See You At The Summit

I’ve brought together 17 experts from the Tiny House Community, artists, authors, builders, dwellers, movers and shakers… each with a story of simplicity. These are the people that have helped shape the landscape for simplifying one’s life. These are the stories that will inform and inspire you to move past overwhelm, kick the clutter, and make room for meaning.

Here’s a portion of one conversation from the upcoming summit.

I can’t help myself… these conversations are So. Much. Fun. Maybe I’ll share…

A few more…

There are loads more interviews to enjoy!

Mark your calendar for this weekend: October 11 – 13, 2019. Clear your schedule to binge watch your favorite tiny house luminaries all together in one convenient place. No standing in lines… no festival tickets… just great conversations with like minded people!

Carmen Shenk

I’m an artist, entrepreneur, and communicator here to help you simplify and upgrade your life. You deserve clarity, confidence, and contentment, and I’m here to help you find it.

All my best!

DIY Organic Citrus Hair Spray

Here is a DIY hairspray that actually provides some hold. It won’t give you prom-queen hair, but it works nicely for me. If you want more hold, I have a pomade recipe coming your way soon. And with this spray, you can still run your fingers through your hair without feeling that plasticy stuck up feeling. It’s pretty remarkable. It is completely natural, non-toxic, cruelty free, zero waste, and super easy to make! I use this when I’m headed somewhere and want to look a little extra put together.

I really love that this recipe is about as zero waste as it gets. The organic orange and lemon come with only the little stickers on them. I purchase the vodka in a large recyclable glass bottle. The essential oil comes in a small recyclable glass bottle. It’s only the distilled water that comes in plastic, and if you have a Berkey water filtration system, then you don’t need that. I love it! I’m not zero waste, but I am working my way in that direction. Every improvement we make, even small ones, is good for the planet!

DIY Zero Waste Hair Spray

Find the 4 oz aluminum spray bottles here.

Follow the directions in the video to make the hairspray.

Your grocery store will have distilled water. You can substitute tap water if you like, especially since this recipe is boiled to reduce and concentrate the recipe.

Find out how to make your own flavored vodka, or vanilla extract.

And here’s where you find that rather spectacular Joy essential oil blend.

Style as usual. SHAKE and then SPRAY on hair.

Young Living is a membership company, so if you don’t have a membership and would like to be able to purchase the Joy essential oil blend, then either of these two videos will help:

I look forward to hearing what you think of this zero waste, non toxic, cruelty free hair spray that is super easy to make! For more recipes and reviews and other helpful information on simplifying your personal care routines, sign up for my email list so that you don’t miss a thing!

Success! You're on the list.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention this…


And here is my VERY FAVORITE leave in hair treatment. It’s also super easy to make – but it’s absolutely lovely!


This pomade recipe will be released on Saturday, but if you use this link you can enjoy it now.

As always, thanks for listening, I really appreciate it!

DIY Radiant Hair Spritz Recipe

I’m delighted to share this recipe with you, and I know you will enjoy it if you try it. I made a number of potions at one time, and I have really gone through this one quickly – and my hair is absolutely growing like crazy and is very healthy. So I am really enjoying this potion a lot! It’s a personal favorite, that’s for sure!

And just in case you missed it… here is my video on the Basics of Clean Hair… if you’ve been wondering about the debate out there about soap vs detergent, this will help. That’s an interesting debate that you may see in internet comment sections all the time, so I thought you might find it helpful to hear some common sense middle-of-the-road conversation on that topic.

Edited Transcript & Recipe Follows:

We’re going to do a hair potion today. I am using a four ounce aluminum spray bottle. I know the spray mist on these are really nice and fine. So that’s where I’m going to start.

I’m starting out with one ounce of Rosewater. Rosewater is made with rose petals and it is a really great place to start for this potion. I love using this in formulas and potions, it’s so lovely. You get the aromatherapy of the rose without the price tag of using rose essential oil.

Then we’re going to add one teaspoon of vodka. If you have seen me do any of these recipes before, you know my vodka has vanilla beans in it. Check out my video on making vanilla extract for more details on that. It’s so easy, but in a blend like this, it adds so much! The vodka doesn’t come like this from the store, it’s just plain when I purchase it. That’s just how mine looks, okay? One teaspoon of vanilla extract or vodka.

Next I’m adding three drops of lime essential oil. I’ve already got the rosewater in there, I’ll add the essential oils, and then add the rest of the water on top. I will be careful because I don’t want to overflow it and lose any of these amazing oils over the side.

Now this is Neroli essential oil. This is a luxury oil and opening it … oh my goodness, the smell is amazing! This has a smell of bitter orange, very complex, very sophisticated. Carefully now, three drops. And in case of an oil like the Neroli where it’s an especially valuable one, this is a really great way to make that investment go a lot further because there are only three drops in this recipe – but it totally holds it’s own in the recipe. And this is a great way to make a little go a very long way. It is difficult to open a bottle and take less than a drop. And so when you are putting it together with a few really wonderful things in a spray bottle, it allows you to make that very special essential oil go a lot further, which I think is fantastic.

