Featured, Parenting

Sixty Great Gift Ideas for Kids (that aren’t toys) 2017 – 2018

2 December, 2017

**This list of Gift Ideas for Kids has been Updated for 2016 – 2017**

We spent six months travelling around Europe in a campervan. We had a tiny stash of playthings and our three year old toddler Ramona thrived. She was a case study for how kids play in nature. She had a twig that would be a wand one minute, a baby the next, a spade in the morning and a guitar in the afternoon.

During that time I came to believe that too many toys can push a child’s imagination right under the bed and will eventually wreck the planet our children have got to enjoy for the rest of their lives. (Read my thoughts on that here.)

These days I think that rather than having such a negative view of toys we can just view them as one part of the big picture of childhood. As parents (or caring adults in a child’s life) we need to provide a nurturing environment that values fun, communal games, imagination play, art, creating, music, nature. Toys aren’t evil. They bring kids a whole heap of enjoyment, so let’s not be too harsh on them!

However, we all want to be that awesome adult that opens the doors a little more on a child’s imagination. We want to give a kid a gift that they will remember forever!BEST LIST EVER! Sixty Great gift Ideas for Kids- that aren't toys

Pin for later: Sixty Great Gift Ideas for Kids

This list of gift ideas for kids is for you. Whether it is for Christmas or a special birthday, this list has a unique and awesome non-toy gift for every child.

This is a crowd sourced list of gift ideas for kids. Using Twitter and Facebook I asked 6000 people: What is the best non-toy present you ever received as a kid?

Here are sixty ways to show you care, and for the most part they fire a child’s imagination and cause less havoc for the environment. Many of them are free, or cheap and plenty of them can be found in charity shops or secondhand stores. There is a common theme of taking children seriously- of trusting them and their abilities, of giving them tools to create.

(When a celebration is coming up and it’s a pressie-giving kind of time, I reckon a good, frank chat is the best starting point. The child/ parents have a better idea about what the child would enjoy/ needs like a hole in the head. But the second port of call should be this list, for sure. Bookmark it and share it with your family members!)

**New video** Here I share my favourite things from this list and add a few extra ones to the list – including the present we had handmade for Ramona’s sixth birthday! 

Here we go….

Gift Ideas for Kids – Tools & Equipment

I am reading “Escape from Childhood” by John Holt at the moment and the thing he is really convincing me of is how much kids NEED to be useful. Exactly like adults! They love to be taken seriously, to have serious implements and to be able to truly, genuinely help and build and be busy working. When considering gift ideas for kids we should think about great it must feel for them to open up proper tools and equipment.

1-A small fruit tree to grow and nurture.

2- Same goes with a proper hammer and nails. Throw in some wheels and planks and they’ll be set for days. or perhaps a toolbox filled with things were a massive hit; rope, screws, pulleys etc.

3- Sew them a baby sling for their dolls. Here is a tutorial for an easy sling for your toddler’s doll – it has never failed to please a tot in my experience!

4- Gardening equipment- a proper trowel, some organic slug killer and some seeds.

5- A greenhouse. A reader says “When I was 9 I got a greenhouse. To this day it is still my best Christmas present ever as I spent hours with my Grandad learning how to grow food.”

6- A pocket knife. Every kid age 4+ needs a good simple pocket knife, a lesson in using it safely (sitting down, striking away from you, with an adult in range) and a bit of wood to carve.Sixty Great Gift Ideas for kids - that aren't toys

7 – Cress seeds were specified for very young children- imagine helping to feed your family at only age 2?! Plus they pop up all year round and don’t take as much patience. You can also make them a head to grow them in so it looks like hair! Classic!

8- My sister put together a survival kit for her six year old son- a good rope, pegs and a tarpaulin for den making, camo paint, a good torch. Flipping heck, that was a hit.

9 – A wind up torch. Sustainable and fascinating for children. They especially love head torches.

10 – A good baking bowl, a whisk, some scales. Show them you have faith in their ability to make something yummy.

11- The ingredients to make something yummy! One reader explains about the special thing she did for Christmas “I once gave my daughter’s friend a bag filled with the ingredients, Christmas cutters and the recipe to make their own Christmas gingerbread. They loved it.”

12 – Kitchen implements- one tweeter is getting her 2.5 year old son a peeler with a big handle as he genuinely loves helping in the kitchen. One reader received a sieve when she was young and it was her favourite present ever. I think I might get my three year old a good grater- they are so fulfilled when they are doing something worthwhile. A garlic press was another great suggestion. And every kid needs an apron.

13- Their own cookery book. Several times a week Ramona picks something out of her cookery book and bakes it. She is five.

14 – Something to pull apart- give them a screw driver and an old type writer and the afternoon to take it to bits and explore its inners.

15- A rock tumbler. A reader explains “I loved collecting rocks when I was about 9- it was so cool being able to polish them!”

16 – A magnifying glass and a book of native Insects.

17 – A microscope “I spent months finding things to look at and getting family members to guess what it was- the best was tiny slivers of onion skin.”

18 – Binoculars – plus a guide to bird and wildlife. We just bought a pair for our eight year old neighbour and you have pretty much never seen a kid more excited!!!!

