Sunday, June 24, 2012

Plastic Free The Book, Twitter Party and Giveaways

Beth Terry of has published a new book called "Plastic Free How I kicked the habit and you can too." Beth has previously reviewed my Cinnamon Tooth Powder on her blog and I hear she has mentioned my deodorant in her new book.  I haven't read her book yet, but I would love to learn all her tips and trips.  In support of her new book and cause I am donating one of my slide tin lip balms the upcoming #ecoetsy/ #plasticfreebeth twitter party which will be hosted by the EcoEtsy Team Monday June 25th from 9-10 pm EST.  Search #plasticfreebeth in twitter Monday night to follow along with the party.  Beth will be giving away one of her books and there will be other prizes from the EcoEtsy Team like these lovely reusable silk bags for bulk foods from kootsac.

Also if you can't make it to the chat, be sure at least to check out Beth Terry's talk on TED.  I had not seen her talk until recently, and I found it very inspiring.  After watching it I decided to do something that I have been wanting to do for a long time, which is switch over to paper tape for packing orders.  It was more than I was used to spending on tape, because it comes by the case and has to be shipped.  I'm still a little nervous about using a tape that has to be moistened first, but I'm looking forward to it.  Big thanks to Anne Nguyen of Shanti Aromatherapy and Daytona Etsy Team Member for switching over to paper tape with me.  She and I co-oped together to stock up on it and split up a case.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

4 New Shampoo Bars by Aquarian Bath and How to Use a Shampoo Bar

Coffee Butter Shampoo Bar Vegan Jojoba Formula
I am pleased to announce 4 new shampoo bars from Aquarian Bath made with a slightly modified formula which includes Pesticide Free Golden Jojoba. The formula is nearly the same as my original vegan Aloe Shampoo Bar, but it has Golden Jojoba included instead of Aloe. The difference in feel for your hair is slightly more smoothing, softening, and straightening. The Aloe Shampoo bars tend to give my hair more volume and bounce. Don't worry, I will continue making my Aloe Shampoo Bars for those who love that formula.

My coffee shampoo bar is sure to be a hit. It was made with my new vegan jojoba formulation slightly modified to include highly aromatic coffee butter and a strong coffee brew rather than standard water. These coffee shampoo bars have a light coffee scent.

If you have been waiting for an unscented shampoo bar or have been wanted to try a smaller sized shampoo bar to start, you can now try my Henna infused Shampoo Bar rounds. I have a small number of these bars in stock at the moment. I haven't decided if I will stick with rounds or make regular rectangles with the next batch. What do you think? Do you like round soaps?

Henna Shampoo Bar Vegan Jojoba Formulation

My next shampoo bar isn't vegan but it is the same formula with the addition of Tea Tree and Eucalyptus essential oil together with silk protein and honey. The silk gives the an even greater smoothing quality to the shampoo bar. This bar smells wonderfully herbaceous and refreshing.

Silk-N-Honey Tea Tree Eucalyptus Shampoo Bar with Jojoba

Lastly I have created a fun shampoo bar for the Beer lovers with Guinness Extra Stout. This shampoo bar is unscented. This bar was made with the same vegan jojoba formula, but it contains slightly less free oil compared to the other vegan jojoba shampoo bars. So this might be a good choice for you if you hair tends to normal with a slight tendency towards oiliness.

Extra Stout Vegan Jojoba Shampoo Bar made with North American Guinness Extra Stout. This bar is slightly less conditioning compared to my other vegan jojoba shampoo bars

How does one wash with a shampoo bar?

I wrote previously about transitioning to shampoo bars and a simple treatment to give your hair a fresh start, but what about the basics? Washing with a shampoo bar is pretty simple. First you wet your hair thoroughly, the rub the shampoo bar in a few a patches in your hair. Then work up the lather with your hands. Make sure the lather is worked in through all of your hair and down to your scalp in order give your hair a complete cleaning. Then rinse your hair with fresh water making sure to get out all the shampoo. Rinsing your hair with bath tub water that already has soap mixed in with it will not give you a clean rinse. I wash with my shampoo bars every 2 to 3 days, or more often if I have been getting dirty in the garden or have been working out strenuously.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tips for Reducing Soil-to-Plant Radiation Transfer in the Garden

With continued leakage of radiation from Fukushima and burning of radioactive waste, radiation exposure is an ongoing concern. We know that radiation can travel quickly around the globe via the jet stream. Western United States are particularly vulnerable. Previously I wrote about personal care tips for avoiding radiation. Today I will share with you what I have learned about gardening to avoid radioactive contamination of produce as well as other resources on this topic.

The safest options for producing non-radioactive foods are growing in a green house, sprouting indoors, growing hydroponically indoors, and covering outdoor growing beds during rain storms to prevent exposure to rain water. However, if you plan to continue growing outside under standard conditions, there are things you can do to help protect your soil.

