Celebrating Winter Solstice

This year we have decided to give up Christmas. We have many different reasons for this. I don’t want to delve to deep into  our reasoning, simply because its not incredibly important to this post, but I will give a brief explanation.  I have recently started my journey as a Buddhist, and my husband is an atheist. We found it silly that we were celebrating the birth of a god we don’t believe in or worship. Secondly, it is far too commercial. Starting in October every store you walk into begins throwing Christmas EVERYTHING in your face, and all people care about is money, savings, sales, buying. It’s no longer about love, compassion and giving. So we have decided not to raise our children celebrating Christmas.

So for our winter-time ‘holiday’ we have decided to start celebrating winter solstice. It has been something that has appealed to me in the past so I decided to look further into it.

In short, the winter solstice is a celebration of light, nature, the sun and new beginnings. Solstice occurs on the shortest day of the year, or when the least amount of sunlight reaches the earth (December 21st or 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere). The sun seems to stand still. From this day forward in the year, the days will be longer and more full of light.

For more history on the solstice click here, here or here. (I will share more history with latter posts and ideas!)

Since its creeping up on us, I’d like to share with you our plans, some ideas, recipes and activities between now and then.

For those of you that think quitting Christmas and celebrating solstice is totally crazy, let me tell you our plan for the day-

Sleep in. Cook a nice breakfast. Exchange some gifts (not tons, and mostly homemade). Make bird feeders (as Delilah gets older, we will add more nature friendly activities). Start dinner. Then in the afternoon, about an hour before the sun sets, take a walk and hang our bird feeders in the woods for birds to nibble all winter. Then we will watch the sun set over the river. When we get back, we’ll light candles all over the house and drink wassail, have sun cake and some herbed cookies and enjoy a nice, hearty, dinner!

How could you not want to do that?? Even if you celebrate Christmas, solstice might be something to add into the festivities!!

For this post I’ll detail 3 things we’ll be doing!

Solstice Tree

In similar fashion to Christmas, we plan to have a small evergreen tree in the living room throughout December. But we plan to decorate it with homemade ornaments! Dehydrated orange slices with ground cinnamon and cloves, hung with ribbons and beads. Homemade ginger bread sun, bird and animal ornaments. A homemade tree topper in the shape of a sun. Twinkling lights (I would do traditional candles, but I don’t think our landlord will be OK with the fire hazard!)  Some red winter berries from a local farm and maybe some cranberries!

Very natural and beautiful.

Wassail

Wassail is a traditional cider/drink for solstice/yule. It can be alcoholic, but there are plenty of alcohol free recipes!! Wassailing was an ancient tradition where everyone would enjoy some drink in sing songs. We plan to use this recipe.

Gifts

We plan to give a few simple gifts. I’m making my daughter a teddy bear, we’ll give out homemade cookies to our neighbors, and family will get some knitted items, homemade bath items and foods. We will wrap them either in fabric, or recycled newspapers to help keep waste down and to add to the nature friendly aspect of the holiday.

I hope to add a few more posts throughout December highlighting a few other traditions of solstice and a few more ideas. If your celebrating leave a comment and let us know what your favorite aspect of solstice is!

If your looking for more inspiration for your own solstice celebration, you can follow my Pinterest board for solstice ideas!

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How I love my body. Stretch Marks and All.

(I'm wearing a swimsuit bottom, not underwear, just so you know.)

(I’m wearing a swimsuit bottom, not underwear, just so you know.)

Today I’d like to share something very personal and very important to me.

I’d like to share my insecurities.

I believe that in order to have whole health, you need to nourish all aspects of your life and body. You need to eat right as well as have a strong,  happy mindset, exercise and have a good body image, among other things.

The one I have spent my whole life struggling with the most (and I believe most women in America have as well) is having a good body image.

The way the female body is portrayed in the media is as a perfectly fit, ‘healthy’, skinny little rail. I put healthy in quotation marks, because we are led to believe one must be skinny to be healthy. Which is not the case at all. I have a bigger body naturally, I am slightly ‘overweight’, but even at my thinnest, I was still considered large according to BMI charts. So if I were a celebrity, the magazines would all read how unhealthy and fat I am, and how I’ve let myself go. When, in actuality, I am quite healthy and very happy with who and how I am.

I have only recently come to accept my body.

I struggled from a very young age with feeling fat, ugly, unfit and manly. I thought in order to be beautiful I had to be 105 pounds with perfect boobs, a tiny waist, a tight butt and sunken cheeks. I even went through a phase where I would try to suck in my cheeks constantly so my face looked thinner. All my friends were on the small side and were proportioned nicely. I am well above average for height in a woman, as I am 5′ 8.5” and have been since I was 15 or 16. I have very broad shoulders. I’m currently 179 pounds. I haven’t been under 155 in probably 6 years. I have a chubby face with puffy cheeks and the thing I’ve always hated the most about myself- my love handles. They have always been on the large side and its the first place I gain weight.

