Posted in Back to School Wellness, Family Health & Wellness

Kicking off a Healthy & Sustainable School Year!

{Back to School} Post 1: Let’s jump right into it and chat GERMS, shall we? 🤢

The dreaded Fall & Winter bugs that creep in after our kids head back to school, the weather changes, and our children go hours without washing hands and being surrounded by five hundred other germy littles. 🤭 best to be proactive now and give our kids a strong defense! 💪🏻

🍎🍓🥦🥕 On the DAILY: What is proven time and time again to strengthen immune systems big and small?

👉 Flooding our bodies daily with tons of (and a wide variety of) fruits and veggies from God’s green earth, along with staying hydrated 💦 and getting plenty of rest 💤. (More on how we get in our daily recommended produce servings below)

🍯 IMMUNE BOOSTERS: sharing a few of my natural and safe “supplements” below.

I am so encouraged that pediatricians are also really coming around to more natural remedies. Last year when my kids got the flu, Kaiser actually emailed me a list of things to do INSTEAD of Tamiflu. And two of those are my fav recommendations:

1️⃣ Manuka Honey 🍯 (or any LOCAL honey!)
2️⃣ Black Elderberry Syrup (Store bought or homemade—recipe in the comments)

Why they work:
Raw Honey is naturally antiviral and antibacterial!!! Amazing power of 🐝‘s!!! It also contains enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals (like b vitamins and folates, your body needs). It’s even been shown to reduce seasonal allergies—if using a local raw honey, because it gives your body a small dose of local plants and flowers the bees have pollenated to build up an immunity, almost how a vaccine works.


It calms a sore throat like no other. Diluted Honey is actually one of the main ingredients in the natural cough syrups like Zarabee’s. It’s more cost efficient to make some decaf tea and with a little lemon and honey than buying the “medicine”. (Never give honey to a child younger than one year). We eat 1/2 to 1 spoonful of honey per day during the height of the cold and flu seasons. Either a local brand or Manuka Doctor honey from New Zealand, purchased from Costco, actually!

🍓 Elderberry is shown to boost the immune system and shorten the length of viruses, such as the flu, as well as helping relieve symptoms. (I’ll post some studies in the comments). Dark Berries in general have tons of antioxidants and proteins that help repair cells, strengthen the cell walls, and fight free radicals and viruses from penetrating the cells, therefore, keeping your body’s defense strong against germs and illness in general!


👉 Homemade elderberry syrup is amazing, but as it gains popularity, it can be very hard to find fresh/dried elderberries in stock (I know because I called every Natural Grocers, Sprouts and Whole Foods in town last winter trying to snag some). There are some pre-made brands (like the Sambucol pictured) that can be found in natural grocery stores and even some drug stores now. I also like the lozenges with added vitamin c.

🍇🍓🍎🍌🥦To get the most variety and daily recommended fruits and veggies, we take JuicePlus as a family. It’s made all the difference in cutting down on sick days and helping us survive winters. No artificial supplements your body can’t absorb or process, just 30 (yes 30!!) fruits and vegetables and grains in the form of juice powder per day that heal your cells and round out a whole food based meal plan. Reach out to me with any questions on this. I have been taking JuicePlus since college, and now the hubs and my children all love and reap the benefits, as well.


👉 Ok, now your turn. Tell me what you brew or diffuse or purchase to ward off germs or treat colds and viruses! Ready, Go! (feel free to share in the comments).🚦

*I am NOT a doctor. None of this should be considered medical advice, just lessons learned over the years based on personal experience and studies of natural remedies. Consult your doctor with questions and such. Xo

Natural Lice Prevention

{Back to School} Post 2: LICE PREVENTION

Kid stuff can just be so gross right?! 🤢 But ‘tis the season for lice outbreaks at school! They love the first few weeks back when all the little bodies are in one classroom snuggling in reading corners 📚😝.

What you can do NATURALLY:

•There are many pure essential oils that have been recommended as a repellant that bugs just don’t like. PEPPERMINT is probably my favorite because it also is invigorating for first thing in the morning before school. I place a few drops at the bottom of my kids’ hairlines. Smells good and wakes them up a bit so they are ready for learning. 😎 some of my teacher friends do this too! Along with wearing their hair in ponytails and buns all of Sept and Oct 👱‍♀️

Other recommendations for oils that bugs don’t like (but are still tolerable for human noses) are Rosemary and Eucalyptus. I’ve seen Marjoram as another one used in lice prevention, but friends tell me the smell is so strong (like oregano) and wouldn’t be great in or around hair. This is how I feel about Tea Tree oil, too. 👩🏽 But it is ok if you pair it with other good smelling oils like rosemary and lavender ☺️
****Please, please do your research on safe essential oil brands. I love DoTerra oils for their purity and safety. I do not recommend oils found over the counter at grocery stores as their sourcing, quality and ingredients is questionable. Connect with a knowledgeable essential oil educator (I would be happy to connect you with a few of my favs!) so you know safe dilution and and family-friendly options for oils.