Use Filtered Water to Irrigate the Garden: You can use Zeolite filtered rain water or filtered tap water to water your garden. Zeolite is a mineral formed over time when volcanic ash combines with salt water. It's unique structure allows it to bind up heavy particles such as radioactive Cesium. It is used extensively in nuclear waste clean up. A filter can be made from PVC components, a scouring pad, and Sweet PDZ, which is trade name for Zeolite powder. Sweet PDZ is inexpensive and available at animal feed stores, because it used in horse stalls for reducing odors.

Feed Your Soil: The most important method for reducing soil to plant uptake of radioactive particles, as demonstrated in studies with radioactive Cesium and Strontium, is providing rich healthy organic matter to the soil. Organic gardeners with good composting habits are already a step ahead when it comes to protecting their plants. Personally, I think that the mineral rich additive such as Azomite, a volcanic ash, may also be beneficial, though I haven't found any research to confirm that. Azomite contains minerals and trace elements that improve overall soil function.

Sandy Soils Need Special Attention: Sandy soils, such as the soil we have here in Central Florida, is a factor which increases soil-to-plant uptake of radioactive particles. For this type of soil reducing the relative sand content by adding clay and organic matter is important.

Special Soil Amendments Clay, Calcium, and Zeolite: All soils that are not already rich in clay will benefit from this soil additive. Clay helps reduce soil-to-plant transfer of radioactive Cesium and Strontiun. After clay, Calcium is also important for reducing soil-to-plant transfer of radioactive Cesium and Strontium. Agriculture Lime is one option for supplementing Calcium. From what I understand it is particularly important to supplement with Calcium prior to harvest of leafy green vegetables. The addition of Clay and Calcium is most effective in soils that are low in organic matter. Adding it to healthy rich organic soils will also have some effect in reducing soil-to-plant radioactive Cesium and Strontium transfer, but not as significant as compared to undernourished soils. Zeolite is a mineral that can also be added to soils to reduce the uptake of Cesium to plants. The Japanese Government ordered farmers to add Zeolite to their rice fields after the Fukushima accident in the hopes of preventing radioactive contamination of rice. About 6 grams of Zeolite powder per 1 square foot of is what I calculated to be required after reading acreage recommendations at Acsending Star Seed. I am not sure what the acreage calculations were based on. I added powdered Zeolite to my soil in the form of Sweet PDZ using Joel Tippens' powdered donut method for applying blood meal, bone meal and cottonseed meal. I simply sprinkled the soil with a light layer of Sweet PDZ powder until it was lightly covered like a powdered donut. This soil amendment does not change the soil pH.

Inoculate your Soil with Mushroom Spores: Darkly pigmented fungus have been shown to feed on gamma radiation. Adding mushroom compost to your soil or adding spores from mature melanin pigmented mushrooms, may be able to divert radioactive particles out of your soils and away from your veggies. The area underneath a mushroom cap holds the spores. You can simply tap the tiny spores into your garden beds by patting the top of a mature brown mushroom.

If you are concerned about radiation, but are unsure if you should take preventative measures, you might want to take advantage of free radiation testing tor your home or car air filters or check out the Radiation Network for real time citizen reported radiation monitoring. I purchased a geiger counter kit last week from one of my husband's regular suppliers and we tested our Central Florida (32117) soil and rain water, Hepa filter and various foods. Thankfully there were no issues with anything we tested, but I am still very much acting with precaution.

In my next related blog post I will be sharing about a common wild flower that acts as an indicator for radioactive contamination and share some images of common herbal weeds with very strange mutations from the Northern United States. I'm very curious what you all think of the pictures and if you have seen anything like it before.

Recommendations for Organic matter, Clay, Lime, and Zeolite additives are based on research published in the following articles:

A review of literature on the effectiveness of chemica amendments in reducing the soil-to-plant transfer of radiostrontium and radiocaesium by J. Lembechts. Science of The Total Environment Vol. 137, Issues 1-3, 2-4 September 1993, pages 81-98

Effect of Different Treatments on 85Sr Plant Uptake in Various Soil Types by E. Koblinger-Bokori and P. Szerbin. Proceedings Congress of IRPA Hiroshima: 2000. CD-ROM.

Influence of zeolite on the availability of radiocaesium in soil to plants. by M.A. Shernber and K.J. Johanson. Science of the Total Environment. 1992. Volume: 113, Issue: 3, Pages; 287-295

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pulse Motor Fan Used to Help Cure Soaps at Aquarian Bath

I know I've said it before, but the heat in Florida is really rough on curing soaps. This year I am trying something different. I have added new fans to each of my curing areas. One set of fans was made by my husband. This is an entry he made into a pulse motor contest at Open-Source-Energy.Org. This fan is rewired, using a type of DC impulse circuitry, allowing it to run on much less power. Additionally, unlike normal fans, the special circuit allows us to recycle the energy used to do the physical work of turning the fan and collect it in a battery for later use. Hope you like it. This is raw unedited footage.

