My Take on All-Natural Deodorant

So the last post about bottling and tasting our home brew was supposed to be posted on my other blog–the one where I actually talk about our home brewing and terms like hydrometer, ABV%, etc., actually make sense! We do love our little brewing operation, such as it is. We’re at if you’re interested, but I’ll get back to the regularly-scheduled program now.

Suddenly, it seems to be summer in the Northeast. At least for a few days, we have bypassed Spring and gone right from winter to hitting nearly 80.  I was worried about snow a few weeks ago; now I’m worried about sunburn.  But now that it’s warming up, it seems like a good time to talk about something we really need in summer–deodorant.

As I mentioned before, when you decide to go vegan, or even just to live a more natural life free of chemicals and other weird products that our body probably wasn’t made to process, you start to question all of the things in your life. In particular, I really like to try making things at home that are normally full of chemicals and all other kinds of nasties. This led to my experience with making my own deodorant.

I found a recipe that used coconut oil, some Benzonite clay, essential oils…it smelled soooo good and was really easy to make!  I would love to say that this stuff is the best and I loved it and I’m never going back.  But honestly, using just deodorant without antiperspirant was an epic fail.  The smell was fine in cooler weather, but I was starting to notice it not being so fine with the warmer temperatures.  Plus, without antiperspirant, my sweat was leaving nasty yellow pit stains on my clothes!  I was turning into a dirty hippy, yikes!!  I’m fine being a hippy, just not a dirty one!  We use an all-natural laundry detergent that is not so great at getting out stains, keeping whites white, or keeping colors bright, so the stains aren’t going to come out in the normal wash.  While my clothes feel amazing, I’ve had to get used to a certain amount of not looking totally crisp and bright.  But pit stains are not something I plan on getting used to, so my options were to use a harsh stain remover or throw my clothes away.  Seeing as how neither one seems all that environmentally friendly, I must sadly go back to my regular antiperspirant that keeps me dry and smelling like baby powder.

I hope others have more success with make-your-own deodorant than I did.  But for now, I’m telling myself that doing the best I can doesn’t mean doing everything perfectly.


Bottling and Tasting

I am behind on my updates and this is only our second brew.  Oy.

We bottled on April 4, which now that I look at it, is probably way too late.  Happily, Ben was home to assist me on this bottling so things went quite a bit quicker.  Added bonus of making Ben do stuff–I didn’t ruin my nails and fingers trying to get the damn fermenter top off!  While Ben was working on getting the top off, I prepared the priming sugar. 

When we (finally!) got the top off, we tried to take a hydrometer reading but again the thing sank like a stone.  I can only guess that we’re waiting too long to bottle, so we’re losing a lot of volume.  But again, we have no idea what the ABV% is because we couldn’t get a good hydrometer reading.

All of this brewing–well, there have only been two, but all of this siphoning I guess–is leading to me to seriously consider an auto siphon.  We had a tough time getting the siphon going to get the beer into the bottling tub…probably the toughest time we’ve had.  There seems to be a lot of siphoning–once from the pot into the fermenting tub, then again into the bottling tub.  And if we ever getting around to buying a secondary fermenter, there’s yet another siphoning step.  Can you tell I’m trying to sell myself on the auto siphon?

We finally got the siphon going and started moving the beer into the fermenter when I reread the instructions and realized we were supposed to add the priming sugar before we transferred the beer.  Oops!  We just added it when I noticed, praying we hadn’t made a critical error.

The rest of the bottling was fairly standard.  I did the first one, Ben did the second.  When I was filling up the third, Ben tried to advise me on better technique.  I had bottled an entire brew from start to finish and he had filled one bottle.  I don’t really remember what the advice was, or if he was right or wrong.  All I remember is being pissed that he was making suggestions after one bottle…and he hadn’t even capped it!  Men, if you are reading, no matter how right you think you are, when your woman (I can’t speak for how men would feel in this situation) has already done something, and done it more often than you have, wait until you have some more experience under your belt before critiquing.

So we finished bottling.  I ended up mostly filling up the bottles and Ben did the capping.  It is the more fun part, to be sure.

We let the beer sit for about a week before trying it two nights ago.  Yet again, to our somewhat surprise, it was good!  I keep expecting to have a bad batch, but so far so good.  Of course, it’s only been two brews and we’ve used kits every time.  I like the kits, but I am anxious to feel experienced enough to try some new stuff.  I’d love to be able to recreate a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, or maybe even a stout that does not include fish bladder (naaaaasstttyyy!!)…or something really crazy like something with kiwis and strawberries and all kids of fun fruitiness.  Wow, I sound like such a girl!