19 – A calligraphy pen, nibs and ink. “I was given these age ten, and shown how to use it. I still have it!”

20 – A DIY science kit. Or DIY anything kit really!

Gift Ideas for Kids – Art and creating

The emphasis here is on good quality stuff. Just like adults, children deserve to work with good quality materials. It is frustrating scrawling on crap paper with crayons that barely make a mark. Seeing the vivid colours of acrylic paint on canvas is much more likely to stoke a child’s passion for creating art, no? These gift ideas for kids might just stoke your own memories of receiving creative crafty pressies.

21- A ball of bright coloured, good wool and instructions for finger knitting will open up a whole new meditative world.

22- Ingredients for DIY porcelain clay- a little box with corn flour and bicarb and instructions. They’ll love the making and the shaping.

23- Proper non toxic acrylic paint, high quality watercolours, and proper paintbrushes.

24 – A good quality sketch book. These are unbeatable in terms of art – acrylic and watercolours just feel and look magical with beautiful thick absorbent paper.

25- A selection of blank canvases and an easel.

26- A candle making kit. (I have made candles since I was 11 when I got my first kit and loved it. And the only fire I caused was when I was 22 and being VERY experimental. Just a shame the fire happened on my future in laws dining table.)

27 – More kits: A perfume making kit – what a cool way to learn about chemicals and stuff.

28 – A sewing machine. I got my first when I was 12 and after a fairly quick lesson from my Aunty have seen ever since. Or even just a hand sewing kit with fabric, needles and threads.

29 – How about these wonderful chalkboard puppets? Handmake some chalkboard blocks and give them along with some chalk and then, the best bit, PLAY TOGETHER!

30 -A box of craft materials that is all their own- ribbon, pipe cleaners, beads, buttons, fimo etc. Red Ted Art has a lot of gift ideas for kids in the form of arts and craft gift boxes.

31 – Jars of homemade playdough and a box of cutters and tools (found in secondhand shops.)

32 – A box. It was the third best gift, suggested by over thirty people! The best explanation comes from reader, Clare “The best ‘present’ I ever got was a great big cardboard box. I made it into a house and played in it for YEARS. The best thing about it was that my parents got really involved in it- my mum made curtains for it and they never complained about having a tatty old hoc in the living room and let me keep it as long as I wanted.”

Sixty Great Gift Ideas for Kids

Gift Ideas for Kids – Music and Culture

33- A mixtape – burn a cd with a selection of fun songs. Ramona has been given some of these and they are her favourite gift by a mile. I have gone on to make them for other children and my kids have helped select the tunes. So cool.

34 – Audiobooks- Roald Dahl stories are fantastic and tantalise imaginative minds.

35- A subscription to a magazine such as National Geographic. A reader explains how she felt about her subscription given to her by her neighbour age six, “At first, we just looked at the pictures but I read more each year as I grew. In our sleepy village,nit was a very welcome window into different cultures. And I always felt very grown up and acknowledged when I read them.”

36- Instruments! A good drum, maracas, a ukelele. A good xylophone. The brain patterns used in music are the same as those used in maths so giving kids the tools to create music is important. And fun. But make sure they are GOOD- in tune etc or children will lose interest.

37 – A song. Rope people in to help you, friends to strum chords on the guitar. Record it on YouTube and send it to them! We have done this a few times, it’s weird and fun. Write your own or just change a few lyrics to an existing one.

38 – Investment in a creative venture- for example Hadar Manor is crowd funding her new album and in return for contributing you can get anything from a shout out on the album to a personalised song, written sung and recorded for you.

39 – A poem. No, really, really! How special, for a kid to have their own poem. Written on beautiful paper. For them to treasure.

40 – A story. Ramona and Juno’s Grandad has written them both a story, printing it out into a book and gluing in photos.  It was about cats. They LOVE their personalised stories! How about writing a story about them? Or drawing a comic featuring them? It doesn’t need to be about them.

41- Lost My Name team sent Ramona and Juno personalised books featuring their name. The stories are totally unique, funny and the illustration is cracking without any rubbish gender stereotypes.

42- Books, books and more books. This was the most popular response by miles. The child especially enjoys receiving a book with meaning- one mum explains “her eyes light up when I say “this is something I loved when I was little, and I thought you’d like me to read it to you.”

43- Last Christmas we were living on the other side of the world to my husbands family. They sent over a book that they had recorded the story into- Ramona loves hearing the voices of her Grandparents, Aunties and Uncles reading to her.

44- A photo album or scrap book. Reader Sally explains that her three year old loves these.

Sixty Great Gift Ideas For Kids - that aren't toys!

Gift Ideas for Kids- Experiences

Days out were probably the second top answer after “box!” Kids love hanging out doing stuff with people who love them, and memories last WAY longer than toys. If giving an experience that doesn’t already come in the form of a card or voucher, draw them up a personalised one that they can open. It feels so much more exciting! These are gift ideas for kids that keep on giving WAY after they have been cashed in.

45 – A season pass or vouchers to something- an outdoor play area, a private woods such as Westonburt or a wildlife lark or donkey sanctuary.

