Over Thanksgiving, I had lots of conversations with my house guests about parenting styles and how different families focus their attention on different areas of parenting. It is my belief and my overall opinion that none of us really know what the hell we are doing until it's done. You may get a "do over" with child number two or three, but even then, you really are winging it with the knowledge you have acquired and just holding out hope that you don't screw it up. One of the areas I choose to focus attention on is the individuality of each of my children and allowing them to develop their own sense of style. With my oldest root who is now 20, I royally screwed that up. I literally chose her clothing until she was entering the 9th grade, and even then, I had the largest influence on what she wore. Now, maybe she just thought I had great style, or maybe it was her "people pleasing" attitude that made her so agreeable, but she complied with 99% of what I chose. I was a young mother when I had her, and I literally had no clue what I was doing. By choosing her clothing, it, in my opinion, set her up for not feeling very confident in other areas of decision making. She always has made very responsible decisions, but looking back I feel like I should have encouraged her own individuality and embraced it when she developed her own style. When the middle root came along, I knew immediately that he was a VERY strong-willed child. If I didn't think it could get any more strong-willed, the tiny root was born and I swear she looked up at me and raised her eyebrow as if to say "You ain't seen nothin yet". As a now 3-year-old, the tiny root wants to do a wardrobe change as often as I will allow, and the middle root has a VERY specific style that includes no button up shirts, no cargo pants or shorts, and everything must be heavily steeped in an athletic vibe. With all of the wardrobe changes and the ever climbing retail prices, I decided to seek out an alternative. Shopping is literally the bain of my existence. That, and throw blankets in the living room. I know it may seem odd, but that's me and a totally different subject, so let's stay focused, shall we? I have never enjoyed shopping, and with the internet at your fingertips, it's just too easy to forgo the crowds and dressing rooms and instead shop from home. Another thing I have learned as a parent is that second-hand doesn't mean that you are giving your child something that is "less than". We have several large local consignment sales each year, and for children, you can so often find unworn clothing with the tags still attached for a fraction of the cost of retail. Have you noticed the expensive nature of athletic gear? Holy Crow! Under Armour, Nike, and Addidas will literally break the bank at full price, and as much as I detest the middle root's need for name brand athletic gear, it's more important for me to facilitate his desire to be who he is. So, while online one day, I stumbled upon Swap. An online consignment store that allows you to take advantage of the same prices as you would find at a local consignment store, but you are spared the other moms that are also trying to elbow their way through a good sale. I'm not going to lie, I was skeptical because I had tried a different online consignment shop in the past, and the results were very mixed. I found that there was a very low level of consistency when it came to the quality of the items I chose. I waited for a bit and followed the reviews of other parents, and finally, I pulled the trigger on my first order. When the box arrived, I quickly opened it and I found that each and everything I purchased was as described and fit perfectly. Soon after, I placed a second order, and then a third. I can tell you first hand that this company is definitely on the up and up, and they 100% stand by what they do and what they offer, which is a unique online consignment shopping experience. I have been able to nurture my children's individual styles and at the same time, stay on a stay at home mom budget. Another awesome thing about Swap is that they also have women's and men's clothing and a variety of home goods as well. My oldest root has now developed her own sense of style, and I am proud to report that my Frugal McDougal is a consignment shopper as well, but she no longer needs mom's input. What can I say you guys, when you know better, you do better. Nurture your kid's individuality, no matter if they wear cowboy boots and shorts, or dress like a hobo. It's who they are and your acceptance is the mirror in which they see themselves. If you are on a budget, or you just want to see what Swap is all about, I suggest you do so. Use the money you save to enroll them in a fine arts class or a sporting league. You won't be sorry. Until then, Live, Love, and Grow Roots.
Can you guys believe that the holiday season is literally right around the corner? Last night, I just managed to put out Halloween décor, and I’ve already noticed that businesses are all but finished with my favorite holiday before it’s even here to make way for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I must say that October through December is my favorite time of the year because it gives way to change. Change in the seasons, change in life, and time to shed the old animosities, and be with loved ones. Holiday get-togethers, families putting their busy schedules aside to reconnect, and my favorite, getting to decide who in the room will be your partner in crime and stand in the corner with you and a bottle of Vino to discuss “what in the actual fuck Aunt Claudine has done with her hair”. Lucky for me I already have that person to stand in the corner with. Good times! The exchanging of gifts is always the favorite end of Festivus event for many because you get the chance to give that someone special an item that was carefully thought out with them in mind. You also get to find out if you are sock worthy, or if you might just get the classic gift card envelope that was picked up on the way to said Festivus event. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a gift card can be nice, but wouldn’t you like to think you are worth more than a run into the local Walgreens for a card? Well, your prayers are answered here at the Braided Root today, because I have a fantastical list of “out of the box” Must Have gift ideas that may just be the perfect item for that someone special in your life. I wish I could say that this was going to be an Oprah moment and I would be yelling “YOU GET A CAR, YOU GET A CAR, AND YOU GET A CAR”! Unfortunately, I have yet to become the millionaire diva of the blogging world yet, but should that happen in the next year, you might get lucky. Until then, I’m going to show you some of my favorite items that could be great for many different people in your life. The best part about my list is that they are not typically found in big box retail stores, but instead support hardworking entrepreneurs with a dream to have their vision come to life. Let’s get this party started, shall we?
1. Acoustic Acorn by Carved
First up we have an item you may find on several Christmas Lists but just aren’t sure which kind to get. Well, let me help you now because this one is magic in a box. Bluetooth speakers are easy, go to gift for anyone who loves music or listening to talk radio and doesn’t want to depend on the sound quality of their phone. The Acoustic Acorn Bluetooth Speaker by Carved is one of my favorite things that I have come across in a while. Don’t let the size fool you because it puts out amazing sound and is super easy to pair with whatever device you need it for. One of my favorite things about this item is that it's not unsightly. There are many other Bluetooth speakers on the market, but this one is different in that it has an amazing design created from natural materials with a non-toxic finishing process. Even better is that it has a single button operation, so you don’t have to go through page after page of pairing instructions just to use it. You literally turn it on, pair it, and you are good to go. We take this speaker with us when we are camping and because it’s good for 7 hours on a single charge, it’s great for our trips. Now, who gets to pick the Pandora station you ask? ME!
