Tuesday, December 30, 2014

DIY Non-Petroleum Vaseline

I was in the bathroom washing my hands or brushing my hair or something mundane like that when I looked up and caught a glimpse of a package of beeswax that'd been sitting untouched on the shelf for, oh, three years or so. Why had I bought it, again? I'm pretty sure it was because I'd read some article or other about how terrible vaseline is, being a derivative (ie. waste product) of the petroleum industry, basically fossil fuel jelly that people slather on their hands and faces. I never got around to concocting my non-petroleum vaseline - it wasn't like I'd had a real plan, or even a recipe, so my little ideological project got the kibosh in the early stages.

Fast forward to the most fruitful Christmas break in ages, and having an energy surplus second to none, it took about 5 minutes from spying my waylaid beeswax to melting it on the stove-top while googling like a madwoman.

I don't really care if other people use petroleum jelly or not, it's pretty much their prerogative, and I doubt people use such copious amounts as to warrant real concern about adverse effects (at least I hope not).

Regardless, my creative jaunt in the kitchen was brief, enjoyable, and bountiful. I didn't realize there'd be so much! The end product is, so far, an excellent lip balm, great for massaging into a gnarly scar I recently acquired, and soothing chapped knuckles. It's not as jelly-like as vaseline, but you can easily dig a glob out with a fingernail just as well as just swiping the surface for a bit of lip protection. I might try tweaking the recipe for a softer substance, but - so far so good! I won't be buying any kinds of balm from here on out.

*** Just to note, volume-wise, the two small containers, upper right, are from the small pots of jam you get at fancy brunches, and the container upper left is from a small honey pot ***

As you can see on the photo, I made two variations. The two lighter ones on the left are with almond and coconut oils, plus a few drops of ylang ylang. The three on the right have a more yellow hue due to the use of some virgin olive oil, besides the castor oil and grapefruit seed extract used as well, which are colorless.

Non-petroleum balm

(The lighter one)
25 grams beeswax
100 grams almond oil
1 tbsp coconut oil 
7 drops of ylang ylang essential oil

(The darker one)
25 grams of beeswax
100 grams castor oil (ricinus in DK)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 drops of mandarin  oil
15 drops Citridal grapefruit seed extract (antibacterial)

That's it. Melt the beeswax and base oils, stirring all the while, no boiling, of course. Incorporate the essential oils, pour into your clean, scalded containers and let cool.

I did do this right up to Christmas, so both mother and mother-in-law were gifted with lip balms, and the others I'm sliding off to people with dry body parts, hopefully I'll get some useful feedback.

This is SUCH a rewarding DIY project. 30 minutes of work, and you feel so satisfied with yourself, it's almost too much. Next up - DIY skin cream!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Where Did Life Go?

I know, and you know that I know, that I was going to write "Where Did Time Go". But my fingers slipped, my mind too, and they banded together and gave me a wake up-call.

 I will try to get back to updating this blog. My excuses have been - "Facebook"! "Twitter"! "Instagram"! But none of those channels really afford anyone the reflective time to step back and take stock of things (but also because "things" are kind of scary right now). Those moments when you really sum up what your life is. Because my life really isn't beer bottles with fancy filters or climate news retweets, or - wait, what exactly is it I post on facebook?

 So since the last time we talked, I've become a job and many new colleagues richer, a grandmother poorer, several new fears heavier, and ... well. Also, a cat peed in my handbag.

 Same same, but different.

 I recently had a week for myself at a Danish folk high school. Among other things, I took a writing course. Me and some of the others made a deal to keep writing, and meet up to discuss our writing, do writing exercises, and go to Poetry Slams. Basically the kind of stuff I wish I'd started doing 15 years ago. I think this is the beginning of something I've needed and just haven't given myself permission to do.

 At any rate, I'm back. I need this space, to reflect upon the fact that I have a life, and it is good. I need it to share things that haven't necessarily been created for others for to "like" or "share". I need it, because it's already here and it's already something good, and I'm thrilled it's not another thing I need to sit down and build before getting started.

 So, hopefully, the next time I'm back I'll have been on 3-4 runs, sent kids off to school 5 times, and read this. Margaret Atwood mentioned it in a recent article, and I'm absolutely intrigued.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

How to slut-shame a PM

Ditte Giese is a Danish journalist who writes a great deal about gender, and I think this piece hit the spot on the subject of an all too well-known selfie. I felt the need to translate this so it could be shared with a broader audience. Giese's article of December 13, 2013, is in the original Danish here.

How to slut-shame a PM
A prime minister enjoying herself at a festive memorial captures the moment. Cue name calling where she's deemed slut, cupcake, and The Fall of Man herselfie.