46- A micro love bomb- let them have a whole evening hanging out with you, doing WHATEVER they want. Like, really, anything. (Based on Oliver James’ miraculous Love Bomb idea- a whole weekend to reset connection and attachment.)

47- A micro adventure- grab a tent, pack a little gas cooker and have a night in the local woods. Even London has accessible woods you can do this in.

48 – A visit to stables to ride on a horse- Ramona adored this for her third birthday. A reader adds that when she was seven she was given a Shetland pony-owning day “7 year old heaven!”

49 – Sew them something magnificent for their fancy dress box –  a mermaid outfit or a pair of wings- see a tutorial for easy toddler wings here, you could make them any size.Sixty Great Gift Ideas for Kids

50 – A tent and sleeping bags to camp out in the garden.

51 – A day out in a big city- the museums, a picnic, feeding the skanky pigeons, climbing the towers.

52- A voucher for a den building afternoon. Take wood, hammers and nails and build a fort together in the local woods.

53- A course. Six weeks of a children’s photography or pottery or dance classes.

54- Adopt a whale/ dog/ monkey. This is a delightful idea, the child has a sense of investment with an animal and they can make a real difference for a charity.

55- A box of second hand clothes and costume jewellery for a fancy dress department. One Tweeter said the stash she was given included a WEDDING DRESS. Brilliant.

56- An experience for a baby- a jar of threaded beads, jewels and shells for them to shake and look at.

57- And another idea for a baby- a box of tissues entirely theirs to pull out. (This is probably my favourite of them all- even at seven months old Juno has worked out how to undo the lid of the baby wipes and delights in pulling them out.)

58 – Organise a visit with a local craftsperson or skilled person.Imagine spending an hour with a beekeeper or on a tractor or hammering nails with a builder or watching an artist blowing glass or making cheese or something more specific the child loves! You could give a box of beers to the tradesperson in exchange! One reader had a day of work experience at a farm when she was a child and she cherishes that memory.

59- Car booting/ junk store shopping. Write a voucher and include ten smackeroonies and set a date and go and find the most obscure antiques you can! We bought tap shoes at a junk store for both our kids- unbelievable amounts of entertainment!!!

60- Fruit picking. One of my most treasured childhood memories is of going strawberry picking with my Nana and Grandad when I was small. I remember my Nana stuffing her face, the red juice dribbling down her chin. She was an upright, honest citizen but I think she thought eating them as you go was part of the deal! Traditional activities like this are magical – I could almost make a list of gift ideas for kids based entirely on old skool chores. Ha!

Sixty Great Gift Ideas for Kids

***

What an epic, epic list of gift ideas for kids. Thanks to everyone for sharing your ideas and stories. I am inspired and have my kid’s Christmas gifts sorted: a grater for Ramona and a box for Juno.

May your Christmas and birthday celebrations be ever imaginative and may you become a gift rockstar in the eyes of the children in your life!!!

PS We are blogging from a yurt in a forest in NZ these days – follow through Facebook or Instagram and keep up with our Youtube updates:

PPS If you are looking for creative gifts for mums and dad please check out my book 30 Days of Rewilding – designed to help families find their place amongst nature.

PPPS Check out the comments below for more gift ideas for kids – this is an organic, evolving list with people adding to it constantly via the comments!

Pin for Later:Sixty Gifts for kids that aren't toys. Amazing ideas for non toy gifts.

Sixty Great Gift ideas for Kids - that aren't toys!

Featured, Parenting

A home with no rules (we have these six things instead)

26 October, 2017

Every so often I look about me and think does this happen in other homes?  Six year old Ramona will be dipping her scalp in some mud out the window and four year old Juno will be picking through the pantry popping special ingredients into the smoothie maker, or it’ll be past 10pm and we’ll all be in bed and Juno will be in the lounge painting a magnificent, meticulous rainbow on her teddy’s tummy.

And I’ll remind myself it’s not like there’s a rulebook, is there? HA. (Is there???)

But there is, some are written down and some are just contained within our minds – rules about propriety and appropriate bedtimes and when and where exactly the fun should be had.

And it’s strange because humans thrive without rules. The dignity of a rule-less environment helps us step our game up, allows our natural respect and watchfulness come to the fore.

There have been experiments in various settings around the world – the school playground that threw out the rules and saw a steep drop in bullying or the town that gave up road rulebook and saw the death toll drop to zero.

One of the reasons we have chosen a rule-free home is because we want our children to bring their hearts and minds to each situation, to discover a trust in themselves, rather than leaning on whatever random authority is looming over them that day. We want them to engage deeply with their environment, to connect authentically with the people around them and all of that is made trickier if they are required to live under a set of (often quite arbitrary) rules.

We also deeply believe that our role as parents isn’t to control our children, it is to create an environment where they can blossom into the people they are. Humans are at their very worst when we try and coerce, manipulate and control the actions of others. It shouldn’t be a part of parenting! A home without rules gives us room to flourish and to focus on the most important thing – our relationship with one another.