All right, Rosemary essential oil, five drops. That one comes out fast, which is great.

Next with opening a bottle of Geranium, naturally a very, very floral smell to this one. We’re going for three drops of Geranium essential oil. On these little essential oil bottles, you’ve got to get the two holes to line up. There’s a hole in the very center of the plastic reducer cap, and then there’s a hole in side of the ring. And when those two line up, then the oil can come out.

We’re gonna finish up this blend with Cedarwood essential oil, I’m looking for six drops. That one took it’s time, but if you’re patient you can coax the more bashful oils to come out just fine.

I haven’t really told you what this various oils do, but rosemary and cedar wood are both really good for hair growth. Lime is a cleansing oil for the hair. Geranium will balance the scalp’s production of oil. Neroli is great for sensitive skin and a remarkable aromatherapy oil that works to support emotional balance and healthy skin.

All right, so we are going to add three ounces of distilled water. Pour carefully here, you don’t want to accidentally overflow the bottle and lose those precious oils!

If you are doing any heat processing of your hair, using a hairdryer or flat iron… use this first. If you are going to use some kind of torture device for your hair, use a little bit of this first. It smells amazing and it’s really good for your hair.

Also: here is a little cheat for you. Put the recipe on the bottom of the sprayer so that you will remember it the next time you’re ready to make more. Just write it on there with a sharpie.

So that is a little hair potion that feels good and promotes hair growth and happy, healthy hair, and come on, let’s face it. It just smells amazing!

Thank you so much for listening. I really appreciate it!

Hair #003: Evaluating Needs

In the first session of this series, you gathered together all of your hair care products in one place. In the second session, we went through those products, weeding out the ones that are toxic. We have all outgrown using toxic products that don’t support our wellness goals!

Today we cover a number of considerations when choosing hair style and hair care routines. First of all, take some time and thoughtfully assess the style you need to be most effective in your calling in this world that is so tuned into external appearances. Then, consider the products that you need to achieve that look – and look for ways you can simplify that collection. Think in terms of choosing better products and fewer of them, think in terms of quality instead of quantity. And the most important goal in this process is that your hair be healthy – anything that doesn’t serve that goal can be removed from your routine. I simply want you to be intentional and effective about taking care of your hair.

This week I have also released these three videos that will help you to understand some of the concerns around toxins. If you didn’t have time to watch them so far – take a moment now and catch the ones you missed on out earlier.

Next week I will be sharing some product reviews and DIY hair recipes. Hair comes in a remarkable array of colors, textures, and attributes, and I hope that what you find my product reviews helpful. Since my hair is fine, straight, and also (partly) bleached and color treated, and I have a skin condition that sometimes plays out on my scalp in ultra sensitive skin… that will give you a feel for the context of my reviews and DIY recipes. I’m looking forward to sharing that content with you as you consider the products that you need to make your hair healthy and stylish, and in the process be choosing high quality, non-toxic, zero waste, cruelty free products that work well for you.


Welcome! We’ve been talking about hair for the last two sessions. First we gathered together all of our hair care products in one place and took inventory. Second of all, we talked about toxins and did some very intentional work going through those products, removing some items that were unfortunately too toxic. Today I would invite you to think very intentionally about what you want your hair to be and what you want your hair care routine to look like.

When Xavier and I were restaurant owners, I found out the contrast between when I crawled out of bed and just showed up, and other days when I really make some effort with my self care routines. What I invested in myself in the morning was different, but the service that I provided in our restaurant was the same. Not surprisingly, the results could be quite different. Waiting on people in my own restaurant, I would make one amount of money on a day when I made no effort with my appearance, and on a day when I really made some effort – I would make more money. And the difference was enough for me to take notice. Now I’m not saying that that’s right or wrong, I’m just saying this is how the world works. People respond to us more favorably when we’ve made an effort to present ourselves well.

How much effort is “the right amount” of effort? There’s everything on the continuum from super minimalist hair that requires almost no effort at all, all the way to the YouTube goddess who has gone to extensive effort to get a particular look. And again, this is a judgment free zone. I am not actually suggesting that it’s wrong to wear easy super minimalist hair, and wear very little makeup and to keep it very, super simple. I’m not judging that as wrong. Neither am I saying that if you’re a YouTube goddess and it requires a lot of money and time to achieve your look – that that is necessarily wrong either. I want you to do what you are happy doing, to spend only what you need to spend, no more. And I think it’s simply helpful to be aware that we live in a world that reacts to how we look physically. Sadly, it doesn’t recognize who you are as a person apart from appearance, and that’s not fair. And we can have a whole conversation about the energy we put out into the world, but we’ll talk about that on another day.

