DIY Toxin-Free Dry Shampoo

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One of the main reasons we started using essential oils almost eight years ago was to save money - we were learning about all the chemicals and toxins in our food, household products, and personal care items. We were beyond broke 24 year olds, with a baby, a brand new chiropractic office, and a mama who just left her full time teaching job to be home. Looking at all the “natural” alternatives on the store shelves, I was overwhelmed by prices and lists of chemical names. I ventured into making my own versions with inexpensive things I knew were safe and effective, and essential oils fit that bill! Dry shampoo is a mama life-saver. I love using it to give my pixie cut some texture, and it keeps my hair looking great between showers and washes. Unfortunately, conventional dry shampoo is packed with totally unnecessary toxins (check yours out on the Think Dirty app!) and adds an equally unnecessary expense to the personal care shopping list. DIY dry shampoo has been as staple for me, and I think you’ll love it too! The essential oils included are awesome for healthy scalp and hair. Happy mixing!

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DIY Dry Shampoo:

1 8 oz mason jar

1 makeup jar with sifter

1/2 cup arrowroot powder

1 tbsp to 1/4 cup cacao powder or cocoa powder

4-6 drops each: Lavender, Rosemary, and Cedarwood  

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Mix arrowroot powder and oils in the 8oz mason jar, then add cacao powder one tablespoon at a time till the color is a good fit for your hair color. It doesn’t need to be dark! For blonde and lights brown hair, a tablespoon or two is plenty. 

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Add some of your dry shampoo to a make up sifter jar (mine is this one from Amazon!) The sifter jar is not necessary, but having the lid to reduce how much powder comes out is totally worth it, and it’s reusable for every batch you make!

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Another non-necessity, but totally fun - label your dry shampoo with a retro embossing label maker! 

Plant Lady 101 - The Best Three Plants to Start With!

Two things you can find in every room of our house - religious art and plants! These are my two favorite things to decorate with. Plants bring such a happy pop of green and life to a space, giving it warmth and depth. They are fun to watch grow and change, and make a great little project for children to help out with. My children have plants in their bedrooms too, per their request! Whether it is a friend visiting the house or spotting a plant in a room via Instagram, I get a lot of "I need you to teach me how to keep plants!" comments. I am totally an amateur plant lady, but thankfully it doesn't take much to bring and keep bright greenery into your space! I used to wander around looking at plants, feeling overwhelmed and clueless. My husband new I wanted to get a few plants, so one Mother's Day, he gave me a gift card to a local plant store! I did a little Pinterest research on plants I might not kill, and went for it! Not every plant I've had over the last three years has lived, but some have stuck with me that whole time. So to each friend that has said "teach me your ways," here we go!

First, don't go drooling over urban jungle IG accounts and go purchase $200 Fiddle Leaf Figs and rare succulents! Give yourself three months to prove to yourself that you can keep $30-50 worth of plants alive, even if the plants you start with aren't your dream plants. I think the best way to start is with a handful of plants that look great and can stand up to your learning curve! Second, don't be legalistic with how much water, how much sun, etc. You can find tips for every plant imaginable on the internet, but even if you follow those rules perfectly, your particular plant may not be happy! Know that you'll have to play around with where to keep it for the amount of sun and how much water it likes. Third, get a few to start! If you get one plant and it dies, you may feel like a failure. If you have three and you lose one, you have a few others to care for! I also think my plants aren't neglected because they have friends - there are too many plants in my house to forget about them! When you are watering and checking on more than one plant, it's likely to become a natural part of your home care routine. Okay - let's dive into what I think are the best three plants to start with!

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From left to right: ZZ plant, pothos ivy, and snake plant! 

