Recent Goodie Realizations | Version 10.15

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  1. My friend Rebekah introduced me to Canva the other week, and I can’t stop obsessing over it! My graphic design world just exploded.
  2. A while ago when dishwashing detergent was on my Target shopping list, I checked Cartwheel for any discounts, as I always do. As fate would have it, Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap in Radish scent popped up on the screen. Although I’d never have picked radish from the sound of it, I discovered that it’s my favorite soap scent ever.
  3. Decorating for fall can be so effortless, and straight-from-nature décor is my favorite. There’s a pumpkin wagon near my home that sells all the pumpkins, gourds, and Indian corn you could want for super cheap, and though we have no flower beds on our property and the pickings are limited here, I’ve gotten delightful armfuls of bittersweet berries and rosehip branches from friends this season.
  4. I’ve tried different concealers over the years and most recently had been going without since my foundation covers so well by itself, but I decided to give Stowaway a try, and seriously, their concealer is amazing. If you need a new one, I highly recommend theirs.
  5. Another thing I’ve been shopping around for and experiementing with has been facial cleanser. This month I decided to try this one from Young Living with my Essential Rewards points, and it really is fabulous. It’s pricey, but such a small amount is needed each time that I know it’s going to last me for months upon months.
  6. When we purchased my new iPhone last month, our mobile provider offered us such a great deal on an iPad Mini that we couldn’t pass it up. I searched high and low for the perfect classy-looking protectant case for it that would also hold it up for our Sunday afternoon Netflix binge-watching, and couldn’t be more pleased with this one that I finally found on Amazon.
  7. As far as wardrobe accessories go, this hat has been on my head almost more than on the rack this season. It goes with everything!
  8. I grew up with apple cider as a household staple since my dad grows his own apples and makes his own cider, but I’m falling in love with the stuff all over again this fall. Nothing like a steaming hot mug to warm a body up from head to toe!
  9. I’ve got chronically dry skin (well, except for my face, which obviously is hogging all the oil from the rest of my body) and as soon as the weather turns cool each year my knuckles crack and bleed if I’m not careful. Last year I discovered my magic solution: pure lanolin. It doesn’t smell so pretty, but I wear it at night with gloves on and wake up in brand-new skin. (Did you know they make touch-screen-compatible gloves these days? Yeah, pretty swell.)
  10. Favorite food this month? If you’ve spent any time in my home lately, you know I can’t get over these beef brats from Johnsonville. Oh, and they go quite well with the apple cider.
  11. And for aromatherapy currently, the blue ribbon goes to Young Living’s new Light the Fire essential oil blend. It’s the perfect alternative to those fall candles, if you’re wary of what’s in them.

What are you loving right now? If there’s a product you can’t stop raving about, do tell!

Harry’s Razor Blades | My Review

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Subscription services are all the rage right now…and I love it. I really don’t enjoy any kind of shopping, so having high-quality products delivered to my doorstep when I need them without my needing to lift a finger brings me much joy + delight.

I kept seeing ads all over the place for Dollar Shave Club and their supposedly cheaper-than-average razor blade subscription program, so I asked my trusty Facebook friends for their feedback. Sure enough, a number of them had tried the service + liked it. But, a couple people who commented on the thread recommended that I try another razor subscription service that I had never heard of, instead. I ended up liking what I saw on the Harry’s website so much that I decided to forego DSC and order the German-made blades instead.

My first shipment, complete with blades, handle, and shave gel, arrived in beautiful packaging and appeared to be every bit as well-made as its creators claimed. I love the sleek ivory-colored handle (available in three other classy color options) and the bottle of gel sports a clean, minimalist aesthetic. Labels are ultra-important to me; I care a lot about how the things that sit on the shelf in my shower look. This brand definitely gets five stars in that department!

