Wednesday, 10 November 2021

5 Reasons I switched to Natural Cleaning // And why you should consider it too!

When I first began transitioning to a more natural approach to our home life, I'll admit cleaning wasn't high on the agenda of things to change. I'm a dutiful cleaner... by that, I don't mean that I'm brilliantly wonderful at it - but rather that I do it because I know I need to, rather than from any sense of enjoyment! (Apologies to all of you clean freaks who love pulling on the marigolds!) I am ALL about simple, straightforward cleaning with no frills attached - as a Mum of four kids I genuinely don't have time for more than the basics - and I think I assumed that moving to natural cleaning would mean more work.

And I was NOT up for more work!

I jumped into the oily life with a fair amount of enthusiasm. I had been WOWED by a couple of amazing roller bottles (I'll tell you the verruca and car sick story sometime!) so I was already convinced they worked... but I hadn't really explored much beyond that. Once I started reading more and learning more about holistic health, I realised that although I was now working hard to support our bodies naturally with essential oils, I was probably undoing a lot of my own hard work simply via the products I was using on and around my family. As I began to learn about the ingredients included in the majority of household cleaners, investigating natural cleaning became a natural progression. 

Over the next few weeks I'm going to share some more simple tricks and recipes for making the changes step by step, but before I do, I wanted to write a post explaining why we have done this, why I think it matters... and why I think ditching and switching is something you should be considering too.

So here we go - five reasons you should make the switch! 

1. Ditching the chemicals - getting rid of toxic ingredients

Let's start with the basics - not all chemicals are bad. In fact, everything is made up of chemicals. Some naturally formed chemicals work for us... and some chemicals work against our bodies natural systems, wreaking havoc. Some chemicals are known carcinogens, some interfere with normal hormone function (these are known as Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals or EDCs) and can cause all sorts of problems for our health and fertility. Some chemicals are skin irritants, and some cause respiratory problems. These are the kind of chemicals we want to avoid. We will be daily exposed to them in modern life, but as a Mum of a young family, I want to be the gatekeeper to my home and reduce that toxic load. Sadly many household cleaners contain guilty ingredients. Some main ones to avoid include "fragrance" or "perfume" (this is an umbrella term for a concoction of undisclosed chemicals which can contain both short term and long term toxicity including all the areas mentioned above), triclosan (contains EDCs) and Phthalates (contains EDCs). Just a simple sweep around your household products will quickly show how present these ingredients are in our everyday products. Even some of the so-called "green cleaners" contain these ingredients! It can feel overwhelming... but there really are simple ways to cut these toxins RIGHT out of your home completely and with fairly immediate effect!

2. Environmentally friendly - cutting down your waste

There is ever growing awareness of the effect our wasteful lifestyle is having on our world – Single use plastic is one of the biggest things we can cut down on. Most of the ingredients you’ll use for your cleaning don’t even need plastic packaging! No longer am I buying multiple plastic bottles, but re-using over and over and over again. I have HUGELY cut down on waste since starting to use natural cleaning prodiucts!

3. Self-sufficient - being a productive household

There is something incredibly rewarding about being self-sufficient and productive in the home. And with such simple recipes, the work is no harder! I love bringing our kids up in a home where they are learning to be productive… where running out of dishwasher tablets simply means making some more! Life skills!

4. Cost effective - saving those pennies

Less is more – although it may feel like you’re spending a bigger amount on an individual product, the shelf life and potency of that product means it'll last you a whole lot longer and save you those pennies. Cutting cleaning products, dishwasher tablets, air fresheners, plug-ins, laundry products from my weekly tesco order has meant I have saved pennies when it comes to cleaning that I am then able to use elsewhere!

5. Good for you - getting the benefits of essential oils 

Of course – its not just that when we ditch and switch we cut out a load of bad things, but we also gain a load of good things too! Washing our hands in thieves handsoap, cleaning with Thieves Household Cleaner, Washing our laundry in thieves means not only are we using our thieves daily but our bodies are being exposed to it in multiple ways – we love helping our immune systems in whatever way we can!

Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be sharing some of our FAVOURITE ways to get started with natural cleaning - recipes, top tips and all that! I'd LOVE for you to join me on the journey! To take the intentional decision to begin to change things and shift things around. It is SO worth it, and I have loved hearing the countless stories of people in our community who have seen tangible changes from making the switch (my skin used to react to everything from laundry soap to hand soap - its happy as Larry now!)

I'd love to know if this is something you've considered before... whether you've started making changes? Or whether it all just feels overwhelming? Or whether you want to join me in ditching and switching over the next few weeks! I'd love to help you get started!

Friday, 5 November 2021

Redeeming Advent // A Review + A Giveaway!

** Giveaway winner has been announced over on Instagram. @jolarcs please contact me to claim your prize! Huge thanks to everyone who took part! ***

Since January, I've been working my way through the books of the Bible chronologically with a group of friends from church. It's been incredibly helpful to see the context of each narrative, to understand the bigger picture - and to have some accountability along the way! Right now, we're diving into 1 Kings, and it's fascinating to see Jesus shining through the pages of Old Testament Scripture. I have loved digging into some of the Old Testament narratives and getting to know him better in books some might not even expect to find him!

I am a bit of a traditionalist though - when it comes to December, I like to have my nose in the Christmas Story!

For the past few years, I've enjoyed an advent devotional... a little book of daily readings to help me get my head in the right space in the run up to Christmas. It can be such an overwhelming season - gifts to buy, events to attend, guests to host... more than any other season of the year, more than any other month, December has the potential to send my brain into a crazy frenzy of overdrive, and my quiet times with the Lord into oblivion.

And so when my lovely blogger friend, Lucy, asked me to review her advent devotional book, and offered a copy for me to giveaway - I knew I had to say yes!

And I'm so glad I did!

Lucy's book - "Redeeming Advent" is short, snappy and accessible without loosing any of the depth you would hope for it. The book is divided into 24 Advent readings, and into four main themes of redemption - redeeming our homes, redeeming our Christmas, redeeming our hearts and redeeming our communities. Each chapter takes less that 5 minutes to read, and is fun and accessible in style. But don't be fooled into thinking that Lucy's engaging writing style means the chapters aren't deeply challenging (the chapter on hospitality alone had me wriggling in my seat!)

Lucy doesn't shy away from big themes - and she isn't afraid to ask tough questions! Each reading culminates with a couple of application questions (warning - they won't let you sit comfortably!) and a prayer to conclude... I've enjoyed sampling the first few chapters this week and am now putting on the brakes so I can properly enjoy it through the advent season. I'm excited to explore the theme of Redemption as we head towards Christmas.

You can grab a copy of Redeeming Advent for £7.95 from Amazon (disclaimer - if you use this link above, I'll get an affiliate thank you from Amazon! I'm grateful for all the support to run this space!) and from a number of Christian book stores - or you can grab it from Lucy herself over on her blog The Hope Filled Family

Lucy also has very kindly given me a copy of the book to give away to one of YOU! So to be in with a chance of winning this, all you need to do is comment below and let me know how YOU like to prepare for the Christmas season!

I'll pop back on Tuesday to share the winner!

To enter the Giveaway!

- Comment on the post below or on the Instagram post with your favourite way to prepare for Christmas!

- Give me a follow over on Instagram @liferoundclarinas or over on my Facebook page

- Giveaway closes Monday 8th November at 6pm (GMT)

- Winner will be announced on Facebook/Instagram on Tuesday 9th November!

- UK Residents Only

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

3 Simple Sprays for the Autumn // Creating a Natural Home

One of the easiest switches we made when I began to become more aware of the kind of chemicals we were using in everyday life was to start making my own sprays. Essential Oil sprays are so easy to make, take zero skill and actually function much more effectively than their synthetic counterparts! They also happen to be completely free of respiratory triggers, skin irritants and hormone disruptors, so it was a no brainer really!

The basic recipe for a spray is super simple - witch hazel, essential oils and distilled water. You'll change up which essential oils you use, depending on what you're trying to create, but in short, this basic spray recipe has become the easiest replace for so many things - bathroom sprays, body sprays, room sprays, pillow sprays, linen sprays, bug sprays, detangler sprays, cleaning sprays and so much more!