ZZ Plant: The zamioculas zamiifolia is the first plant we ever bought, and it went to my husband's chiropractic office! I asked the woman at the local plant store for a plant that could handle low light and likely some neglect (my husband takes amazing care of his patients, but his plants don't get water as often as they should!), and she sent me home with a ZZ! If you are the brownest of thumbs, the ZZ plant is your best friend. They do well in moderate to bright light, near a bright window - you'll see new growth constantly! That being said, the ZZ is a rockstar for super low light, and can even live on just fluorescent lighting! This is one you can stick in a low lighting corner for a design pop, and it'll look healthy forever. The ZZ can handle water once a week, but it'll tolerate being watered less and even totally forgotten for a while! It doesn't want to be overwatered, so be sure the soil is dried out between watering. One thing that I love about the ZZ is that it has these big rhizomes that store water - it truly can handle some drought. When they look shriveled and not full, you can be sure that the plant is thirsty. I have one ZZ and I usually water it every two weeks. When I place it near a window, it gets tons of new growth and height. In a darker spot, it slows but looks great and stays happy! Bonus - even if you are eventually going to kill a ZZ, it probably will take you over a year to kill it. Ha!

Pothos Ivy: Your grandma's favorite houseplant, and for good reason. I have four pothos plants, and they are some of my favorites! You usually purchase them as bushy, short plants with two or three leaves on a few of the vines. They can grow quickly, making them the most satisfying first plants I can think of! It's a joy to watch new pothos leaves unfurl and to see your vines get some length! Like the ZZ, pothos can handle not having a lot of sun. They are great on bookshelves and in spots that get moderate light, but can be a good distance from windows too. All of my pothos plants are fairly far away from their light source, but they are happy! Starting with plants that aren't too picky about their lighting is ideal, I think. Pothos plants are also good at telling you what they want changed. If they are droopy or starting to brown, they are thirsty. If they are getting too much light, the color of the leaves will bleach out. Pothos ivy plants like to have their soil dry out completely before watering, and I find with mine that once a week is usually when they are ready for water. I have often let them go two weeks with no problems! This is a low maintenance plant that looks great in every space and is fun to watch grow.  

Snake Plant: The sanseveria plants are some of my favorite! My husband has two at the office, and we have one at home. I love the height and fun patterning that they bring to a space! They are similar to ZZ plants in many ways. They'll do great in bright light near a sunny window, but they'll also hang out happily in lower light areas. These are a favorite for people who forget to water their plants, as they need water about every two to three weeks! You'll get feedback from your plant if you are overwatering - the leaves will start to droop rather than stand up straight. 

Plant Lady, you are officially ready! Head to a local nursery (or even Amazon!) and grab your first three plants! Get regular potting mix and some terra cotta pots or at least pots with holes at the bottom, and find spots for your new plant babies. Don't be afraid to move them around and don't stress over watering - just check the soil with your fingers to make sure it has dried out before watering again. Don't overthink it, just enjoy your plants!

Good Bye, Old Chicken Coop!

In March we moved into a new home, and the last three months have required a lot of adjusting and resettling! We moved our existing chickens over with us, and they are in a temporary coop made from pallets while my husband gets ready for a big three to four week coop build!

As he's been getting ready, downloading plans and setting aside time to build, I've been thinking fondly of the first coop we built. We had a lot of requests for how it was built, and I wish I could share more details! Daniel and I looked at many coop designs, and filtered them through our main goal - lots of run space, able to keep birds full-time enclosed if needed, and as frugal as possible! Many coop designs run $1000+ in wood and materials, and we built this one for less than $400, using what we could that we already had and reducing materials down to the basics!

It was the very first building project I ever requested of my husband - he had not so much as built a shelf before this! It was a daunting task, and I was so proud of the design he drew up and his execution! He was quick to decide to use pre-made designs for the next coop - he'll be building a slightly modified Garden Loft Coop

 Basic design - I wanted the chickens to have as much run space as we could, without spending a ton on materials! I also wanted to be able to walk in to clean the run floor and go in and out with the feeder and waterer. 

Basic design - I wanted the chickens to have as much run space as we could, without spending a ton on materials! I also wanted to be able to walk in to clean the run floor and go in and out with the feeder and waterer. 

 We were able to keep the feeder and waterer under the little hen house part of the coop, keeping it from rain. 

We were able to keep the feeder and waterer under the little hen house part of the coop, keeping it from rain. 

