives a rating of 10, should be avoided completely and has been banned in some uses (very restricted use in Europe and banned in Canadian cosmetics, though I couldn’t find anything to indicate these types of restrictions in the USA, despite its known concerns- surprise, surprise, right?).
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)Another lovely 10 rating. This one because of it’s endocrine disruption, a fancy way of saying that it messes up hormones. With this comes developmental and reproductive toxicity, particularly to baby boys, as well as general organ toxicity. This has been banned in Europe, but not in North America, to my knowledge.

Wow, right? These are some serious toxins, and yet they are common ingredients in many, many brands of nail polish, particularly the cheapest ones you find at the drug store and the high-end brands in salons!

Not only are they harmful for us, but I didn’t realize until researching for this post that conventional nail polish is actually considered so hazardous and toxic that it should be disposed of at a hazardous waste site. Who knew??

As with many beauty products, I decided long ago that I’d rather go without than expose myself (or my daughters) to these nasty and toxic ingredients.

Back when I first started learning about nail polish, among other things, there weren’t too many options out on the market, and therefore, my nails generally went au naturel.

But today is a new day, and if you’d still like to add a splash of color to your feet or hands, there are some excellent options for doing so!

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How to choose a less-toxic nail polish

I’ll confess that this gets a bit tricky. I frequently use the Environmental Working Guide (EWG) to search for and test the beauty and personal care products that we use in our home. Many nail polishes are covered in the guide, but of course, they can’t cover every brand.

If you can find a brand in the EWG, I would recommend choosing something with a rating between 0 and 2, for the lowest toxicity possible.

If it hasn’t been listed or rated in EWG, then research specifically to make sure that it does not contain the 3 chemicals mentioned about: toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP).

Even better, look for a polish that’s know as a “5-free”, meaning that it contains no:

My own well-used natural polish collection.

My own well-loved natural polish collection.

14 more natural nail polishes to choose from

To help remove some of the sleuthing work from your plate, I’ve done a little research and testing of my own.

I’ve actually been trying out “natural” brands of nail polish for about 3 years, since I first discovered they existed.

First, I’ll share about the brands I’m most familiar with (that I’ve either personally tried or have heard a lot about). Then I’ll mention a few more that I stumbled upon in my research.

** brands that I personally own and have used for myself and/or my daughters.

Zoya

** Zoya

EWG rating: 1 or 2

(It was difficult to find proper date- the polish remover is a 4, though most removers rank higher than the polishes themselves, and I found a couple individual colors listed as 1 or 2)

Hands down, my favorite! Beautiful colors, and there are just so many to choose from. I find it very easy to apply, long-lasting and it looks like professional quality. LOVE this stuff. It is a “5-free” and one of the more affordably priced at only $9-10 per bottle.

Where to buy: Amazon, Zoya website (most color selection)

Scotch Naturals

Scotch Naturals

EWG rating: no rating

I’ve seen this one around a lot, so it’s fairly easy to purchase, but apparently it only works well if you use base and top coat. Which, of course, makes it more expensive and more of a pain, but then you do get lovely colors (and they definitely have pretty ones to choose from).

Where to buy: Amazon (small selection), Scotch Naturals website, Abe’s Market

Hopscotch Kids

Hopscotch Kids

EWG rating: no rating

This is the kid’s version of Scotch Naturals. Again, nice colors, but it’s expensive and you’ll want to use base/top coat.

Where to buy: Amazon, Hopscotch Kids website, Abe’s Market

Piggy Paint

** Piggy Paint

EWG rating: 2 for colors (0 or 1 for base/top coat)

This doesn’t stay on nails long, but my girls still liked it. Plenty of very cute kids colors. I wouldn’t personally wear it as an adult. They suggest using their top and base coat for better performance, but I’m not going to bother with all of that for a kid’s nail polish.

Where to buy: Target, Amazon, Piggy Paint website, Vitacost (get $10 off $30 Vitacost coupon)

Suncoat

** Suncoat

EWG rating: 1

We have Suncoat Girl, although I think the regular version is very similar. This is actually a water-based, peelable nail polish, so you shouldn’t need to use remover. They also have a plus they have a more classic polish, that’s not peelable. We found that it chips less easily than Piggy Paint, though it still comes off quicker than others. The bottles aren’t too expensive, but then again, they’re a little smaller than the average bottle, so they still don’t work out to be cheap.

