Monday, February 23, 2009

Cloth Diaper weekend

Well, in spite of nasty weather and an even nastier cold thing running rampant, my mother and I attempted to host a sewing bee focused on cloth diapers this past weekend.
It was a small success. We only had one other lady show up. But she did sew cloth diapers and mom and I both got a lot done. And we enjoyed meeting someone new!
Diapers sewn:
6 small fitteds made out of bamboo velour, should fit from 9-20 lbs
2 large fitted made out of bamboo velour/cotton flannel, should fit from 15-30 lbs
2 prefolds smallish, not infant, but smallish, made out of bamboo velour/hemp terry

I'm probably not going to make any more until baby actually comes out and I can test some of the completed diapers on him. :-D I have enough made to do a good testing and then I can decide what to tweak and what to never do again...

I still need to finish up my waterproof covers. But, I'm getting close to ready for baby. :-D (As long as he doesn't want clothes.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Homemade deodorant

So, I ran out of deodorant a couple weeks ago. And I thought to myself, "self, I should try to make homemade deodorant." Now some of you are probably thinking, "Is she so poor she can't afford a stick of Degree? Is she unconcerned with the potential for BO? What's the point?"
First, I have enough money for some deodorant, but I don't feel like spending it. I'd rather save it for food or thread or seeds. And, while I do understand the societal norm of BO avoidance, those that have lived with me for any amount of time will vouch that I am unafraid of my own smell, and rarely go out of my way to comply with this particular norm. As for the point of making my own? Well, why do I do any of the things I do? :-D I'm curious about whether it can be done, I've got the materials to do it, I think I can lessen my resource draw by doing it myself and I think my concoction will be healthier for me.

So, a few words on making your own deodorant, in case you feel like trying this for yourself.
First, sweat does not stink. Sweat itself is not much more than salt water with some trace fatty acids. The stink is from bacteria who like warm, dark and moist areas to live in. The things to remember about these bacteria are: you are never going to get rid of them, and they are more active at a certain pH. Now a human body's pH can differ widely from one person to another; that's why some people stink worse than others. If your pH is abnormal then you will attract more bacteria and they will excrete more stinkiness. Sugars and starches found in empty carbohydrates cause an individuals pH to be abnormal. In non-science terms, "You are what you eat." If you really want to avoid BO, eat healthier foods. Have you noticed all the "clinical strength" deodorants advertised? Have you ever wondered why you need clinical strength when it's quite likely that Grandpa grew up just fine on regular strength, or none at all? Those clinical strength deodorants are just increasingly acidic and fortified with antibacterial fighting agents, like propylene glycol and triclosan, to inhibit the growth of bacteria that are running amok because of the poor diet most American's consume.

If you're serious about making your own deodorant, you may want to think about changing your diet. I don't think my formula is going to be able to combat the underlying imbalances from a daily diet of take out and fast food. Even if you don't want to make your own, if you want to break the cycle of overactive bacteria and stink and the never ending search for a stronger deodorant, give veggies a try.

The other thing my homemade deodorant won't do is stop you from sweating. Most store bought sticks have a 1-2 punch of deodorizers (those acidic antibacterial agents) and antiperspirants. The active ingredient in antiperspirants is always aluminum based and works by plugging the sweat ducts, so no sweat can come out. Now, besides the fact that these aluminum compounds are linked to Alzheimer's and brain disorders and are a possible risk factor in breast cancer, why would you want to stop your body from doing something it's designed to do? Sweating is a part of the systems for temperature control and waste management. Seems important to me, why mess with it?

So, without further ado, here is what I made:

Jennie's deodorant
1 part Baking Soda
4 parts Corn Starch
1 part powdered Neem leaf and Lavender blossoms

The baking soda is my deodorizer. It's the same stuff you put in your fridge to soak up bad smells. The corn starch works to both dilute the baking soda and acts as a wetness absorber. Neem leaf is something I keep around, it smells nice and it's a natural anti fungal/antibacterial. The lavender blossoms are just added for a little bit of scent.
That's it! It took 5 minutes, and I have 2 jelly jars full of my new natural deodorant. It's a powder, so I apply it with a brush right now. (One of my old blush brushes) But I'm thinking about sewing up a little powder puff applicator out of some of my diaper making scraps. If it's not strong enough for you, reduce the corn starch. Some people do have reactions to straight baking soda though, so don't make it too strong.

