Our no gift policy

Our no gift policy

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Hello, my sweet sweet friends! Many of you know, our little man’s first birthday was last month. I happy to report that his party was a complete success. If I’m being honest, planning this party was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I was so unbelievably stressed about it, looking back now I can’t understand why.  I was so worried about throwing the perfect party, I almost forgot to enjoy it. In the end, everything turned out better than I could have ever hoped for. Walter was surrounded by friends and family who love him, that sounds like the perfect party to me.

Now I’m sure some of you are reading the title like WTF does stressing out about a party have to do with gifts? Well you know me, I like to preach about being gentle with yourself ;). Plus, our decision to not allow gifts at our son’s birthday party caused a great deal of anxiety for me. In the few weeks before My son’s party we received so much negative feedback about our decision to not allow gifts. At some points, I was worried that we were somehow going to ruin our sons first birthday. During these moments of doubt, Tyler, my wonderful partner reminded me why we were making this decision. Hopefully sharing those reason will help bring a better understanding to all the people who thought we were crazy. I’m also hoping this will inspire other people to do the same.

  1. Being content with what you have

Like most kids, our son already has an unbelievable number of toys. Honestly, at some points he had so many he couldn’t possibly play with them all. This was a huge problem for our family. Don’t get me wrong, we want our son to have an amazing childhood. However, having 4 million toys isn’t going to make him happy. In fact, many studies have shown that too many toys can cause anxiety in kids. Too many toys also leads kids to become bored with what they have, leading to a constant cycle of wanting something new to entertain themselves. We really want to teach our son to be content with the thing he already has. To accomplish this, we only buy him things that he really needs, or toys we know he’ll enjoy. If he noticed he’s no longer interested in a toy we take it away for a few weeks. If he’s still showing no interest when we reintroduce the toy it gets donated. So having everyone who attended his party bring a gift we would have been right back where we started.

  1. No one is required to buy you a gift because it’s your birthday

I know some of you may not agree with me, but just hear me out for a second. Birthday gifts are a huge part of our culture. We’re so used to bringing something to a party that we often feel uncomfortable coming emptyhanded. We want our son to know from a very young age that No one is required buy him gifts. People buy gifts to show their love for someone, but that’s not the only way you can show someone love. We don’t want gift giving to become so “normal” for him that it loses it’s true meaning. We don’t want party to automatically equal gifts in his mind.

  1. People shouldn’t feel uncomfortable if they can’t afford a gift

This is so important to me because I’ve felt this way numerous times.  I know how embarrassing it can be to turn down a party invitation because you can’t afford a gift or worse spending money you don’t have because you feel obligated to bring something. I never want to make someone feel that way. To keep everyone on the same playing field we told everyone to come without a gift. This way no one was singled out.

  1. Gift shaming

This one ties into number 3 but I felt like it was important enough to mention on its own. I sure it’s normal for people to open their gifts in front of party goers. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this by itself but often this allows for gift shaming. This is something I find unacceptable, but it’s something I’ve seen so many times. Someone will open a gift only to have a party goer make fun of it. Either because it’s something the birthday boy/girl doesn’t want, or because it’s not as good of a gift as someone else’s. No one should ever feel embarrassed about the gift they bring to a party. Like I said before no one is obligated to buy someone a gift, and you never know when someone has spent their last twenty dollars on something only to be made fun of because their gift isn’t grand enough.

  1. Giving gifts can be wasteful

It’s no secret that I’m passionate about the environment, and only consuming what you absolutely need. Often, gift giving means wrapping paper or gift bags, tissue paper, or cards. These things are great, but they’re all single use items. They’re designed to be used once and then they head straight for landfill. On top of that people always seems to gift babies a ton of plastic toys. Plastic is toxic, and it’s something we really try to limit in our son’s life. If we were to have everyone bring him gifts, we’d end up with a lot of toys we’d never allow our son to play with. Sure, we wouldn’t just throw them away, we’d donate them but that means someone would spend their money of Walter for nothing.

 

For those of you would still think we’re crazy, or we’re mean parents that understandable. Our view on gifts is out there. However, I would like to stress everyone giving it a shot just once. The outcome may surprise you. Our friends and family had a blast at Walter’s first birthday party. Most importantly Walter was surrounded by people who loved him. And let’s be honest guys, he’s one it’s not like he’ll remember it anyway 😊

 

I’d love to hear your opinion on gift giving at kid’s birthday parties. Leave me a comment letting me know what you think.

Don’t forget to head over to the facebook page and Instagram to show me some love.