 Super simple entrance to the hen house. Our girls would go in to put themselves to bed on the roosting bars or go in to lay eggs!

Super simple entrance to the hen house. Our girls would go in to put themselves to bed on the roosting bars or go in to lay eggs!

 One side of the coop had a swing door to collect eggs from two little laying areas we set up. It was a great height for the older two children to unlatch and open!

One side of the coop had a swing door to collect eggs from two little laying areas we set up. It was a great height for the older two children to unlatch and open!

 This back door was put in to help make it super easy to clean up the bedding, I just swept out the old into a bag and had the children help me replenish the new chips! 

This back door was put in to help make it super easy to clean up the bedding, I just swept out the old into a bag and had the children help me replenish the new chips! 

I am excited for our new coop, but I did love this homemade design! We learned a ton about caring for our chickens and what does and doesn't work for their living spaces in the process. As the Garden Loft Coop build gets underway, I will be sharing the progress over on Instagram Stories - be sure to follow @LittleLightFamily on IG and follow along! 

Spiritual Reading: Baker's Dozen Book Challenge for 2018

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Happy 2018! I am not one for "New Year's Resolutions," but I am one for accountability when I make big plans. I am great at ideas and dreams, but projects and commitments that don't fall into crafts and artwork categories are highly at risk of not being finished. Ha! I love to read, but when it comes to spiritual reading, I am really good at *buying* the books...I'm even great at reading the first few chapters. Completely finishing them, on the other hand, I am horrible at. To prevent myself from buying anymore books from our parish bookstore and then just looking at them longingly, I am making myself accountable for reading the ones I already have! I started the first one just after Christmas, so I am including 13 books in my personal challenge! I will be sharing thoughts on each book as I finish them - but I do promise that many many other people have written profound thoughts and reviews...that's not me. Fair warning if you decide to follow along, it'll just be some basic Catholic mama thoughts. ;-) 

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Here's my complete list, in order of the photo, but not necessarily in the order I will read them (mostly because I am not sure what order I will read them in...that's too much planning for me!). I've started with Humility of Heart, and though some of the books may not be as heavy, I am realizing all 13 will be quite challenging. After Humility of Heart, I am going to dive into The Privilege of Being A Woman. 

1. Humility of Heart (Fr. Cajetan Mary da Bergamo)

This one was a gift from a thoughtful friend, and I've started and stopped it too many times! It's a heavy-hitter, and I've started with this one first!

2. The Imitation of Mary (Alexander De Rouville)

I've read this almost completely, but many years ago. I am looking forward to reading it again in my current stage of life.

3. The Glories of Mary (Saint Alphonsus Liguori)

My husband and I finished our Total Consecration to Mary in the fall, and I am realizing that I will never be able to learn enough about her! This book was recommended in a talk I listened to online!

4. The Privilege of Being a Woman (Alice von Hildebrand)

True femininity in the context of our Faith is not something I have learned much about until the last two years at our Traditional Latin Mass parish. It has been something I need a LOT of grace to put into practice, so I am especially looking forward to this one!

5. The Martins of Lisiuex - Saints Therese, Louis, and Zelie (Fr. Stephane-Joseph Piat O.F.M.)

I have a special love and admiration for Saint Therese, and in what little I've read of Saint Zelie's letters, I know that these three are Saints I need to get to know better! This is an intimidatingly sized book, but I am looking forward to stories and examples from this holy family.

6. An Introduction to the Devout Life (Saint Frances de Sales)

This book is so beautifully written, I can't wait to dive in! It is another that is recommended by a priest my husband and I listen to online often, and was recently recommended by one of our parish priests in our Women's Spirituality class as a cornerstone for spiritual reading!

7. The Mass Explained to Children (Maria Montessori)

I started reading this one out loud to my children during homeschool time, but with the two younger ones to hold and wrestle, I didn't keep it up! I want to finish it myself and see how I can best convey Maria Montessori's message to my five and seven year old!