2. Embroidery Hoop Art by Earthologie
As someone who loves all things handmade, this next item is a pure joy sparking item for me. You may have noticed a recent increase in embroidered items on the market. Well, when I saw this item, it had me hook line and sinker. Earthologie is a store that is FULL of amazing work by Claire Crider. She’s a Southern gal located in Jackson, Mississippi, and she puts that Southern love into everything she does. Hoop embroidery is one of my favorite things, and it has become very popular. Embroidery and Cross Stitching used to be something our grandmothers and our great grandmothers did while we ran around playing at their feet, but it has made a comeback with fresh designs that add depth to each unique piece that Claire creates. To add to an already amazing gift idea, the packaging was super unique and beautiful, which made for a “ready to give” gift. Gifts created by hard and special, and there is no doubt that anyone who receives an Earthologie creation, will certainly feel the spirit of what went into creating it.
3. Turkish Cotton Towel by InfuseZen
Next up is an item that is literally for ANYONE on your list. If you have not introduced yourself to Turkish cotton towels, you don’t know what you’re missing. This is the most versatile item I have in my home, and will certainly be that for anyone who is lucky enough to be on the receiving end of one of these beautiful towels or throws. InfuseZen has a variety of sizes and colors to choose from, and for those who aren’t ready to fully commit to the switch from a terry towel to Turkish Cotton, they even offer one that is terry on one side for the baby-stepper. I went H.A.M., all in, on the switch and I’m telling you that if you try it, you will never go back. What’s so versatile about this item is that it can be a bath towel, a beach towel, or a small picnic blanket, or draped across your shoulders for those cooler Fall evenings. The best part is that it’s lightweight enough to roll up and throw in your bag and you still have enough room for everything else. While I myself am gushing owner of a towel from InfuseZen, I am eyeballing the stone-washed throw blanket with sniper-like precision (hint for the fam). If you have any questions about Turkish Towels or Peshmetals Michele is your go-to person for what you need to know, and their service and response time is fantastic.
4. Personal Effects Bag by Artifact Bags
Now I’m going to show you an item that I have a history with. I am not one to purchase expensive handbags just for the sake of style. I need a functional bag that must meet some very specific criteria for me to not have a meltdown trying to locate something. Several years ago, I purchased a waxed canvas tote bag from Artifact Bags as a birthday gift to myself. At the time, I needed something that could double as a diaper bag/ carry all because I didn’t want to have to carry a purse and a diaper bag. To say that I love it is an understatement. Now that my children are no longer at the stage where I need to carry a larger bag, I used the bag for a grocery tote and a beach bag, or an overnight bag. I knew that the quality of Artifact Bags is top notch, so in looking for something to fit my current need, I knew where to go. I was looking for something that would fit all of my wallet contents, my phone, sunglasses, lip gloss, keys and anything else that was a necessity but not so big that a wristlet wouldn’t be comfortable. I don’t like a large handbag, and I need something that will prevent me from sitting it down and leaving it somewhere. In the past, I had good luck with a wristlet type clutch, but never found one that could house my mammoth phone. Until now! The Personal Effects bag is the exact thing I was looking for. What is so cool about this clutch/wristlet/dop bag, is that its built to last, I love the rustic appearance because I’m not at all fancy, and the size is perfection. I love leather and waxed canvas together, so when I saw this item and the measurements, I knew it was a match made in heaven. The only problem was that when it arrived, my husband wanted to keep it for his “man stuff” (razor, beard trimming stuff, comb). I’m not a selfish person, but in the sweetest way possible, I explained that it would have to be pried from my cold dead hands. Too much? Not if you saw this bag in person it’s not. Artifact Bags are as dedicated to standing behind the quality of their work, as they are the detailed craftsmanship that goes into the making of each piece. They have a lifetime warranty that covers any defects in materials/or workmanship. A company willing to stand by their products for life is a company that makes sure you are getting a quality crafted item. As a gift idea for that practical man or woman in your life, I would recommend Artifact Bags time and time again.
5. Tea Towels by R&S Scullery
This next gift idea is so much fun. Everyone knows that quirky rock star person in their life that makes you laugh, adds sunshine to your day, and who appreciates when humor and functionality collide to produce something fantastic which is exactly what this next item offers. I have a strange affinity for tea towels and for companies with the ability to screen print items, creativity is all you need and boy do Sara and Phil at R&S Scullery have it! When I saw these veggie tea towels that were labeled like cuts of meat, it was all I could do to wait until they arrived in the mail. In addition to the humor and quirkiness I love about these towels, they wash VERY well, which is something I am always concerned with. Not a problem with these for sure and the colors are so vibrant and fun. What a cute gift!
6. Macrame Necklace by Gaias's Gifts To Us
What is a "Holiday Gift Ideas" post without a little jewelry? It’s not one I tell ya! I for one do not wear much jewelry and when I do find something I enjoy wearing, it has to not only make my soul happy, but it has to be something durable and fit my “crunchy mom” style. One day I was on the lookout for a macrame bracelet to replace one that I lost in an unfortunate puppy training incident. RIP favorite bracelet. When I stumbled upon this magical macrame necklace by Gaia’s Gifts To Us. As I said, I was looking for a bracelet but I knew when I saw this piece, it was meant to be. I have always been drawn to Turquois which I’m certain has to do with my birth sign, but when balancing your Chakra, Turquoise can help you to speak your truth directly. I’ve never had a problem with speaking my truth and maybe it’s because I do wear Turquoise often. The artist behind Gaia’s Gifts To Us, Christine, and I are like-minded souls, and when the necklace arrived, I could almost feel her good vibes washing over me as I put it on. She is a sweet soul and a super talented artist. She takes great care in securing each stone in place with skilled macramé work that you can see and feel. This shop is a soul sparker on every level.