Where to buy: Vitacost (get $10 off $30 Vitacost coupon), Amazon (limited selection), Suncoat website

Acquarella

Acquarella

EWG rating: 1

I don’t know much about this, though I’ve seen it frequently and the color choice looks good. A rating of 1 is great, so it seems worth a try.

Where to buy: Acquarella website, Amazon

Honeybee Gardens

** Honeybee Gardens

EWG rating:  1

One of the more natural ones that I’ve tried. They also have a great non-toxic polish remover. I personally don’t like their color choices as much and though it wasn’t bad, I didn’t love the polish, either. But if you can find a color you love, it would be worthwhile.

Where to buy: Amazon, Vitacost (get $10 off $30 Vitacost coupon), Honeybee Gardens website

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** Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC)

EWG rating: 2

Not a huge selection of colors (only 16) but the ones they have are decent and I found it goes on smoothly and doesn’t chip easily.

Where to buy: Amazon, BWC website

Keeki

Keeki

EWG rating: 2

I have read that this one chips easily and feels cheap, but I haven’t tried myself so I can’t really say.

Where to buy: Keeki website, Amazon, Abe’s Market

SpaRitual

** SpaRitual

EWG rating: 5/6

I received this one from a spa pedicure and it sounded like a good, non-toxic brand, so I was surprised to find it rate so badly on EWG! Besides that, for being from a salon, it chipped far faster than something like Zoya, so I wouldn’t use it again anyways.

Where to buy: Amazon, SpaRitual website

Others I hadn’t heard of before:

100% Pure

100% Pure

EWG: no score

But their ingredients sound very good and they have lots of pretty colors on their website, so I’d like to give it a try.

Where to buy: 100% Pure website, Amazon

LVX

LVX

EWG: no score

This is a “5 free”, and the reviews of it are good, so although it is a little expensive, I think it’s another one worth trying.

Where to buy: LVX website, Amazon

Gabriel Organics

Gabriel Organics

EWG: no score

I hadn’t heard of this one, but noticed it is very affordable at Vitacost and it’s a 5-free. They only have a few colors, but I know many of you shop there and I also have a $10 referral coupon (off a $30 purchase) that I can offer you, so if you’d like to give it a try, this may be a good way to do it.

Where to buy: Vitacost (get $10 off $30 Vitacost coupon), Amazon, Gabriel website

Sheswai

Sheswai

EWG: no score

This brand is expensive, but well-reviewed. However, it’s only a 3-free, so it may not be quite as natural as some others.

Where to buy: Amazon, Sheswai website

Also worth considering:

OPI

I was surprised to see some OPI shades come up at 2 in EWG, so those are worth checking out (mostly their celebrity limited edition lines – like Mariah Carey, Nicole, Selena Gomez, etc.).

Sally Hansen

I also saw a few Revlon and Sally Hanson shades show up as low as a 2 in the guide, so don’t be afraid to look up “regular” brands of nail polish first, to see if they might possibly rate lower. But do keep in mind note that just because a few colors rate low doesn’t mean that all of their polishes are made with the same formula!

Don’t forget to grab the $10 off $30 Vitacost coupon if you’d like to use it to try out one of the nail polish brands that they carry (Honeybee Gardens, Gabriel Organics, Suncoat, Piggy Paint, and a couple others I’m not familiar with).

Which brands of natural nail polish have you tried? Any favorites?

Image credits: circle of nail polish, cutie pie with painted fingernails.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through some of our links, it costs you nothing but we earn a small commission. Thanks for your support of this site!

Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products You Really Use

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This week’s top deals:

I have to tell you about my friend Crystal’s new online course, designed to help moms make the most of their mornings!

For so many of us (myself included), mornings can tend to feel anything but productive. Often, we wake up tired, and before the day is barely under way, we’re already feeling stressed, frazzled, and behind on all that we need to do.

Crystal also went through years of feeling that way, especially with a houseful of young children, but she learned that using her mornings intentionally and having a plan for starting her day well actually helped to make everything else go better and smoother as the day went on. Plus, she knew that she was giving priority to the things that were important to her, but could so easily be crowded out (exercise, quiet time, planning for her day/week, goal setting, reading, working, etc.).