•Rosemary Shampoo. We use and love “Fairy Tales” Rosemary Repel Shampoo. No toxins, harsh chemicals or pesticides. And no parabens, sulfates or phthalates 🙌 It has organic Rosemary, citronella and tea tree oils to naturally repel lice and it cleans well too. Some of my girlfriends also have found a hair gel for their boys in this same line that they use and love. You can find it at Amazon, Target, and many kids’ hair salons now too.

{Back to School} Post 3:

Helpful After-School Tips to keep kids healthy this school year 👦👧👶

Back to School_Wellness_Shoe and Cubby Storage

✂️Cut out wearing shoes in your home.

In fact, we have our kids shed all of their school-day items right at the front door, in little kid-level bins and baskets, including shoes 👟, backpacks 🎒, lunchboxes 👝, jackets 🧥 and hats 🧢.

Why? You limit the amount of germs and environmental chemicals that can be spread around your home, helping protect the whole family. (More on this below)

✂️ Have kids wash their hands right away.

Sounds so simple, but it is such a powerful way to help limit colds and flu, especially if your littles love an after-school snack first thing when returning home. It also washes away germs before they have a chance to run to their favorite toys or blankets, etc.
👉 Do you need antibacterial soap? NO! Studies show that simple soap, warm water, and washing for the duration of the “ABC’s” will do the trick, without creating super bugs and all the other negative side effects of “antibacterial” varieties. 💦 (We love the Everyone brand and Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap for washing hands).

✂️ Cut out sugary snacks and drinks and opt for a variety of fresh produce (eat the 🌈!!) and lots of water instead.

This will give your children a strong immune defense system! 💪🏻 We after-school smoothies and no-bake protein balls. I’ll add a few other ideas to the comments.

👟 Facts about shoe germs:

1️⃣. Your shoes tract in a ridiculous amount of BACTERIA:
In a study by the University of Arizona, researchers found 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside of the shoe, including E. coli, meningitis and diarrheal disease; Klebsiella pneumonia, a common source for wound and bloodstream infections as well as pneumonia; and Serratia ficaria, a rare cause of infections in the respiratory tract 🤢

👉And get this! Bacteria Lives On Shoes Longer! “After thorough researching, the University of Arizona found that bacteria live a very long time on shoes — longer than in most other places. They speculate the reason is because there is a continuous build up of new bacteria that feeds the growth of the existing bacteria.”

2️⃣. HERBICIDES/PESTICIDES: studies have also shown that shoes carry in dangerous chemicals used for lawn care, etc in higher concentrations than what is sprayed onto nonorganic crops, and tied to cancers and other major health issues.

3️⃣. LEAD AND OTHER HEAVY METALS: these are naturally occurring in the earth, yet exposure is linked to serious adverse health effects and many autoimmune diseases and lower IQ’s. We’ve worked hard to ban lead from the paint inside our home, so let’s not track it in on our shoes…

4️⃣. FECES: A University of Houston study found that coliforms, which are universally present in feces, are found on 96% of shoe soles. 💩🙀

As one author rights (article here) “Sure, exposure to some types of bacteria is actually a good thing as it builds up the body’s immunity and makes you stronger. However, most of the bacteria present on shoes is from fecal matter, and the truth is that most of it can be pretty harmful to your health. Therefore, medical experts advise that this be one place you skip purposeful exposure to help “boost your immunity.”

Sources: 6 Reasons to Remove Your Shoes 



Posted in Clean Swap Your Personal Care Products

Why you need to be your own Personal Care Product Advocate

Consider this an INTRODUCTION for starting a clean swap process. It’s a REALLY big topic, and needs a little context. I will link some articles at the bottom of each post, if you are an information hog (hand raised), and want to continue your research. 🙂

To start off with, it is helpful to know that the United States is VERY FAR behind in its screening and regulations of personal care products. In fact, the last time we passed a comprehensive law governing this $62 billion dollar industry was 1938—81 years ago, people! 😱 Since then thousands of chemicals have been introduced into commerce each year with little, or no, safety data on human use.

If you are like me, I just always assumed that “some larger entity” was screening and regulating the ingredients in our personal care products (lotions, cosmetics, shampoos, baby skin care…), but unfortunately with the exception of a few prohibited substances, personal care companies may use any ingredient or raw material in their products without government review or approval (FDA 2005).

Here’s how we measure up:
• The European Union has banned or restricted over 1,400 ingredients.
• Health Canada has banned or restricted nearly 600 ingredients from personal care products.
• The United States has banned or partially restricted approximately 30 ingredients from personal care products.