After posting this Youtube video yesterday about whether we were a”feral family” and then watching a few clips of the same named TV show in the UK I was lying in bed trying to have a full on analysis of our family life. Did we truly have no rules?  I scanned our day from waking to sleeping and concluded that yeah, indeed, we are a family with no rules.

But in my thinking it became apparent that there is not a gaping cavern where the rules should be. Instead there is a bunch of stuff that helps us all be our best selves.

Here’s what we have instead of rules. They can’t really be a pik n mix – they all relate to each other. You can’t have “honest conversation” without “connection” or “a healthy view about mistakes” without “good self-care”…
a home with no rules

1-  Connection. If I have *one* word that sums up my parenting it is connection. I feel it almost as a tangible thread between myself and my daughters and I can feel when it wears thin, I can sense when it is strong.  I take every opportunity I can to build this love-filled relationship with my daughters – including toilet time. I cannot imagine having no rules in a home where this connection is not there. I imagine all members to fizzing around, with no orientation or grounding, grazing each other’s elbows and knees. Our connectedness – our play and laughter and cuddles and random conversation- is the foundation for our whole family life.

2-A healthy view of mistakes. Rules, and the punitive measures taken when they are broken, are a stupid way to view mistakes. Jeez. Failing, and failing well, is an important part of being human! It makes me feel sick that there are kids growing up out there who are punished for failing – they will spend their whole life unable to take beautiful risks, in creative jail simply for being raised in a home that can’t handle mistakes. We aim to be chill when messes are made, stuff gets broken, people get hurt because we all make mistakes and we can ONLY learn from them when were are given the chance to, shame free.

3- Good self-care. You know when I find it hard to have a healthy view of mistakes? When I am strung out, tired, overtouched. Me-time is not selfish, it is the key to good parenting!  Audre Lorde says  “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare” and it’s true! We can’t raise authentic, empathetic humans if we aren’t kind to ourselves. This whole no-rules thing requires us to be our most patient and joyful selves.  Just yesterday I wrote about how self-care is the second step towards becoming a Parent Ally and here are 60 acts of self-care for busy parents. 

4- A family culture. I loved this article about the main thing that builds resilience in children. Apparently it is the presence of a family narrative, the children having a sense of the family history and values and it being a story that ebbs and flows in success and failure. We talk alot. We tell the stories of mine and Tim’s lives, the girls birth stories, stories about our grandparents. We have rituals – we have a pot of questions that we pull out and ask each other at dinner, we light candles and say things we are thankful for, we go on family walks each evening. All of this is opt-in, and sometimes the girls opt out – although for many of the things they came up with the idea so they are keen beans! All of this builds our family culture, a safe place, a unit of values that we are all co-creating.

5- Honest conversation in an environment of trust and respect. Oh, how we talk! We talk and talk! Ohhh, boy, we talk. And this, perhaps more than anything, takes the place of rules.

ME “Oh hey, girls, I see there’s a sign about no throwing balls on this lawn. Hmmm.”
RAMONA “what, why, why is that there?”
ME “Maybe they are worried about windows?”
RAMONA “Or maybe they don’t like balls?
JUNO “Or kids?”
ME “They might have a bunch of reasons its a good idea to put a sign up saying “NO BALLS. What should we do.”
JUNO “Play over there?”
RAMONA “I wanna play here.”
ME “Hmm, you really wanna play here.”
RAMONA “Yeah. How about we play until we get told off?”
ME “That could work. Or we could play that ball game where we sit on the ground and roll it?”
(and on for another ten minutes…)

Whenever there are rules, I raise them and we talk about them. We have agreed strategies when there are rule-based places we go to regularly. They are engaged in this idea that we have a very rule-based society and it’s pretty awesome to see them developing their own wisdom and consciousness about it all.

Here in New Zealand we try and observe Maori protocol, a common one of which is not to sit on tables that serve food. We could make it “a rule” or we could just remind them every time, and have a big conversation about it, and usually it goes down okay because the conversation is taking place in an environment of trust and respect. I trust that their hearts and intentions are good. I respect them as people. I respect their choices. And (not all of the time, but most!) it’s mutual.

6- A guiding principle. We’ve no rules but we have a guiding principle and that is “We don’t hurt each other or things around us” and it’s a principle we have come to together, through discussion. It’s something we all raise with each other when needed and it can be helpful for the sibling relationship and when friends come over to play, it also relates to how we all try and be in the world more generally – kind to our community and the earth around us.  I’ve been enjoying Gretchen Rubin’s podcast lately and she’s been speaking about the 4 different temperaments and there are a whole load of people out there who seem to enjoy having some stiffer parameters for life.  Perhaps you are one of them, or your children are – this still doesn’t mean you get to impose rules on your family. It means you are invited to cocreate a healthy framework, some bottomlines or guiding principles.

So there we go. No rules… but our kids don’t fling all the libraries books off the shelves or strip naked and paint themselves blue at the museum kid’s area (only in the comfort of their own home!)

I’d love to hear from you.

Do you have things instead of rules? Have you discovered a co-creation of guiding principles?