I am struggling to name this beer.  I’m thinking about something like All-American Girl Pale Ale…some sort of play on the whole “American” thing.  I’m probably trying to be too creative.  “American Pale Ale 4/2014” is probably all we really need at this point in our brewing careers, but this is the part that’s more fun to me.

While I ponder the name for this beer, I think the Easter Bunny may be paying a visit to our local home brew store to get another beer kit.  I wonder what style he’ll bring us this time…

Spring has sprung with Neuaura shoes

Finally, we’re seeing some warmer weather in the Northeast!  It was so wonderful to spend some time outside, get the garden ready, see friends and neighbors outside, and let the boys play at the park.  It also means it’s time to put away those heavy winter clothes and get out those warm-weather sun dresses and pastels.

As I transition my wardrobe, I realize how little thought I’ve given to my clothing and accessory purchases. When I decided to become vegan, I first thought it was all about eating and food.  But as I move further into it, I realize that it’s a whole lifestyle change–shoes, clothes, makeup…everything changes.  To that end, as I move from my winter wardrobe to my spring clothes, I’m moving away from leather shoes and, if necessary, replacing them with shoes that reflect my principles and ideals.  On the other hand, I live on the Main Line (think Grace Kelly).  I really don’t want to always look like the super-crunchy hippy I am at heart!

Luckily, my cheapness seems to have paid off in that area, as I discovered that many of my shoes were already not leather 🙂  Also luckily for me, my pair of very cute leather flats turned out to not only be incredibly uncomfortable, but they were also totally falling apart (note to self:  don’t buy shoes that have elastic at the back unless you want to be uncomfortable and have your big toenail create a hole in your shoe, even with going up a size).

To replace them, I wanted to buy shoes that weren’t just vegan because they were cheap.  I wanted shoes that were going to be purposely vegan, good for the environment, and would hold up for more than just a season. After a lot of research, I found these beauties shoes


They’re from Neuaura, a very cool line of shoes from a lady right here on the East Coast.  The information I found on them says they’re out of New York, but the phone number has a New Jersey area code, so it was a no-brainer to buy super-cute shoes from a fellow Jersey girl!  From what I could tell, they only come in full sizes, but these were on sale so I could be wrong.  I’d say they run a little big, but after the foot-crushing, blister-inducing shoes I had previously, a little extra room is quite welcome.

In addition to being comfortable, they are so cute!  They match pretty much everything and are so perfect for spring.  I love the stripes, and the faux suede is wonderfully soft.  Even my mom said, faux leather and suede have come so far in the past few years, why bother getting the real thing?  When it looks and feels like this, why bother indeed!

And then there’s the quality.  I’ve had them for a few weeks now and they still look great.  I’d read some questionable things about the adhesive used, but I haven’t had any problems.  The construction is great and I see myself wearing these for years.

When you decide a lifestyle that is out of the mainstream, it takes a good bit of time and effort to make the transition…and I am by no means done!  But when your research yields these kinds of results, it’s totally worth it!!

Carpe Deim

I have recently let go of a lot of anger in my life, and part of that was making peace with my Catholic school upbringing.  I only went there for high school, but it had a huge impact, and not in an entirely good way.  But I have recently come to peace with it and started thinking more about the positive impact it, and many of the nuns who taught me, had on my life. 

One such nun was Sister Michel Marie.  She taught Honors and AP Senior English.  She loved Beowulf.  She loved it so much that her nickname was Sister Grendel, after the monster in the story.  She would even take a class and read it to us in Old English.  Lucky us, she was so old that she forgot she had read it to us once and we got a second opportunity to hear it.  One time, I saw notes she was leaving on my paper, and suddenly there was this weird line.  A little note next to it said, “Sorry, I feel asleep.”  Must have been some paper 😦 

She was tough, but the more I think about it, she was probably the most interesting teacher I had.  She was old as the hills even then, but she was incredibly smart.  I’ve recently wondered what made her become a nun, as smart as she was.  Was it just a product of age and gender, or was there something more?  The more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to talk to her and tell her how fascinating I thought she was.  The nuns from my high school in NJ all retire to a Catholic nursing home about 30 minutes from me, so I kept meaning to call them and find out if Sister Michel was there, how she was, and try to schedule a time to go out and see her.

Unfortunately, we got notice today that Sister Michel had passed away.  Her funeral is Thursday.  I’m sure the meeting would not have gone the way I imagined it, she probably wouldn’t have even known who I was, but sadly, I’ll never know.  Now, all I know is that I’m disappointed with myself for not getting it together to go.  I’ll go to the funeral on Thursday.  I’m not even totally sure why, but I guess I just need to have that one last visit.

Bottom line–if there’s something you want to do, do it while you can.  Carpe diem and all that jazz…