👉If you think that number is missing a few extra zeros behind it, it’s time to start making your own personal bans on dangerous ingredients (OR, choose companies who are ethical and transparent and do the work for you). 

I’ll share what I have learned in my research over the past few years since being diagnosed with an ovarian tumor and the rabbit hole (BUT THANK YOU, GOD!) it took me down. Once you know better, you do better, and I am so thankful for the information that has empowered me to be a more educated consumer!💪🏻🙌


  • Arm yourself with information! Download the Environmental Working Group’s “Healthy Living” App (you can also find a full database on their website.

Let’s face it, deciphering labels isn’t easy–and chemicals come in many different forms and names. 🤷‍♀️ This database is so helpful when making decisions about which products to trade for safer items right away, or when deciding between buying one product or another. The Environmental Working Group (EWG’s) Healthy Living App allows you to scan the barcode, or search by the name of your product, and then gives a third-party nonprofit rating, based on the safety of the ingredients.


The Healthy Living App for your phone will give you the ratings and general info.🚦Think of the ratings like a traffic signal. 1-2’s are ideal (in the green, means “go forth” 💚), 2-6’s contain some questionable or harmful ingredients and should be limited use (in the yellow, proceed with caution ⚠️) and 7-10’s contain really yucky stuff and should be swapped out for safer products ASAP (in the red, STOP now 📛).The full web version of the Skin Deep Database let’s you read about each ingredient in more depth. 

Bear in mind that companies have to willing to DISCLOSE ingredients to begin with for a fair rating, so you aren’t going to find every single brand or product (and I would caution you to rethink your support of a company who isn’t honest and forthcoming about what they put in their products, that you rub over your body each day)–but it is a growing database, and super user-friendly platform. You will find me in the aisles of Target scanning every new lotion or shampoo before I add it to my cart. ❤️


Additionally, some companies have earned the EWG stamp of approval for safety. Look for “EWG Verified” and you’ll know that this company has been vetted for transparency, and clean, safe ingredient manufacturing! Whoop, Whoop!

  • Knock out the top offenders:

Are there certain ingredients you should ALWAYS try to avoid? Absolutely! Here are some of the worst ingredients in personal care products:

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  • Vote with your $! And, support companies that are working hard to source ethically, provide safe ingredients, and be fully transparent in their labels. 

As you saw in the numbers given earlier, there is still a huge gap between the amount of chemicals other countries have found to have concerning effects and those the U.S. has yet to ban or restrict. There are many good companies starting to pop up, as the demand of consumers increases for healthy personal care products. But here is why I believe Beautycounter stands out as a top mover and shaker in this industry! (plus, the products–OMG. They ROCK).

Amber and Charlotte at Beautycounter store

“At Beautycounter, we’re working to fill that void and taking the necessary steps to protect consumers where possible, by setting our own health and safety standards. To that end, the first step of our Ingredient Selection Process is ban intentionally. We started by eliminating over 1,400 chemicals banned or restricted in personal care products by the European Union, and then added chemicals screened by Beautycounter and found to be of concern. This means approximately 1,500 ingredients are already off the table before we even begin to formulate a product. (You can review the most common harmful ingredients used in the beauty industry in The Never List™).

While the U.S. government has taken action only 30 big-offender ingredients, we continue to go far beyond what is legally asked of us because, quite simply, it’s the right thing to do.”

P.S. If you would like a handy wallet-size reference sheet of “The Never List,” reach out to me. Happy to mail you a copy. 

Never List_MakeSimpleHappen

Reach out with any questions! xo



Further Research:

Federal Cosmetic Safety Laws Turn 80… Now It’s Time for a Makeover

Myths on cosmetics safety



Welcome! Let’s Connect…

Welcome! I’m Amber–looking forward to sharing our home organizing and wellness journeys together.

My path to create a more simplistic and nontoxic lifestyle started nearly 10 years ago, as a young married adult, and honestly was driven more by keeping a “clean house” rather than limiting our exposures to toxins—taking shoes off at the door, meant less time sweeping and mopping floors. That was a win in my book! Babies, and some personal health challenges (cue the grapefruit-sized tumor) have stirred up a passion for advocacy and education around simple, yet effective, ways to limit exposure to environmental toxins in your home and on your body.


Additionally, the hubs and I have enjoyed living in some of our favorite cities, and in smaller more humble homes, with a focus on simplicity! I have a passion for organizing, design and DIY! Most of my home projects are featured on my Instagram Page. Follow along with me! @MakeSimpleHappen.

Feel free to reach out with any ways I can be helpful, or if there are topics you would like me to cover here on my blog. Simply fill in the form below.

Connect with me in my Healthy Living Group on Facebook, by clicking here.

Shop Safe and Clean Ingredient Products through my link here. 

Be well!

xo, Amber

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