Feminism

Dear daughters

12 October, 2017

I just found out it was International Day of the Girl yesterday, which is interesting because all day somewhere in the back of my head I had a leaking lament as we bustled from library to supermarket to home for dinner which was deconstructed sushi (I forgot to buy seaweed.) I’m not surprised it passed me by, these last few days I’ve been this tearful mix of exhausted and restless, I’ve hardly known what day of the week it is, let alone what Day of the International whatcha it might be.  Ramona and Juno have just made a narrow mountain ridge of mattresses and pillows and are jumping off their bunk on to it. I bid them good luck and sit down to spill these words.

 

Daughters of mine.

May I never tell you shush.

May I absorb your corrective “ACTUALLY, mum”  with grace.

 

May I be present

to your bombastic roars and your full body rages on the floor.

May I say “Mmmhmmm” appreciatively

in the dead of night

when you float a theory about Barbie’s Secret Door.

 

May I nod at your spun-out animal facts and labyrinth speeches

that last from breakfast to lunch and beyond and

may I squeeze Tim’s hand that he too might hold his tongue when you “ACTUALLY, dad” him.

 

May I make room for you in our dinner party conversation

ask you for your thoughts

like I might an honoured guest.

 

May I deep-breathe and tea-drink when you are in a mood for singing Avril Lavigne

at the top of your voice and I

am not.

 

May I de-brief with you when your friends say shut up and

may I not see it as a blight on your character when your face becomes a screaming mouth to be heard and

may I not see it as a blight on your character when you warrior-pose on the roof of the car with the last packet of toffee-pops begging to be seen.

 

May I answer your army of marching questions with all the truth I hold and

may I even beat the drum to keep your queries soldiering on.

 

May I swallow my shushes,

bite on my tongue,

fill my ears with the

sweet

audacious

sound

of

you.

 

For if, the research is right, you’ve only a few years left

of being freely opinionated.

 

A few more summers where

you feel able to bloom so boldly.

A few more winters where

your femaleness doesn’t freeze your voice.

 

Nine times less likely than a boy to speak up in class.

Four times lower the self-esteem.

Twice as likely to be insulted for showing  leadership.

 

One day the world will want you to be small.

Today I will give you all the space you need to be big.

 

dear daughters of mine

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Featured, Green things, Shampoo Free, Thrifty

Ten Shampoo Alternatives for healthy, shiny and clean hair

27 September, 2017

Updated post: I have now been using 100% natural shampoo alternatives for six  years. My hair is stronger, shinier and healthier than it has ever been! I hope you enjoy this post featuring (still) my favourite No Poo shampoo substitutes. I am pretty surprised that the ingredients I fell in love with at the very beginning of my shampoo free journey have remained my favourites. For the last couple of years I have been working as a columnist for Cosmopolitan, writing up beauty experiments, and I also published a bestselling book all about how to give up shampoo which you can grab here.
Amazon Price- $5.56 My Price- $3.56 (2)

At a mere $5.20 or £3.40 (purchase in your own currency) it is a SNIP – less than a bottle of swanky shampoo. But unlike your shampoo it comes with a full refund if you don’t like it!

Why did I give up shampoo?
At the start of this year I began an experiment with my hair.  The purist in me was tired of putting toxins into my body, the spendthrift in me was weary of pouring so much money away on these toxins and the optimist in me was persuaded by our bodies ability to cope without reliance on products! I was in a wash-every-other-day-routine and was a slave to dry-shampoo. I knew there had to be a better way.

Enter the No Poo way of life!

In a typically extreme move  I totally gave up shampoo and have in the last 10 months put everything from a homemade nettle brew to mustard powder on my hair! It has gone quite wrong at times but ultimately my hair is a million times more healthy, voluminous, and grows much faster. Plus I can go away for weeks at a time and need nothing for my hair but a good bristle brush. This really appeals to my hopes of living more simply and with less impact on this beautiful earth (even though I am rubbish at this in lots of ways.)

Here are TEN options for shampoo alternatives I have played with- and sometimes made a lot of mess with! Most are the BEE’S KNEE’s for me and the rest are the dog’s whatchya’s for others…

One- Amla powder

Amla is a brilliant hair ingredient- it is actually dried goosberry! It must be prepared the night before use in an iron vessel. A cast iron pan or pot would be ideal.

Mix with a little water until you have a ruunny paste. Ideally it feels like henna. Or, if you don’t use henna, like dipping your ginger nut in your tea for too long and then mashing it into a bowl!

The next morning take your amla into the shower with you. Once your hair is wet apply the paste and leave it for half an hour. (Squeeze all your black heads and all those other things you can do alone in the bathroom. Don’t entertain guests you’ve never met before, which is what I had to do when I realised i couldn’t wash it straight out! More in video…)

I used two table spoons which was enough for my long hair.

Wash out well!

Read all about Amla for hair here. 

Two- Rye Flour.
Rye flour is fast becoming the star of the No Poo movement, the Bieber of all the shampoo alternatives! it has just the right mixture of saponins and exfoliating properties to make it super kind and cleaning on your hair. I wish i could say “Stick it on” but once again it is a little more complicated – mainly, you need to sieve it first! This video will give you the big HOW TO for rye flour.

