Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cider and Jam

I found a recipe for taking unfiltered apple juice and making hard cider out of it! I decided to try it, if it works maybe I'll post how I did it.

I also found a Loquat tree in my apartment complex while biking home from campus. On my way to check the mail later, I stopped by and shook a bunch free. I'm going to eat a few, and turn the rest into jam!

Loquat Jam Instructions
WASH YOUR HANDS! Wash fruit, remove seeds (save and give to friends!), and blossom ends from whole ripe fruit. Chop fruit and place in deep pot. Cover, but just barely, with cold water. Cook until tender and deep red.

Add 3/4 cup organic Demerara sugar (or honey) to 1 cup of loquat pulp. Cook until thick, stirring constantly. Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal with sterilized lids. It is best to cook small batches of no more than 5 cups of fruit pulp in one kettle.

Because I don't have actual canning equipment, I will be freezing mine as soon as the jars cool.

How can something deemed a "beauty product" be so harmful?

Here's some things to look out for the next time I go shopping for anything skin or hair related. This list comes from the "Most UN-Wanted List", via Kaia House.

1. Petrochemicals
These are chemicals derived from Petroleum and Natural Gas and are used for their foaming and emulsifying qualities in Hair Products, Body Creams and Facial Cleansers. Most common forms are Cocomidopropyl Betaine or Coco Betaine (derived from coconut oil, this is processed using petrochemicals), PVP/VA Copolymer, and Propylene Glycol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). These petrochemicals can cause eye impairment, intestinal damage, kidney and liver problems, breathing problems, cysts, skin spots, rashes and hair loss.

2. Polyethylene Glycol (PEG/ PPG)
A family of synthetic chemical compounds, PEG can be found in Creams, Skin Conditioners and Face and Body Cleansers. Common forms are PEG-8, PEG-80 Glyceryl, Cocoate, Peroleate and PEG 15 Soyamide/IPDI Copolymer. The most troubling aspect of PEG is that the compounds often contain Ethylene Oxide, known to increase the likelihood of leukemia, uterine, breast, and brain cancer, and 1,4-Dioxane, that has been found to increase the incidence of liver, lung and skin tumors.

3. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH)
Common forms of PAHs are Benzene, Benz-(a)-Pyrene, DMBA, and 1-Nitropyrene. They are also found in PEG compounds. These chemicals have been known to cause breast cancer since the 1960s.

4. Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazoline
These are preservatives that are known to have mutagenic and cancer causing properties.

5. Diethanolamine (DEA)
DEA and the closely related Triethanolamine (TEA) are used as emulsifiers and/or foaming agents in most Skin Care and Hair Care products. These 'amines' are ammonia compounds that have been known to cause eye and skin irritations, and are strongly linked to cancer when exposed to nitrates. Other forms of DEA and TEA are Lauramide DEA, Cocamide DEA, Cocamide MEA, DEA- Cetyl Phosphate, DEA Oleth-3 Phosphate, Linoleamide MEA, Myristamide DEA, Stearamide MEA, and TEA-Lauryl Sulfate.

6. Phthalates (DBP, DMP, DEP)
Found in Perfumes, Hair Spray, and Deodorants, and used as plasticizers and fixatives, most common forms of Phthalates are Dimethylphthalate, Diethylphthalate, and Dibutylphthalate, and are often times undisclosed on mainstream product labels. Phthalates have been found to cause birth defects in male reproductive systems, pre-mature sexual development in girls and increased child asthma rates. Exposure to phthalates has also caused malformations of male reproductive organs and damage to the prostate glands in animal laboratory tests. They have been linked to breast cancer since 1997.

7. Parabens
These are petroleum-based preservatives that allow plant and food based products to have a longer shelf life. They are found in many consumer products from Facial Products to Cleaning Detergents and Soap. Most common forms of parabens are Methylparaben, Ethylparaben Propylparaben and Butylparaben. An excessive amount of parabens in the body have been found to cause liver problems and have weak estrogen-like effects that may cause breast cancer and reproductive abnormalities in young boys and girls exposed to the chemical either prior to puberty or during the mother's pregnancy.

8. Formaldehyde
Also used as a preservative, Formaldehyde can irritate the skin, damages the nervous system and cause cancer. 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1, 3-Diol, Diazolidinyl Urea, DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl Urea, and Quaternium 15 all either contain, may release, or may break down into formaldehyde.

9. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
Used as an anti-oxidant preservative, BHA is found in most Foundations and Cosmetic Make-up. It has been known to cause breast cancer tumors to multiply.

