Shopping Locally for Christmas: Plateau, Montréal.

Shopping local can mean two things: shopping from locally owned businesses and shopping for things made locally. Ideally, both. For this season I decided to try to do this for all my Christmas shopping. I live in Montreal in an area called Plateau Mont-Royal and both the city and the borough are known for their artists and artisans, so perhaps this is not such a challenge.

At this point I am about halfway through my Christmas shopping, so this post is as much about the things I have already purchased as about the places I like to frequent regularly, as well as where I intend to purchase some of my Christmas gifts this year. I also wanted to pay tribute and give props to all the entrepreneurs out there: to the artisans and to the local businesses that support them,  many of whom started out and hang on by a thread of crazy passion. Passion for the craft, for innovation, and for the rediscovery of forgotten traditions. And lets not forget the sheer tactile delight of a thing well made. So here’s to all of you, and here are a few of my favourite (handmade) things:

  1. La Bobineuse de LaineA Plateau institution that has existed in various locations and incarnations for over 60 years. This store is a mecca for anyone with the knitting bug as they specialize in yarn – Bobineuse de Laine literally means wool winder. Its current owner has taken the store to a new level of community presence and commitment by broadening the inventory to include things like macramé twine and giant wool roving; opening up the store to local artisans (including yours truly) and their products; offering lots of workshops and participating in fairs and events. They also have an online store. This year I purchased (who’s getting it is a secret…) a skein of naturally hand-dyed yarn by Bleu Poussière. Such a perfect trinity of local-ness, with the wool being a Québec Dorset. Beautiful!Bleu-Poussiere-Taiga-laine-picby-CMars
  2. Les Petits MonstresA children’s clothing store owned and operated by the delightful Galina, who aimed right from the very beginning to fill the store with locally handcrafted products. Here you will find everything from hand-made cloth bibs to toques and baby safe soaps and cosmetics. Les Petits Monstres currently carries five of my baby safe products. This store is soon closing however, so if you want to take advantage of some amazing 50% off deals, hurry! The store closes on December 22, 2017.
  3. La Grande Ourse. This store is owned and operated a gentle grande dame and retired Rudolf Steiner teacher. Although most of their finished products are imported from Europe, they also carry toys and items made locally, as well as materials to make your own Waldorf inspired crafts with. As the owner herself once told me: “there is one thing in this store you can steal: ideas.” If you would like to read about something I have made with their craft supplies click here.
  4. Boulangerie Les Co’Pains d’abord. With three locations in the Plateau, this is the perfect place to get some tasty stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, or even your Christmas bûche (order early!). Anyone who wishes to argue with me, ask me what I mailed across the ocean to my mother last Christmas (answer: their fruitcake). This is also a great place to stop at during your Christmas shopping and take a load off. Recommended favourites: the chocolate truffles, tarte choco-amande framboises (I have one of these EVERY week!), and the hot chocolate, which is particularly good with a croissant or a palmier, each a little masterpiece of crunch, flake and buttery goodness.
  5. La Maison des BièresIf you happen to know a beer enthusiast, or be one yourself, this is the place to go. They not only carry an extensive inventory of locally made beers, but a wide variety of small batch artisan brews to suit every taste. They have a great selection of stouts and dark beers, which are great for making dark rye breads, and other Christmas type breads. Pictured below: Oat Stout soap (made with an oat stout from Québec brewers Microbrasserie du Lièvre), and the prop beer which I will be using to make my next beer soap with: Mille Iles Oat Stout. Both equally delicious by the way. oat-stout-soap-flora-&-pomona (29).JPG
  6. Rose Café MontréalThis is another operation that looks to support local artisans and the local crafting community, by providing a meeting space, a retail section as well as venue for various events and workshops. Some of the products sold here are by artisan-entrepreneurs and some local hobby crafters who sew or crochet at home on their spare time. This year I bought two things from some of these crafty local ladies: a fabric case (perfect for pens, makeup or knitting and crochet needles) and a set of croched necklace and bracelet, appropriately, rose colored! Rose-Cafe-Montreal-crafts-picby-CMars
  7. Craft Markets. Every year there are more and more craft markets. There are the huge classic blockbuster ones like the Salon des Métiers d’art, and the smaller markets of non-profits like On Sème’s November Market, or even fundraising markets like the Rudolf Steiner’s Christmas market. No matter where you go there are a few obvious benefits to shopping at craft markets: you get to meet the artisans themselves, the artisan’s and crafters often bring their best selection and a wider selection and at a better price than what you might find in retail outlets. Here are my market purchases this year:

From On Sème Marché du Novembre:

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Close up of Ceramic Bowl by Élise Rubin:Elise-Rubin-ceramic-bowl-picbyCMars

From Rudolf Steiner’s Christmas market.