Three- Egg.
I use the whole egg, whisked in a cup. I pour over my head and massage in. I leave for a few minutes and rinse well.  It leaves my hair SO clean and SO soft and shiny. However, the water must be cool! I have had a couple of scrambled disasters venturing into too warm territory…. Here is some info about how an egg works and how to apply egg on hair effectively.

Four- Soapnuts.
These are a natural cleaner and work incredibly well. My hair is like silk after- certainly the closest to shampoo I have found. I heat them in water on the stove for 10 minutes, whiz them with my hand blender and use the liquid. I am too lazy to make this my Go To alternative, but use it if my hair has become filthy. Buy them here and use them for cleaning a million and one things! Buy them from my affiliate chums, Ethical Superstore. They come in a 1 kilo pack and are a real bargain – over 300 washes in there!

Five- Rhassoul Clay.
This is LOVELY stuff. For skin and hair.  It is one of the better shampoo alternatives out there as it not only cleans but also conditions. I make a paste with two spoonfuls and boiling water. Once cool I smooth it into hair, after a few minutes I brush it through hair and rinse off. It is truly divine but a little on the expensive side for my thrifty self. (But doesn’t come close to the expense of good shampoo.)Shampoo alternatives for healthy hair

Six- Henna.
This is one of the more colourful shampoo alternatives, something to suit those who like to play around with their hair. This is my once-every-six-weeks deep treatment! I mix up about ten spoons of it with hot water to make a paste. Once cool I apply it all over and leave it for two hours. (Epic I know, I use a plastic bag and grips to keep it all in place.) It needs a SERIOUS rinse, and a good brush, but my hair after is brighter, cleaner, softer.

Seven- Tea.
This relies very much on the massage bit too, and the result is the same as water except you get a nice smell! Some people swear that the different aspects of the tea change your hair – chamomile adding a special softness and lightness to blonde hair, for example. My favourite is to take some lemonbalm leaves and make a tea out of it. A little video here of that happening and an explanation of my motto “If you can’t eat it, don’t wash your hair with it!” ….

Eight- Water!
Oh groan, I know, I’m sorry.  What kind of a shampoo alternative is this?! I hear you cry. The best, truly. It took me 9 months to realise it was all my hair needed – and now it has been one month since anything has been on my hair at all. The key is in the massage and the brush. As you soak your hair, get your fingers stuck in, pushing away at your scalp and any particularly grease-o bits. I do a five minute massage every five days.

I also brush my hair each night with my trusty boar bristle brush. I use Kent Brushes who have an amazing ethical record. They’ve been making boar bristle brushes since 1777 and can HIGHLY recommend either the barrel brush, which I inherited from my Nana and LOVE. The Moroccan Oil and Christophe Robin brushes here are pure boar bristle too – they are pricey but consider it an investment in natural beauty that will last your lifetime! (Those are affiliate links, they ship globally for free!) More info here about what the best boar bristle brush for you might be.

My hair is thick and voluminous and does whatever I want it to do. Whooppiiee for H20!! I have to say that some water is kinder to hair than others! Sometimes the chemicals or the limescale in the water of city residents can be a little unkind. Make sure you use lots of lovely natural homemade conditioners every so often, and if after a little while it becomes clear that your water isn’t nice enough consider getting a shower filter or just committing to one of these other shampoo alternatives below.

For more information see this guide on washing your hair with water only. 

Nine- homemade dry shampoo
Sometimes if you just need to get through an extra day or two, you just want to soak up an extra bit of shininess without doing a full wash, you might want to consider a quick dusting of homemade dry shampoo.

If you have dark hair try mixing a tea spoon of corn flower (or corn starch) with a teaspoon of cocoa.
For red hair, mix a teaspoon of cornflour (cornstarch) with a teaspoon of cinnamon.
For light, simply use cornflour or arrowroot.
Use an icing sugar shaker to give your hair the lightest dusting and keep the rest in a little jar.

Ten- Bicarbonate of Soda/ Baking Soda. This gets your hair SQUEAKY clean. Every ten days or so I put one teaspoon in a cup of water and dissolve it, chuck it on my hair mid shower and wash it straight out. The only reason it isn’t number one is because it isn’t free and I’m a cheapskate. Using bicarbonate of soda regularly and often, and using too much of it will damage your hair more than shampoo. (Please read this ultimate guide to using bicarbonate of soda/ baking soda on your hair! It is a much needed step but you can have too much of a good thing.) My hair gets a bit bicarb weary after too many times in a row, brittle and waxy and needs some of the other, more nourishing ingredients.

Extra helpful ingredients:

Lemon.
Lemon has some seriously potent anti-bacterial properties and can work as a lightener for people wanting to be blonder.  Squeeze a whole lemon into a cup of water and pour over your head mid shower. Rinse well, unless you have hard water in which case you might want to leave on. Not recommended for greasy hair.

Tea Tree Oil.
Full of incredible properties! Add tea tree oil to the bicarb paste, the lemon or the water only wash to turn them into very effective anti dandruff shampoos. Tea tree oil is perfect for people with scalp issues. In fact, one person I am VERY close to but who shalt remain nameless has had a life-long scalp issue fixed by dabbing on a couple of drops of tea tree oil to the problem areas.