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18 before 2018

18 before 2018

 

blogger-photo-2249560_960_720Hi my sweet sweet friends! I’m so glad to be back. First and foremost I’d like to thank everyone who checked on me during my break. For those of you who don’t know I took a much need break in July to focus on my family and our big move. We’ve finally settled into our new place ( a home tour coming soon) and things are much less hectic than before. Also, I took this time to do a little site revamp. I hope you noticed 😉

This post is inspired by the lovely Lisa Jacobs You can find her blog post here.

Anyway, Today I’m listing 18 goals I want to accomplish before 2018. I created my list by writing down everything I wanted/needed to get done before the year ended. Then I organized that into eighteen major goals I’d like to accomplish.

A few things you should keep in mind while making your list

  • Do you have any unfinished business to attend to so you can end this year on a good note?
  • What needs to happen in order for you to accomplish your goals?
  • Don’t stretch yourself too thin. The objective here is to work on goals that are actually achievable RIGHT NOW.
  • Some projects just need to be let go of, so you can focus more on the things you want in your life.

Here’s My 18 before 2018

  1.  Be Present

I made this the first thing on my list because it’s so important to me. So many of us are focused on things that just don’t matter in the long run. I’m letting go of that and channeling all of my energy into being 100% focused on the things that are important to me. My family, my friends, my self-care and all the little things in between.

2.  Start a Youtube Channel

This is something I’ve wanted to do for so long. Now it’s no longer on the back burner.

3. Monthly Dates with my partner

These have been practically nonexistent since we’ve had our son. Now I’m making them a priority.

4. Decorate for the holidays

This may sound silly to some, this will be the first year we’re in our own home as a family. I love homes decked out for the holidays, so this year I’m making it happen

5. Create a budget…and stick to it

This seems pretty self-explanatory.

6. Take more walks

I never spend enough time outside. I work full time, and more often than not I’m dead tired when I come home. Usually, the last thing I want to do is go for a walk, but spending time outside is so grounding and always relaxes me. So I’m planning to walk at least 15 minutes a day.

7. Reduce my mindless screen time

Recently I’ve noticed I’m spending a lot more time mindlessly scrolling on Instagram, or Facebook. I open the app to look one thing, and then 30 minutes go by and I’m still scrolling. I don’t allow my son to have screen time for this very reason. I didn’t want him to become addicted to it. Now I’m limiting my screen time, and spending more time doing the things I love.

8. Read a least one book

Again this might sound silly to some of you, but those of you with kids will understand. It can be incredibly difficult to find time for yourself, especially if you have a toddler like I do.

9. Start a bullet journal

Okay, if you have no idea what a bullet journal is, go google it now! One of my goals for 2017 was to get more organized. Well, that never happened, until now! Currently, I’m setting up my first spreads in my bullet journal, and I can’t wait for it to change my life 😉

10. Increase my content output

Blogging is something I’ve always wanted to do. I fell off the wagon for a while, but I’m excited to get things going again and to see where things take me.

11. Buy a coffee table for my living room

I mentioned this before, but we recently moved into our first family home. A super tiny one bedroom apartment. Just about all of our things were gifted to us, so buying a coffee table will be our first “big” purchase together.

12. De-clutter my wardrobe

Over the past year, I’ve been learning more and more about minimalism, and I’ve discovered that I have so many things I just don’t need. So the first major area I’m de-cluttering is my closet. If it doesn’t fit, I haven’t worn it in years, or it just doesn’t bring me joy I’m getting rid of it.

13. Take better care of myself

Becoming a mother is the greatest thing to ever happen to me. However, I feel like I lost myself to motherhood. I worried so much about my son I forgot about myself. My goal now is to take better care of myself whether that means I’m getting my nails done once a week, or just drinking a cup of coffee by myself. I’m making myself a priority again.

14. Listen to more podcasts

I LOVE PODCASTS! If you’ve never listened to a podcast seriously you’re missing out. The amount of information I’ve learned from podcasts is astounding. I’m absolutely obsessed.

15. Connect more to my faith

This is something I’ve struggled with a lot recently. I often make excuses for myself and say I don’t have time for faith. This lack of faith has directly affected my emotional well being and I’m ready for a change.

16. Create a gratitude log

I’ll admit, I’m a complainer. I often become hyper focused on the things going wrong in my life and it makes it impossible to see all the things that are going right. To combat this issue every day, I’m going to write down one thing I’m grateful for. At the end of the year, I’ll have an amazing list of all the good things in my life.

17. Spend more time with friends

I can be a pretty antisocial person. I find it hard to connect with people face to face and if I’m being honest people give me a great deal of anxiety. Because of this, I have a hard time showing my friends I actually care about them.

18. Gain at least 5 lbs

If you know me, you know for the last few months I’ve been struggling a lot with weight loss. I’ve started to feel really uncomfortable in my own skin, and in order to remedy this, I’ll be making a  conscious effect to track what I’m eating and to packing on the pounds 💪.

If I’m being honest I’m a little stressed about the sheer size of some of these goals. Nonetheless, I’m excited and ready for the challenge! What are some of the goals you’d like to accomplish before the new year? I’d love to hear about it in the comments or tag me on Instagram @theholisticbee

xoxo

Destiny

Non-Toxic Cleaning Guide

Non-Toxic Cleaning Guide

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I don’t know about you but conventional cleaning products really freak me out. They come with those really nasty warning labels, horrible fumes that make it hard to breathe, the also contain a list of questionable ingredients that are not only toxic to us but also the environment. I just find it counter-intuitive to try to make your space as clean and healthy as possible when your spraying toxins and chemicals all over the place.

I’m very passionate about safe, natural cleaning products and I say if you can ingest it or put it on your skin don’t use it. So today I’m going over my favorite natural cleaning products. Everything I’m going to share with you is free of nasty chemicals and safe for you and your family.

VINEGAR

This is the KING of non-toxic cleaning. There are hundreds of ways to use vinegar to clean and disinfect your home, just fill up a spray bottle and get cleaning! Here are just a few of the many ways you can use it.

  • Spray on your counter tops to disinfect them ( Just be sure not to use vinegar on granite or marble counter tops)
  • Clean your windows and mirrors with it for a streak-free shine
  • Add a small amount of vinegar to your rinse cycle to help soften clothes and keep colors vibrant
  • Leave a small bowl of vinegar out overnight to help deodorize a room

If you find you can stand the smell of vinegar try adding citrus peels to it. Just place any citrus peels you have in a mason jar, fill with vinegar and let it sit for at least three days. Fill a spray bottle with half water and half vinegar, and you’ll have a lovely citrus scented all purpose cleaner!

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LEMON

Lemon is very similar to vinegar in its cleaning abilities. It’s fantastic at disinfecting, deodorizing, and makes a great alternative to bleach. Here are some of the best ways to use lemon in your home. While we’re talking about lemons I’m going to add that lemon essential oil is also a great option for cleaning.

  • Slice a lemon in half and use it to wipe down your cutting boards. It will kill bacteria, and remove stains
  • Use a few drops of lemon essential oil to remove sticky label residue from jars
  • Drop a few slices of lemon down your garbage disposal to freshen up for sink

HYDROGEN PEROXIDE 

Hydrogen peroxide does so many amazing things for the body, but it’s also an incredible cleaner. It’s great for disinfecting surfaces, it’s a wonderful bleach alternative, you can also use it to clean cuts and scrapes, as well as to remove blood from clothing. Here are some more great tips for using hydrogen peroxide.

  • Spray down your counter tops to disinfect them
  • Take a toothbrush dipped in hydrogen peroxide and scrub your grout to help whiten it
  • Swish a small amount around your mouth to brighten and whiten your teeth.
  • Soak your cleaning sponges in a 3% solution of water and hydrogen peroxide to sanitize them

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CASTILE SOAP

This is a staple in our house. It’s made from a blend of amazing plant oils and can be used for just about anything. Personally, I use Dr.Bronners castile soap because it’s organic and fair trade. Here’s a just a small list of the things you can do with castile soap.

  • Mix castile soap and water in a soap dispenser to make your own foaming and soap
  • Fill your sink with water and add a few drops of castile soap to wash your fruits and veggies
  • Mixed 1 cup castile soap, 2 cups water, 1 cup baking soda, 1/3 cup salt, and 10 drops of an essential oil of your choice to make a great, natural laundry soap.

BAKING SODA

I’m sure this goes without saying, but baking soda is a must when it comes to all natural cleaning. It’s so cheap, it’s versatile, and just like vinegar, it has hundreds of uses. Here are just some of the great things you can do with baking soda.

  • You can avoid harsh drain cleaner by pouring baking soda and vinegar down your drain, followed by boiling water
  • Mix baking soda and a little bit of castile soap to make a scouring paste
  • Sprinkle baking soda on your carpet, let it stand for an hour then vacuum it up to deodorize your carpets

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I really hope you enjoyed my natural cleaning guide, and I’d love to know if any of you have a favorite natural cleaning product. Make sure you tell me all about them in the comments below.

xoxo

Destiny

My Holistic Medicine Cabinet

My Holistic Medicine Cabinet

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Holistic health has always been a passion of mine. I trust in our ability to heal our bodies with things the earth provides for us. So today, I want to take you through my “must have” herbs and essential oils that I keep on hand.