  • All natural artisan soap by Blue Moose Soap. I might as well admit, that this is a gift to myself.
  • Stuffed animal in the shape of a Dalahäst for my toddler, by the mother and daughter team Almonte-Bravo.
  • Knitted sheep’s wool toque for children. This hat is seriously soft, wellmade and even has a liner along the brim (I will try and find the maker of this hat and will edit it in).

Rudolf-Steiner-xmas-market-haul-CMars

How about you? Do you have a favourite craft market, artisan or store that offers artisan wares? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you so much for stopping by and remember, handmade is best made 😉

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Cleaning Green: How to make your own Natural Cleaning Products

For the past month or so I have been on a crazy DIY bender, discovering and making my own cleaning products. This post is a weeks in the making: as I have been reading, mixing and cleaning, I have added more and more recipes and notes. My hope is to make a master list of of how you can replace store-bought, commercial and often toxic cleaning products by making your own green, truly clean cleaning products, using things you may already have in your pantry!

Here is a pic of the products I used to create all of the products below:

L to R: Borax, Salt, Baking Soda, Vinegar, Distilled Water, Alcohol, Almond Oil, Soap

L to R: Borax, Salt, Baking Soda, Vinegar, Distilled Water, Alcohol, Almond Oil, Soap

Essential oils. For cleaning purposes, the most important is tea tree oil.

Essential oils. For cleaning purposes, the most important is tea tree oil.

While some people are cleaning junkies, using specific products for specific tasks, others may like things a bit more… au naturel. I fall into the latter category. Either way, whenever we clean, we usually feel that we are making our environment and home safer by cleaning it. Although most people these days are aware of the dangers of toxic chemicals lurking in domestic cleaning products, it may be hard to give up certain products that seem relatively benign, like Windex or laundry detergent (even if it’s just because we have been around them all our lives). Perhaps we feel that some things can be excused because we don’t use them that often, like bleach. Still, I believe that almost everyone can appreciate saving their cash, and minimizing their impact on nature. I do think that most people, if presented with safe, ecological alternatives to industrial cleaning products, that won’t cost them an arm and a leg, they will choose it. We all drink the water, after all. So, with too much ado, here is a list of the most common household cleaning products and how you can whip them up at home. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below 😀

Air Fresheners:

Nothing gets my goat as much as Febreze and Lysol commercials: smiling Stepford wives spraying their entire, already clean homes (including their children’s rooms and clothes!) with pastel colored bottles of toxic gunk as if adding chemicals to the air will make it cleaner. When I first moved to North America I didn’t know what Febreze was, and the idea of spraying my things to clean them seemed oxymoronic. I can remember my boyfriend at the time explaining “you spray it on your shoes and stuff” and me holding a bottle thinking really? I also remember the first time I tried it, probably on some old hockey equipment or something, and how for the rest of the day I was short of breath and couldn’t stop coughing (and this was before I developed adult asthma).

I believe that if you take out your trash regularly, do your dishes, clean your laundry, flush your toilet and let air circulate through your home at least once a day, your home will smell fine. I also believe that the only way to freshen your air is to open your windows and air it out. But if you are looking to replace a commercial air freshener, or way to get rid of the smells from last night’s dinner party there are many easy ways to enhance the aromatics in your home that aren’t harmful to your lungs, your pets or your kids. Here are some of them:

1. Stove-top Air Fresheners: anyone who drinks a lot of tea knows that nothing smells as nice as a pot of chai simmering on the stove. There are endless combinations of herbs and spices you can put in a pot of water and simmer off: the smell will slowly spread through your home in a lovely way. This is particularly good in winter, when the air tends to be extra dry. My favourite melange is cinnamon sticks, cloves, and anise seeds, or cinnamon and ginger. You can also put a few drops of your favourite essential oils, or food-grade essences, like vanilla or almond.

