It's the new moon, which means it's time for a new blog post :-) My last one (on the full moon) can be found over at my Wild Sanctuary Massage site. In case you missed it, I reveal upcoming changes regarding my massage therapy practice and the impact it will have on my tiny house.
Now that we are officially one week into December, and last night was the 5th night of Hanukkah: I've decided to share 5 things I've been celebrating lately. Each item also includes a how-to or review, so read on if you want also discover what I've been learning!
Okay, so redundant? Let me just remind you eight more times how beautiful this holiday is. While some people may think of about the rebelling against oppression aspect to the holiday's history, Hanukkah is all about celebrating miracles. Blessings. The beauty. The wonder. This year, I feel so full of gratitude for the amazing life surrounding me. Lighting the candles each night, singing the two blessings (three on the first night), and watching as they s l o w l y melt down feels like a form of meditation. My mind clears, focuses on thankfulness, and the beauty unfolding right in front of me.
***HOW TO: Removlast year's wax from the menorah.
Fill your sink with hot water, enough to lay the menorah in and cover it. Let it soak for a bit, then use a chopstick in the center of each candle base to pop out the softened wax. So easy!
***HOW TO: store your menorah candles.
Keep them in the freezer throughout the rest of the year! Then they won't melt into weird shapes during all the temperature changes.
2) Homemaking: Laundry Detergent
There's a reason I chose the moniker "Tiny Homemaker." Yes, I'm making a house. But I also love all things home-makey :-) (well, most things. I take after my mother and you probably won't ever see me iron. Except for when it comes to re-waxing my snowboard). Recently I ran out of laundry detergent, and was feeling both broke and creative (as all my great adventures begin).
I remembered an old laundry detergent recipe that I've had for years, and used to use all the time. Perfect time to try it again!
Kelly Placke is the owner/creator of Placke Organic Milk Soap that we sell at Driftless Market. I've been obsessed with her products and branding ever since we started carrying them (they smell SO good, are beautiful to look at, and the super rustic shelf she brought in to display them on just makes everything that much more awesome). She recently came out with a vegan option that incorporates the kombucha she brews at home. We ended up chatting at one of the Women on Main events (I was doing chair massages and she was selling her soaps), and she gave me a free bar that hadn't quite turned out as beautiful as the others. It still smelled phenomenal <3 I wanted my clothes to smell like that too, so decided to use it as the bar of soap required in the laundry detergent recipe!
***How to make easy, decadent Laundry Detergent:
-1 bar of soap (not antibacterial, the recipe says)
-1/2 cup of borax
-1/2 cup of baking soda
1. Grate bar of soap into container
2. Pour in borax and baking soda
3. Mix well
4. Use 1 tbsp for small or lightly soiled loads and 2 tbs for large or heavily soiled loads.
(this recipe is by "GreenKnitter." I haven't done a digital search for their online recipe and article, but you can!)
In the end, it only cost me around $5 (to buy the box of borax -- I already had the other two ingredients). And that box of borax will last me for many more laundry detergent making adventures! Hey reader: have you ever made your own laundry detergent before? If so, what recipes have you tried out?
3) Luna Handy-ness: Tools + Tricks
Of course I haven't forgotten Luna! Putting away that batch of reclaimed lumber I got in November is taking waaaay longer than I anticipated. Which is okay and shouldn't be a surprise. One of the biggest hold ups at first was getting the new lumber racks put up (I need to buy a new battery pack for my nicer drill, the 9v just doesn't last long enough to get all the work done).
One of my skills is stripping screws, apparently, and so when I learned about the SCREW EXTRACTOR KIT it basically changed my life. It was under ten dollars at Menards, with three sizes to choose from within the case. Each piece fits perfectly into any cordless drill and is so easy to use. One end drills a new space in the center of the stripped screw, then you take it out and flip it around to use the other side which catches hold and extracts the screw. Youtube was a great resource, but once I started using it I realized how simple it is. It worked for every single wildly stripped out screw I had, and I know I'll be using it a lot in the future (my tiny house will be using screws because of racking and shearing/wind on the highway). For must-have tool (accessories), this has definitely made the list.
What else have I been learning? How to easily remove old nails without damaging gorgeous barn wood! I can't remember if I read this in my Building with Secondhand Stuff book by Chris Peterson, or was a tip I pinned to my Tiny House Construction and Design board. Either way, it's simple and effective.
Place a piece of wood (I use shims, because I have tons and tons and tons of them) under the face and neck of the hammer, then pull up on the nailhead with the hammer claws. This helps create more leverage for removing pesky nails (I hammered them a bit from the other side so their nailhead was accessible), but more importantly it prevents you from making any scuffs or indents by accident with the other part of the hammer (because you're basically pushing the hammer face back into the wood as you pull the claws + nail up and away)!