I always wore to big clothes, men’s clothes or distracting clothes. I went through a phase where I wore dark, black make-up all the time and wildly colorful, bizarre clothing in order to draw attention away from my body. (I still like wildly bizarre clothing, but because I think its fun, not because I want to hide). I was depressed a lot as a younger teenager for this reason.

Alright, so I told you this post was how I love my body. And it is. I just wanted you to get an idea of how much I hated my body.

Since I’ve switched over to eating healthy and avoiding processed foods, I’ve started to feel so much better, in terms of happiness and better moods.

But I’m still on the bigger side.

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I still have stretch marks and a flabby post-baby belly, I still have broad shoulders, I still have chubby cheeks, I still have thighs that rub together when I walk, I still have a jiggly, flat butt, I still have my way to big, way to saggy boobs.

So what’s changed?

My mindset. My happiness level. My worldviews.

I realized that No matter what I do, I’m not going to be exactly like Angelina Jolie (not that I’d want to anyways =P). I’m just not. Its not me. I’m me. I look like me, my body is my body.

It may sound tacky, but I say affirmations to myself in the mirror everyday. I find something about my body I love (for instance, I love my super blue eyes) and tell myself that’s awesome. I’m vain. I push myself to be vain. I spend a few minutes each day telling myself how awesome I am.

It might go something like this, “Your eyes are awesome. You have a nice butt in those pants. You labored un-medicated for 51 hours and pushed out a beautiful baby, your stronger then most men and you have all those stretch marks to prove it. Be proud! Your hair looks nice today, you don’t use any chemicals and you still look hot!”

Try it! Its strange at first (I already talk to myself all the time, so hey, why not talk nicely to myself) but it really does help.

I also try very hard to never say negative things about myself. I don’t like to walk around and say how fat I am or how ugly I am. I try to always remain positive. (Harder then it sounds, but it works).

I think all women should be happier with the way their bodies are. The world would be a better, happier place. There wouldn’t be as many eating disorders or young girls feeling bad about themselves as young as 4 or 5.

My goal is to never let my daughter (or future daughters and sons) hear me complain about myself. And to help them love themselves from early on.

What do you do to remind yourself that your beautiful? If the answer is nothing, then start! Tell yourself everyday that you are beautiful. Tell others they are beautiful and keep positive all the time. Changing your opinion of beauty and your opinion of yourself will make you feel beautiful. And that is what beauty is all about.

Have a body loving day!

~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

This post was shared on Party Wave Wednesday!

Henna for Hair (Part 1)

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Mmmm, mmm, mmm. Wouldn’t you just love a big, warm, gloppy bowl of that smeared right on your head??

I know I sure would!

And within five business days from this morning, I will!! I just ordered my pure henna to dye my hair from Mehandi.

Henna

Scientific name- Lawsonia inermis

Henna, for those of you that don’t know, is a plant.

This plant, to be exact-

When dried, ground up into powder form and mixed with an acidic liquid (like lemon juice) it becomes an amazing tool to color, beautify, grow and fix/heal you hair.

Henna has been used on hair for centuries. Back in the early 1800’s, having your hair ‘hennaed’ was considered exotic and desirable. People, men and women alike, would henna their hair for the health benefits. Once their hair was hennaed, it was beautiful, silk soft and shiny. It would also become red, but that just created the exotic look.

Now a days, henna is not main stream (why? Most likely because it’s time consuming, and we live in a fast paced, no time for time world) so its not. Most people either know it makes temporary tattoos/body art (because its also traditionally used to create beautiful body art) or nothing about it.

Let’s look a little bit about what it does for hair-

  • Strengthens hair
  • Eliminates ringworm
  • Eliminates lice
  • Reduces dandruff
  • Its totally natural
  • Works as an awesome conditioner
  • Helps your hair grow longer by creating a healthy scalp
  • A powerful natural cleanser

So you can dye your hair and instead of killing it the way mainstream dyes do, you can actually make it healthier by dying it! It creates one of the most beautiful shades of red of any hair color. Also, unlike other dyes, it won’t fade out. Ever. My sister hennaed her hair months ago, and guess what, its still red. Her roots have grown out, and obviously they wouldn’t be red, but the rest of her hair is. Henna actually binds with the hairs natural keratin. Making it part of your hair, not a layer on the outside of hair or just sitting under the outer layer.

Its really amazing.

However, there are tons of ‘henna hair dyes’ that are filled with chemicals as well. Its very hard to find, pure, additive free henna. They often mix henna with other things to create a different color then red. On the website I used, they have pure henna for hair. They also have kits for other colors with other natural dyes such as indigo and walnut. But I personally think henna itself is super pretty, and henna has all the natural healing powers anyways.

So in a few days when mine comes and I use it, I will show you how I did mine and what the result is!!

Have a wonderful summer solstice!!

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~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

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