Like always I’d like to add a little disclaimer here. Herbs and essential oils should always be used with caution. I’m not a doctor so please consult your family physician before using any of these remedies on your children or yourself. If you need more information on how to use essential oils safely please read my blog post all about it here.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to prevent a disease rather than just treat your symptoms. Eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty or water ad getting enough sleep should be your first line of defense against disease. I want to make it clear that I’m not saying there isn’t a place for modern medicine. I know plenty of people who wouldn’t be alive if not for modern medicine. However, I am saying is for my family, most (if not all) ailments and medical needs can be met at home- either through natural remedies of essential oils.

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WHAT’S IN MY HOLISTIC MEDICINE CABINET

…..and how I use it.

ESSENTIAL OILS

Melaleuca (tea tree)– This oil is a powerful purifying oil. We keep it on hand mainly for treating skin issues, I like to keep a diluted roller-ball of melaleuca in my son’s diaper bag as well as on the changing table. Whenever it looks like he’s getting a diaper rash we apply the oil with every diaper change.

OnGuard– This is a specific blend from Doterra. The main oils in this blend are wild orange, clove, cinnamon bark/leaf, eucalyptus, and rosemary. This blend of oils is great for boosting the immune systems and keeping the yuckies away. The oils in the blend are very strong and should never be applied to small children or undiluted.

Lemon- I use this oil all the time! It has antimicrobial properties making it fantastic for cleaning. I like to diffuse lemon whenever I want a room to smell fresh and clean. You can also use lemon to remove sticker residue from glass jars. Apply a few drops undiluted and gently rub the sticky goo away! Lemon oil can be strong so just make sure you’re wearing gloves when you do this.

Lavender- I’m sure this comes as no surprises but I love to use lavender for it’s calming properties. I apply a little just behind my ears whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed. I also like to apply lavender to bug bites. It instantly relieves the itch! Just a word to the wise, Lavender can affect people differently, for me, it’s very calming, my son, on the other hand bounces off the walls whenever he’s around it.

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HERBAL REMEDIES

Elderberry Syrup- This is like a miracle “drug”. It’s an incredible immune booster and can help prevent the flu when taken daily. Most elderberry syrups on the market contain honey so they’re not recommended for children under the age of one. I’ve heard it’s incredibly easy to make so I’m excited to experiment with my own recipe when my son is a little older.

Garlic- This is one of natures antibiotics. Garlic does amazing things for the cardiovascular system, as well as treat infections. It’s a natural blood thinner and can help lower cholesterol. Another great reason to consume garlic daily is because it helps detoxify the body and pull heavy metals from the blood.

Colloidal Silver- To put it simply colloidal silver attaches itself to sick cells and bacteria and blocks their ability to harm your body. It’s antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral. It can prevent things like colds and flu, treat pink eye and ear infections, and can even treat pneumonia. It’s a miracle worker, in my opinion, so make sure you’re stocked up.

Black seed oil- If nothing else, you need this in your life! This is something I take daily to help treat my eczema. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory and is used to treat anything from allergies to cancer.

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HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINES

BOIRON Camilia- These teething drops are absolutely amazing! I don’t think we could live without them. They seem to be the only thing that helps my son with his teething pain, plus it puts me at ease knowing I won’t have to give him pharmaceuticals like Tylenol.

BOIRON Sinusalia- Honestly I don’t find myself sick very often, but recently I developed a sinus infection due to my seasonal allergies. My head was killing me and I was searching for anything that would help with my congestion. I discovered this product and will never go back to conventional sinus pressure relief medications. I felt relief from my symptoms within a few hours and my sinus infection cleared up in a matter of days versus the two weeks it used to take.

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As You grow in holistic living you’ll find that different herbs and essential oils work better for you than others. Take things slow, and see what herbs and essential oils you need to keep on hand based on what ails your family the most.

xoxo

Destiny

** DISCLAIMER: Please know that there are risks with herbal remedies just as there are risks with modern medicine. PLEASE do your own research before using a herb or essential oil. 
 
I am not a doctor, Please take these suggested uses at your own risk.
 
These claims have not been approved by the FDA.
WHY WE BED SHARE

WHY WE BED SHARE

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Trust me I’ve heard it all, so if you have something negative to say about my family’s choice to bed-share, save it. I’m very confident in my parenting decisions, and I trust my instincts.