On days when I have dressed up, and I come home from work and wash off the makeup and change my clothes… sometimes that can feel a bit like peeling off everything that is attractive about me. Marketing teaches us that we’re not cute or attractive unless we are wearing these products. So when we come home and remove all those layers – are we still attractive then? I think for many of us, that is challenging. It’s hard to feel like that answer is yes, we are lovely without the hair spray, the shape wear and the great shoes. And the more layers we have to peel at the end of the day, the more we are tempted to feel that beauty is only something we wear, and that it is separate from us. Therefore, we are not beautiful. (hogwash.)

I just think that’s really rough. That’s rough on a woman to feel like who she is under all the layers is not acceptable. It’s rough on a woman to think that we’re only acceptable if we’re wearing the whole product line. And that’s not how that should work, you know? That process is not life giving. It actually can be absolutely shame inducing! That idea we’re not beautiful unless we have the whole product line on – that doesn’t work in our favor.

Were are you are on the continuum? Do you have the super simple minimalist hair that requires no effort at all? Or are you on the Instagram or YouTube goddess end of the scale? Where are you? Most of us are somewhere in the middle. Where are you and where do you want to be? Are you ready to kind of dial it down a notch or make some other adjustments?

I think the question that I want you to think about is – where do you need to be on that continuum to be effective in your work? In a culture that puts an inordinate amount of attention on appearance, where do you want to be on the continuum of style and simplicity?

When you have a sense of mission, when you have a sense that you’ve got a message the world needs (and I think everybody does) then how you present yourself matters. So those are some things to be thinking about when you consider where you want to be on that continuum. There is no wrong answer here. And this is very cultural. Some cultures will do the whole nine yards every single day. And in the subculture that I come from (the Mennonite community) there was no makeup and the hair care was very simple. So it’s extremely cultural. And so again, I’m not coming at this from a place of judgment. I simply suggest that you be intentional about this choice. Where do you want to be on that continuum?

Now that you’ve chosen a style that suits you, what products does it require for you to get that look? Okay, so let’s just say for the sake of the argument that you can go into your hairdresser and you get the look that you want and that they educate you on what products that it requires to achieve that look. Well, let’s say from start to finish for your hair – it takes a specific number of products. Your stylist may have suggestions on how to simplify the products you select based on your hair.

Now that you have assessed what is needed, come back to your collection of hair products. You’ve removed the products that were old and gross in the first session. Then you removed the toxic products in the second session. Today you’ll remove the products that don’t support the fresh new goals you have for your hair. Keep only what is intentional, and necessary.

Go ahead and donate or throw away what you no longer need. Older products that have “water” on the label should be thrown away because of the potential for microbe growth. Recycle containers where possible.

Let me use myself as a case study. The simplest my hair has ever been, has been a super short pixie that was not bleached or colored. It was just a super short Pixie, and I had very healthy hair and it was easy as pie. Super, super short, so much fun. Literally the product that I was using was a bar of handmade soap made by a woman with a booth at the farmer’s market. That was both my shampoo and conditioner. It left my hair to squeaky clean and very healthy and I didn’t use any styling products. I literally didn’t need any because I wasn’t fighting against my hair’s natural tendencies. I didn’t use a hairdryer or a curling iron or anything like that. It just was so simple.

I know this isn’t something that can be done for all hair types, but for me in that season of my life, it was entirely possible for me to have my complete hair care system in one bar of handmade soap and that was it. That to me was utter simplicity and I loved it!

On the other end of the spectrum is the YouTube goddess who is using ALL the products, and lots of time. Where is your chosen to hairstyle in that mix and what does it require to get that style? What happens if you use fewer products, but chose better quality products?

It’s a good idea to use fewer products, first in terms of cost. Secondly, you’re reducing your risk of exposure to toxins. When we layer on five different products, we don’t use much of any of them, but all together maybe they’re creating a toxin problem for us. So that’s why I think it’s really useful to just look at getting rid of some things. And if you’ve got a collection of 10 products and that’s what it takes to do your look, see how you can simplify that collection.

I know it’s possible to simplify dramatically, because I’ve lived it. I know it’s possible. And it won’t look the same for all hair types, but it’s possible for each of us to be intentional and live simply.

Given the work that you do and the mission that you have in your life, what does your hair need to be? The second thing I’m asking you to consider and to be intentional about is simplifying the collection of products it requires to achieve that look. Don’t chose any product that will sacrifice the health of your hair in this process, that’s not self care… that’s something else all together. Let’s take some time to assess these things and make intentional decisions.

Every minute we spend on our hair is an investment. And if you are missional and if you have a message that the world needs, yes, you need to take care of your hair. You do not need to spend one extra penny, one extra minute on your hair because you have a mission in your life and your hair is not it!