A note on conditioner- Half of these, everyone apart from the rye flour, the clay and the egg and the lemon need a rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar. I use a splash in half a cup of water and throw it over the ends of my hair, leave for a few minutes then rinse out. It’s a WINNER.

The biggest lesson in all of this is to not give up  and be a brave old soul – often different hair just needs different proportions of things.

For the ultimate guide to giving up shampoo check out my bestselling book –  a shed load of advice and recipes for alternatives to shampoo and conditioners and styling products can be found here.
Happy Hair No Poo Book

FREEDOM FACE BEAUTY GUIDE

Thrifty

4 ways to becoming a lycra-loving healthy new you!!

21 September, 2017

Hehehe. I’m sure you know by now my title is in jest! Because you KNOW I don’t think you should be a NEW you. You should just be YOU. The youest you you possibly can be!

(It’s like the self-love version of she sells sea shells on the sea shore.)

And lycra. UGH. I am only into lycra if it is baggy enough for me to feel REAL comfortable in, which I’m not sure is exactly the point! Apart from the leggings with the really beautiful prints on. Those I can get on board with. Baggy ones.

My attitude to health sometimes means green smoothies (which I have every morning) chased by the green mint chocolate Dairy Milk because YUM! When it comes to healthy living we aim for that beautiful balance of nutrition, mental health (meaning not becoming overwhelmed by healthy eating etc) and pleasure! It’s a wellness model, really, seeing the whole of us (not just our bodies and guts) as being sites for healthiness. (I am exploring wellness in an exciting, honest mini-series on my Patreon if you are interested in more on this.Today’s post was all about headlice and our life’s purpose!)

Having said allllll of that…. here are the 4 healthy things I do. Amongst all the coffee and caffeine intake that I feel REALLY comfortable with.

1- Make Sauerkraut.  I have come to believe that things like my gut are hugely relevant to my overall physical and mental health. I even have a saying “when in doubt make sauerkraut” because in times of crisis I always find my self chopping cabbage. Ha. I have actually dreamed of being a fermented vegetable more than once in the last year of homesteading.

Sauerkraut is sooooo easy to do and a tiny portion provides well over and above your daily probiotic and vitamin c requirements. There are complicated ways of making kraut but I just:

  • Chop a whole cabbage thinly into a large bowl
  • Sprinkle 1.5 tablespoons of non iodised rock salt through it and massage it in
  • Push it into a massive jar and push it down with my pestle – over the next few hours the brine will release and cover it.
  • Lay a cabbage leaf over the top and weigh down with a glass paper weight
  • Leave for 3-5 weeks and then refrigerate

2-  Give up the shampoo. Ugh I AM SO BORING ON THIS!!!! I won’t go on too much about it. But I am completely convinced by both my personal experience and reading the science on acid mantles and microbiomes that eradicating store bought bottles of goop has made my skin and hair far, far, far, FAR healthier. And saved me a stack of cash. Read more: How to Wash Hair Without Shampoo, No Poo Hair photos, and this week’s post No Shampoo for 5 years – an honest FAQ.

SAMSUNG CSC

I also want to invite you to my Facebook group Self loving Sisterhood– a group of people committed to supporting each other to live as low tox a life as we possibly can.

3- Outside everyday come what may. The other day before I went to bed I realised I had been inside all day either working or cooking. I’m not generally inflexible kind of person… I do tend to go with the flow and not hold too tightly to various dogma. But I try, try, try to connect with the nature around me every day rain or shine. Sometimes I am great and plan a bunch of outdoor activities for kids, sometimes, like the other night, it is just lying on the deck for 8 minutes staring at the milky way before I hop into bed. This daily ritual does something for me. There’s a billion reasons to play in the wild, but this commitment of mine runs deep – it is a mental and spiritual health, a way to understand my place in the scheme of things and remind myself of my relationship to the earth.
4 quick healthy living tips!

4- A solid bookshelf of natural living inspo.
This natural living tip is going to be Right Up Your Alley. (Not that alley.)

My book Freedom Face is part of this incredible Healthy Living Bundle of Ebooks and Ecourses. It covers off grid living, healthy eats (a billion gluten free recipe books!!), homesteading and natural beauty and homemade cleaning and all sorts of my fave things. It is for both holistic health freaks AND complete newbies and contains stuff written by some of my favourite authors. It is a completely ridiculous bargain – over the last few years I have bought some of these books for the same price as the ENTIRE PACKAGE. No jokes. If you were to add everything up it would come to $3708 but for the next 4 days it is $29.97. It is laughable and sounds kinda sketchy but it is one hundred per cent solid!!! This is no pyramid scheme, just a way to connect wellness authors and educators with blog readers.  You get a super dealio on heaps of incredible wisdom and I get a cut whilst promoting something I whole-heart-love, and it is win win.