7. Handmade Cloth Doll by Manolitas
The last gift idea I want to show you guys today is for one of two people in your life; the doll collector or the little girl who has a great love of dolls. After having three children, I finally have a child that loves “babies”. I have always loved dolls, and as an adult, my taste for dolls has become much more refined. I find such joy in passing this down to my tiny root so that she can develop a love for the craftsmanship of a handmade doll. Manolitas is a company comprised of only 3 artisans located in El Salvador. Each artist is skilled in different categories of doll making which defines their role in the production of each one of these beautiful cloth dolls. Every stitch is done with the love of their craft in mind and with vast experience in their field which is apparent in the attention to detail. From eye color to hair color and even right down to the naming of each doll, Manolitas artisans are masters of their craft. The hard part is going to be picking out a doll because they are all so lovely. I love that Manolitas has a particular collection of dolls called Around the World Collection dedicated to different cultures all over the world. I chose “Stella” from the Laces and Bows Collection for our very first Manolitas doll, but I have Cielo from Mexico on my mind for next time. Each lovely doll comes in a beautiful ribbon-tied box with a clear display front so that you don’t have to wait until the holidays to actually lay eyes on your doll. They also come with a letter of authenticity for those who like to collect and want to pass their Manolitas doll down for generations to come.
In the last few years, you may have noticed lots of littles toddling around wearing necklaces made of Baltic Amber. For some people, it's a fashion statement piece and they are completely unaware of what it's even made from or the healing properties it possesses. When my tiny root was born, I was given a lovely Baltic Amber necklace with a rainbow of beautiful stones, purchased from Amber and Haze. I put it around her neck the day after she was born and for over two years it never came off. Eventually, after normal wear and tear and bathing, I decided to replace it with another one, and of course, I chose one from the very same Etsy shop. To say the very least, we were smitten with it and when I have a good experience with a particular vendor, I stay in that lane. Over time, it became part of who Frannie is, and she actually missed it while we waited for the replacement. Now, some parents may consider this a hazard, and because everyone has different parenting styles and techniques, I would never knock anyone for being too cautious. However, with this being my third child, I felt completely comfortable with her wearing it. Amber and Haze offer different clasp options which I know is a concern for many parents. I personally prefer the screw together clasp, but they also offer a tension clasp option which will pop off when pulled hard enough making some parents feel more at ease. Each amber bead and stone is individually knotted on either side so that if by chance it wears over time and happens to break, you won't have beads and stones spilling everywhere and becoming a meal for your littles. As with anything, common sense goes a long way in the decision making for your child. I just want to share with you guys some information about Baltic Amber, how it works, and if it works. You ready?
What is Baltic Amber anyway?
Let me tell you a little something weird about me. For whatever reason, I do not have a very good sense of touch at my fingertips. It could be all of the cooking and hot water these hands have seen over the years or all the digging in the dirt that has calloused my fingers, but either way, it's true. When I want to know the texture of something, I brush it against my cheek or across my lips (Get your mind out of the gutter, and if it wasn't already in the gutter, then get the stick out of your ass and THEN get your mind out of the gutter). Ready? Then, let's move on. The texture of Amber isn't like a stone, for sure, and is in fact like a hard resin. I was intrigued and it prompted me to do some research and find out some of the things I'm sharing with you today. While Amber has the appearance of a stone, it is actually fossilized resin from the sap of conifer trees that lived more than 30 million years ago. Over time, the sap was washed away into the Baltic Ocean where over the course of many years, it hardened and became Amber. Sweet, Simple, and Informative. Believe me, you guys, after almost three years of being consistently asked about my motivation behind little roots necklace, I spent lots of time at the library and online doing research. What I have told you is a very condensed version, but is essentially the overall big picture of what Amber is and how it came to be. You can thank me later.
How does it work?
Amber contains a chemical known as Succinic Acid which is thought to be a natural analgesic and healing agent. When Amber is worn against to the body, it becomes warm, releasing the magical chemical which is then absorbed into the skin. Baltic Amber is thought to possess properties that sooth teething babies, a use that dates back thousands of years. I was surprised to learn that it is something readily available for purchase in most pharmacies in European and Asian countries. When covering the healing abilities of Amber, relief for teething babies is just the tip of the iceberg. Among other things, it has been used to treat arthritic pain as well and is a common ingredient in many Chinese remedies.
Did it work for us?
For those of you who have read any of my other posts, or for those of you who know me personally, you know I'm not one to use smoke and mirrors. What I can offer you is my experience using Baltic Amber and also compare it to the two prior children with whom I didn't use it. Did it work for us? YES! Was the necklace itself beautiful and enhance something that was already a ray of sunshine in our lives? YES! For my oldest and middle root, I can tell you that teething was a bit of a nightmare. They both wore bibs constantly which had to be changed every hour at best due to constant drooling. They were fussy little chewing monsters, and my middle root especially would whine throughout the day. Some say he got that from me, but I say it was his teeth, and since I'm the one telling the story here, you can believe me. The tiny root barely drooled, didn't wear many bibs other than for feedings, and she wasn't grumpy or fussy during the teething stage. So, was it the necklace, or was it luck? Who knows? I am a believer in the Amber and it's healing properties and even if I weren't, I adore how lovely the necklace looks on the little root. I think she agrees, as she often touches it, and, in her two-year-old speak, says "I pretty momma". Now, I don't know about you, but that alone would be a selling point for me on most days. If you want to hang a hard-boiled egg in a sock in your little's room or buy stock in yucky Orajel, I'll leave you to it, but if you are looking for something a little more pleasing to the senses, Head over to Amber and Haze and let Emmalee help you find the perfect strand for you or your little ones or big ones. She is a wealth of knowledge and will be more than happy to help.