Most of the Western world is now acquainted with the Danish prime minister. Not for the good stuff: her policies, her drive and ambition on behalf of the Danish nation. But because of her blonde hair and long legs. Once more we saw, as #selfiegate exploded, that a women is always just that, a woman. And no matter how much power she may hold, she will always just be her body, sex, hair, and clothing.
The toughest critic yet is right-wing columnist Andrea Peyser of the New York Post, who, under the the title of 'Flirty Obama owes us an apology', fired off such vitriolic misogyny that I can’t ever recall having read the like. It’s called slut-shaming, the shaming of women for their looks, clothes, or sexual morals. I guess you could say Andrea Peyser and her pundit colleagues are quite the experts in the field.
»The president flirted, giggled, whispered like a recalcitrant child and made a damn fool of himself at first sight of Denmark's voluptuously curvy and married prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt«.
We are told that Helle Thorning-Schmidt is buxom and curvy, an interesting observation, since here in Denmark she’s more often chided for being too thin. Add to that the fact she’s MARRIED. And married woman should never under any circumstances speak with men other than her own.
There’s also the subject of the prime minister’s legs. They’re far too Scandinavian.
»The Danish hellcat hiked up her skirt to expose long Scandinavian legs covered by nothing more substantial than sheer black stockings«.
So this predatory minx of a PM with Scandinavian legs has dared to show them off in black nylons, which everybody knows is practically a ”booty call”. Cover up, you want to shout. Where’s your burka, Helle?
Another commentary:
»...a blonde bimbo who hadn't the sense to cover up and keep it clean«.
Because a black suit with a matching skirt just screams "you know I'm nasty". Public knowledge. How can she leave the house with those legs! That she sits with, and crosses as she pleases! Taking them to South Africa with her, maybe that’s the worst of it!
Which would make it the first time we’ve experienced ”Scandinavian” as an adjective for a body part. But let’s just roll with it. Boast about ourselves, be all ”Let’s see those beautiful Scandinavian shoulders”, or ”My Scandinavian little toe is a bit sore”.
And so, the catfight is all set up, a tune the media loves to play. The old women always hating on other women, being jealous, and competing for each other’s men and attention. The world’s tabloids immediately jumped on the #selfiegate angle of Michelle Obama as the scorned wife who sat and stewed over the fact that her husband was flirting excessively with that Danish PM-tart. Despite the facts that the photographer behind the picture quickly gave us a whole other story, and that there were numerous pictures where Michelle Obama was indeed smiling. But nothing beats a good catfight, and it was also a chance to air the ”angry black woman” stereotype.
»With Michelle glowering, the world judging and mental fidelity floating into the abyss, the president leaned into the air space of the cross-legged Danish cupcake, who is known in Copenhagen as a fan of America's randy TV show 'Sex and the City'. It was the memorial equivalent of a bodice-ripper«.
And then, of course, the man must be punished. Andrea Peyser has it all figured out. What with Obama being such a huge flirt, he certainly won’t be getting any action on the homefront at all. NONE. She knows.  
»Obama then proceeded to absorb body heat from the Dane, which he won't be feeling at home for a long time«.
So what have we learned here? That female prime ministers are not allowed to have legs. Especially not the Scandinavian kind. They’re not allowed to take selfies. They’re not allowed to enjoy themselves. They’re not allowed to talk to men who brought their wives along with them. They’re not allowed to wear skirts. Or nylons, God forbid. They’re not allowed to be fans of iconic TV shows. And they’re certainly not allowed to talk to men, other than the ones they’re married to. As a matter of fact, it would be preferable if there weren’t any female heads of state at all. Everything would just be much easier that way.

A final reminder, this is my (very hurried) translation, of today. I will probably be revising it a bit tomorrow. Again, to go to the original article, in Danish, click here

Monday, March 04, 2013

I washed windows today. Well, I washed windows yesterday too (and will wash more windows tomorrow, and the day after...). But it really counted today. I did it the old-fashioned way. A bowl of hot water with vinegar, and a dash of soap, a rag, and some newspaper. I wiped everything down religiously with the vinegary rag, inside and out. Bunched up a sheet of newspaper, and just wiped and wiped, until not one stripe was left. I tell you - the sun through clean windows is brutal. Now you've cleaned the windows, you see everything else that's collected a layer of...not just grime - but biofilm. This Spring Cleaning will last months!

We gave the boys' room a pretty thorough sprucing too. Out with the old, the broken, the brick-a-brack.  Stickers got scrubbed off the furniture, a new lick of paint is on its way, the furniture was re-arranged. I also bought new duvets for the boys. Big, fluffy ones, the kind that can fill an empty bed. They really loved bedtime today. Halfdan even asked Mikael to turn off the light and leave him to his new nest straight away, and lulled himself to sleep with contended clucking.

It's all so right. It's what matters. It's so simple.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A new floor, a new look on life (I hope), and a DIY

I left you last in Berlin. Since then, dear readers, it would appear to the untrained eye that nothing has happened, nothing at all. But on the contrary, everything has changed. For the better? Perhaps. For the worse? No, not at all. But there is No Going Back, however you look at it. 