The decidedly-male scent of the shave gel took me by surprise at first. While the Dollar Shave Club specifically markets its products as being non-gender-specific, Harry’s is definitively designed for men. I’d been using a men’s shave gel for years (Aveeno Active Naturals) but hardly thought about it because it’s unscented. The Harry’s gel rates a lot better on Think Dirty, however, so I’m choosing to overlook the smell for now. (It’s not a bad one at all, just very–well, manly!)

The blades themselves contour better than any I’ve ever used. And they are certainly sharp! I was in fact enough unprepared for how greatly so, that I managed to nick my ankles about all three of the first times I used them [face-palm]. So, do proceed with caution (but fear not, for I’ve always been a rather clumsy shaver in general).

I’m about a month in to the three-month subscription I set up, and overall I’m very pleased with the results. My one complaint, however, is that the blades are…noisy. If I were a man, and using them on facial hair as intended, I’m guessing this might not be an issue. But in using long strokes as I do on my legs, my razor squawks a long, high-pitched squeak with each stroke. A minor flaw, but annoying all the same…right?!

I may end up taking the shave gel off my plan and just getting the blades, but at the time being I do think I’ll be a happy Harry’s customer for a good long while.

Anyone else tried a razor subscription service and have any feedback of your own to share?

Recent Goodie Realizations | Version 09.15

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  1. Our grey Southwest blanket from Sackcloth & Ashes is probably one of my favorite purchases of all time. Such a beautiful + practical + worthy investment. I love this company’s vision. And their Insta is well worth a follow — such gorgeous images!
  2. Now that I’m down to only one day a week of working away from home, I get to indulge in the [occasional] luxury of sleeping IN — and this lovely organic linen sleep mask from All Natural Sleep Shop on Etsy is highly conducive to just that.
  3. I’m a sucker for fall candles, and Bath & Body Works’ Leaves scent is my all-time favorite.  What’s more delightful than lighting candles and curling up in a cozy throw blanket to watch an autumn sunset through the window after a productive day of work?
  4. Husband and I both came down with colds last week, so Young Living’s Thieves blend has been a constant in the diffuser around here. I love how the scent alone seems to help provide relief from the congestion and dripping.
  5. Someone told me about Living Clay’s Cleansing Clay Mask in response to my beauty routine post, and I finally got around to trying it. This stuff does not disappoint! Love the feeling of clarity a good healthy mask brings after a day of hard work.
  6. In case you don’t know about Zenni Optical yet, I’m here to tell you how awesome it is to be able to get prescription glasses for so much less than buying from your eye doctor. I paid less than $20 including shipping for mine over a year ago and though I only wear them to give my eyes an occasional break from contacts, they have served me well.
  7. I only learned to know Jen Hatmaker this summer and this is the first book of hers I’ve read, but Caleb and I are both loving 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. If you’re a reader in the least, this needs to be on your to-read list.
  8. Apples + caramel are our go-to snack this season! But I want to try my hand at making a healthier, homemade caramel dip. Anyone have a good recipe to share?
  9. The owner of my favorite local nail salon talked me into trying this hand salve from Sparitual last winter and there truly is none like it. My hands dry out to the point where my knuckles crack and bleed in cold weather, and as the temperatures began to drop this week, I pulled this out to keep close at hand again.
  10. My Pandora charm bracelet is hands down one of my favorite gifts ever. My best friend gave me the bracelet and lovebirds charm as a wedding gift, and she and my husband have both contributed to it since. The memories each charm represents are deeply precious to me and it’s one of my most prized possessions.
  11. I’ve replaced my cheap canvas shoes from my summer capsule wardrobe with these Keds and they might be my favorite fall capsule purchase so far. Versatile + comfy = an easy win, in my book.

What have you been loving this month? I’d love to hear about some of your recent discoveries and/or current favorites!

Fearfully & Wonderfully Made*

*Title is a reference to Psalm 139:14.