It's one of my favorite times of the year. Whether it be Fall or Spring, you will usually find us at the ballfield. The middle root has been playing baseball for almost 5 years now, and we have loved it to pieces. There is something about the nostalgia that goes along with baseball that makes it the classic All-American sport. The smell of hot dogs and popcorn, copious amounts of sunflower seeds, and for us, the inevitable snow cone after a victory, and two of them after a defeat. When ball season begins, we are full throttle between practices and games, it sometimes feels as though it's over before it ever even begins. This season I had a moment with my son that has remained stuck in my head and has given me the "I suck as a mother" feeling in the pit of my stomach. We pull into the parking lot of the ballpark, and I'm wrangling the tiny root, getting out ball gear, making sure Charlie doesn't get hit by some random passerby, and trying my best to stay within the confines of my mental "happy place", when Charlie spots one of his buddies and waves to the boy and his mom who, to be honest, isn't doing quite as good at staying in her "happy place" as I am. As I get everyone situated and head up the pathway to what I hope will be a one snow cone evening, I smile to myself because I realize in the moment that I am fucking killing it! I'm still in my "happy place", the kids aren't fussing for any reason, the tiny root still has her shoes on, and I haven't yet encountered the random parent that seems dead set on smoking it up right outside the gate. Then suddenly the middle looks up at me with his dapper freshly cut hair and those big beautiful eyes and says "Why don't you have one of those shirts like the other mom's wear?" My first thought was...Huh? This is usually my first thought on most every subject when he begins to speak. He can clearly sense the confusion and decides to clarify. "You know, the shirts that the moms wear that has says who their kid is." It hits me that he is referring to the classic "Charlie's Mom" shirt that is apparently in the eyes of a 9-year-old is a sure-fire measure of how much you love and adore your little ballplayer. I never skip a beat because if you hesitate, they begin to smell a lie coming. As quickly as possible I come up with a huge load of bullshit and delivered it to him on a silver platter. The first two years it was because he couldn't really read all that well anyway, so what was the point, and the next year I was pregnant with the little root and they probably didn't make one big enough, and this current season I thought he may be too old for it. I waited patiently to see if he was buying it, and he replies "Oh, okay. Well, I'm not too big." HE BOUGHT IT!!!!!! At first, I felt a bit of relief because he didn't feel any less loved than the mothers who boasted about their children without even saying a word, but then I started to feel the guilty "gut rot" coming on. I watched that perfect boy on the field, beads of sweat on his little-freckled nose, a smudge of dirt across his cheek and I pondered why I had never opted to tell everyone at the ballpark that that handsome devil out there was mine. I didn't have to think long, at best it was a marathon 30 seconds from start to finish. It's because I'm a sore loser! God forbid we are in the bottom 9th, bases loaded, 2 outs and my perfect middle root is up to bat and strikes out, I don't want a soul to know that little asshole is mine! I'm throwing two snow cones worth of money at the dugout and he can find his own way to the car. Seriously, I only kid. The truth is, it just isn't my style and while I can appreciate parents desire to let everyone know who their little ballplayer is, I know who my middle belongs to, and that's enough for me. After the game was over, we headed back home and he never mentioned the t-shirt topic again, but the "guilty gut" never went away. While it is enough for me to know that Charlie was my little ballplayer, it clearly wasn't enough for him. As a general rule, I am a die hard non-conformist and I don't do well when it comes to compromising the things I like and dislike for the sake of others. Even my children. Some may see it as being selfish, but what I am teaching my children is that you don't compromise yourself to make others feel comfortable. That being said, I was browsing around online to try and find a way to show my middle that he not only matters but that I didn't mind showing others that we belong to one another when I stumbled upon the answer to our non-problem. Jewelry! As someone who doesn't dress for different sporting events, I have never browsed around to see what type of jewelry is out there, but low and behold, I stumbled upon SPORT F.A.B by Feather & Bean and boy am I glad I did! The first item I saw was a bracelet that looked just like a baseball and on it was a stamped plate making it a perfect canvas for my little ballplayer's name. I'm not lying you guys when the bracelet arrived, I was so over the moon impressed with the craftsmanship, I immediately sat down to email Krista and let her know how talented she is and that I couldn't wait to share with all of my baseball lovers out there. The best part is that she makes items for baseball lovers, football fans, softball girls, and in several different style options. When I showed the middle that I had found a way to connect us in a way that didn't compromise myself, he asked when he could get one of his own. Needless to say, I'm going to be ordering one for him with his number stamped on it for Christmas. Thank you to SPORT F.A.B for making a way for the boy and I to claim one another. Live, Love, and Grow Roots!