I would like to say that there is a correct way to bed share. There are do’s and don’ts, and a million and one things to learn, but after making the decision to bed share with your baby don’t waiver- trust your instincts and don’t let others make you feel bad for it.

Our son has slept in our bed since day one, and he will sleep with us until he’s old enough to not want to anymore. I know some of you think we’re crazy, but trust me this wasn’t always the plan. Before our son was born my partner and I planned on co-sleeping. Okay, so I’m sure some of you are confused because you thought co-sleeping meant having baby sleep in bed with you. Don’t worry you’re not completely wrong. Co-sleeping is an umbrella term which basically means sharing a sleeping environment with your baby.

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Like I said before our plan was to just co-sleep. We had a side-car sleeper set up right next to our bed and our son even slept in it ( for about 2 minutes). I hating seeing him in there. Every fiber of my being was telling me that he needed to be held and cuddled so that’s what we did, and we’ve never looked back. Bed sharing is just what works for our family, call us crazy if you want, but our son has slept through the night since day one 😉

So for those of you who still don’t understand why we bed share, or for those of you who are interested in bed sharing with your littler ones here are my top five reasons for bed sharing.

1.Safety and Peace of Mind 

Studies have shown that sleeping within arms reach of another person significantly improves baby’s heart rate and blood pressure. Sharing the same bed as your baby also helps to regulate their temperature. A mother’s body with cool, or heat to meet baby’s needs. This helps to prevent overheating, something that is very common in cribs.

Having my little one next to me at night also keeps me from worrying nonstop. Knowing my son is safe helps me sleep better at night, in fact, countries with the highest rates of bed-sharing have the lowest rates of infant mortality, including SIDS. ( This is not to say only babies in cribs die of SIDS. Babies in bed sharing environments can die of SIDS, it’s just rare)

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2.Happiness and Comfort 

Bed sharing with my son means we both get to have happier mornings. Nothing is better than waking up to baby snuggles. Plus the comfort he gets from being close to me at night means we rarely wakes at night (usually he only wakes to nurse), so we’re all able to get a full nights rest.

3.Bonding

I believe sharing a bed has helped develop a strong foundation for our family as well as for the relationship I have with my partner. A healthy, happy relationship can be hard to find once babies are introduced to the mix. After talking to both families that bed share, and crib sleep I’ve concluded that those of us sharing a bed with our little ones have the best sex life. Let’s face it bed sharing forces you to get creative.

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4. Creating REAL Independence 

The first thing people bring up when they hear that my partner and I bed share with our son is his future independence. Often people think that because we allow our son to sleep with us now that he’ll become a whiny, clingy little brat in the future. I personally don’t believe that’s true. Having our son close to us means that he feels our constant love and support, this includes night time. I don’t believe parenting ends when the sun goes down. In my opinion leaving your child to comfort, and support themselves overnight is cruel.

5.Laziness 

Honestly, this is one of the main reasons we bed share. I’m simply too lazy to get out of bed every time my son wakes up. It’s easier for both of us if I can just roll over and pop a boob in his mouth. This way he doesn’t have to wait, and I don’t have to open my eyes 😉

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Now I couldn’t make a post about co-sleeping/bed-sharing if I didn’t discuss how to do it safely. Here are a few rules you need to follow if you’re planning on bed-sharing with your little one.

  • Bed-sharing should NOT take place on unsafe surfaces such as couches, or water beds
  • A parent should NEVER share a bed if they’re intoxicated, taking sleeping medication, or a heavy smoker.
  • NEVER place baby on the edge of the bed without a side rail or bumper. Here is an example.

Every single bed-sharing death is tragic, however, these deaths should not be related to those who bed share safely. Just as the deaths that occur in cribs does not mean that crib sleeping is deadly and should be eliminated.

As always this post was not created to shame anyone who doesn’t bed-share or agree with the topics discussed on my blog. I’ve said this a thousand times, but I feel it’s important so I’ll say it again PARENTING IS HARD ENOUGH WE DON’T NEED TO MAKE IT HARDER BY BEING HATEFUL TO EACH OTHER.

Like always make sure you’re subscribed so you never miss when I post. Enter your email and you’ll be notified as soon as a new blog post goes live. If you’d like you’d like to see what I’m up to on a daily basis follow me on Instagram I post there almost daily.

xoxo

Destiny

PS. Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate!

An Open Letter to The Love of My Life

An Open Letter to The Love of My Life

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I’d like to take a moment to point out how difficult it will be to summarize the immense love I have for you, but I will try my hardest.

There are a million and one ways I could begin this letter, but I think the best place to start is by saying thank you. For everything.