Watch out for some of my fave titles:

  • Fermenting Veggies
  • Eat Beautiful: Grain-free, Sugar-free & Loving It
  • Clean, Naturally! Non-Toxic Cleaners for Your Non-Toxic Home
  • How To Embrace An Off-Grid Lifestyle: Our Journey & A Step By Step Look At The Lifestyle
  • Herbal Skincare 101
  • Real Food FAST
  • Cooking for Hormone Balance. Rebalance Your Hormones with Food
  • Grow Love Garden Planner
  • Go Low Tox Minus the Overwhelm: Face. Body. Kitchen. Laundry
  • Intro to Kombucha, Fermented Sodas, Kefir, Kvass and More

Whhheeeeee! That is just the START of this digital library!! Sometimes committing to a holistic lifestyle can be massively overwhelming.  Having instant access to these resources (over 100 books & courses) makes this overwhelm WAY less.

It is only available from now until Monday, so definitely get on it, and spread the word.

Would, as ever, love to hear your thrifty and healthy living tips. x x

PS My latest video on a day in the life of our unschooling yurt living family might be interesting too!

Some great quik tips for healthy living right now

Thrifty

Eight surprising wild foods to forage (Plus how to eat a raw stinging nettle!)

8 September, 2017

Oh, my friends! We are home safe and sound back in our yurt in New Zealand. It was the actual snot-face, heave-weeping saddest thing saying goodbye to my family. We had the most wonderful couple of months ever over in England, so many treasured times with my nephews and niece especially. It was such a wrench to leave,  but now that we are home, on our land, it feels like the soul-place we know we ought to be.

Before I move on from that trip completely I wanted to share a bit about the summer foraging we have done because it represents a lot of what our summer over there was like; living in suburbia but still staying connected to the wild around us.

Foraging for wild fruits and leaves is such a precious way of getting to know our natural environment and nurturing a connection with the earth. (Humankind’s connection with the earth is something I feel is a missing link in our well being. When we nourish that relationship I feel like we truly flourish. My book 30 Days of Rewilding goes into this quite a lot if you fancy reading more!

So we all know about blackberries right? Yummy, juicy nuggets of sweet flesh with the occasional tiny worm tucked away inside. But do you know about holly leaved barberries? Stag horn? Purple clover? They are all over the place once you’ve identified them! Not just in England either –  heaps of these can be found all over the world.There are so many delicious free edibles all around us that are jampacked with nutrition!

Oregon Grape / Holly leaved Barberry / Holly grape
These grow all year round in great clusters just like grapes, often in rural hedgerows. They are sour but moreish. Can be used for jams or in puddings with sugar of honey to sweeten.

Staghorn
Quite a common tree, with furry fruit that have a lemony zing. Can be munched but also added into drinks for a lemon flavour.

Wavy Bittercress
One of the many bittercresses you can eat all year round. This one grows abundantly in damp places and makes a lovely peppery addition to salads.

Hawthorn Berries
These grow everywhere and abundantly throughout the summer and autumn. They are the superfood of the wild, an amazing antioxidant and great for your heart. Munch raw as you wander around the countryside or take home and turned into jams or fruit leathers. Don’t eat the seeds though as there is a bit of cyanide in them, like apple seeds.

Elderberries
The end of summer and autumn is also a big time for another superfood, elderberries. Jam packed flavonoid antioxidants, potassium, and Vitamin C, can be eaten raw or turned into jam.

Stinging Nettle
Oh, the most underrated plant ever!!! It is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with as much iron as spinach, but, like, free! Use gloves to gather handfuls and make a gorgeous rich soup or throw into risotto. The heat takes out the sting and it acts just like spinach. You can also eat them raw- see video below for this trick.

Purple Clover
Clover grows left, right and centre and is also an excellent antioxidant. It’s got a subtle taste and can be chucked in tea, smoothies and salads.

Poppy petals
Poppy petals are the beautiful little bonus in this list. They don’t taste of much but grow abundantly in meadows across the UK and look gorgeous in any baking or salads.

I made a little video about them all too which you can check out here. As a little bonus I show you a trick about how to eat a whole, raw stinging nettle leaf!!! It’s an exceptional party trick that everyone will love! (By “party” I mean “picnic” and by “everyone” I mean “that earthy friend you have and small children.”)

Some tips and rules:
It’s not likely that you will be able to make a scrumptious meal out of your foraged finds, but finding ways to add little foraged tidbits into your weekly meals is such a winner. Think about throwing them into your smoothies, salads and jars of ferments. They so often contain nutrients we lack and it is one way to bring to life your connection to nature.

Only take what you need. Where there is masses, such as stinging nettles, go nuts as they wilt down to very small amounts of actual food.

Don’t forage from busy road sides or places that could be contaminated (heavily farmed areas or industrial sites)

Make absolutely certain you know what you are eating.

I was given Alys Fowler’s foraging book for a birthday many moons ago and I reference it whenever I get the chance to galavant amongst a British summer! We take it with us and check each edible by the pictures and descriptions in it. It is such an accessible way to learn about all the wild fruits, leaves and weeds that live in the urban cracks and rural hedgerows.  It’s called the Thrifty Forager and you can buy it through my affiliate peeps The Book Depository here.

Here are a couple of videos featuring the other wild and wonderful ways that we enjoyed the English summer. Would love to hear what season you are in at the moment and what adventures you are having!