After years of seeing the results of these intentional mornings, she really wanted to pass it on to help other moms, and so she created an amazing 14-day online course to walk you through the process of making over your mornings.

I’ve already watched the first couple videos and I am so impressed with both the quality of the course, and how she’s broken it down to make it so achievable, even with just 15 minutes per day to complete the course – videos, worksheets and all!

You can learn all about the course and sign up HERE.

And the sooner the better! Because the price starts out at a mere $5 this morning, and then slowly increases as the day goes on, so the faster you get your course, the cheaper it will be!

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Berkey Scratch and Dent Sale

Get a Big Berkey with cosmetic damage only for $219 (regular $258).  Check out all the available options.

babyganics

As Low As $9.52-$10.64 ($4.76-$5.32/6 ounce tube)  Babyganics Mineral-Based Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50, 6oz Tube (Pack of 2) is on sale for $13.98.  Save 20% when you clip the coupon (you must be logged in).  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

scottAs Low As $26.29-$29.50 ($0.82-$0.92/mega roll) Scott Naturals Paper Towels, Mega Roll, 8 Rolls, Packs of 4 (32 Rolls) is on sale for $33.16.  Save $2 when you clip the coupon (you must be logged in).  Save an additional 5-15% wtih Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

burt

Just $20!  Burt’s Bees Spring Sampler Bag

The Spring Sampler Bag includes:  Super Shiny Mango Shampoo, Mango & Orange Energizing Body Bar, Mango Lip Balm, Nourishing Milk & Honey Body Lotion (2.5oz), Facial Cleansing Towelettes with White Tea Extract (10 ct), Tinted Lip Balm in Honeysuckle, Radiance Day Lotion Travel Size, Festive pouch

If you are Canadian there is still a deal for you!  Go to Burtsbees.ca and type “spring sampler” into the search bar.

bamboo

List Price $14.99  On Sale for $6.99  Weber 6464 18-Inch Bamboo Grill Brush.  Get FREE shipping on qualifying orders.
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As Low As $15.66 ($2.61/12 ounce pouch)  Bear Naked Granola Pouches, Vanilla Almond Fit, 12 Ounce Pouches (Pack of 6) is on sale for $20.88.  Save 25% when you clip the coupon (you must be logged in).  Get FREE shipping on qualifying order.

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Abe's 2

25% Off Keenwah AND 50% Off Dr. Bronner’s Coconut Oil at Abe’s Market.  Limited time offer. FREE shipping on orders over $49.

Loofah-2T

FREE Loofah Scrub with $35 order at MadeOn Lotion.

Simply add the loofah to your cart once the cart reaches $35.  Expires when out of stock.  Limit one per purchase.  FREE shipping on orders over $45.

deet freeAs Low As $11.55/8 oz bottle  All Terrain Kids Herbal Armor DEET-Free Natural Insect Repellent is on sale for $12.55 (list price $14.99) Save an additional $1 when you clip the coupon (you must be logged in).  FREE shipping with qualifying order.

nikii

Up to 50% Off Select Products at Nikki’s Diapers Spring Steals Sale.  Sale includes brands like Planet Wise, Bumkins, Aden & Anais, and more.  Not just diapers!  Check out their baby clothes, baby carriers and items for mama.

FREE Kindle eBooks:

(Note: Prices can change without notice so please double check the price before purchasing)

sugar

SUGAR: Sugar Addiction and Cravings: Shut Your Mouth To Sugar Addiction And Cravings Forever 

smoothies

Smoothies: 450 Smoothie Recipes to Lose Weight, Increase Energy & Detox 
frugal

Frugal Living: Frugal Living Tips for Dummies: 30+ Proven Frugal Suggestions to Spend Less, Save More & Live Happy
low carb

24 Low Carb Recipes: Fast and Tasty Low Carb Slow Cooker Recipes 
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Copycat Restaurant Recipes Made Healthy

This week’s best coupons:

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!
About prices: Though we do our very best to post only current deals and prices and to let you know when offers expire, companies can and do change their prices and offers at their own discretion, and we have no control over this. If you notice that a deal has changed, please let us know and we’ll change the post to alert other readers that something is no longer available. Thanks for understanding!