Maybe you all know this already, but if you are a complete beginner like them then super simple tips are super duper helpful!
4) MY PHONE! I mean: organization ;-)
For Christmas, Janet got me a refurbished iPhone 5c. MY FIRST EVER SMARTPHONE HOLY AHHHH I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!!! I may have jumped on her and almost knocked her over with my joy at one point. But that is not the point of me mentioning this! This smartphone came at just the perfect time. A few weeks ago, I got rid of half my clothing and transformed my open closet into a a small, inset office with a floating desk and just-perfect bookshelf. I felt hella handy once I accomplished it :-) I was in super organization mode, and that hasn't left me.
My smartphone is helping me get way more organized digitally and physically than I ever could have imagined. Here are my favorite apps that are helping me get on track (and enjoy staying there):
Todoist. It's a to-do list app that I like more than Wanderlust. It's simple, yet allows me to organize tasks and reminders by projects (with subprojects), labels, and priority filters. It's not just time-framed to dos: It's also great place to jot down blog ideas, magazines I'd like to submit poetry to, etc. I'm using the free month of premium right now, but am definitely going to upgrade when it's over (plus I use it for my business, so is a tax write off!). It let's me focus on just today's tasks or easily look out at the next 7 days and sends me an e-mail in the morning with today's task agenda. I have a big fat organizational crush on this app <3
30/30. I'm using this app right now, and am still getting a feel for how to best use it. It's a timer that allows you to focus on whatever you want for a specific amount of time. It helps me focus, because I know that in, say 10 minutes, the time allotted for clearing out my inbox will be over and I'll get to go check Facebook then. You can set up a series so it'll move from one thing to the next and let you know when to move on as well (it's great for scheduling in breaks!). It helps me dive in and focus on whatever I'm doing. Love!
Daily Water. I'm all about self care, but am terrible about remembering to drink water. This app lets me set my goal (8 glasses), and set up a reminder schedule throughout the day. Once I drink a glass, I just hit one of the 8 water glass icons, and it empties. Simple and fun. Since I've been started using it, I've been drinking so much more water! It's fun to look back and see a visual of how much water you've been drinking, too.
Wholesome. I'm a nutrition nerd. Someday down the road, I'd love to explore either a Nutritional Herbalism or Nutrition education. It's so fun to learn about every day things packed with extra Self-Care power! This app is focused on whole food cooking, rather than pre-packed stuff or eating out (which works great for my lifestyle). There is information about each vitamin and mineral, which is a great resource in itself. How you use it, though, is where it gets really exciting.
The food is sorted into visual categories (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, etc + beans, grains, spices, beverages, etc). Let's say I sauteed tempeh, a carrot, an onion, and some cabbage together on the stove (okay, I did do that the other day). I hit "eat" on each one, with amount and raw v cooked options. When I go to My Nutrition Tracker, it shows me (percent and a bar) a break down of the nutrients I've had so far in the day! Today, I know that I've had 17% percent of my daily recommended protein, 54% of my B12, 48% of my iron, etc. It helps check in during the day and decide what I want to eat more of (right now? Protein! I might make some quinoa for lunch).
I don't use this app to track "bad" things I'm eating, just to see what sort of vitamins and minerals I'm getting. I'm also using it to track how much coffee I'm drinking :-p It's fun, visual, intuitive, and educational! You can also add your own foods if you know the nutritional info (I added Post Grape-Nuts this morning).
5) Meditation Fun: Coloring with Lacey
Congrats! You've made it to the end of the post :-) To reward myself for navigating long days, I bought myself a Libraries Around the World Coloring Book by friend Lacey Losh (from my Lincoln, Nebraska days)! Okay, well really I bought one a gift for my friend Heather and couldn't resist buying one for myself too. We just started carrying it at Driftless Market, and it is WILDLY GORGEOUS.
A fan of both tiny buildings AND sharing books, I am of course in love with Little Free Libraries. This coloring book is more than just lines to fill in. Each wee library is accompanied by an interesting story, and it's so cool seeing different parts of the world connected through literature. I wouldn't mind making this coloring book into a "Places I Must One Day Visit" guide :-)
I'm going to get my colored pencils out this weekend and wind down. And then, just because I love you all, I'm going to make a bonus blog post on Sunday! It'll feature an interview with the author and a super short youtube video where I review the coloring book and give you a sneak peek :-)
So I've shared my five things:
What have you been celebrating this month? <3
I believe you become a healthier person
-- mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually --
the moment you start living the way you believe you should,
whatever that may be." - Mark Boyle