8. What's Wrong with the World (G.K. Chesterton)

To be honest, this one is the book that is most likely to get bumped off my list, if I fall behind! I want to read it because there will be a time, soon, to explain to our children why we seem so strange! This is one, though, that falls more in line with my husband's state in life than mine, so we shall see!

9. A Mother's Rule of Life (Holly Pierlot)

Our parish's homeschool mom's group read this for the Fall semester and discussed it at the meetings, but I didn't read along. I will get through it this year!

10. The Latin Mass Explained (George J. Moorman and R. Michael Schmitz)

Another that I've read at least halfway through, but haven't finished for whatever reason. We've been attending the Latin Mass for about a year and a half, and I'm certain even in 20 years there will be more to learn about it! 

11. True Devotion to Mary (Saint Louis de Montfort)

We used a different book for our Total Consecration to Mary, but both Daniel and I love Saint Louis de Montfort and this book seems like a necessity!

12. How to Really Love Your Child (Ross Campbell)

My confessor recommended this book to me, and our pastor recommended it again to the whole parish during a sermon! I read dozens of parenting and psychology books in my first few years as a new mom, but haven't read many since. I think this one will be very helpful for both my husband and I!

13. The Ways of Mental Prayer (Vitalis Lehodey O.C.R.)

Oh, this one. I've started reading it, and have skipped around to parts I thought might help me more immediately. The priest that I learned about it from says that it's a beast, but the very best single book to aid in mental prayer and meditation! 

Find ALL of the titles here! (Not an affiliate link! I love me some Amazon, but if we can find these titles at our local Catholic bookstores, I'd rather see those small businesses flourish!)

If you have read some of these, which has been your favorite? Are any of these on your reading list for this year too?

All Saints Day Saint Costumes 2017

I am ALL for store bought Halloween costumes, and for the Trunk or Treat we went to a few days before Halloween, that is exactly what my children wore - store bought costumes! Our local Target didn't seem to have a very large selection of Saint costumes, however. Really though, wouldn't it be awesome if we could order Saint costumes on Amazon? The reality is that for All Saints Day celebrations, the Catholic mama is on her own. I honestly think that's why many people skip Saint costumes, because as much as they'd like to do some special Liturgical living with their children, it takes a lot of time and planning to make a number of Saint outfits! 

This year after the children decided who they wanted to be, I planned our costumes out with the goal of being as efficient as possible, and while their costumes are clearly not seamstress status, they held up for our All Saints Eve Party at our church, and each of them loved their costumes! 

I cheated as MUCH as possible on these, and from start to finish I spent less than three hours making them. So, Catholic Mama, here are my hacks - let's cheat together!! 

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We have a Benedictine monk (Saint Benedict for the party!), Saint Philomena, and Saint Therese of Lisieux! 

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Our Benedictine habit is just a few yards of black jersey fabric, folded in half, with a little crescent cut out just big enough for his neck! I had my son lay down on the folded fabric and traced out the arms, then cut away - the fabric looked like a letter "T." This is the only one I pulled the sewing machine out for. I used jersey fabric as much as possible for these costumes, because with jersey you can make a straight cut, rip the fabric quickly, and then the "hem" will just roll a little and look fairly finished! Not spending energy cutting perfectly saves so much time! He wore it over a black hoodie so that I didn't have to attempt to sew a hood!

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Saint Philomena has on a pillowcase! I cut arm holes and cinched the "neck" with twine! We used a cape we already owned, which was perfect. Her crown was an existing pink jersey headband, and I just hot glued flowers and leaves on to it! With this little love being under three, I didn't take the chance of accessorizing her with an anchor, arrows, palms, or a rope...in fact my husband forbade me from letting her wear a rope around her neck...what can you do? 

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Saint Therese the Little Flower also has a pillow case tunic; bottom cut off and left unhemmed, arms cut out, neck cinched! Her mantle I ruffled by hand quickly, and then hot glued sparkly gold ribbon to both sides. The toque is a simple piece of white jersey, and the veil is black jersey - both cut, ripped, and left unhemmed! 

I hope my hacks encourage you to make Saint costumes for All Saints Day celebrations - no one needs to know we cheated! ;-)