Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Beautiful Simplicity of Paring Down

I'm very careful about the products used in my home and on my body and Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap has been a favorite for years. So versatile that it not only works for bath and body needs, but for home cleaning as well...simplicity at its best. As I starting thinking about all of the many uses of this soap and the inherent simplicity, it encouraged me to rethink many of the other items being used in my home.

I began to take a closer look at the things around me. Is this a true reflection of what I believe? Do I really need/use this? Does it add to my life or just take up space? Can it be used in multiple applications (versatility)? Is it just hanging around because it might be used one day or does it serve a purpose?

One by one as things left cabinets, drawers and closets, rooms weren’t as cluttered and organization was a new found appreciation. The funny thing? The process left my bathroom with VERY few items.

I have naturally curly hair that can lean on the frizzy side if the right product isn’t used and for years TONS of mousse, hair gels, shampoos, conditioners and hot oil treatments lined the shelves. After taking a good look only a few things were really needed...
  • Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap - serves as shampoo, hand soap, body wash, jewelry cleaner, makeup remover and bathroom cleaner.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar - makes the perfect conditioning hair rinse, a wonderful balancing/conditioning facial toner and bathroom cleaner.
  • Olive Oil - great for a weekly hot oil hair treatment, a deep conditioning cuticle treatment, a wonderful lip conditioner and just the right thing for those extra dry patches.
  • Rose & Hibiscus Facial Cream - the best face cream ever!! Made from organic aloe vera juice, hibiscus flower extract, coconut oil, rosehip seed oil, vitamin E, rosemary and neem oil. Technically a facial cream, it’s light enough for all over and I always keep some in my purse.
  • Hairspray – made from lemon wedges, water and alcohol.
  • Mousse – made from gelatin and water.
This paring down process has also made a difference in the daily routine. After hopping out of the shower cream is immediately applied to face and body, a few drops of olive oil massaged into cuticles keeps them soft with the excess applied to lips, only a dab of mousse is needed in my hair because the vinegar conditions so well and then I’m ready for makeup!

In the evening I simply soak a washcloth with warm water and add a few drops of Dr. Bronner’s to remove makeup/wash my face, rinse the cloth in cold water, add a splash of apple cider vinegar to the wet cloth and apply it to my face. No cream needed at night because the vinegar conditions! Not only had this simplified my space and routine but it saves the pocketbook as well.

So how have you pared down your spaces? How has simplicity made a difference in your everyday routine?

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  1. Good for you! I am still in the pondering stage, one that lasts a pretty long time with me, I'm afraid. Isn't it amazing the great products we can make with simple ingredients we have in the house anyway! I've got a fantastic window cleaner recipe I'll share in an upcoming blog. Thanks for your suggestions. :-)

  2. have you tired forgoing the shampoos altogether but keeping the vinegar rinse?

    works great for me - my hair tightens up into these lovely curls with great bounce and almost zero frizz - even in our humid NW climate

  3. Oh this is great! I knew about some of these things (we use Dr. Bronner's, too!), but hadn't heard about using olive oil for cuticles and chapped lips or making a homemade hairspray.

    I've already tried making my own shampoo (which I blogged about here:, so I'm really interested in trying the hairspray, too!!

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. I go through spurts, it seems. For weeks, I'll organize, declutter, donate, toss out. Then, I'm getting great deals at thrift stores and such for my art studio or decorating the house. So, it seems I'm always juggling between making the house cozy, but keeping it filled with things I often use. As long as it's clean and I'm not tripping over things, I'm happy!

  5. Blog hopping and so happy I found your blog!!!!! I am your newest follower and can't wait to read more of your blog!

  6. Wow... I have been thinking about the topic of your blog for awhile now. I grew up in the country to the idea of homesteading has been ingrained into me since childhood. Now that I'm older the idea that I could do this in the city intrigues me. I am glad that you made this blog and I am following you now.

    If you like to check me out I can be found at

    Thank you again, and good luck!

  7. So glad I came across your blog this morning. An answer to my prayers. I have long naturally curly hair also. very frizzy, frustrating. I just started a new hair wash last week that so far is going very well. 1 TB baking soda diluted in 1 cup hot water to wash and then 1 TB apple cidar vinegar in 1 cup hot water to condition. Helps bring out the oils in my dry hair instead of washing them away with shampoos. I love all the info in your posts. Exactly what I've been looking for. You are wonderful, love your energy!

    tina @

  8. We ARE sisters of mind/heart! {I KNEW it!!} The ONLY thing off your list that I don't use is the rose & hibiscus cream (will have to find that) because so many things have lanolin or lanolin extracts & I'm EXTREMELY allergic! I don't DO hairspray or mousse or gels either(makes my hair too brittle).

    One word of caution - be CAREFUL on the vinegar rinse. It will strip the color from your hair, so if you're covering grays, this is not something you want to use. {It really DOES condition well in the summer when I let my hair go natural Irish red!}

  9. This is really interesting. I'm cutting down on the amount of products I use in my home. I use vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice for cleaning and I've stopped using the various products I used to think were essentials to my beauty routine. Now I use only good old soap and water and an organic face cream. I want to find a way of washing and conditioning my hair that doesn't use ordinary products. I have long fine hair and it gets really tangled. Do you think apple cider vinegar would do the trick?

  10. Very nice post. Here is what I use:

    All-purpose cleaner ~ take a spray bottle and fill it to within 1 inch of where it starts to get smaller at the top. Then add 1 inch of rubbing alcohol. Add 1 Tablespoon of Borax and shake well.

    Glass cleaner ~ just the same only leave out the Borax.

    Deodorant ~ 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup corn starch and 5 Tablespoons virgin coconut oil. Mix the dry, melt the oil gently and stir together. Store in a squat jar with lid.

    Antiseptic for owies ~ tea tree oil.

    Facial and body moisturizer ~ extra-virgin coconut oil. Also great for the hair.

    Hand lotion ~ hard lotion bar that I make by melting together equal weights of extra-virgin coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax, then pour into molds.

    Soaps ~ I make all of my soap and even make a shampoo bar and just use a very dilute vinegar rinse after that, and rinse again. My hair is very happy and my DH's dandruff went away completely.

    Tub and toilet scrub ~ 1/2 baking soda and 1/2 Borax.

    If I have baked on grease like on my stovetop or in the oven, and can't get it off, I just put a washrag on the area, pour a little ammonia on it and cover with with a plastic bag and leave it for a few hours. It loosens the crud and I can easily scrub it off.

    That's it!


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