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A couple weeks ago, the chain slipped off a bicycle my husband was riding, causing him to wreck and resulting in a sore shoulder and severely skinned knee. He was in a fair amount of pain for a few days, and of course I tried everything I could think of to bring him some relief–Deep Relief for the muscle injury, Sweet Bee Magic for the road rash–all my old favorites plus a few new experiments. I was snapping photos of his knee, thinking maybe I could do a sequence collage to show how great the all-in-one healing skin cream worked. But I decided against it, and here’s why:

His knee really didn’t need anything put on it; it would have healed up just fine on its own. My knowledge of anatomy and medicine is minimal, but our cells and skin and tissue and blood vessels have intricate protocol to follow after sustaining an injury, and they go straight to work on the healing process. Automatically. No essential oils, creams, or supplements needed. Now of course we know that some of these things can support the health of the systems that take care of these things, and speed things along, and help to prevent infection, and provide temporary pain relief, but in the end, they’re not the things that do the healing.

I thought of posting the pictures anyway, and saying something like: This is what road rash looks like after 1 day…3 days…5 days of… a magic cream? a miracle supplement? a superior brand of essential oils? Nope. This is what it looks like after sitting back and watching the incredible design of the human body, created by a divine Creator, do its job.

But, the pictures were gross, so I decided to spare you. 😉

Seriously though, this thought has been haunting me ever since. How many times do I attribute healing or other forms of betterment or improvement to a man-made product, or my own mind, rather than the Creator of all things and Author of all that is pure? It’s good for me to be reminded that every good and perfect thing comes from above.

I talk a lot, here on the blog and in real life, about products and places and activities and ideas that I think are really great. But I want my life in general to ultimately point to the One who is higher than the things or the people of this earth. And I want to consistently seek Him in and know him through the goodness and the beauty that earth contains.

Don’t Miss Today’s Guest Post at Beautiful Undefined

I’ve had the privilege and great honor of writing a guest post for today about capsule wardrobe for one of my current blogger heroes, Alicia, over at Beautiful Undefined. Hop on over and check it out!

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Sneak peek | One shirt, three ways. Versatile pieces are key in a working capsule wardrobe!

My lovely cousin Alyssa styled and shot the photos for this post. We had so much fun together and I was thrilled with the ideas she brought to the shoot + her sharp eye.

Click the links and leave these ladies some love! ❤

Recent Goodie Realizations | Version 08.15

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  1. These water bottles are keeping me hydrated + healthy and cool + classy during these hot summer days.
  2. This hammock is my favorite hiatus.
  3. This book has been so much fun to peruse, since it includes lots of history on the local family business begun by my great-great-grandparents.
  4. This skincare product has been the biggest go-to around our house this month for sunburns, brushburns, bites, rashes, and more.
  5. This fun fashion find has been the most delightful new companion to my capsule wardrobe project. (Read more here.)
  6. These reusable facial rounds are made of the softest organic bamboo fabric and work well with my makeup remover and essential oils. Best thing I’ve ever introduced to my face.
  7. This little friend has saved me so much money: 5% off your entire purchase + 30 extra days for returns + free shipping on every order (no minimum).
  8. These milkshakes — milk + vanilla ice cream (both from Lapp Valley Farm, of course) + fresh or already-thawed frozen peaches — have been on the menu pretty often around here. We don’t even bother to peel the fruit; the skins add delicious texture.
  9. This hat has been on constant rotation since I bought it. Well worth every penny!
  10. This essential oil is my go-to right now. It’s the best scent I’ve tried, for aromatic purposes! (Learn more here.)
  11. This piece is a current wardrobe favorite. It’s going to transition well into fall, too — I can’t wait!

Free Art on the Internet

Once I was describing to a friend where I’d gotten each of the pieces that compose the gallery wall in our master bedroom, and she asked me, “what do you mean, free printables?” So in case there are more of you who have yet to discover the world of royalty-free art on the World Wide Web, allow me to introduce you.

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Most of the artwork displayed in my home was found online, printed on my own cheap Epson printer, and matted and/or framed with yard sale/Goodwill finds. Pinterest can be a great resource for beautiful prints, but not all of them are free! (Printing a copy of someone’s art that they are selling on Etsy is stealing!) Instead, try Google searches using terms like “free printables,” “free wall art,” or “royalty-free art.” To help you get started, here are a few collections I think you might love.