After the first week of use I can say I'm pleased with the result. It survives a full day of work, baby heat waves and all and I go home unstinky. I might have to up the baking soda this summer when I'm doing lots of gardening, or reapply midafternoon, but, I'll wait and see.

There are other recipes out there for everything from spray/mist on liquids, to creams made with Shea butter. For the gentlemen out there, my darling Dave hasn't used store bought deodorant for a few months now. He's equally uninterested in my powder though, he uses a Thai stone. From what I can tell it just coats the underarms with a fine layer of salt, making it uninviting for bacteria. Do a little research and come up with something that fits your lifestyle. No need to buy a stick of aluminum!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Small victories

Sometimes I can overwhelm myself with thoughts of everything I don't know, everything that I didn't get done, everything that I mess up, etc. :-) So, this post is celebration of things that did go right, and the small victories I noticed this week.

My orchid is blooming. Nothing show stopping or award winning, but I have 2 blossoms open and another 4 budding. Probably my favorite flower, and not something you can buy at a grocery store flower shop. And in our climate, it takes some babying to get blossoms. So, V for victory on this one.
We only have one onion left down in the basement. True, we didn't last till the next onion harvest, but we lasted a little over 7 months. That's not bad at all for a first attempt. Plus, they were uber tasty. So, I'm counting it a victory.
The spinach in the cold frame is putting on real leaves. I honestly thought the entire frame would freeze solid last month. There were days when I left it buried in snow just to insulate it a little. :-D I must have done something right though, so it's going in the victory category. We have a handful of 50degree days coming up this week, I'm excited to see how much they grow. I might set a new personal best for earliest harvest. We'll see.
Cragslist yielded a used stroller and car seat combo in excellent condition for 80$. Almost half the price of the new version, so we saved money and the environment in one swell foop. And, unless I'm mistaken, that's the LAST piece of baby equipment we "need" for our little one's arrival. Although, I desperately want one of these, as I find them much more to my taste than the stroller.

A local gal, Sarah, makes custom handmade slings. You can see all her selection here. To me they just make so much more sense than strollers. They are cheaper, lighter, easier to transport, easier to clean, they keep baby closer and leave both your hands free even going up and down stairs. Can you even imagine how much quicker airport security would go if more women wore their babies instead of hauling them around in gigantic strollers? Strollers can't be used when I want to do chores with baby in tow, or when I want to sit with baby and type with two hands. :-P
Anyway, I've steered off topic. Where was I? Oh, the stroller. Yup, we now have all the gear, all the furniture, blankets, bags and diapers and nothing was bought new. That's definitely a victory. Course, I'm dragging my feet about clothing. Do I really have to? Can't he just wear a diaper and a swaddling blanket for the first few months? Seems more logical than newborn clothing.

Anyway, I'll stop before I veer off again. Small victories, but each one makes me happy. And that's not a small thing at all.
I'm off to enjoy some sunlight and warmth. (Yes, 50 is warm.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


This weekend marked the pagan celebration of Imbolc. Ever wondered where the tradition of spring cleaning came from? This is one of it's roots.
Now, being city-dwelling pagans in our rental house, we did nothing with fire. I know, sad, but true. :-) I did get 3 loaves of yummy bread baked, a whole bunch of cookies baked and the house cleaned. Not that Dave didn't help with the cleaning, he did, but his version of "All done" and my version are still a little different. And, after I had wore myself out with cleaning, he was good enough to make the cassarole planned for dinner.
I had my friend Claire over to split the seed order we went together on, and we pigged out on pizza and homemade cookies while we dreamed of garden bounty.
I did make it out to my community plot for a little bit. I was hoping to be able to poke the garlic bulbs into the ground, but it was still frozen solid. Dave laughed at me for hoping such a thing, but hey, a girl's got to have dreams right?
The signs of spring were definitely in the air this weekend though. It got up to the 40's on Saturday and Dave and I went out for an hour long walk in our local park. The spinach in the cold frame are galantly putting on real leaves, and my orchid has blossomed.
It was a lovely weekend, even without any fire. :-)
My mother tells me our relatives in Louisianna were planting their gardens this weekend. I am not jealous.. I am not jealous.. I am not jealous... :-D