For those of you who have never met or even seen the man of our house, let me apologize in advance for not introducing this sweet man to you before. That is your warning that the upcoming post is going to be showcasing the root that makes my heart flutter and my temper flare, and one of his favorite items that keep him happy (besides me of course). He's a rugged man and his swagger is unparalleled. He comes in the room every afternoon with a sweaty back and armpits and exudes massive quantities of sweet and salty. In all seriousness, if you know Shane, you know he is a giver. He loves to help others and while he may be the most forgetful man on the planet, if you remind him, he will show you all the ways in the world that he cares about you. In the 10 years that we have been married, I have only seen his face without a beard once. It was shocking, and I wasn't even sure it was him. After we both had a moment to take it all in, he grew his beard back out and has had it ever since. I'm sure you have noticed the sudden uptick in hipster beards. I've even noticed as of late, that the Amish beard is a thing also. You know, the beard that starts where the double chin begins and just sort of hangs there as if it's glued in place. Very interesting to say the least. I personally prefer and unkempt looking beard. The ones that are slightly wild but maintained all the same. Shane's wild beard has to have some sort of product to be tamed and to condition the hair so that it doesn't get too out of control. The man root is very laid back and will pretty much try anything I bring home and rarely complains. Instead, I will find the product stuffed into his bathroom drawer in the very back. Well, for you all with beards or with husbands who have beards, big or small, I can tell you about one item that has not been shoved to the back of the drawer, and it comes from The Brown Dog Beard and Body. I stumbled upon this company while looking for some new beard oil for the man root to try. As someone who doesn't like cologne of any sort or even deodorant that smells too smelly, I try to look for oils and things for everyone in the house that are scented naturally with essential oils. When I came across The Brown Dog, I immediately was drawn in because of the name alone. Little did I know what goodness was hiding inside. Before I even looked at the products in the shop, I read the "About" section. What I learned is that the owner Greg, who is a Tennessee native and whose products are made here in Tennessee, has a fantastic sense of humor and gift for writing. The description of his company literally made me laugh out loud, so I knew then that I was going to have to dig a little deeper to see what was inside. The name of his company was inspired by his brown dog Bedford, and what is not to love about a man and his dog right? I scroll down to look and see what he has to offer, and I was immediately entertained by the name of each of his products as well as the description. If you have time, don't just stop at the one you think is most appealing to you, make sure that for your own personal enjoyment, you read each and every description because you will definitely benefit from a good laugh while you discover the base oils of each scent. I'm not even going to mention the fact that he has several kits available that offer a bowtie for your dog. If that doesn't getcha, I'm not sure you have a pulse right now, so step away, have some coffee and come back when you have your faculties in line. My focus was quickly drawn to Dirty Dog, which is a mixture of all things Earthy and manly. Greg uses Jojoba, Sweet Almond, Grape Seed, Argan, and Castor as his carrier oils, which are great for conditioning and even controlling the most badass of beards. Shane started using his new oil, and don't let the name fool ya because there was nothing Dirty about it. It smells divine and his beard is looking right. I can't guarantee more make out sessions for you all, but I am saying, it's a possibility and leave it at that. Are you ready for the best part of The Brown Dog and the deal maker for me? The Brown Dog gives 10% of each purchase to Happy Tales, a local No Kill shelter. When you are crafting and selling items that are reasonably priced to begin with, and then choose to donate part of the proceeds to a charity or cause, it speaks volumes as to where the heart of your company lies. I encourage you guys to go here to check out his shop. With the holidays rapidly approaching, what better way to show your fella that it's ok for him to pamper himself while simultaneously getting that rugged beard in check. Now before you leave, scroll down a bit and gaze upon the majestic creature and his magical beard, and as always, remember to shop locally. Live, Love, and Grow Roots
I believe it goes without saying that most people nowadays realize that there are many health benefits related to honey. It's delicious to eat, good for your skin, and the healing properties are endless. But, did you know that the benefits of burning beeswax candles are both helpful to your respiratory system as well as clear the air of junk that you don't want in your lungs? Indeed. I would like to preface this by saying that I am not a physician, nor do I play one on TV, but what I do bring to the table is a lifetime with Asthma, and experience with doing the wrong things and then educating myself in ways to remedy this problem holistically. I'm going to begin with the bad stuff, then cover a brief chemistry lesson because let's be honest here, as I've said before, I am a word vessel for you guys, not a chemist and I want to keep it simple. Lastly, I'd like to cover the beneficial health aspects to beeswax, and what it has done for me. When most of you go into stores in search of something to make your house smell amazing, you will see many different brands and types of candles available. Some are soy-based while others claim to emit low amounts of soot. When you touch them you will even notice that some are more greasy while others are incredibly solid and dry. These are factors that mean literally nada as far as the safety of burning them in your home. Soy candles tend to be softer and more greasy, as are the higher end candles that you pay oodles for. No matter the texture, the scent, or the cost, you are releasing toxic chemicals, including carcinogens into your immediate atmosphere. The sad truth is that you are paying for them twice, once with your money and again with your long-term health. The word soy tends to make people have the warm and fuzzies when they are picking out candles. The best that soy candles have to offer is that in most cases, they emit less soot. Don't let that be a selling point because it makes no difference. The paraffin alone is the enemy here and even the soy candles that claim to be 100% soy, must be processed with some degree of paraffin and let's not forget that 99% of soy is genetically modified for your pleasure. There is also the issue with all of the dyes and fragrances that are in them and while some are natural, the fact remains that most of them are not good for you. Now let's have a little lesson on paraffin which covers pretty much the spectrum of everyday candles that people pick up in most any department store or big box retailer. Paraffin candles are made from paraffin wax which we know is a by-product of petroleum refining. What does this mean? It means that paraffin wax begins its life at the bottom of a crude oil barrel. This substance stands about as good a chance of being something good in life as a drug dealing pimp and has the same characteristics of being highly toxic and environmentally unfriendly. If it is any indicator of the toxicity of paraffin, wrap your brain around the fact that asphalt is extracted before paraffin in the refining process. Ever drive over new asphalt that isn't 100% dry yet. The smell is horrible and you curse the asphalt that flies up under your vehicle thinking that it could be stuck there forever. Same thing with the toxic chemicals and carcinogens released when burning paraffin filled candles, except it does