This is all about being intentional and dialing it in. I know you can do this. Just take some time and think about it. If making a list helps, that’s fine. If Pinterest helps, that’s also fine. Again, this is a judgment free zone. You don’t need to please me and you don’t need to please the world. We simply need to intentionally be ourselves.

What I would wish for you is that you use products to enhance your best physical features so that when you get to the end of the day, it’s just a matter of cleaning house and giving yourself a fresh, clean slate so you can rest easy. It’s not about taking off these layers of protective gear that made it possible to be acceptable in the eyes of the world, because you’re acceptable as you are. You are loved as you are, who are beautiful as you are. So let’s be intentional about hair care, okay? Thanks so much for listening, I really appreciate it!

Join my mailing list so that you don’t miss a thing! I’ve got tons of great content coming your way in this series, sign up to get it delivered right to your inbox. What could be more convenient?!

Success! You're on the list.

Hair #002: Detoxing Your Collection of Hair Products

In the first session of this series, you gathered together all of your hair care products in one place. Today we go through those products, weeding out the ones that are toxic.

Take some time to download the Think Dirty App, and scan the products in your collection. Remove the ones that score an 8 – 10 on the scale, and mark the ones that score a 5-8 so that when you run out of those, you can choose a better quality product as a replacement. Just like we’ve outgrown some clothing in our closet, we’ve also outgrown using products that contain toxic ingredients.

In the coming videos I will share some of my favorite DIY recipes and product reviews in order to help you find the non-toxic, cruelty free, zero waste, products that will help you simplify your routines from chaos to elegance. I’ve got lots of great content coming your way, so stay tuned!

Subscribe and click the little bell to get a notification each time I release a new video in this series. And after this series is a little series I am calling “Mennonite Clean” and after that is a series I’m calling “Women of the Cloth” which is all about an empowering spirituality. Make sure you subscribe so that you don’t miss a thing! I love simplicity, self care, and empowering spirituality and I look forward to sharing this content with you!


Welcome back to Simply Vibrant. I’m Carmen Shenk and I’m glad you’re here. You have gathered everything together, all of your hair care products, you’ve got them all together in one place. Now what? Well, today is the day we do some assessment of that collection. This is not as hard as it may seem. First of all, we remove the toxic products. I’m going to talk about three toxins and give you a feel for what’s out there and that maybe in your hair care products. And then we’re gonna give you a tool to assess the products that you have there before you. And it’s going to rate products on the scale of 0 to 10 – 10 being the most toxic. Now here’s how I look at that list.

Things that are a 1 – 4, those are nontoxic. I mean just for perspective, vinegar scores at a two or three and vinegar is not toxic at all, but some people may have a sensitivity to it. So I think zero to four is a pretty safe zone.

Things that score a 5 to a 7... I don’t like wasting anything. So those are products that I would go ahead and use up and then replace with a better product as soon as they’re empty.

Finally, products that score an 8, 9 or 10? Those are toxic. And for me, those products are going to go straight in the trash. Just like there are some things that used to be in my closet, that no longer suit me, using products that are toxic no longer suits me either. I’m worth more than that. And guess what? So are you!

Three Toxins commonly found in Hair Care Products:

Let’s talk about Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Now this is a toxin that’s found in toothpaste and shampoo and sometimes it’s found in soap as well as a detergent, and it is a surfacent and a foaming agent. So when you’re expecting the bubbles in your shampoo, they are there because a chemical was added to your shampoo to get those bubbles. SLS is a byproduct of palm kernel oil or coconut oil and it can be an irritant to eyes and skin. Some SLS contains traces of Dioxane, which is a group 2B carcinogen. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin-Deep Cosmetics Safety Database calls SLS a risk for cancer, neuro-toxicity, organ-toxicity, skin irritation and endocrine disruption. By the way, that means your hormone system. We don’t need our hormone system disrupted! Thank you very much! No! I use an an SLS free shampoo and it’s taking me some time to get used to it because it doesn’t foam up. It doesn’t act the same way. And so when I’m working on my hair and I don’t have all that bubble action happening and wondering, is it actually getting my hair clean? Of course it is! But we’re so used to having those bubbles in our products that when they’re not there we think that it’s not cleaning. And then the opposite is true: SLS is a toxin, so not having it in your hair is a good thing. So, changing to a Shampoo without SLS in it is going to feel a little different and it does take some transition time, but it is better for us not to have that stuff on our hair and skin.

Formaldehyde is a preservative and it is used in salon hair straightening products and in nail hardeners. The National Toxicology Program calls it a carcinogen. The Environmental Protection Agency says formaldehyde can cause irritation of skin, eyes, nose and throat and cause some types of cancers. It is an occupational exposure risk for respiratory cancer and leukemia. It is banned in the European Union and should be banned here. Make sure you are using formaldehyde free products. This is especially important if you use a hair straightening product or you are having your nails done.

