Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Things that I Currently Heart

So, here's a few things that I am currently in lurve! lurve! lurve! with.

1. My clean house. Er, well, my cleaner house. It's not immaculate and you can't eat off the floors, and there's still stuff creeping down from upstairs, but it is a far cry from the disaster it has been for the last two years. It's so nice to have that bit of sanity back. I've tackled things on the to do list, calling in the professionals when I needed to, and while there's still a long ways to go, I feel like my house is my own again.

2. GoodReads mobile app. They re-did the whole thing and I love it! Book scanning is awe.some. I moved my TBR list over there and it seems to be happy. Now if paperbackswap would just get in the game with an app, my life would be complete a mess. My TBR list is a disaster. I tried to fill an empty spot inside me with books. I "only" accumulated 40 books - no where near the 1000+ books I had circa 2006 - but it's really 30 books more than I should have gotten. I've got a handle on the empty spot, but I still need to figure out what to do about the TBR problem.

3. Spring weather. Windows open, sunshine, green stuff starting grow in the lawn, longer daylight hours, it's good stuff. I have needed this season change. Winter was not good for me. Winter was cold and colorless. Winter was empty. Winter sucked. I'm ready for warmer weather.

4. Moving on. It came suddenly, and rather viciously (for him), but the hurt is just a small raw spot on the inside. It's healing and scarring over. How ugly the scar is is yet to be seen. I've tried dating, but I'm not sure it's for me yet. I may try to reclaim the Summer of Sherry, or maybe I'll just sit this one out.

5. Traveling. I get Five weeks of PTO every year. This year I've already slated 3 weeks to do some fun things. Week One is coming quickly: I'm heading off to Bangalore, India! I'm so excited to go, I pee my pants when I think about it. Week Two is my annual "staycation" where I hang at home with my kids and then serve food to the VBS kids in the evening. I love it. It's good fun. Week Three is a 24 hour bus ride to Knoxville, TN to hang out with 6000 teenagers for a week. Very cool.

6. Soap. I'm learning how to make it (among other fun hippie stuff). I've tentatively revived my cooking blog to show off a few of my concoctions. I'll also get back to cooking food, but it may not be on the blog right away.

Writing is... on hold at the moment. I'll get there again. Right now I'm just finding my balance. I signed up for a writing class in June because I need a jump start and taking two classes is on my resolutions list, so there's one down.

I am so in love with my life right now! This is a good thing. A very very good thing.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Ditching Deoderant

I held off on DIY deodorant as long as I could for the usual reasons:
  1. I didn't want to be stinky.
  2. I heard detox was the worst hell ever.
  3. I didn't want to be stinky.

Then, one day, I stopped thinking about it and just did it. I got a recipe from my Aunt Carnivore (who is possibly a bigger hippie than I am), I made it with a few minor tweaks (I added shea butter and vegetable glycerine), and used it. It sucked. I wasn't stinky but within two days my pitts felt like they had been licked by flaming tongues of sandpaper. They were red and angry. I'd show you a pic, but no one wants to see arm pitts - much less angry arm pitts.
The deodorant from hell:
equal parts coconut oil, baking soda, and arrowroot
2 Tbsp shea butter
1 Tbsp vegetable glycerin

In times of hippie trouble I always turn to Google and my friend M. They both seemed to agree that it was the baking soda (and likely a bit of the detox process). So I nixed the first recipe and used Melaleuca (tea tree) and Lavender essential oil while things cooled and healed up. I stopped shaving to help speed the healing process. I used Pangea Organics Canadian Pine with White Sage Bar Soap and exfoliated with a shower brush.  Melaleuca (tea tree) and lavender also kept me from being stinky - I even survived a rigorous yoga class (a miracle in itself) without stinking out the joint - however, my boss kept asking me if I was smoking pot.

About a week later I was ready to start the experiment again, this time without the baking soda and eventually without coconut oil. There are lots of options to make deodorant super smooth and moisturizing, and I really like the idea of using butters rather than coconut oil. Replacing the baking soda is a bit tricky, but with much reading I narrowed down my choices to powdered clay or food grade Diatomaceous Earth. I used bentonite clay because I had it on hand and it was lightest colored of what I had. (DE might show up in a future recipe during the summer.)
You're gonna need:
a scale
a small ramekin for weighing
a bowl for melting and mixing
and a cup with a pour lip to fill your container.
Bonus points if your melting bowl has a pour lip.

Necessary Ingredients:
shea butter
cocoa butter
apricot (kernel) oil
bentonite clay
vitamin E oil

Essential Oils of choice:
Mine were doTerra Purify,
Lavender, and Rosemary

Measure beeswax, oils and butters into your melting bowl.

Melt until everything is super smooth.

Measure the clay and arrowroot.

Mix together.

Pierce the vitamin E capsules and squeeze into your mix.
Quickly stir in essential oils.

Pour into tube.
This recipe doesn't fill the entire tube.
Put into the fridge to harden completely, approximately 2 hours. Apply to armpits. Revel in the unstinky unburning super smooth awesomeness that your armpits have become. And then go shave because you haven't done that in a week.

I love the odor control, I love the feel, I love homemade deodorant! Did I really just say that? Yeah. Yeah I did.