stick to your lungs. I encourage you to educate yourself on how paraffin is made and do so in great detail. There is a process of bleaching and treatment that happens using the harmful carcinogens benzene and/or toluene, among others that go into the making of paraffin, and it's just too lengthy a process to cover in one post, and not to mention the fact that it's Monday and people are "half past give a shit" by the end of the day. I don't want to be too overwhelming for the casual reader. Feel free to research this in-depth at your leisure. To test some of what I am telling you, if you are an avid candle user, I would suggest you take a cloth dampened with water and vinegar and wash just one wall in your home, preferably the one closest to the candle you are burning. The soot that you wipe from the walls, is that same soot that is resting in your lungs causing respiratory irritation. I have personally been paraffin candle free in my home for 5 years, and to this day when I enter anyone's home where candles are used on a regular basis (Sorry mom) I cough and hack and clear my throat the entire time. Same goes for those lovely wax melts. Now it's time to cover the benefits of one of my favorite things on the planet and the reason this post landed in the "Life Loves" section of my website. Beeswax candles are one the most pleasant things I use in my home on a regular basis, and I'm going to give you a run-down of how and why these candles are amazing. Beeswax candles actually clean the air while they burn. These magical candles release negative ions when they burn, and while dust, pollen, and other air contaminants release positive ions, they are quickly and effectively neutralized. Sounds like something from a Star Wars movie right? Think of an air purifier that you would buy in a store and run all day long. That is exactly how beeswax works except you can factor in ambiance and the sweet subtle smell of beeswax instead of the constant hum of an air purifier. I'm telling you that from my own personal experience, I can light a beeswax candle in my room and let it burn for a couple of hours before bedtime, and I will wake in the morning free of Asthma symptoms. The same has been said for those that suffer from allergies. Luckily, I don't suffer from environmental allergy issues, but I have read testimonials from people that suffer from pet dander issues as well as environmental allergies that have experienced great relief from burning beeswax inside their homes. Now, before you rush out and search for beeswax candles, let me tell you that you must be careful because in the U.S. the term "pure" can be used very freely on a label and can mean that as little as 51% of the ingredients are actually pure. For the record and for another post, this also goes for the food industry. Scary huh? What you want to look for is the phrase "100% Pure Beeswax". Of course along with anything that is beneficial for your health can sometimes come a hefty price tag. I luckily stumbled upon a couple of shops on Etsy and both provide 100% Pure Beeswax candles that are meticulously handcrafted and are literally one of the most divine things I have in my home, and the best part is that it's affordable and has that amazing pure beeswax scent. Lauren is the creator of Natural Craft Candles, and she is a master of her art, and the real deal you guys. The art of hand dipping and creating beeswax candles isn't a menial task and is a craft that is always a process of perfection. You have to consider the type of beeswax, pollen content, wax season, etc., as well as the temperature. A shift of even a few degrees can make a huge difference in how the candles pour. Every morning I sit at my table to work and have coffee, and beeswax candles are my "go to" item before I ever take a seat in front of my laptop. It literally sets the tone for my day and is something we also do at the start of every homeschool day and during breakfast. We sit, light our candles to signify that it is time to begin, and when we are finished with breakfast we extinguish them. Do we as people always do everything 100% right 100% of the time? Of course not, but I like to think that when we know better, we do better. I'm not in anyway suggesting that this is a foolproof way to help you achieve a better you, but I am saying that I have experienced the benefits first-hand and feel as though the research I have done is consistent with what I have shared with you all in this post. As I said before, I urge you to do your own research and try things for yourself. I'd love to hear from you regarding your experiences with the benefits of beeswax, so feel free to email me or subscribe so that we can stay connected. Live, Learn, and Grow Roots.
I think for the most part I would consider myself as someone who loathes shopping. I detest having to enter a big box store and I love love love to save money. I think we can agree that those three things are not an easy task to accomplish in harmony. I am very much into shopping online and I think that most people have at one time or another been introduced to Amazon and all of its glory. Free two-day shipping with a prime membership is pretty much the best thing on the planet, especially when you have family that is willing to split the annual cost of prime and share it. It seems as though the newest thing going in the world of e-commerce are subscription services. If you take the time you can find anything from a BirchBox makeup and skin care sample subscription service, to BarkBox which offers your pets a monthly reason to not bite the mailman. What's really cool about some of these services is that most often times you can save some money off of retail prices, customize how often you want to receive products, and for some you can pick and choose what type of item you are most likely to use. Amazon currently offers a subscribe and save option which offers an extra percentage off for purchasing through their subscription option as well as another discount if you have 5 or more items you subscribe to. I have tried BirchBox, Barkbox, Amazon Subscribe and Save, BookCase, and a few others, but for the sake of keeping this post something you can read in one sitting, I'll just cover the aforementioned. After I cover one of my newest and loved subscription services, I will go back and cover the ones that I have tried and I will give you the low down on how they work, what they cost, what you get, and how easy it is to cancel the subscriptions if it's not to your liking. Ok, now on to my new love (drumroll please).......Grove Collaborative. Grove Collaborative is a really cool subscription service that offers an amazing variety of items from cleaning and laundry supplies, to personal care, paper products, and even commonly used essential oils. As someone who is an avid couponer, I can tell you that these items are not only priced below retail price but they consistently beat the prices Amazon offers on the products I use. Could I clip coupons, go to the stores, fight other couponers trying to beat them to the punch, and hope to parlay my love of couponing into free items? Most likely, but with the prices as they are on Grove Collaborative, I am guaranteed the items I need and love and they are delivered right to my door on a schedule that I pick. I know lots of mom's that can identify with the perk of not having to drive all the way to the store because you just ran out of laundry detergent, and one of your roots has a ball game the next morning and no clean pants. With Grove, it's there before you run out. You have the ability to rush your order if you are running low on an item, or put it off for another week if you have plenty to work with for the time being. Typically I don't rush into subscription services because honestly, I have a terrible memory and unless I write down the dates by which the subscription will renew, I am always surprised by the charge on my bank account. So, what I have to do is write down on my wall calendar when a subscription service will renew so that if I am not really feeling it, or I'm just trying it in order to give my opinion to you all, I can cancel. You will find that most services have no problem with you canceling at any time and I have yet to find one that has some hidden fee on their agenda. It's my opinion that they typically pull you in with a great price point or a free gift, and they are sitting back in their cubes, hoping like hell that you are scatterbrained and forget for at least a month or two to cancel. YOU WON'T GET ME!!! Unless you are Grove, and then I willingly cave because as we discussed previously, shopping isn't my bag. So, with my subscription to Grove, they have offered my buddies who may want to sign up an incentive as well. If you sign up through my link here, you will earn some free goodies, as well as receive a $10 off coupon. I wasn't lucky enough to get that coupon, but I did get some cool freebies, so I can't complain. As I promised before, I will hit some high and low points on the other subscription services that I have tried. Let's start with BirchBox. This is a beauty supply service and with their lovely boxes, you receive jumbo size samples of everything from makeup and skin care, to hair care needs as well. What I love about BirchBox, is that they almost always offer a good incentive for their newer subscribers to make it tempting for you to try them, and of course, they had me a 2 for 1. You fill out an online profile, and they pretty tell you about certain items that they feel may be helpful for you, and for me, they were right. After signing up, it wasn't long before I got my happy little package from my fantastic rural mail carrier who is always happy to bring my packages to my door with a smile. So here is the part you care about, the price and content. For $10 a month you will get 5 samples that fit the profile you created. Not only will they be products designed to fit your needs, but they will include information on how to use them. My favorite thing about Birchbox is that if you find an item that you can't live without, you will get a discount for ordering that item from them, and I have done that several times. So, if beauty products are your thing, visit Birchbox and they will be happy to assist you. I' going to briefly touch on Amazon because most all of you are familiar with Amazon, but there may be a few that aren't versed in the subscribe and save department. Here is the skinny. You pick an item, you subscribe, and you save a percentage for doing so. You can customize how often you want to receive the items and BAM! your items are at your door. Here is where Amazon falls short in the information department and I fall short in the remembering to do shit problem. If Amazon happens to be running a coupon that you can clip (you will see it right below the listing) and this happens very often and is typically why I choose a particular item to subscribe to, you can save that coupon amount as well as the anywhere from 5- 15% off they give you for subscribing to the item which makes for some pretty sweet deals. However, this will not be a discount for future deliveries. For instance, last month I managed to score 6 boxes of Nature's Bakery Whole Wheat Fig Bar in Peach Apricot for $7.77 shipped to my door, and because there were 12 bars in each box and these are typically just under $4 a box at Kroger, I jumped on that deal like Sea Biscuit and rode it all the way to my front door where I then cookie monster'd the hell out of those things and didn't feel one bit of guilt because hey...they're healthy! Now, unfortunately as time came to renew or cancel, my scattered brain forgot to cancel until I received word that it was on its way and too late. Let me just tell you that that peach apricot fig bar didn't taste nearly as good at $22. So, the moral of this story is that be sure to take advantage of those bomb deals that come along, but write it on your calendar so you don't forget to cancel a specific deal before it becomes a not so bomb deal. Now, on to Barkbox. Barkbox is a neat little service where you can get a monthly box of toys, treats, and doggy happiness for a fee. What is that fee? Well, it's pricey in my opinion, but I'm sure if you have a sweet little furbaby that hates the mailman, this may be something that could turn the tide, unfortunately for us, my furbaby Bruce is more concerned about humping his toys than worrying with the mailman that brings them. Damn wiener dogs! That being said, what you do, is tell the nice people over at Barkbox what size doggie you have and a short profile on your animal and for $29 a month, they will send a cute little box to your door. I tried this service and I liked it just fine. The boxes are sometimes filled with gourmet treats like and Duck flavored chewy sticks and while my dog showed it some serious love, I'm not sure that he wouldn't show as much love for a chew stick that taste like chicken poop, because it seems to me that every time I take him outside, he is on the hunt for this delicacy. I want to add that with this particular subscription service, you are able to save a pretty decent amount of money by committing to a longer term of 6 or 12 months versus a month to month, and if your dog isn't completely satisfied with something in their box, (insert visual of Bruce holding up his paw and saying "Naw this isn't working for my sophisticated palate") they will send something to replace that item. I have to say that that is a perk that I think is really cool. So, would I suggest Barkbox? I'm on the fence. Dogs seem to think it's the bees knees, but they don't pay the bills, and I'd rather throw my pooch a dollar tree stuffed animal, and spend my funds on the next service I will cover. BookCase.Club is a subscription that is geared toward the love of reading, and I LOVE to read. For 9.99 +$5 shipping, you will receive 2 handpicked novels in your choice of genre. For me, Thrillseeker was definitely the genre meant for me. This subscription service is one of my top picks because you never know what is coming, and while the genre is thrilling, there are different elements of thrillers that make each book different. Not into reading per say? No big deal because they have Quarterly Cookbooks as well as Quarterly Military History, and if any of the above doesn't fit your need, there is even a Read To Me children's book option so that you can instill the love of reading in your little ones from an early age. BookCase gives you the option to extend your time before receiving your next shipment in case you need time to finish your first one, so if you are like me and have littles running around and need a little time to finish up, it's no biggie. I truly believe there is magic in the written word and so do the folks at BookCase. Without a doubt, I would say give these guys a go. Even though you have to pay a shipping fee, you are looking at a total of 14.99 a month which is easily less than the cost of two books from Amazon or a bookstore. Sure, you can get tons of used thrift books, but I am one of those people that love the smell of a new book, and knowing that I am the first to crack it open is more satisfying than trying to figure out what the hell a particular stain is on a page of a thrift book. There are several book subscription companies out there, but BookCase is very much my vibe. I'm not looking for tidbits of this and that in my subscription box if I'm wanting books, and for my children, I for sure don't want toys and such because I feel like it takes away from the service itself which is designed to bring you BOOKS. Overall I think subscription services can be great either for yourself or even better, most services offer the option of giving a subscription as a gift which is awesome for those hard to shop for people in your life. Before I end this post I want to encourage those nonshopping shoppers out there to not just take my word for it. What works for some might not work for others, and I am in no way paid to endorse one or another. My opinions are honest and not biased. I will most likely be giving my reviews on other items, so be sure to subscribe to my website so that you can recieve email updates when posts are made.