I like to mat things with recycled cardboard cut from boxes that come containing things I’ve ordered online. And Goodwill is an excellent place to find beautiful frames for cheap. You can remove their original art or just cover it with your own. They’re easy to spray paint, or you can use Sharpies to give them a unique touch.

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// The hexagon corkboard tiles were from Target and it doesn’t look like they sell them anymore, but you can get square ones here. Target does, however, still have an awesome selection of push pins! //

If you’ve found another great resource for (legal) free artwork, post a link in the comments! What are other ways you’ve found to decorate your walls for cheap?

Abiart Creative | a Giveaway!

This giveway is now closed. Stay tuned for more opportunities to win good stuff in the future!


I mentioned last week that plans were in the works for The Realization of Good’s very first giveaway, and I hope you’ve been waiting with eager expectation! 😉 I’m a huge fan of giveaways, since I used to be one of those people who “never won anything”…but kept on entering away, and it eventually paid off. I now know that persistence is key, and that filling out those entries is actually worth it! The few giveaways I’ve won have felt like having an extra birthday…getting a package containing something awesome that I didn’t have to pay for in my mailbox is pretty great. (Maybe my love language is gifts.) Anyway, in this case, that’s working to your advantage, because now that I have a platform, I am looking forward to running my own giveaways regularly. It’s my turn to give back!

So I’ve been mulling over what to start with…I wanted it to be something extra special for this first run. I also wanted it to be something that would appeal to at least most of my readers, and I know each of you have varying interests. The cool thing about this prize pack is that it is a gift that “keeps on giving” — the winner will be able to use it to bless others!

Without further ado…from now until Sunday you have a chance to win twenty-five beautiful greeting cards designed by my friend Abi over at Abiart Creative.

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I feel so privileged to have grown to know, in the last decade or so, a handful of talented, artistic, budding entrepreneurs my own age, and it’s a huge honor for me to introduce Abi to you today. She’s one of those rockstars who is making her mark on the world in a big way at a young age, as the owner of her own graphic design company and designer of the fabulous Abiart Card line. Abi happened to be in Haiti visiting a friend when the 2010 earthquake occurred, and she came home with a passion for homeless and orphaned Haitians, which helped to birth the vision for Abiart Cards. (A portion of her sales support a school for girls in Passe Boi d’ormes, Haiti.)

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Letter writing is one of those golden things that people just don’t do much anymore — we stay in touch through social media and write an email if we need to. But when was the last time you mailed someone a card? Everyone loves getting fun mail, and it really doesn’t take more than a few minutes to pick out a pretty card and jot a few lines. Let’s bring back snail mail! This giveaway is designed to make it easy and fun for you to brighten someone’s day with a beautiful card filled with love from a sister, cousin, or friend.

I asked Abi to handpick 25 of her favorite designs for the giveaway. They’re made in two different shapes, tall and square, come with coordinating envelopes, and range in occasion from birthday to sympathy to friendship and more. She also included one of her silver markers for addressing the envelopes, and I’m throwing in a sheet of Vintage Rose forever stamps, because they’re pretty and will correspond so well with the gorgeous mail you’ll be sending out when you win these cards. 🙂

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Check out Abi’s website and Facebook page to see more of her lovely work. You can find her cards in a store near you or request a catalog by sending an email to abiartcreative@gmail.com.

To get your name in the drawing for the 25 cards & envelopes + marker + stamps, you must click here to visit the Rafflecopter giveaway page and follow the instructions on the screen. You get one entry each for: liking The Realization of Good on Facebook, liking Abiart Creative on Facebook, following me on Instagram (a great way to stay up-to-date with what’s happening around here), tweeting about the giveaway, and leaving a comment here on this post telling me about one of two things: either a giveaway that you won (or reeeally wish you’d won), or an item you’d definitely enter a giveaway for right now, because it’s the epitome of awesome. (I’d love to hear your suggestions for future drawings!) 🙂 You can do just one or all five of these things to get entered, and if you want, you can come back and do the tweeting once every day for extra entries.