Thanks for watching.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Leo's Ginger Jungle

One of the best parts of visiting my in laws is my father in law's garden. My mother in law calls it Leo's jungle. Over the years I have 'snuck in' plants to his garden in the form of plant gifts for birthdays or holidays including a gardenia bush that is now over 6 feet tall, a komquat tree, medicinal Japanese honeysuckle, medicinal white Chrysanthemums and a Myer's lemon tree. But when I first visited their home, these ginger plants were already there. They predominate the landscape along with colorful Bromeliads. These ginger plants must be about 10 feet tall and make an arch along the pathway along the back side of the house. If he hasn't pruned them back in a while, it is like walking through a ginger tunnel. Let me know if you would like to see more of his garden. The ginger predominates, but there will be Angel Trumpets blooming in September also.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tips for Avoiding Radiation in Daily Life

As a parent of small children, I am especially concerned about radioactive particle contamination in the atmosphere from Fukushima. Unless you have been carefully following various online reports, you may wonder why I am concerned about radiation since I am living in Florida and not Japan. Florida had the highest radioactive Iodine levels in the US one month after the Fukushima reactor accident. California and Washington had very high levels of radiation reported also. These videos show videos from EnviroReporter's youtube stream. The first shows his test results from his California HEPA filters and the 2nd shows Michigan Rain water test results.

Why is radiation from Fukushima effecting the US? In addition radioactive particle release from the initial accident, the Japanese government has ordered the burning of 500,000 tons of radioactive to continue through 2014. The United States is directly down wind of Japan via the Jet Stream which carries air and rain water toward us rapidly.

Hopefully now you have enough information to see where I'm coming from and you can follow up and do a little more research on your own by following the embedded links in this post. I am still learning, but I would like to share what I have found so far regarding personal protection. If you have other ideas, or if I have left something out, please feel welcome to leave comments.

Tips for Avoiding Radiation:

~ Use and umbrella if you have to go out in the rain or just stay out of direct contact with the rain.
~ Leave your shoes outside when you go in the house.
~ Avoid tuna and other Pacific Sea Foods
~ Avoid outdoor grown mushrooms which accumulate radioactivity
~ Invest in a HEPA filter for your home. If you have a vacuum cleaner, make sure that it has a HEPA filter also.
~ Iodine supplementation is suggested for preventing radioactive Iodine uptake. Some people suggest seaweed as a source or Iodine. I think this is probably ok considering the half life of radioactive Iodine is about 8 days, but I am not sure given the current state of the oceans. Other people say to avoid the seaweed due to ocean contamination completely. What do you think?
~ To help prevent uptake of radioactive Strontium to the bones, take a Calium-Magnesium Vitamin supplement. This is even more important than Iodine supplementation, because radioactive Cesium has an exceptionally long half life.
~ From the Combating Radiation forum: "Soak all greens and vegetables or fruit that cannot be peeled in a mixture of 4 ounces of baking soda per gallon for at least 20 minutes. You can also scrub foods with baking soda and a damp sponge (use rubber gloves if your food is dusty from fallout and avoid breathing the dust). Baking soda absorbs uranium and some other radioactive particles very well"
~ On your body, baking soda and Bentonite clay can be used externally to bind many radioactive particles. Food grade bentonite can also be used in small amounts internally. Baking soda can be used in bath salt recipes or as a body scrub with 1 part baking soda, 1 part base oil such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Jojoba, Grapeseed oil, etc.

Activated Charcoal is another substance which is capable of binding radioactive particles. Zeolite, also known as Clinoptilolite is used specifically for cleaning up nuclear waste.

What about radiation concerns for gardening and wild harvesting and processing herbs? I have already started taking steps in my garden to prevent soil to plant transmission of radioactive particles. I will be make a separate post for avoiding radiation in the garden soon.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Herb Companion Guest Post: 3 Annual Herbs for Stress Relief

I recently wrote an article for The Herb Companion's blog entitled "3 Annual Herbs for Stress Relief." I'm honored they filed it under "Sage Advice." The article details how to grow and use Holy Basil, Motherwort, and Skullcap for reducing tension and stress. I hope you enjoy it. Kristie from Spirit Horse herbals pointed out that Skullcap and Motherwort are perennials in Northern Climates, however I find they have to be grown as annuals in our climate. For more information growing herbs in hot climates I suggest Monica Brandies book Herbs and Spices for Florida Gardens.

"We all seek more peace and tranquility in life. Growing a few herbs is a fabulous way to help with relaxation and stress reduction. Plus, planting herbs is a fun activity. Learn how to select herbs that will actually help you relax!

To make sure it is a stress-free experience, each herb has unique properties that also make them useful for relieving stress and anxiety. I have chosen three herbs that I find easy to grow, and they are holy basil, motherwort and skullcap.... read more"