Having started my dreadlock journey a few months ago, I am very very new to the game. I have watched what may be every available YouTube video out there in order to get as many opinions and perspectives as possible. This is definitely a journey and labor of love for me. What it has taught me above all else has been patience and acceptance of something that to a very large degree is out of your control. I can choose to back comb, palm roll, twist and rip, but when it's all said and done, nature will take its course and I am 100% at the mercy of the dread gods. I do as much maintenance as I possibly can to try and cut down on what I call "fuzzy pineapple head", but with very few options locally, the days of sitting in a chair while someone else does your hair are a thing of the past for me (by choice of course). I have as of this week started to experience some serious shrinking of my dreads, which happens as a result of the locking process. It's to some degree a joyful experience because it means that things are starting to move in the right direction. I am still really not a proud owner of dreadlocks proper, but more the proud owner of dreadlock babies, also known ass knotted strands of hair. Ask anyone who has gone through the process before, and most of them will tell you that your journey is still very new and the babies are far from being grown ups. During this process, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a couple of pretty amazing Instagram pages, one of which totally blew my mind when it came to transforming natural free forming dreads into beautiful works of art. Dollylocks salon in St. Petersburg Florida is literally killing it when it comes to helping people achieve their dream of dreadlocks. When I first stumbled across Dollylocks, it was due to a video I had seen on a dreadlock tightening spray they offer that is completely organic and has a variety of amazing scents, as well as a slew of 5-star reviews. It wasn't until I ordered the spray and tried it out that I began to seek out the maker of this magic spray to let them know how amazing their product was only to discover that they have their very own salon. Even before I realized the power their tightening spray, the description pretty much had me at "Nag Champa". The smell of Nag Champa is one that literally sends me into a flurry of amazing memories and makes my soul soar. The combination of Sandalwood and Plumeria, this stuff is quite literally my happy place. It reminds me of a head shop from my teen years by the name of Stone Mountain, I believe those stores are long gone but have since been replaced by new hipster shops catering to the 20-year-old wandering heart. Keep in mind that if Nag Champa isn't your bag, there are many other scents as well as an unscented option. My next purchase will be the Dollylocks shampoo as well as the refreshing spray, just because I love the scent and I feel like between my wash days, I would like to enjoy a hit of my Nag Champa. I encourage you all to follow Dollylocks on Instagram because they are not only dreadlock gurus, but they are artists of color and all things hair. I plan to make the 11-hour trek as soon as my dread babies hit the one year mark. You will most likely find that post in my Adventures section because I anticipate a camping trip to happen. Until then, visit them here on their website for a complete overview of products they provide as well as contact information and find them here on Instagram for salon photos as well as here for products. You will not be sorry.
Here we go with another object of my affection. For some reason, I have gotten on a kick of throwing stickers on things as of late. I most definitely like to use my back windshield as an advertisement for all the things I love, and my latest addition is no exception. A few weeks ago I was browsing boards on Pinterest, and I found a pin that led me to a fantastic little Etsy store by the name of Nikki's Mandalas. If you follow me, you know I have an affinity for smudging and all things smudge related from educating others, to growing, making and selling my own. When I happened upon this store, I discovered a new mantra that I had to have. I knew it was meant to be. Nikki is truly an Entrepreneur at heart and has literally carved out a niche for herself when vinyl decals have hit a high point. People put vinyl decals on everything from Yeti style insulated mugs, to car windows. With Nikki's background and experience in the sign and design business, she was already equipped with the knowledge of how the machines work, so when she decided to add her own passion for the design of Mandalas to the mix, it was a perfect marriage. While Nikki finds peace and relaxation in the process of bringing the Mandalas to life, she is no "one trick pony". In her shop, you will find anything from the decal I purchased to dream catchers, lotus flowers, and many other designs. She will even take custom orders as well as specific sizes. I'm thinking my next one will be moon phases. I put one of her Mandalas on my laptop and I absolutely love it! One of the cool things about ordering from Nikki's Mandalas is that she is based in nearby Chattanooga, Tennessee. Take some time to check out her Etsy store and show her some love.
Over the years I have grown to be a huge lover of handmade local pottery pieces. I am not one to spend lots of money on anything, mainly because I can't. Truthfully, I often shop the "oops" shelves for pieces that didn't quite make the cut of what the artist had envisioned. These pieces are typically the ones that make my soul sing. Perhaps in every aspect of life, I most often find myself rooting for the underdog. I currently am the proud owner of a bowl that doesn't sit quite right which makes it absolutely perfect for a succulents planter, a mug that the handle is every so slightly mishappen, and several other lovelies that I wouldn't trade for the world. Every now and then, I find a particular artist or a special piece that I am willing to dive into my "rainy day jar" for, and today I am sharing exactly that. This beauty is made by the sweetest of sweet, Ms. Rachel Vandivort, the owner/operator, kick ass clay thrower of RV Pottery in Nashville TN. Rachel is a super talented gal who not only creates one of a kind custom pieces, but she keeps all of the materials used to create her little pieces of pottery heaven in their natural state which allows for a truly authentic piece. With no pun intended, I would like to throw in (see what I did there), that all of her materials are handmade on site, from the clay, right down to the glazes. All of these details, make having one of her pieces super special for me. If pottery makes you swoon, you should follow her on Instagram at rv_pottery and also browse around her lovely Etsy store here. You will not be disappointed.