So it's not the prettiest color in the tube, but you don't see it when it's applied. I think my next batch I'll try switching the quantities around for the arrowroot and clay to lessen the "ugh" color factor. DE is more white, so maybe that will help the color too. For now, I've left the quantities just as I've used them. I should note that this deodorant failed a test of strenuous dancing, so I do have some tweaks to make to strengthen it up a bit. Also I might have gotten used to the smell or the oils may have settled after a proper cure time, but it doesn't seem as strong scented as I would like. I'm going to recommend doubling the essential oil quantities.

The recipe below does not make a full tube. I got my tubes here.

No Baking Soda No Coconut Oil Totally Works Deoderant
8g beeswax
10g shea butter
6g cocoa butter
16g apricot (kernel) oil
12g bentonite clay
8g arrowroot
2 capsules vitamin E oil
6 drops essential oils of choice

Melt all the beeswax, butters and oil together, then stir in the clay, arrowroot, vitamin E oil, and essential oils. Pour quickly into tube because it starts setting up quickly! If it does set up too much to pour, you can microwave it for approximately 10 seconds and it will loosen right back up.

Ideas for Essential Oils:
I recommend using doTerra Essential Oils. I'm still in the process of updating my stock, but as I use up my old oils, I am replacing them with doTerra.

3 drops Lavender, 2 drops Rosemary & 1 drop doTerra Purify
4 drops Ylang Ylang & 2 drops Frankincense
2 drops Cedarwood, 2 drops Geranium, 1 drop Melaleuca (Tea Tree), & 1 drop Patchouli
4 drops Sandalwood & 2 drops Frankincense
3 drops Lemon, 2 drops Lime, & 1 drop Melaleuca (Tea Tree)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Tales from my Hard Drive

Tales from My Hard DriveTales from My Hard Drive by Megan Karasch
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I thought I could make it through this book - it's only 180 pages. Fail. It's not my fault, really. This was bad... Just... BAD. The writing was stiff. The dialogue was forced. The comedy was forced. I made it through the first two chapters (so, yeah, to page 9) and then started skimming in hopes that the author would pull the novel into some kind of rhythm, or just something that I could read. This fell far short of the wonderful accolades I had read. I wouldn't waste my time with this one. Want a fun chick lit: check out Jill Mansell.

Summary: Tales from My Hard Drive is a romantic comedy that follows Melissa, a forty-year-old writer who moves from the suburbs of Los Angeles to New York City after finding her husband doing naked yoga-type maneuvers with another woman. Trying to find her place in a city run by the young and hip, she takes the best job offered her: that of a paid cyber-dater for The New York Beacon, anonymously dating and callously reviewing the myriad Mr. Wrongs who inhabit the Big Apple. Still brooding over her painful divorce, Melissa makes an art of exploiting her dates with New York’s not-so-finest for her increasingly popular Beacon articles. And then she meets the last man she wanted: the extraordinary and charismatic Ted, who just might be everything she’s looking for in a companion. But can Melissa’s recently broken heart accept him? She starts dating Ted, hiding from him her undercover dating gig, leading to a covert double life—dating in the 2D world for money and in the 3D world for love. Both lives get knocked senseless, however, when she unexpectedly falls for an online date who appears to be Mr. Right. Juggling two men and a secret job that requires her to date even more, Melissa finds herself in a poignant and comedic whirlwind that even she may not be able to write her way out of.   

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Hour I First Believed

The Hour I First BelievedThe Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story gripped me right from the beginning. A beautifully rich story of broken people taken through horrors and self discovery. Meticulously detailed and rich in dialogue, it was easy to get lost in the story. The characters were rich with imperfections, completely human, unfailingly flawed.

Part of what gave this story such a genuine feel of truth was that it unfolded not over the course of weeks or months but we follow the characters through years of trying to recover, and discover themselves. Far from being a slow story, this is a rich journey through life.

When forty-seven-year-old high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his younger wife, Maureen, a school nurse, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, Caelum returns home to Three Rivers, Connecticut, to be with his aunt who has just had a stroke. But Maureen finds herself in the school library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed, as two vengeful students go on a carefully premeditated, murderous rampage. Miraculously she survives, but at a cost: she is unable to recover from the trauma. Caelum and Maureen flee Colorado and return to an illusion of safety at the Quirk family farm in Three Rivers. But the effects of chaos are not so easily put right, and further tragedy ensues.

While Maureen fights to regain her sanity, Caelum discovers a cache of old diaries, letters, and newspaper clippings in an upstairs bedroom of his family's house. The colorful and intriguing story they recount spans five generations of Quirk family ancestors, from the Civil War era to Caelum's own troubled childhood. Piece by piece, Caelum reconstructs the lives of the women and men whose legacy he bears. Unimaginable secrets emerge; long-buried fear, anger, guilt, and grief rise to the surface.

As Caelum grapples with unexpected and confounding revelations from the past, he also struggles to fashion a future out of the ashes of tragedy. His personal quest for meaning and faith becomes a mythic journey that is at the same time quintessentially contemporary -- and American.
The Hour I First Believed is a profound and heart-rending work of fiction. Wally Lamb proves himself a virtuoso storyteller, assembling a variety of voices and an ensemble of characters rich enough to evoke all of humanity.

Recommended Reading:
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
Lost and Found by Jacqueline Sheehan
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer