Category Archives: DIY

the real secret

I’ve been running around like a madwoman, and haven’t had time to invite everyone to join me on the make-your-own deodorant challenge. So I have to admit that I started it without y’all (sorry!) and it is so successful, I’m in shock. I was sure there must be something toxic about my recipe, it works so well, but my holistic doctor ok’ed it as of yesterday, so go for it!

Using natural deodorant has been a quest of mine for about two years. Many of the ingredients in non-natural deodorants have negative impacts on health, especially for women, who tend to shave before applying, allowing the chemicals to enter the bloodstream. Antiperspirants in particular clog the sweat glands, causing stagnation of toxins in the breast area. While there are no definitive studies that prove antiperspirant increases your risk of breast cancer, I’m not taking my chances.

I’m also trying to embrace sweating, as it is such an important part of clearing toxins from the body and also plays a role in making us attractive to other people. I’m super prissy about smelling bad, so if I can do it, so can you!

The challenge is to make and wear your own deodorant for a full week. Now’s a good time of year because it’s not super hot yet. However, I’m pretty sure it will work fine through the summer because all my running around has resulted in a load of sweating, completely BO free (and with a slight lovely lavender fragrance). Just a note, this is a deodorant, not an antiperspirant, so it doesn’t stop sweat, just stink.


Natural Deodorant Powder

1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup cornstarch
a few drops essential oils (I’m using lavender).

Place the ingredients in a glass jar (I’m using a parmesan cheese shaker).
Shake to blend (It doesn’t clump, don’t ask me why).
Sprinkle a light covering of the powder on a damp washcloth.
Pat on. Don’t rinse.

Putting it on damp is important, because baking powder can irritate your skin if you put it on dry (the same way sand would).

I found this recipe here.  The best part? NO WHITE RESIDUE! This is a natural, cheap deodorant. I’d love to hear how/if it works for you & your thoughts on the deodorant dilemma in general.


wild fermentation

kimchee.jpgMy dear friend Adam arrived in New York with a very exciting late birthday gift: Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. Sandor has a lovely and modest website about fermentation as well. This man is truly WILD about fermentation, and after making my first foray into fermenting, guided by Adam, I think I am too.

Adam and I made the radish and root kimchee. After chopping up various radishes and roots, soaking them in salt water, adding garlic, ginger and chili flakes and pounding them down into a glass vase, we put a jar on top to keep them submerged by the next week, they were fermented!

Not only is it this kimchee delicious, I have this deep feeling of satisfaction after I eat it. Surprisingly, I have found it does not leave an lasting taste in my mouth as I would have expected, but it is important to store it in an airtight container to keep the strong garlic+ smell from taking over your fridge.

The process of fermentation creates probiotics like the ones in kombucha, which is also fermented. As Sandor puts it, we should invite this friendly bacteria to live in our bodies in a symbiotic relationship. He has a pretty special way of describing his passion for fermentation, adamsarah.jpgincluding a very touching story about radishes. This book is great for anyone looking to spice up their cooking, jump start their health in a new way or reconnect with the desire to do.

Me and Adam: fermented friendship —>

no impact man impacts me

noimpact.pngI want to give a shout-out to a blog I’ve been reading: No Impact Man. It’s actually a year-long, well-funded project where a writer, his wife and two-year-old daughter live for a full year in the middle of Manhattan without making any environmental impact what-so-ever. No subway even. No appliances. No packaging AT ALL.

While obvious there are issues to be worked out with how the rest of us could live more like this, I find it really inspiring. Both my roommate and I drastically reduced our use of plastic bags (so much so that we’re out when we want them!).

What I like about his point of view is that he points out the many health benefits (both physical and emotional) that his family has experienced from the project. Here’s a post on that topic and also a link to my favorite post (on how he entertains his daughter without TV).

My one complaint is that I wish he would be more explicit about how much time and money his activities cost. I have no doubt they are saving tons of cash, but it’s unclear to me what changes I would have the time to spend to complete them (i.e. doing all laundry in the sink, baking bread, etc.). Either way, the health benefits are clear and inspirational.


imagewrap_002.jpgLiving in NYC, it’s hard not be at least slightly germ-obsessed, if not entirely OCD about washing your hands. Now that winter’s over, the snow no longer washes away the crap, the heat heightens the smell of urine, we can’t wear gloves on the subway (well, I guess we COULD), and the general feeling of ick that makes you want to wash your hands 24/7 is in full force.

Washing your hands is great. However, there have been some recent studies indicating that using antibacterial soaps is not good for all parties involved. It destroys the natural balance of bacteria on your skin and causes bacteria to become resistant and mutate into more harmful strands.

Soap is good. An article I read recently suggests that if we taught people to make soap in African villages that have a lot of fatalities from bacterial diseases like dysentery, we would all but eliminate those deaths. One of my goals this summer is to make soap with a recipe like this one from Tree Hugger. There are also natural antibacterial soaps, such as those made from eucalyptus, that do not destroy the natural balance.

No soap in NYC can be very distressing. I take comfort in a study I read a few years ago when I’m in the park bathroom with no soap. The study suggested that equally important to scrubbing your hands with soap is keeping them underwater for a long enough period of time. Running water on your hands for a full minute was found to be almost as effective in washing away bacteria as soap. It may not be true, but I choose to believe it when I’m in dire settings.

According to Breen, surgeons are supposed to wash their hands for as long as it takes to sing happy birthday to yourself three times. So when you hear the birthday song while passing by the icky park bathroom, that’s me. Happy washing!