So I thought I'd share the base recipe with you all, and then share three sprays that we particularly like to use in the autumn season!

Once you've grabbed a 50ml spray bottle (I usually choose amber glass as the spray will last longer if kept cool and dark), you can go ahead and add a splash of witch hazel. Witch hazel is a powerful plant with medicinal properties, but it also acts as a partial emulsifier (it is not as effective as something like vodka, but is effective enough for the purposes we are using in these sprays!) I usually add a tablespoon or so to my spray bottle before adding my oils. Once you've added your essential oils, you can just fill it to the top with distilled or cooled boiled water... and voila! You have a spray that is ready to go!

So how do you know which oils to use? And how much oil is needed?

Here are three of my FAVOURITE sprays to use throughout the autumn season!

Cosy Autumn Room Spray: 

There is something lovely about the scents of those baked spices in the autumn! Orange, Clove and Bergamot is one of my favourite blends in the diffuser in October and November, but even if you don't have a diffuser, a gorgeous Cosy Autumn Room spray is a simple make.

Once you've made it, simply spray it on your soft furnishings. Don't panic if you can smell the witch hazel dominating as you spray... once it hits those soft furnishings, the witch hazel scent will diminish and you'll be left with the lovely scent of autumn!

Glow Facial Toning Spray:

This is the season where our skin takes the biggest beating and can get super dry. Taking care of our body's biggest organ is crucial - and your face often takes the biggest weather hits. I love making all our skincare products, but this simple toning spray is a lovely addition to your nighttime skin routine, and frankincense, lavender and tea tree are all natural skin loving oils that will nourish and cleanse. Just make sure you choose alcohol free witch hazel for the gentlest approach! Just spray onto your face after cleansing and leave to dry in (then afterwards apply your gorgeous homemade glow serum - that'll be another blog post!)

Cleaning with essential oils was one of the simplest switches we made... and is one I will never go back on! There is so much peace of mind in cleaning around your children with homemade cleaners which truly work, are budget friendly and contain zero nasties! I love that I can do everything now with just one bottle! If you don't have Thieves Cleaner, you can switch it out for distilled white vinegar - though I warn you, it doesn't smell as nice (if you want hooked up with Thieves Household Cleaner - just shout - plant-based, toxin free, christmas scented concentrate cleaner that will last you a year and cost you 50p a bottle!) The added essential oils are unnecessary on the cleaning front, but add a nice autumnal twist (and clove has been shown to have amazing anti-bacterial properties) and a little clove and orange scent never went amiss!

As I said, there are so many other ways we use sprays around our home - but these three are my go to's in this season! Which one do you think you'd like to try first??

Monday, 1 November 2021

A Yearly Tradition // The Pumpkin Patch

It's an annual tradition, and one that we have enjoyed for many years now! The yearly trip to the pumpkin patch - complete with wellies, a lot of mud, a chaotic attempt at "THE" family picture (with a few outtakes for fun!), a few giggles, some tears, a bit of frustration and usually someone falling over (though I think we miraculously avoided that this year!)

There were definitely some comedy moments. Elias' attempts at picking up a pumpkin almost as big as himself were noteworthy... he just about managed to stay upright!

And it wasn't just Elias who had to exercise some serious muscle power!

While the boys were busy putting everything into picking the perfect pumpkin... the girls were convinced they'd found it, with the usual dramatic flair!

Nothing new under the sun!

We left the pumpkin patch armed with our pumpkins, ready for a mosey round the Garden Centre and excited about the prospect of pumpkin soup and Pumpkin and chocolate chip muffins ahead! It's become a yearly tradition that we all enjoy, and I love our growing collection of pumpkin shots every year!!

Do you have a pumpkin patch near you??