2. Incense: There’s a lot of quality incense out there, better than the soapy josssticks you had as a teen, and subtler than the church/temple varieties that do smell nice, but tend to smoke up a room horribly. But if you are not into smoke you can always use

3. Candle Incense Burners: You can get them at most dollarstores, or department stores. Many gift shops and herbalists carry them as well. If you are unsure about the metals ones, get ceramic or glass. All you need is a tea candle and some oils, although you can buy (or heck, make them yourself!) aromatic wax pucks too.

All-purpose Cleaner:

An all-purpose cleaner can be a good thing to have for those random spills and light stains, when scouring powder is not appropriate and you don’t want to get a bucket of soap water out. But commercial all purpose cleaner, much window cleaner, usually contains ammonia as well as phosphates and other nasties. Here is a recipe for an all-natural all-purpose cleaner I got from Sophie Uliano’s book “Do It Gorgeously:” Make sure you have a clean empty spray bottle (this recipe make 14 oz), and distilled or purified water.

  • Bring 2 cups of distilled water to a boil. Take off stove. Then in a bowl or measuring cup mix:
  • 2 Tbsp Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp Borax
  • 1/2 Tsp Washing Soda (I used baking soda)
  • 1/2 Tsp Liquid Castile Soap (I melted a hard bar of Dr. Bronners in distilled water…)

Watch it fizz:SAM_9761

Pour in the hot, but not boiling water. Mix. Let cool, and then add 20 drops of tea tree oil (this is what the recipe says, but I had tea tree castile soap, so that was too much for me. I put in probably 5 drops of tea tree). Pour the cooled mixture into your bottle. A funnel helps.

To be honest, when I looked at the bottle it looked so tame, I never thought it would work. But wow does it ever! Even my dirty kitchen linoleum wiped clean! But I am not showing you those, so here here is a wall with fingermarks and dust.

Wall before

Wall before

Wall after all purpose cleaner!

Wall after all purpose cleaner!

Drain Cleaners:

Most of us have used drain cleaners, or de-cloggers at least once in our life. If you have you will know how toxic they, and the fumes they product, are. The best way to keep your drains unclogged is prevention. Make sure you brush your hair before showers, and don’t pour mop water down your shower drain but rather into the toilet. Get a hair trap – you can get them at the Dollarstore or any hardware store. The next thing you should get is a plunger. Most clogs can be dealt with by pouring really hot water into your drain and then giving in a few plunges (for a kitchen sink, just make sure you don’t have PVC pipes, because boiling water can damage the joints and the PVC. Also don’t pour boiling water on porcelain because it can crack) If your drains are badly clogged, borax is an amazing de-greaser and natural solvent: just pour 250 ml of borax into your drain, let sit for ten minutes, and then follow that with a pot of boiling, or really, hot water.

Dryer Sheets:

Dryer sheets seems to be a uniquely North American laundry must. As a kid, when we visited Canada on vacation, my mother would purchase boxes of them to bring back with us to Europe and there she used them in various ways, placing them in drawers and closets. I never got into the habit of using them myself, but I know that a lot of people do use them for their anti static properties. Just this month I discovered the Wool Dryer Ball, which you use like you would a dryer sheet, but rather than using them for their smell and anti static qualities, the Wool Dryer Ball cuts the drying time, some say in half. This is a big claim, but somehow I don’t doubt it (I have yet to try them myself). Wool Balls apparently also soften your clothes, and remove static, so they would also be a great replacement for fabric softener. You can buy them in boxes like tennis balls, or you can make your own! Here is another great post on how to make your own Wool Dryer Balls, from Crunchy Betty.

Laundry Detergent:

Not long ago a did a post on how to make your own laundry detergent. There are a lot of good blogs posts on this subject, most of them follow a recipe of: 1 part borax, 1 part washing soda, 1/2 part soap flakes.SAM_9540

SAM_9446

L to R: Borax, Salt, Baking Soda, Vinegar, Distilled Water, Alcohol, Almond Oil, Soap

SAM_9455

L to R: Borax, Salt, Baking Soda, Vinegar, Distilled Water, Alcohol, Almond Oil, Soap

 

Here in quick form is the recipe for the detergent I use at home: 2 cups borax, 2 cups washing soda**, 2 cups soap flakes and 30-40 drops of lemon essential oil. It is amazing and I am never buying detergent ever again 😀

UPDATE! About 3 months later, I DID buy laundry detergent. In one word, what happened was buildup. Everything just started feeling greasy, and even smelling greasy and I had a baby coming and needed to start stripping cloth diapers and cleaning baby clothes. At first, when using this laundry soap, your clothes have no buildup because they get stripped by detergents at every wash. Your clothes really aren’t that dirty, and warm water and soap will take care of most minor stains and smells. The borax, washingsoda and EOs help deodorize and freshen your clothes from most airborn odors. BUT, after a few months, grease builds up in the fibers of your sheets and clothes, especially if you use as much body butter as I do lol 😉 And that is what made me go back to store bought detergents. A green,scentless, eco detergent mind you, but a detergent nonetheless. I think part of the problem might be that the laundry soap is in powder form and not liquid and in the short, shake and spin cycles in most top loaders, the soap flakes may not get dissolved fast enough to mix with the rest of the ingredients, but I didn’t think to try mixing it with water at the time. A year later, I still use BioVert. I DO use my homemade laundry soap as a booster however, so it’s not a complete waste. I think next time I make laundry detergent, it will be from scratch: using lye and oils.

Scouring Powder:

like Comet, contains bleach and “other” crap that they do not list. Go figure. If mixed with ammonia, or cleaning products containing ammonia, bleach can create toxic, noxious fumes. If you want a clue to how bad comet just listen to the kids. I found this children’s rhyme on wiki that goes like this: Comet, it makes your face turn green / Comet, it tastes like gasoline / Comet, it makes you vomit, / So get some Comet, and vomit today!  Haha, right? I have used baking soda as scouring powder for years, a lot of times just out of pure laziness and cheapness, but also because it works. I find a soapy sponge dipped in baking soda will get ride of most grime, and it doesn’t make me choke! If you need something more potent than plain baking soda, here is a simple recipe for homemade scouring powder: 1 cup borax, 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup salt, and if you want, add a teaspoon of some essential oils, like tea tree (which is anti-fungal and antiseptic) or citrus oils. I used a mix of wintergreen and peppermint 🙂

SAM_9661

Sink before

Sink before

Sink After

Sink After

Scouring Pads:

Steel wool scouring pads filled with soap, or bleach powder like Brillo pads can be very harsh on your skin, and your dishes. The worst thing about steel wool is how pieces of it break off and get lodged in your skin and under your nails. But they do tend to work, so we put up with them. Lucky for us, there are now things like the Euro Scrubby and coconut fiber pads that you can get at places like Maison EcoloNet or your local health-food store. I got myself a euro scrubby the other day and was amazed at how well it works. Here’s a pic:
The Euro Scrubby

The Euro Scrubby

The sales lady assured me that “I will be back for sure” because apparently all of her customers who’ve bought one, come back for more. I can believe that because its the best scrubber I’ve ever had. I paid 3$ for mine.

Window Cleaner:

Most window cleaners, like Windex, contain ammonia.** Here is a recipe from Crunchy Betty that works fantastically and is amazing simple and cheap. She calls it Alvin Corn because it contains: alcohol, vinegar and corn starch. You will need an old window cleaner bottle, or a spray bottle, and a funnel. You can get both at the dollar store. Boil some water (preferably de-mineralized/distilled water), and let cool just enough that it doesn’t melt your bottle. Recipe: pour 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch into your bottle, followed by 1 cup of the hot water. Shake. Then add 1/8 cup alcohol and 1/8 cup vinegar. Shake. Spray. Clean! Thank you Crunchy Betty! Here is her post and recipe. I was amazed when I tried this the first time, but I did notice that for the windows facing a busy street I had to spray and wipe a few times to get it clean. So I have adapted the recipe for city folks like myself, who are plagued by city grime and black windows, use 1/4 cup alcohol instead of 1/8 cup.

Wood Polish:

This is so easy it’s ridiculous. Choose a light scent-less carrier oil, like almond oil, grapeseed oil, or a non-virgin light olive oil, or even sesame-oil (un-roasted of course). Take a lemon and give it a light rinse in cold water. Since you will not be eating this there is no need to scrub the skin clean – in fact, you want the oils in the skin, so it’s important not to clean them off. Peel the skin off, using a carrot peeler or paring knife, but don’t include the white skin underneath. Place the skin of one lemon in a glass jar and pour your oil over the skin then place the jar in a hot-water bath (or double-boiler). Let the lemon skins steep in the oil like this for at least 3 hours. You can do the same thing by placing the sealed jar in a sunny/warm place, like a south facing window, for 3 weeks, giving a shake every day. After your time is up, strain away the skins, and keep you oil in a sealed jar in a dark place. To use: pour or spray a bit on a rag or directly on the wood, and rub away: the wood should be clean, shiny, and smell very lightly of citrus when you are done. Your wood will thank you. It will not stay greasy, but your wood will soak up the excess and the more you polish with this lemon oil, the better your wood will look.

Lemon maceration in almond oil, on table that was just polished

Lemon maceration in almond oil, on table that was just polished

Footnotes:

* To make your own washing soda bake a pan of baking soda for an hour at 400 degrees, stirring once, then you have washing soda. Washing soda is more alkaline than baking soda, and thus, most caustic and may be irritating to the skin.

**Ammonia is not something you want in your cleaning products: mixed with bleach or vinegar it creates an extremely toxic and harmful gas. Although ammonia occurs in nature, pure ammonia is corrosive and can cause permanent damage to skin and tissues and inhalation of ammonia fumes can cause lung damage.

Easy Homemade Laundry Detergent

I have been gearing up to this post for a long time: making washing soda, getting borax, shopping around for bars of soap, and of course, reading blog posts on how to make laundry soap. However, after reading many great blog posts, experimenting on a small scale, and learning a lot, I decided to go with my own, modified recipe rather than link one. First, I want to give credit where credit is due, and tell you what I based my recipe on. Most recipes follow a ratio of “2 parts borax, 2 parts washing-soda, and 1 part soap-flakes” and here are some of those recipes (there seems to be some dispute on who came up with it…): Wellness Mama has an awesome post on laundry detergent; DIY Natural does too; and I love MommyPotamus’ post and what she says about lemon oil. Of course, there are more, but these are the posts I based my recipe on. Here is what I found out when trying to make my own detergent:

1. Most blog posts on homemade laundry detergent will tell you to use a mild, all natural hard soap, like Dr. Bronner’s or Ivory. But I don’t like spending 3 bux on a bar of soap, because then I won’t really save on making my own detergent. Ivory is cheaper, but I don’t like Ivory (it’s owned by P&G).

2. Other recipes will tell you to get Fels Naptha. I had to google it to find out what it was. It is laundry soap! Here in Canada, or in Quebec at least, we don’t have Fels Naptha. We do have Soapworks however, and as it happened I had half a bar of Soapworks laundry soap in my bathroom – which just happens to be the best ever stain remover I have ever had! And very affordable at about 2.50$ because it lasts so long!

I have also found Portuguese laundry soap for whites, at Segals on St-Laurent. Even cheaper at 99 cents. Here is that soap:Solavar Laundry Soap

3. Washing soda is easy to make! And cheap! So no need to buy it.  For details, read Wellness Mama’s post.

4. You can make a bare-bones laundry soap by mixing washing-soda with soap: my first try (before I found borax) consisted of melting a sliver of olive oil soap in a liter of water and mixing that with a quarter cup of washing soda, and a few drops of lemon essential oil. Got my clothes clean just fine.

5. I found that the 2-2-1 ratio was ok, but not great at getting grease stains out. Also, I don’t see how 2 tablespoons (!) of this soap would work for a full load of laundry. Maybe I am dirtier than most people? So I upped the ratio to 2-2-2 and used at least 1/4 cup of laundry soap for one load of laundry.

6. I agree with MommyPotamus : you want lemon essential oil. Or maybe some kind of citrus oil. Otherwise, if you are using a plain, lard-y laundry soap, your clothes will smell kind of lardy. Even if it’s not made with lard! Go figure! The plus is that lemon oil also cuts grease, and is a stain-remover! (see MommyPotamus)

So this is my final recipe that I am happy with:

  • 2 cups of Washing soda (which you make by baking baking soda)
  • 2 cups of Borax
  • 2 cups of grated laundry soap, or vegetable based soap. I’m sure most would work, just choose something natural.
  • Lemon Essential Oil

Cover your mouth with a mask or scarf, and mix everything together in a big bowl. Using a whisk works well, because laundry soap tends to be kinda greasy. SAM_9444

As you mix, drop the lemon oil into the powders. You will want at least several tens of drops, I must have dropped at least 20-30 drops in there. Put it in a container, like an old yogurt tub:SAM_9539

This recipe will yield 6 cups of soap and if you use 1/4 cup per load you have 24 loads of soap!

