Saturday, January 31, 2009

Still Using Baking Soda Deodorant

It's been more than four months since I officially ran out of deodorant and started using baking soda on my underarms to prevent odors, and all I can say is that it really works.

In fact, I've been doing aerobics classes four times a week and even after my hour-long workouts, my armpits don't really smell. I will admit that the texture of the baking soda does create a bit of friction during my workouts, but the irritation is not bad enough to motivate me to stop me from using baking soda.

Summary: baking soda deodorant is still amazing!

Update - 3.22.09 - At the suggestion of some readers, I am now using baking soda AND cornstarch mixed together (1:1) and I am no longer experiencing any irritation. Thanks everyone!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Homemade Yogurt

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, but this time around I've made several. I've decided to:
  1. Get 8 hours of sleep each night
  2. Give up alcohol for the whole month of January (too many parties in December)
  3. Eat healthier
I'm doing horrible at the first one and great on the second one.

And the third one? To be quite honest, I'm doing AMAZING!

As part of eating healthier, I've been eating a more Mediterranean diet with lots of vegetables, beans, and whole grains. I'm also eating more yogurt, not only because it's healthy on its own, but also because it's supposed help me digest the veggies and beans I'm eating.

I make the yogurt myself, which I've talked about before; one reader recently asked me how I do this. Well, I originally followed the recipe I found on the Ruby Glen website, which I've edited slightly and pasted below. The recipe was originally written by Crystal Miller.

Homemade Yogurt

Ingredients
  • 4 and 1/4 cups milk, cow or goat
  • 1/3 cup powdered milk (this is optional but will make a thicker yogurt)
  • One envelope of yogurt starter (you can purchase this at Whole Foods or your local health food store. You may also be able to find it at those vitamin stores in the mall or around town)
Instructions
  1. Before you begin, find a way to incubate your yogurt during fermentation. I use a cooler and it works very well. Some people use a thermos or simply place their yogurt on a heat vent or in the oven (sometimes the pilot light keeps the oven warmer than room temperature).
  2. Also before you begin, wash 1 quart-sized canning jar or another container that will fit the volume of milk you're using.
  3. Pour your milk into a cooking pot.
  4. Heat the milk up to 185 degrees.
  5. Remove from heat and allow the milk to cool down to 110 degrees. The cooling takes approximately 20 to 40 minutes.
  6. If you want to speed up the cooling process put the milk outside if it's cold out (and if you're confident critters won't get to it) or fill your sink with cold water and place the pot of hot milk in the water and stir and stir.
  7. After the milk reaches 110 degrees add the remaining ingredients and stir until everything is dissolved very well.
  8. Pour this mixture into your container
  9. Put the lid on and put it into what ever place you are planning to incubate it.
  10. Leave it there for 10 to 12 hours. Try not to disturb the jar to much. When the yogurt is firm (or at least somewhat thicker) it is time to remove it and put it in the refrigerator. Usually 12 to 24 hours. If you make and incubate the yogurt during the day it can refrigerate overnight and be ready for breakfast the next day. (Note that my yogurt isn't usually what I would call firm before I put it in the refrigerator, but it firms the rest of the way up overnight)
  11. If you would like flavored yogurt you can add fresh fruit or a little bit of flavored jam when serving.
And that's it. It sounds like a lot of steps, but once you get the hang of it, it's actually quite easy.

Happy New Year and enjoy your yogurt!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Christmas: Theater, Furoshiki, and Family

I remember vividly what each of my family members got me for Christmas last year because it was my first Plastic-Free Christmas, but I have absolutely no idea what I got the year before.

That's partly why I bought most of my family tickets for the Mary Poppins musical. It will be fun to go out for a night on the town together, and it's an experience we'll remember for a long time—possibly for the rest of our lives.

For the family members that don't live in the area or are too young to go to the theater, I bought a few regular presents. I got my sister a guitar strap made by the Chicago-based company, Souldier, and I got my niece and nephew clothes and books. I also got my niece a little monkey doll, which was one of the few gifts I gave or received with plastic on it (the doll was so cute, I couldn't resist).

I wrapped all of these presents using Furoshiki, which you can see above, and got several compliments from the family.

It was a great Christmas. My family got me many nice things, most of which were plastic-free, and since I gave almost everyone theater tickets, it was pretty easy for me to go plastic-free this Christmas, too.

Of course, Christmas was great for reasons other than the gifts. I spent days on end with my family talking, making jokes, and laughing.

But that's how get-togethers usually are with my family, which means I probably won't remember this particular holiday experience forever. Instead, it will just blur together with all of the other wonderful memories I have of my family.

They're a great bunch.