Thank you for loving me, even when I think I’m unworthy of it.

Thank you for being my Dwayne Johnson.

Thank you for always allowing me to speak my mind even when I cut you off, or make you feel like I don’t value your opinion.

Thank you for holding me when I feel like I have the weight of the world on my Shoulders. More importantly, thank you for being willing to carry my burdens for me.

Thank you for reminding me it’s okay to laugh at myself.

Thank you for standing in the kitchen with me every night after work and letting me unload my frustrations on you.

Thank for you wiping my tears, and for the many forehead kisses.

Thank you embarking on this amazing journey with me.

Thank you for trusting me with our son, even when I didn’t trust myself.

Thank you for not thinking I was crazy when I told you I wanted to deliver our son at home.

Thank you for always being supportive of my choices even when you don’t always agree with them.

Thank you for respecting my body when I’m too tired, you offer a back rub with no motive.

Thank you for telling me my body is beautiful, and that it’s okay to have loose skin and stretch marks because I made a person.

Thank you for being patient with me when I freaking out for literally no reason at all.

Thank you for reminding me that it’s just a panic attack and that I’m not going to die.

Thank you for remaining loyal, and faithful to me.

Thank you for always making time for me even when I don’t make time for you.

Thank you for loving Jordan as much as I do. And thank you for helping me pick up the pieces when I almost lost her forever.

Thank you for pointing out when I’m being selfish, and unreasonable.

Thank you for supporting me in raising our son differently than how we were raised.

Thank you for doing the diaper laundry.

Thank you for being an amazing father, and a fantastic role model for our son.

Thank you for rearranging your school schedule to stay home with Walter after my mom’s surgery.

Thank you for always packing my lunch for work.

Thank you for being my best friend, and loving me even when I couldn’t love myself.

Thank you for the best two years of my life. I know we have many more trials, and tribulations to go, but I wouldn’t want to be on this journey with anyone else.

I hope you never question my love for you.

xoxo

Destiny

 

12 Tips for healthy eating

12 Tips for healthy eating

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EATING CLEAN ON A BUDGET
Written by Ariana Hamidi 4/1/17

If you’re anything like me, feeding your family healthy whole foods free of chemicals is a top priority. A lot of people think that many foods are out of reach, too expensive, and I am here to tell you it’s just not true! You can nourish your family organically and frugally, so I’ve created a list below of ideas on how to do that. The first piece of advice is: be committed! You may have to give up certain conveniences or treats; you may have to offer your time and labor, but your body will be healthier and your bank account will be fuller. Write a monthly amount to what you can spend on groceries and stick to it however you can. For me, it means using cash only. Other families might fare better with apps like Mint. Budgets are very personal and only you will know what works for your family. No matter what that number looks like, these tips can help you keep costs down while improving your health and well-being by feeding your family the very best you are able to give. In the case of our children, you are helping them grow and thrive into strong human beings with healthy immune systems. It’s worth it!
1. GROW YOUR OWN FOOD
This is the best piece of advice anyone can give. It is critical in today’s society to build community and work together to become as self-sustaining as possible. It’s also the best way to know exactly what you’re putting into your body. If you’re unsure where to start, ask friends, find a workshop, check out books from the library, read blogs. Lots of cities are establishing community gardens where you can rent space. If you’re in the suburbs or rural communities, chances are you have some lawn you could turn into a garden. If you rent, building a few raised beds with cheap wood can still produce a substantial amount of vegetables and is simple to break down when you move. Apartment living? A long as you have a porch, you can have a garden using only large pots. Start small, and build from there. Plant herbs for flavor and amazing health benefits. (Did you know parsley has more iron than a serving of meat?) Once you gain experience, expand if your housing allows it. Raise chickens or ducks for eggs, goats for dairy, plant an orchard, berry bushes, or whatever excites you. There’s really nothing more satisfying than getting your hands in the earth growing food that you pick from your porch or backyard, tastes delicious and is relatively free! Be sure to buy organic and non-GMO seeds, and use local soil whenever possible. Many landscape businesses will sell an organic mushroom blend by the yard. It is also a good idea to have your soil tested for lead and other contaminants. Many states provide that service for a small fee. We had the soil at our rental home tested for $15 when we moved to RVA last year before we established a large garden.

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2. EAT LOCAL
I am fortunate to live in a city that has a farmers market open almost every day of the week. The key to saving money at a farmers market is to shop around and avoid impulse buys. Compare the prices of each stand before purchasing. Make notes about how these foods compare to grocery store prices and quality. Sometimes I choose lesser quality produce from Kroger if it saves me a few dollars, other times I opt for the fresher ingredients. In the height of the spring/summer season it’s easy to find a good deal at the market, just avoid purchasing extras we often see like baked goods, hot foods, or artisan cheeses, as these items can break the bank.