I find the smell very pleasant, it is mild, my clothes feel clean but don’t stink like chemicals. My partner loves it, and says it’s the best laundry soap he has ever tried (he likes mild smells and hates the residue smells left on your skin by commercial brands)! Here is a test strip I stained and washed in this laundry soap. As you can see, it really works! The only stain that still lingers is blueberry jam. Always a tough one 😀

SAM_9446 SAM_9455

 

What to do with all these Cherry Tomatoes # 1 – Easy Pickling

Last autumn, after a particularly disappointing experiment growing tomatoes in buckets, I decided to save the seeds from the few fruits we actually managed to grow and get serious. We started germinating the seeds in April in little plastic greenhouses, tagging and labeling each, hovering over them, whispering encouragements, watching them sprout. Then somehow – I don’t know how – the tags disappeared and all the seedlings got mixed in together. This is how we ended up with a balcony full of cherry tomato plants. Five large self-watering 5 gallon bucket-planters – all cherry tomatoes. All fighting for space – horizontally and vertically! To get to the other side of our balcony I actually have to get on my knees and crawl. All to say – there’s a lot of tart red things begging to be picked. So many that when the squirrels come I almost don’t shoo them away. Almost… So, here are some of the ways we have decided to make use of them. First – an easy pickling recipe!

  • Pickled Cherry Tomatoes: 

Pickling brine isn’t hard to make. You need vinegar, salt, and sugar, and your choice of spices (usually black peppercorns, and a stick of fresh herb, like dill, thyme, rosemary). I always thought pickling meant hours of boiling jars, bubbling brine-juice and burning yourself. But apparently it doesn’t have to! I found this video by PrudentBaby about what to do with excess cherry tomatoes, and used the recipe to pickle a few jars of them (the video is a weird mix of a cellphone ad and cooking – just skip ahead to the recipe part). She says to use apple cider vinegar, but we didn’t have any, so we used red wine vinegar instead, adjusting the ratio slightly. Here is the recipe, which is good for 2-3 jars, depending on the size of your fruit and how much you pack it.

Give your cherry tomatoes a rinse and a once over. Prick them with a toothpickPrick the fruits with a tooth-pick

and shake off excess water, or pat dry.

In a pot combine:

  • 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar – or if using red wine vinegar 1.8 cups;
  • 1.5 cups filtered water – or 1.2 cups if using red wine vinegar.
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4-8 cloves of garlic, sliced. (whoa! this is what she said, but I used organic garlic, which tends to be much stronger, so I only used 2 cloves and did not include them in the jar at the end either). Use your judgement here.SAM_8861
  • 4-6 Peppercorns. Yes! I agree on this, give them a wack though first, to release their pepperiness.

 

Boil this for 3-5 minutes. Let cool. In a cleaned glass jar (I pour boiling water in and over the jar and then let the wire rim sit in boiling water for a few minutes.

They dry real quick after boiling water showers so no need to muck them up with a towel).SAM_8866 If using herbs, place your herbs in the jar SAM_8869

 

 

 

SAM_8872

and then add the cleaned pricked tomatoes. Tap the jar on the counter a few times, to settle the fruit and fill the space with more fruit.SAM_8874Then pour the cooled brine in, and seal the jar up and put it in the fridge. Done!

 

 

 

Even without sealing the jar by boiling it, a jar like this can last several months in the fridge, as long as you keep the brine. The taste after 24 hours is nice and fresh, and very tomato-y: they taste like Mediterranean style plate of marinated tomatoes (you know,olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper). Yummy! You can use these on pasta, in salads, or just as snacks.

Enjoy!SAM_8879

Make your own Clay Antiperspirant: link to recipe & review

It may seem strange to start my blog with a link to someone else’s blog, right? But this recipe deserves to be front-and-center: it is so amazing and the product is soooo good I can’t stop raving about it. Here’s the story:

Last week was tropical in Montreal: hot, humid and sticky… As I paced my apartment covered in perma-sweat, wondering what to do with the new clay I just bought at Coop Coco & Calendula, I noticed that the coconut oil I had just bought was as clear as water. SAM_8768. See? Like water. 