Saturday, 30 October 2021

Tea time Theology // Teaching our kids their Heritage

Tuesday afternoon Teatime Theology continues to be a weekly tradition that we all look forward to. Bags are dumped at the door at the first sight of the teapot, as shoes are removed and excited voices run to gather around the table. This table has been the hub of so many of the precious memories in our home... a place of gathering and connection, of reconciliation and fellowship, of learning and teaching and discipling. Through the homeschool season, so much of our lives were centred around that table that our teatime tradition was dropped for a while, but with the return to school and a semblance of normality, our Tuesday afternoon tradition has resumed.

We have gone down many different routes over the past few years, from beginners Bible Doctrine, to delving into specific Biblical characters, to learning about some amazing Christians in history, to themes and topics like the Biblical Feasts. We approach daily bible reading with our kids book by book, reading through the Bible in its context, and so weekly Teatime Theology has enabled us to look at the themes of the Bible more systematically and really thrash out some of their questions. It's led to some really great, thought-provoking discussions and has given the kids room to explore questions in a safe space.

For the past few weeks we have been delving into the history of the reformation... understanding the course of events that threw Europe into such a radical and fast transformation in the 16th century, the ripple effects of which we still feel now. My history teachers taught me it was simple. Henry the VIII wanted his own way and so threw out the Catholic Church and set up his own. But that is so insanely over-simplified, and really was only the event that opened the floodgates for all that already had been brewing on mainland Europe to finally explode into reality in England.

Learning about imperfect humans, and complex historical narratives has brought us back time and time again to the simple truths - God is good, and so brilliantly sovereign that he can manoeuvre individuals, Kings,  governments and powers to fall into his perfect plans.

It's also given us a new appreciation for the preciousness of our Bibles, and how much it cost people to get it into our hands. 

Usually our gathered time consists of reading a short chunk of a book, accompanied by tea and cake, and then some kind of creative activity. The week photographed, we were learning all about Erasmus who produced a translation of the original greek Bible in 1516, and began the process of getting the Bible into the hands of everyday people, not just the religious powers. It was bold, and brave, and combined with the invention of the printing press, led to people all over Europe being able to access and understand the Bible for themselves for the first time. 

As people read the words of Jesus for themselves, religious rituals were replaced by real relationship with a God who had seemed so distant... it was truly revolutionary, in every sense of the word... 

The most precious thing about this time is the understanding that happens by osmosis. Sometimes you wonder if things are really going in... sometimes you wonder if the connections are being made. I'm being reminded that truths settling and spiritual "sight" are a work of the Spirit, and cannot by created no matter how engaging the activity! But then one of them will say something later in the day, or make an observation a few days later, or speak gospel truth over you the following week, and you realise it is going in, it is worth it. And actually, our call is simply to faithfulness, to "teaching our children in the way they should go" (Deuteronomy 6).  The rest is in the Lord's hands!

The gift this little tradition has been to our family cannot be over-estimated. I am forever grateful I stumbled across the concept a few years back! Intentionally teaching our children the truths of the gospel, the cost of their heritage is so important as they are bombarded by so many other messages throughout the day.

This little hour on a Tuesday afternoon has become a little haven for all of us... and I'm excited to see where the Lord takes us next!


Monday, 11 October 2021

Growing Up // Filling in the Blanks on Two Years!

It's been a couple of years since I've blogged regularly, and honestly? I've really missed it... missed the record it gives me of our day to day family life, missed the opportunity for processing my thoughts, missed the community. It's been necessary through the rollercoaster of four small children at home, homeschooling, launching a business and a worldwide pandemic, but I've long known that I wasn't done. Ten years of blogging makes it pretty hard to leave altogether.

And so I'm back!

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Dear Ava - you're 10!

Dear Ava,

Well here we are... double figures! The little years lie behind you and I see now, more clearly every day, the young woman you are growing into... independent, gentle, caring, loyal and kind. The characteristics we saw beginning in those early years when you were thrown into independence so quickly... three younger siblings by the time you were five... have blossomed and grown in the loveliest of ways. You are the best of leaders to our little crew, forgiving and patient in ways I have often felt I could learn from, and all of your siblings love you to bits. Your sister, perhaps, is your biggest fan and I'm so thankful to God for the relationship you two have (even though I need to remind myself of this when you're in the middle of a full scale bicker!)