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The giveaway will run for one week and close at midnight on Sunday. I’ll announce the winner here on the blog on Monday, so stay tuned!

Easy DIY Homemade Beard Oil

My husband’s beard is growing full and healthy these days, and I couldn’t love it more. I can’t say if I ever met a beard I didn’t like…I really do love me a good set of facial hair. It’s been a process though, talking Caleb into letting it get as long as it is. I understand that the growing-out process can be quite uncomfortable at the beginning…itchy, sensitive, and downright unpleasant.

A beard of such epic proportions necessitates dedicated maintenance and tender care. A soothing, moisturizing, cleansing concoction is key to any beard’s health, growth, and general well-being. I bought one online a couple years ago, and when it ran out recently, Caleb talked me into making one myself, using essential oils. I cleaned out the bottle he had been using and recycled that, but here’s a link to this type of bottle, if you want to buy empty ones. Lemon essential oil worked like magic for cleaning off the persistent residue from the original label after I peeled it off. (Seriously, if you haven’t tried lemon for this purpose yet, go find some stickiness on something somewhere right now — it’s that fun.)

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And the recipe is this simple:

  • 2 drop Lemon essential oil (for scent + purification)
  • 6 drops Tea Tree essential oil (for healthy skin)
  • 6 drops Lavender essential oil (for soothing, healing, and even an aphrodisiac)
  • 12 drops Cedarwood essential oil (for cleansing + manly scent)
  • grapeseed oil to fill the rest of a 2-oz. bottle (full of Vitamin E, sweet-smelling + non-greasy)

(Learn more about essential oils and sign up for a wholesale membership from Young Living, where I purchase mine, here.)

Graphic for your pinning convenience:

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And there you have it! Long live great beards.


On a completely unrelated side note, get ready for The Realization of Good‘s inaugural giveaway, coming soon! I love giveaways and am sure this will be the first of many. Stay tuned next week. 🙂

Camping Essentials

IMG_7221It’s Friiiiiday, I’m in love! (The Cure song reference, in case you wondered.) We’re packing up the car for a weekend getaway! — looking forward to some good old-fashioned family time, camping with my in-laws this weekend.

Caleb and I (and the rest of his family) are “real” campers, as we like to call ourselves — as in, when we say we’re going camping, we mean we’re going to be sleeping in a TENT, and making ALL our food over an open fire. Getting back to the basics and connecting with nature, baby!

Here are some of our favorites, that we won’t leave for a campground without.

  • Trash bag holder — such a brilliant invention! Beats trying to tie a garbage bag to a tree branch or having it on the ground in a heap, by a long shot.
  • Empty laundry detergent bottle upcycled into a hand-washing station — inspired by this pin a long time ago…fill it with water and set it on a rock or an end of the picnic table with a bottle of hand soap and towel close by, and this obsessive hand-washer (ahem) is a happy camper.
  • My homemade all-natural bug spray (recipe here) is an obvious must-have!
  • These citronella candles not only help to keep the bugs at bay, but also add to the campsite aesthetic and ambiance.
  • This super cheap hammock from Target (online only) might be my favorite purchase of the YEAR. What’s camping without a good hammock, anyhow?

Not pictured:

  • Our trusty double sleeping bag makes the nighttime cozy!
  • My [awesome] eye mask from AllNaturalSleepShop…because when I’m on vacation, I want to sleeeeeeep in and early morning light in the tent is not so conducive to that. 😉
  • Nutella, because s’mores…enough said.
  • This flashlight is TOP of the line as far as flashlights are concerned. A bit pricey maybe, but you’ll never buy another — and yes, that’s pretty much a personal guarantee. We give these as gifts sometimes because they are SO good.

If you’re a camper, what are some of the things YOU have to take with you? I’d love to hear about your tried-and-true favorites!