More exciting toxins: Parabens. These are preservatives and they prevent the growth of microbes that these can be present in just about anything that’s liquid or moist in nature because that’s what microbes prefer. They are found in shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial and shower cleansers and scrubs. The problems with parabens include endocrine disruption, skin cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity. The long chain parabens have the strongest estrogenic activity among those widely used in personal care products. Parabens can block androgens such as testosterone, and inhibit enzymes that metabolize estrogen.

Okay, so ladies, we need our estrogen, right? But if we have too much, the body has systems for getting rid of an overdose and estrogen. But what it’s saying is that the parabens will block that from happening. It is also saying that testosterone, something that our bodies as women do use – can be blocked by parabens. That’s not a good thing. So basically anytime you’re adding a chemical to a personal care product that is messing with your hormones – that is a really bad idea. By the way, this chemical was banned in the European Union. I wish it was banned here and yes, I’ve found products that have no parabens and I think that’s when really good news. Stick around, in the videos that follow I will be sharing product reviews and DIY recipes.

Finding the Toxins in Your Home

I’m here in the bathroom and I want to take a quick look through some of the products I’m finding in here using the Think Dirty app and see where we come out in terms of how toxic they are.

Okay. What do we got? (Scans the product) Oh boy. This is an eight and the reason is fragrance. Okay, let’s try another one then. Just to be clear, I mean an eight out of 10? That’s too high, especially for daily use! So that’s something that I would be removing from the bathroom.

Let’s see what else we got here. Garnier Whole Blends, replenishing conditioner, legendary olive nourishes, softens and shine. So here we go. Let’s try this. See what we got. (scans the product) This is an eight out of 10 again, fragrance. Okay. Wow. It’s not good to see the numbers that high over and over again. I will be talking you through some of those things that I’m using now that are non-toxic, so stay tuned for that in future videos. I have gotten rid of these toxic things because an eight and a nine that’s pretty bad. That’s bad.

Testing Products at My House

I’m Carmen Shank and I’m right here in my own kitchen. I’m going to scan a few of my own products for you this time. I do have some things left. I’ve been detoxing my life for a long time, but I do have some products left here and there and I’m going to walk through them with you. I’ve got my Think Dirty app here and let’s give it a try.

The first thing is Herbal Essences Mousse, so let’s see what we can do here. This app will scan the barcode using the camera on the iPad. This is an 8 out of 10! The reason is fragrance, and then the rest of the ingredients are clean. So eight out of 10 because of fragrance.

So let’s try this one: Fructis Extreme Control hairspray. Let’s see what we got here. Shall We? All right, this one comes up as an 8 out of 10. There’s two toxins here that come in at eight, two that come in at half and half and the rest are clean. So we are getting a good solid 8 on that one.

So in your hair care products, toxins are a thing. My approach to handling hair care products that I knew were toxic was to simply don’t use them. I’m wearing a super simple minimalist haircut, as you can see, I have a video on how I cut my hair online as well, so check that out. That really keeps things simple and I don’t need any styling products as a result of having hair that is this simple.

There you have it. Those are the two remaining products in my hair arsenal that aren’t very good. So I will be sharing some DIY alternatives and other product reviews, or just continue as I have and don’t use styling products at all. Cause that’s a very viable option and that is where I’ve been for the last five years is that I simply don’t use stalling products at all.

Some these have been products that I held on to because of the rare occasion that I went out with costume hair or something a little bit special. I hadn’t scanned them until now. So now that I know that they score an 8, I will find decent alternatives or just to continue to not wear any styling products in my hair at all. That works.

Take some time to download the Think Dirty App, and scan the products in your collection. Remove the ones that score an 8 – 10 on the scale, and mark the ones that score a 5-8 so that when you run out of those, you can choose a better quality product as a replacement. Just like we’ve outgrown some clothing in our closet, we’ve also outgrown using products that contain toxic ingredients.

Thank you so much for listening. I really appreciate it.

Don’t miss a thing in this series! Join my email list to have these helpful messages delivered right to your inbox:

Success! You're on the list.

Hair #001 Simply Vibrant Session One: Inventory

Session One

Welcome to Session One of my brand new series that will help you simplify self care! I’m calling it “Simply Vibrant: Elegant Non-Toxic Personal Care Routines”. In this series I talk about hair, skin, hands, face, makeup, and radical self acceptance… (And we’re starting with HAIR) because it doesn’t matter what you do to the body if you still look in the mirror and hate your reflection. Plus, I share some of my favorite DIY recipes and share product reviews in order to help you find the products that are right for you. I’ve been working on this series for quite a while, and I just realized today that it’s going to take 12 WEEKS to release all the content I have planned – and the list includes over 72 videos! Stick around, it’s going to be EPIC!