Another way to eat locally is to do your own fruit picking. Last summer we went to Barry’s Berries, Pleasant Field Farms, and Newcastle Bee and Berry farm to pick blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. The cost and quality are fantastic in comparison to any berries offered at the grocery store, and you don’t have to worry about exploiting someone’s labor with the big brands like Driscoll’s. We always pick as much as we can handle (with three kids running around) take them home and freeze them. I was lucky enough to have a family member gift us a vacuum sealer and it has allowed us to enjoy fresh picked berries all winter long for the last several years. (Investing in a deep freeze is an essential element to this money saver).

3. TASTE THE RAINBOW
Diversify your plates. Eat fruits and veggies in season, as you are more likely to find a great deal. Stock up on asparagus and peas in spring, pumpkins, and squash in fall, greens in summer. Like they say, too much of a good thing is…too much? I think life would be pretty boring if we were to eat the same meals on repeat each day, and frankly, I have no interest in living that way. I am a frugal foodie and to do that I constantly push my palate to keep things interesting, whether it’s spending a whole week figuring out how to love kohlrabi or giving offal to my baby. My goal for my kids’ meals every day is that they will get the full rainbow of colors in their meals. A typical example of that for us would include red bell pepper, sweet potato, banana, kale, blueberries, and grapes. (Purple is the hardest one for me to achieve consistently). I like to think of it as my kid’s multivitamin, but that’s another post entirely! When that’s not possible, or when you have a very picky eater, (for some of us that might even be most days), do what you can. Make smoothies. Hide veggies in meatloaf, mashed potatoes, or spaghetti. Try to acquire variety based on shopping sales or plan your meals around your CSA haul.

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4. CSA or WORK SHARE
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an opportunity to support local farmers while enjoying the benefits of homegrown organic foods. You pay for a half or full share up front, and each week you pick up whatever crops they have harvested that week (May-November). It typically comes out to $30-50/week for a nice variety of chemical free vegetables. Many CSAs also have fruits, eggs, dairy, and fresh bread. Check the web or social media for the names of various CSAs in your area, then write emails to them asking if they are accepting new members. They should be happy to tell you about their growing practices in detail and if they’re not, move on! When my family moved to RVA last year I tried one of the delivery box services (there are several) but I was disappointed in the quantity, quality, and price so I canceled. It was not worth the convenience for me but you may find that is a good fit for your family. I did find a CSA that was Certified Naturally Grown (Victory Farms), which seems to be the new standard since it’s becoming harder to trust the safety of organic pesticides in USDA Organic food. This year I found Willow Hill Family Farm in their second year of a CSA. They also offer a work share (check them out here), five hours of farm work in exchange for the CSA share. Since we have been missing our Pennsylvania homestead so much, I chose this option. They offer a variety of seasonal no-spray, non-GMO vegetables, pastured eggs, lamb, and pork. My family enjoys connecting to our food through harvesting and building relationships with farmers so I am very excited about this season!
5. BUY IN BULK
Pretty simple. Only buy what you need and skip the extra packaging altogether. Another instance of …good for the planet, good for your wallet. Natural grocers (like Ellwood Thompsons in RVA) will typically allow you to bring your own containers to fill. An example of the savings: I can buy three times the amount of organic rolled oats in bulk as I can packaged for the same price. The same is true for dried beans, rice, and flour.

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6. MEAT AND RAW DAIRY SHARE (Vegan friends look away!)
If you can front the cost, buying a ¼, ½ of a whole cow, lamb, or goat is a great way to eat local and save money. Although this way of purchasing is certainly more expensive than buying factory farmed meat, it is a better value for families who choose to eat grass-fed beef and other pastured livestock exclusively. This season I found someone to split a ¼ share with me from Fresh Branch Farms (they can be found on Facebook). I have bought beef from them several times and it’s simply amazing! I also feel good about supporting a young family like mine. Many farms also offer a raw dairy share, such as Avery’s Branch Farms, who deliver at various drop-off locations in RVA.

7. BARTERING
Just this week I had a friend offer to buy some pastured chickens from her neighbor in exchange for some of my homemade bone broth. I gladly accepted! Whenever I can barter labor or supplies and avoid the exchange of money I do. This is another way of building community. Ask your friends and acquaintances if they would be interested in this. Perhaps you have a neighbor who always has an abundance of tomatoes but can never find a sitter for her children, make an offer to barter! Be creative and outgoing as there’s so much to gain and really nothing to lose if they say no.