Upon our return from Berlin, I quickly threw myself into Project Floor Paint. It took many days of painting, many podcasts to stave off the monotony, and weeks of drying. We've lived here for 7 years. SEVEN. Our en suite living/dining rooms have lived under the shame of our horrible floors far too long. And when all was painted, dried, and done? All I could think of was - what the hell took us so long?! 

See? So much better. Like a blanket of calm engulfed our entire apartment, and all our furnishings? What the hell took so long indeed!


Now, I no longer wince when I see the children playing on the floor. I don't imagine them playing in a pool of imaginary mud any longer. They're free to roll around all they want down there (provided vaccuming's up to date) and strew their playthings hither and thither.

Why yes, that is a miniscule Christmas tree in a pot! As you people will know, I will not have an amputated tree stand around in my home, only waiting to die, bejeweled and twinkling in one final, cruel tort. We shall replant this one, and hopefully use it again next year. 

But a small glimpse of our light, bright floor - the staches are really why I put this picture here and you know it. 

Oh right - that new look on life? I got my Masters, bitches!!! This is me, reading a non-fiction book because I want to, not because I have to. Just look at me. I'm even enjoying it, and my pits aren't involuntarily sweaty. 

Hooray and all that, but it's winter now, and someone has to be practical. We live in an old building from 1905-ish. It's not exactly a role model as insulation goes. So to combat unnecessary drafts, I've made my own draft-stoppers. If you can sew a somewhat straight line - this is for you! I have lots of fabric scraps from all sorts of projects. They fit the bill for this sort of thing. The white fabric is from an old sheet I think, and the flowery fabric is actually a repurposed pant leg. I really loved those trousers, but there was a huge black grease stain from my bike that never went away, so... 

Lay your "pretty" fabric pattern side up on top of your whilte/utilitarian fabric that is your inner casing. Fold them over, and pin them like so. 

Sew along the pin line. Then sew again along one of the ends. It doesn't have to be pretty! 

When you've done that, you need to flip the fabric right side out again, and then you're ready to fill'er up! 

I bought cheap sand at the pet store. You could use other things - rice, lentils, cherry pits. Whatevs. 

I really, really, really, really, really, REALLY recommend using a cup/ladle/ANYTHING smaller to transport the sand from the bag to the funnel. Fill them just enough to be full, not bursting. You want to be able to fold and contort them around corners and such.

All filled up, and ready to insulate! This particular one is destined for the tv room. The ones I made for the dining room have a gray casing to better fit the decor there. Next up - curtains!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ketchup 2

We went to Berlin, just 2 days after I turned my thesis in. I was so stressed while Mikael was planning the whole thing, I wanted to call it off, but it was great, really. I might actually be starting to like that city now. Never really did, until this trip. A few choice pictures that sum up our few days there.


Just the first in a series of posts trying to recall my life the past 6 months. 
We have added a few new family members to the mix. 
München, black cat, reserved, yet cuddly.
Odessa, gray cat, social and playful. 
And we took care of Pony more than a few times as well, a Boxador (extremely sweet, child friendly breed-mix), who we LOVE, and she loves us, and the kittehs (maybe too much?) back.
Adding animals to the thesis-crunch was a bit of a gamble. It was nice to have lumps of purr around in periods of high stress, and also nice to have to go for walks intermittently, but KITTENS people. They are ALL over the place.  
Back with more from the previous 6 months i a jiff!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The Abyss: Before, During, After

After Tuesday, I'm going to have to apply myself and write a post on "How To Write Your Thesis in 6 Months". It'll be the best comic relief you've seen in these parts, just you wait.

For now, just a small taste. Fear, fear, and fear. Left, right, and center. Past, present, future. It's everywhere. I'd love to say it was/is/will be different, but that's just not the case. The good news is, that moving along from one kind of fear to the other is still transformative. At least I'm not sitting around calcifying.

At any rate, I'll turn the damn thing in on Tuesday, and then wait around another 2 months to find out if I've passed or not. If I have, I'll have my MA in Modern Culture. Yay for me. I'll also have a lot more time on my hands for the 117 projects I've procrastinated by dreaming up, and writing mental abstracts for. I think I know what I want to be when I grow up. Kind of.

Now - for a very important message, mostly going out to close family and friends. This may mark some sort of passing from one part of my life to another, but for the love of all that is good in the world - no congratulations. This is just a part of it all. I'm more into micro-appreciation, if you know what I mean. All the little things, really. So PLEASE don't commemorate me/this in any way, much appreciated. I'll let you in on a little secret. I'm not much for receiving gifts. I'm trying to unload my material wealth, not accrue more. I have SO many books, I really don't need more. I don't like receiving flowers either, I just have to watch them sit on a table, dying slowly until I can throw them away. So, thanks, but no thanks. Love and friendship are good enough for me (and come with low carbon emissions), and spontaneous gift giving, you know, just because, is somehow more authentic, not as forced. You can come and help me paint my floor though, maybe sew some curtains? That would be lovely. Shall we say Wednesday?