I’ll also release this video this week, so I thought I’d put it here as an extra bonus. ❤ I don’t find it fun to make videos about toxins, but it’s important information. I think we are all ready for companies to do better by us, and I’m ready to vote with my dollars that they do!


Subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the little bell to get a notification each time I release a new video in this series. And if you haven’t done so already, join my mailing list to get this video series delivered to your inbox over the next 12 weeks.

Success! You're on the list.

After this series is a little series I am calling “Mennonite Clean” and it’s all about how to care for our homes. It’s very similar to this series that is all about simple self care – except that it’s focused on the home rather than the body. Then I’ve got another new series planned that I’m calling “Women of the Cloth” which is all about an empowering spirituality. I love simplicity, self care, and empowering spirituality and I look forward to sharing this content with you! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these topics!

Introduction to Simply Vibrant

Join my email list so that you can see what happens when simple intentional self care, and empowering spirituality get together and have anointed lip balm babies! LOL! I am so excited to share this brand new series with you!

Success! You're on the list.

Edited Transcript of Video:

My name is Carmen Shenk. I’ll be your host as we take a look through hair, skin, hands, face, and makeup routines, to make sure that we’re actually taking really good care of ourselves. Why? Because you matter! You deserve to be well!

One of the things that we forget as entrepreneurs, as parents, as busy people …we forget to take care of ourselves.  We can jeopardize our relationships, jobs, businesses and side hustles by not taking care of ourselves. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we’re going to be spending a lot of money on healthcare and a lot of time in doctor’s offices.  Time and resources that we could be spending on the things that matter most to us.  So it is especially important that we really focus in on taking good care of ourselves now with great quality self care so that we need less health care later on.  And that’s the main reason that I created this series.

There are four things about me that I want you to know going in, because it will give you a feel for what you can expect in this series:

Sweet Caroline

We went tiny in the fall of 2014. Yes, we actually moved into a tiny house. It was 125 square feet. But one of the beautiful things about that experience was that I got rid of so many products in my life. It was so liberating. It was just really great to just clear the deck because you know what?  It didn’t all fit! It wasn’t going to fit and that’s okay because I didn’t need it anyway. The best thing I discovered in living tiny, was that simplicity REALLY agrees with me, spirit, soul, and body!  Purposeful Simplicity set me free and I am excited to share what I learned with you.

Photo Sep 02, 11 52 50 AM

Secondly, I have a skincare issue. A year ago I got a diagnosis that I cannot spell or pronounce (but I keep a note in my desk with the name written down: Pemphigus Folaceous). It’s an autoimmune skin condition. Basically it means my skin itches, and a flare up looks and feels very much like poison ivy.

Unfortunately, the medical profession could give me the diagnosis after an extremely expensive testing process, but they could not cure or prevent outbreaks.  And prescribed medication such a Prednisone is its own kind of horror.  So the medical profession has not been a whole lot of help (for my skin or my finances). I’ve had to get really intentional about taking care of myself because when it all comes down to it – that’s my job.  Nobody else’s.  Mine.

There are lots of great non-toxic personal care products on the market, but not all of those are formulated for people like me with sensitive skin.  Therefore, when I find something that I can use? I’m delighted to share that news!  At each step in this series, I share the recipes that have been tested on my own skin so that you can use them with confidence. If they work for me, then I’m confident that they will also be helpful for you.

Photo Sep 02, 11 03 00 AM

Also in the same vein (and it’s all connected) I have some food sensitivities.  I’ve got a 17 page list for foods my body doesn’t like.

For example, I found out that I have a food intolerance to almonds. Well, I had been eating a lot of almonds, and I love Marzipan, and I was using sweet almond oil in a lot of the DIY recipes that I used on my skin.  So all of those things, eating almonds and using the oil, all that was making my skin go nuts (lol!).

The first week after I got the results, I went completely almond-free.  And as a direct result – I was able to completely remove one medication from my routine.  YAY!  That was a huge for me!  So it’s been really helpful to learn about food intolerance because it has really helped my body heal.

Therefore, I have included in this series a video about food sensitivities so that you can also be tested and discover if a food sensitivity is causing problems for you as well.

Photo Sep 02, 10 53 56 AM

Another thing I learned living in a tiny house is trash can pile up quick! And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice all the damage we are doing to the earth.  As a result, I have zero tolerance for single use plastics and disposable items. So you will see as we go along that a lot of my choices and the routines I make for myself are simple and beautiful and reusable.  Earth friendly choices matter to me.  And I continue to work to make my self care routines more zero waste.