I remembered a deodorant recipe I had seen online a few days back. Using clay! And coconut oil! After a quick search I found it again on overthrowmartha – an awesomely easy and quick recipe, and on a 32 degree day, even easier. The coconut oil was already liquid, so all I had to do was pour it over the dry ingredients and mix! Done! SAM_8770SAM_8771

 I don’t want people to think this is my recipe, so I won’t list it here, just follow the link above 😀 Overthrow Martha explains why she uses arrowroot powder, but since I didn’t have any at home and was stocked on cornstarch I decided to substitute, and with great results. On the same note, apparently some brands of baking soda may contain aluminum (!). I did some research and it turns out that Arm & Hammer is safe. I was using a Canadian brand called Club Supreme, and when I couldn’t find any info on them, I called the distributor up. I had to wait a week, but they just called me back as I am writing this to tell me that it doesn’t contain aluminum, and it’s a 100% pure. Phew!

After mixing the flours and clay with the coconut oil, I added the essential oils (for a quick review of oils, go to the ingredients guide).  As the recipe suggests, I also put in 3-4 drops of tea-tree oil, and lavender. In addition, I put in 5-6 drops of lemon oil, to give it a fresh, clean smell; 1-2 drops of rosemary cineole, to connect the piney smell of the tea-tree with the freshness of the lemon; and finally 3-4 drops of GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract), as a preservative (incidentally, it also smells resin-y and citrus-y. Score!). The overall fragrance turned out very citrus-y with undertones of wood-resin: completely unisexe and I have given samples to my male friends who enjoy the smell very much.

SAM_8777The recipe fit neatly into a large (200 ml/6.75 oz) Body Shop Bodybutter jar. For the rest of the heatwave, I kept the deo in the fridge, because it was liquid. But, as soon as the heat broke I brought it out: at 24 degrees Celsius it’s a nice smooth, creamy consistency.  At 22 Degrees, it sits kind of like wet beach sand, but still completely spreadable. SAM_9004 Doesn’t it look like sand? It spreads like cream though! I can’t stop touching it!

Ok, before I review the product let me just give you some background info: I sweat. I know that sounds redundant, but some people don’t. My boyfriend doesn’t sweat, and if he does, you can’t smell it anyways. I also have family members who sweat like sweet-smelling babies. But I sure am not one of them. When I sweat – I stink. And whatever I’m wearing will stink too. I have worn deodorants most my life. Various kinds: roll-ons, liquids, solids, salt-sticks, hippy deos with beeswax that strips your skin off. You name it, I have tried it. The only ones that “work” have been commercial antiperspirants. With aluminum. Now, I don’t care if I am wet, I just don’t want to stink. But of course, antiperspirant keeps you from sweating at all, by clogging your pores with aluminum causing them to swell to the point that no sweat can escape. Sick! Not to mention the preservatives, dyes, etc. etc. I can still remember how squeaky the skin in my pits felt, like plastic, as I was trying to wash them free of antiperspirant. I couldn’t. Even if I only wore it once a week, my pits felt swollen and gross.

So finally, I stopped everything: deodorant, antiperspirant, salt-stick. I had heard that you could detox your pits and that after a month of not wearing antiperspirant your body would readjust and stop emitting pit-stink. Great, I thought! One month went by, then two – I still stunk – three, four, five!? Yup! I smell. I had to make peace with my smell. Granted, it wasn’t as bad as in the beginning, but it was there. Until one day…Until I found this miracle clay deodorant! I am not joking: this works!

The first day of wearing the clay deodorant I went to my osteo, and lifted by arms without any traces under my pits. No white lines, or even grey lines on my black dress. Nada! See? Claydeo-pit

Laying on a table being handled usually makes me sweat a bit, but it was the two-three hour walk I took after that really sealed the deal. It was 32 degrees Celsius and HUMID! And nothing! No trickling pit sweat – I was damp, but that’s normal, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. And. I. Didn’t. Stink. I didn’t even smell. I couldn’t believe it.

The following day, after a night of sticky, sweaty sleep. I still didn’t smell. Amazing! 

The second road-test was my volunteering job at the local organic market. I did the set-up shift, which involves a lot of lifting and hauling and running around – and yes, I was damp (not sopping), but I didn’t smell. Still nothing! I consider these two situations to be the ultimate road-tests for me. 

I really cannot say enough good stuff about this deodorant. When you make it for yourself, you will know what I am talking about. The best part is: clay is good for you. Bentonite clay draws toxins from your skin, which is a good thing to put next to your lymph-nodes. Good for us all, but especially if you have fibroadenomas like I do 😦

Thank you Sherri from Overthrow Martha! You have made my life better!