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8. START A CO-OP
Start your own co-op (or find an established one) so that your food is sourced locally and directly without the inconvenience of having to visit all the farms yourself each week. I have a friend who does this in Austin, TX with a group of parents committed to eating clean. The group was formed on Facebook and has almost 400 members. The process looks something like this: a member scopes out a food source and posts to the group to gauge interest. Once a source is voted on and chosen they negotiate with the farm to buy a large order each week. They use Google forms to manage the ordering. The food gets delivered to the main organizer’s house and she keeps it frozen, refrigerated, or in coolers until each member picks up what they bought. Some members pick up for rural members and establish secondary pickup locations. They buy everything from meat, poultry, pork products, broth, eggs, Elderberry syrup, local honey, seafood, fruits, vegetables, and certain pantry items. This is a unique way of tailoring your eating to both your budget and lifestyle. I hope to have a part in making this happen in Richmond!
9. SHOP MULTIPLE GROCERY STORES
I know I know busy parents don’t have time to shop different stores each week, so you’ll have to decide how much of a savings is worth the extra time. If you look at it over the course of a month, I’ve been able to save up to $80/month with this method. For much of the year when our CSA or garden is not producing, we do a Kroger trip once a week, and a trip to Whole Foods, Ellwood Thompsons, or Aldi 1-2 times a month. We have certain dietary restrictions and some items much be purchased at those grocers. Kroger has a great natural foods section as well as organic produce, Aldi has affordable pantry items, Whole Foods has a nice seafood counter, and Ellwood Thompsons has a great bulk section. Each place offers something. I know a lot of people enjoy Click List, the online ordering system that Kroger now offers. If you are someone who makes a lot of impulse purchases, this is a good option for you. Stick to your list for meals and avoid the budget bumps!

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10. STOP EATING OUT!
Seems obvious, but for some, this might be a tough sell. Dining out, even at casual restaurants, is expensive. As someone who has worked in the service industry for many years, I always tip at least 20% (as everyone should) and that really adds to the cost. Because my family is living on a strict budget, we almost never eat out. We limit ourselves to special occasions maybe 3-4 times a year. Additionally, restaurant food has a lot of added sugar and salt and even if you choose a spot that sources locally, you really can’t be sure where all the ingredients are coming from. If you have to eat out, limit yourself to one drink and skip the appetizers and desserts. Look for lunch specials or nightly happy hour deals.
11. AVOID PROCESSED FOOD
(As much as possible) Let’s get real, everyone loves junk food…. at least in theory. Momentary pleasures of salty or sweet are something most folks can relate to, not to mention the convenience factor packaged foods provide when you have kids! But in reality, these foods are not helping your body or your budget, even if they are “Organic junk food.” I’m not here to judge anyone’s choices in any way because I definitely indulge plenty, but you may need to make a few rules for yourself in order to keep the spending in check. I give myself a rule that if I decide to buy the kids some kind of convenience food; it has to be on sale. When I see a great deal on a processed food like organic rice cakes, I buy a few extras for my pantry. Today at the grocery store I avoided all of it because I did not see a good deal and these foods are not necessary to any of us.

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12. HOMEMADE IS BETTER
I grew up on junk food, but later taught myself how to cook and now I make everything from scratch. I like to experiment, take risks, and rarely use recipes. If you’re a novice cook, check some books out at the library or look online for ideas. You really don’t need every ingredient listed in a recipe. Cooking and baking at home not only tastes far superior to anything store-bought, but you can control the ingredients. No fillers, preservatives, stabilizers, or other things you can’t pronounce. Worried about time? Use the crockpot; get an InstaPot, freeze dishes, or do a little meal prep on the weekend. Find a few go-to dishes that you can whip up in 30 minutes or less. Cooking homemade is a major money saver. My favorite way to make meat stretch is with soup. I can feed my family of five plus several lunch leftovers with one pound of meat. I use bones and wilted veggies (I collect both in my freezer over time) to make my own broth, fill it with cheap nutritious vegetables like cabbage, kale, carrot, and potato, and I have 3 meals for under $15.
I hope some of these ideas help your family on the path to both wellness and financial freedom!

I’d like to give a very special thanks to Ariana Hamidi for writing this incredible post today 🙂 I’ve had family visiting so I wasn’t able to write a full post this week ( Prioritize what’s important to you my friends) If you’d like to check out what I’ve been up to this weekend follow me on Instagram I make new post there daily. If you haven’t subscribed yet make sure you enter you email so you never miss a post.

xoxo

Destiny