Photo Sep 02, 11 56 45 AM

I really love to DIY everything. I love making it all from scratch, plus that’s a great way to cut down on single use plastics. The more opportunities for research and creativity, the more I love it!  I’d very happily make every single product in my life from scratch if I could… And I’ve tried to make many of the things we use often.  Every time I succeed, I feel triumphant.  There have been quite a few recipes I’ve tried that I. will. Never. make again.  LOL!  You get the benefit of things I have learned the hard way over the last five years.

Photo Sep 02, 11 10 28 AM

Unfortunately, sometimes I’m just too busy to DIY things. So on those days when I don’t have time to make my shampoo or I can’t make this or that or the other thing (or simply want more of a luxury product) I do have a short list of companies I enjoy buying from.  So when I can’t make it myself, they are my go to source.

I love how simple that is. When I recently ran out of the moisturizer that I use on my face, I just added it to my order and it’s gonna show up in a few days here at the house.  I place an order once a month and I don’t have to make a special trip anywhere. I just visit the website quickly, add one thing to my cart. Fantastic. I love the simplicity and ease of that.

Photo Sep 02, 11 23 25 AM
If you’re like me, a busy entrepreneur, you know that taking care of yourself is probably one of the hardest things to find time for. It doesn’t make sense that we are at the bottom of our own list, but as parents, and as entrepreneurs – it is so important that we take good care of ourselves.

Photo Sep 02, 11 31 06 AM

I remember when we had a busy, busy restaurant and I had the whole staff and they depended on me for a paycheck.  So in that case if I neglected myself – I wasn’t just doing harm to myself – I was not serving my staff well.  If I didn’t take care of my health, this would be a short term employment situation for them and that would suck for everybody.  And in the end, one of the reasons we closed the restaurant was because the stress had gotten to us.  I was in the emergency room with my handsome husband with chest pains a number of times, and I was showing signs of extreme adrenal fatigue.  We’d been working too hard, we were missing each other, and our health was beginning to suffer… which was one of the reasons we needed to find a different way to live.  That’s what brought us to living in a tiny house and pushing the reset button on our lives.  (Unfortunately, that also meant some good people had to find other employment, and that was really difficult for us.)  And that’s why I’m so passionate about helping people do intentional self care now… so that we need to less healthcare later… and so that we can continue to do the work we love for the long haul… and so that we can be there for the people who depend on us.

Photo Sep 02, 11 33 37 AM

Finally, no conversation about hair, skin, and makeup would be complete without practicing what I call radical self acceptance.  All of marketing is based on the idea that they are going to reveal our problem and then they’re going to offer you the solution for $19.95.  That’s what marketing is and there are billions of dollars of marketing money aimed at your eyes every single day to sell you products, to sell you makeup, to sell you skincare, to sell you all kinds of products based on the idea that you have a problem and they have the solution. Well, guess what? If we reject that idea that first of all we have a problem and some external source can be the solution?  It’s going to save us so much money!  And I would rather your money be in your pocket because that’s where it belongs.

When we are insecure and unsure and lack confidence, that’s when it’s really easy for companies to come in and fleece us. It’s bad enough that there are toxins in the products. Sometimes the marketing approach itself is toxic, and I want to help you be impervious to that.  When we practice radical self acceptance, we just aren’t as easily manipulated by those messages anymore. We just say: “No! I’m not buying it!”  That is a vibrant place to be because that means we’re free. And that kind of confidence and freedom makes us absolutely gorgeous!

Photo Sep 02, 11 12 19 AM

Stay tuned. We’re going to talk about hair, skin, hands, face, makeup… all of that. We’re going to talk about self-acceptance because it’s all about living our true vibrant selves!  It is important to take good care of ourselves and be the beautiful people that we were created to be, so that we release beauty in the earth.  Because that’s what it really comes down to, to not just express beauty and wear beauty, but to BE beauty.

So come along on the journey with me. This will be a great adventure! Thank you so much for listening, I really appreciate it.

About Me Page Final Photo

Join my email list so that you can see what happens when simple intentional self care, and empowering spirituality get together and have anointed lip balm babies! LOL! I am so excited to share this brand new series with you!

Success! You're on the list.

What can 7 Tiny House People Teach us About Life?

Shelter Final Cover 03092019Seven of us got together and wrote a book. Now, you wouldn’t think that seven people could write a book together and have it be cohesive and… well… anything but chaotic. And that would be true if it were any other seven people.

We’re very different from each other, and the reasons we went tiny were different (and yet so similar) and so when each person wrote their chapter – they brought a lot of individuality to the project.

But something cool happened. Common themes emerged. Common lessons were learned. And over and over again I see how minimizing the mundane things of life made space for something very special: Missional living.

I hate how churchy that sounds, nevertheless… “missional” living isn’t about being an evangelist for a religion in this case – it’s living the mission you were born to live.

manuscriptAnd in every single case – our interactions with living simply made space for us to focus not on what culture demands – but on the priorities that we hold most dear. Every single one of us have seen our lives change in dramatic ways through this process of becoming more intentional. Thing is – life is LOUD! And embracing simplicity requires QUIET. And that doesn’t happen by accident – you actually have to turn off the noise.