10. Artificial Colors and Fragrances
Artificial colors and fragrances found in Lipsticks, Shampoos, and Facial products have been known to cause skin irritations and allergic reactions. Many artificial fragrances contain hazardous chemicals including Toluene, Methylene Chloride, and Benzyl Chloride and may cause nausea, depression, anger and memory lapses. Artificial colors such as Red 3 have also been linked to cancer. Amongst children, certain artificial colors have been linked with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and hyperactivity.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Smells like rain

There's something so sensuous about a rain storm. The sound of rain pittering on the roof, slowly growing in strength until the deafening roar of the storm's full force. If you listen carefully, you can hear each individual drop hitting dirt, the pavement, the roof, the windows. Thunder rolls in slowly, a deep rumble felt in the depths of your chest. As the storm advances, the thunder is sharper, a whip snapping over your head. I love watching the lightening spread across the sky, webbing out lasting for mere seconds. The heavens light up as bright as day, only for the light to be extinguished so immediately. I love the smell right before a storm, the air is heavy, saturated with the smell of the oncoming moisture. It smells fertile.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Musings on the power of silence.

I had to read this article for a class I am taking really felt that the author's message was important.

At first the article "Language in Silence" by Stephanie M. Wildman upset me because I was not paying attention to the title. I'm tired of being told that because I'm white that I am privileged and therefore must overcome this seemingly innate racism, but I digress.

"Apathy is just as bad as non-action." It kind of follows along the lines of "If you aren't with me you're against me." For all of these people who say "I don't care either way" or "its none of my business" instead of doing the PC thing, they are taking power, validation, etc. from someone else. I understand not wanting to get embroiled in an argument, however there are instances when having an opinion or taking action is important. That I believe, is more what the article was getting at. The author wasn't so much delivering an anecdote (specifically of a homosexual man's family portrait being ignored) as she was showing how an action--or lack of action here--means so much more than one would think. Human beings are social creatures and therefore need some kind of reinforcement or validation for their actions (even if they say they don't), especially if said actions fall outside of the sphere of what is deemed "normal behaviour." So before we pass judgment and say that someone is too easily offended, for example, perhaps looking at the issue from all sides would allow for some empathy without the feeling like we have to tread on eggshells.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bearberry remedy

Found this home remedy for UTIs, kidney infections, etc... using BearBerry. I purchased some of the dried leaves after I came back from Guatemala last summer having had a kidney infection, but never got around to using it. Seeing as how doctors and antibiotics cost money, something rarely seen enough lately, anything I can alleviate or fix naturally with stuff I already have is a plus in my book.

Please be smart when using home remedies--if you are pregnant, lactating, have issues with blood sugar or blood pressure think twice, then consult someone who knows more than you on the subject! I am not responsible for anyone who uses this and is not pleased with the results, etc.

Now, on to the cure!


  • 3 oz (l0 g) bearberry leaves
  • 4 cups (1 liter) water
  • 1 t (5 g) sodium bicarbonate
Lightly chop the bearberry leaves and soak for 12 hours in a large bowl of cold water. Then boil the leaves in a saucepan for 3 minutes. Pour this mixture into the bowl and infuse until the liquid is drinkable. Add the sodium bicarbonate and shake. Drink 1 cup (250 ml) at a time, warm or cold, several times during the day. Repeat over 10 consecutive days. This bitter herbal tea has a powerful effect on small kidney stones, purulent cystitis, gout, hypotrophy of the prostate and bacterial venereal infections such as blennorrhagia.
Note: Bearberry is the color of greenish urine because of the concentrated tannins.


The bearberry has been known to induce side effects such as mild nausea in some individuals. The possibility of the deleterious effects from excessive accumulation of the compound hydroquinone exists and for this reason, the continuous and long term use of bearberry is not advised.
The effectiveness of the antiseptic action displayed by the compound arbutin - or more correctly its derivative hydroquinone - over the urinary system is confirmed in many studies, however, this action seems to be effective only when the urine produced is alkaline and then only when the plant based remedy is taken at high doses throughout the treatment period. Foods such as sauerkraut, the vitamin C, and fruits or fruit juices and all similar products are rich in acids - these have to be carefully avoided during the treatment process in order to maintain the effectiveness of the bearberry remedy. The compound hydroquinone is moreover toxic when taken repeatedly in large doses, consumers need to be careful about using the bearberry remedy for too long, as the toxic side effects can include uncomfortable tinnitus or ringing in the ears, sudden convulsion and physical collapse as well as bouts of vomiting. At the same time, the safety record of the herbal remedy is good and moreover, the bearberry is usually taken at recommended dosages of a gram of extract, three to six times every day, for an average dosage of about 400 to 800 mg of the compound arbutin daily, and side effects have not been reported in healthy individuals even when the doses were as high as 20 grams - thus the plant seems to be quite safe compared to other herbal remedies. Lactating women, women in a term of pregnancy and children must not be given the bearberry for any reason, as in these individuals, the chances of side effects are higher than average. Whenever the side effects appear in a patient, medical advise must be sought if the physical symptoms last longer then two weeks, or if the intensity of the symptoms worsen during the treatment process.