Monday, September 28, 2009

Progress with school & goals

Updates on my masters program...

currently enrolled in Global Public Health (and will be writing about some of my lectures soon) and Biostatistics. Enjoying both. And trying to keep up with all of the reading. So far, we've discussed quite thought provoking subject matters such as population control issues, family planning, child health and what is helping vs what is not.

Settled the questions over who my advisor is -- he's an ER doctor with a special interest in immigrant health and good contacts in Central America. Awesome.

Have met with a few different professors and determined my goals for the year need to be gaining as much experience with speaking Spanish as possible, narrowing down my ideas for my capstone (thesis) subject matter, and figuring out a plan for where/with whom to go abroad next summer. Scouting out some good volunteer opportunities and deciding what events are worth my time and what aren't. Full time work and part time masters classes doesn't give me much flex in my schedule for extra right now I'm successfully fitting in some socializing, yoga, exercising and volunteering.

Success -- went apple picking (reflecting on my past post on food that is local and fresh, I'd say picking off the tree is the best you can get!) -- also got 25lbs of tomatoes from the same farm for $12, Crazy!! Learning that if you buy things local and in season, they can actually be a better deal..and so much tastier! so my friend and I peeled them and made fresh sauce for storing....YUM...using the juice, skin and seeds to experiment with a few things, tomato based face mask (supposed to be good for blackheads), tomato ice cubes for blending with veggies for drinking, and juice for soup.

Considering it:
the possibility of fermenting my apples for a hard cider, perhaps if I find good home instructions for this??

Unlearning it: watching television during the week -- must give up the little I do watch if I'm going to keep up on my reading.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Natural Remedies

I often question if solutions found in nature, not synthetically made or picked up off the shelf at the drug store can really be effective. If they are, they can potentially be a great sustainable alternative to what is commonly expensive and presumably not too healthy to use. So, as I've come across suggested solutions, I've become my own lab rat to test them. This should not be viewed as empirical evidence, but its worth a try in my opinion. I'll be researching these further, perhaps looking for literature to see if they actually work.

mint as a bug repellent -- this definitely worked for me. Either steep the mint in water and put it in a spray bottle, or just pick it, twist it up and bruise the leaves and then rub them all over your skin.

plantain leaves for itch relief
-- not the banana like plantains you eat, but the short leafy plants disguised as weeds among your grass. I'll take a pic of these and add it soon. Bruise them as well and rub on the itchy spot. This worked well for me with bug bites!

soap & water or alcohol for mealy bugs -- I had an outbreak of mealy bugs on my office plants, and leaves starting dying off. So at the office I filled a water bottle with mild dish soap and water, shook it up and drenched the plants in them. It worked fairly well. I had to repeat a couple times, but so far they have not returned. This is supposed to work on most pests as long as you hit them directly. My neighbor suggests alcohol as a remedy for pests also...she says to get the cheapest bottle of vodka or gin you can find (or whatever cheap form of alcohol you have lying around, even rubbing alcohol) and to drench the plant in it. It kills the bugs on contact. Be sure to rinse with water a few times very thoroughly as to not kill the plant in the process.

I'm still on my quest for sunscreen that I am convinced is healthy enough to lather all over my body. For now, long sleeves and an umbrella seem to be the best alternative.

I've also converted to all natural, earth friendly toiletries, including shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and cocoa butter in place of lotions, and peroxide for mouth wash (also handy for teeth bleaching). Soon I'll be out of toothpaste and attempting to use a peroxide/baking soda mix instead. All seem to be doing the trick except the deodorant...but that will be another blog.

*A side note: my neighbor told me to scratch a bar of soap before gardening, so that your nails get soap under them instead of dirt. Then when you go to wash your hands after digging in the soil, the soap comes out leaving your fingernails squeaky clean! Its a great idea for someone like me, who always starts off wearing gardening gloves and 5 minutes in decides its easier without them on.*

I'll keep posting new remedies as I find them. Let me know if you have any to share!

Consider it: checking your back yard or garden for natural remedies to try out. Ask your neighbors or old people you know what they used before all of the stuff we use now was around.

Unlearn it:
buying for the brand name...just because it smells good and is in fancy packaging does not mean its good for you.