And somehow each of these folks found ways of doing that, and so can you! We’d all say without hesitation that we can recommend this life to you. None of us have gone on to great fame and financial world domination, but that wasn’t exactly the point now was it?! If you want that “6 figures in 6 months” kind of message – that is NOT what we’re offering. And believe it or not, this book is NOT seven letters to twist your arm to sell everything you enjoy and move into some weird little shack somewhere. Nope.

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by all you own… If you long for simplicity but don’t know where to start… this book will help. Not in a preachy “DO THIS NOW” sort of way… but in a “here’s how I did it, and this was the result” sort of way. Which is much more fun anyway. No, it’s not really a self-help book – it’s more of a book of inspiration. In fact, I think it’s pure gold. These people and their stories mean the world to me, and I think the world needs this message. If we really understood that we could conform less, and feel more contentment… that would be a good thing!

Follow this link to the Kickstarter page: (…/shelter-seven-letters-from-th…)

Choose a pledge level and help us get this book out there in the world. This matters.

No, you aren’t signing some invisible document stating that you’re going to sell everything you own and move in with Emerson or Thoreau. NOPE.

You’re just helping us help you to live with more simplicity and intention – which leads to contentment.

Four days left, so don’t dilly dally and miss out. Make your pledge today!

And thanks! Each of us appreciate your contribution very much!

the big one


Andrew Odom  Brynn Burger  Carmen Shenk  Chris Schapdick

Jenn Baxter  Michael Fuhrer  Dan & Rachel Messick


Stories of Simplicity

the big oneBecoming newly single in my 40’s flattened me financially, but the sacrifice was well worth it, to be safe and free.  A whole world of possibilities opened before me, and I was thinking about ways I could live super-cheap and super-simple so that I could get my feet back under me.
dee williamsI read Dee William’s book “The Big Tiny: A Built it Myself Memoir”.  I’m not going to lie – I laughed and wept my way through that book.  At a time in my life when I didn’t think I could do much of anything – here was this fierce and relentless woman building a home in her driveway.  I was absolutely moved and inspired by her story.
I bought a van and asked a mechanic friend to give it a “tune up” (which cost more than the van).  I worked on it after work and on weekends, building out the interior of the van from my parking space at the apartment complex that had become my safe haven.  I asked a friend to help me from time to time, and sometimes I just muddled through knowing that liquid nail or caulk would cover a multitude of sins.  And as my work continued, I thought about Dee’s story, and it gave me the courage to keep going.  If she could do it… then maybe I could also.  Her story helped me move through fear into action.
2 UsFast forward a few years, a new husband (a kind one this time), and a tiny house that we both loved… and I’m still absorbing the stories of the people that I meet in the tiny house community.  These stories still move and inspire me.
Recently, it occurred to me to bring together a group of the people we’ve met and their powerful tiny house stories.  The idea was to share stories with the world that would move us all past the fear into action.  The truth is, if he or she can do it… so can I!  And so can you!  And that’s how “Shelter: Seven Letters from the Tiny House Community” was born.
The seed of the idea began with the word: Shelter.  That’s the basic human need we all have.  Then  the idea landed that the seven letters of the word could also be seven letters written by seven people.  I chose author-friends who were generously sharing their own insights into this weirdly liberating life.  I paid close attention to diversity of experience – from the young vanlife couple to the older couple living in a small home after having lived in a whole variety of tiny situations.  We’ve got single, married, divorced and remarried people.  These folks know things I’m still learning.  These are people who have inspired and moved me.  Andrew Odom of Tiny Revolution, Brynn Burger of The Mama on the Rocks, Jenn Baxter of Live a FAST Life, Chris Schapdick of Tiny Industrial, Michael of Navigation Nowhere and Dan & Rachel Messic of Banana Van Adventures, and there’s me, Carmen Shenk, author of Kitchen Simplicity.

Shelter Final Cover 03092019If you love the inspiring stories of simplicity like I do, then you’ll love this book.  This is not about building your dream tiny house, it’s about building your dream life.  It’s about living intentionally no matter what size your home is.  And if you’re considering simplicity, you’ll find that these stories move you from fear into action.  And that’s the best part of all, because it doesn’t matter where you start – it just matters that you start.

Today I’d like you to join me in bringing these stories to the world.  I love it that this book is written and sitting here beside me on my desk, but that’s not where this book belongs.  I’d really like to get a copy into your hands!  

Help me get this book designed, printed and shipped so that these stories can inspire a whole new generation of folks just like Dee William’s book inspired me.  We are so grateful for every pledge!  My favorite pledge level includes a limited edition copy of the book and a stack of other tiny house books… read more