Posted in physical health, tips

The small magic of bentonite clay

Bentonite clay is a powder, made from volcanic ash. (I buy mine from Mountain Rose Herbs, but it’s available online in a bunch of places. Link is not affiliate.) It is negatively charged and bonds easily with positively charged compounds, which, as it turns out, makes it useful for a variety of health applications.

What do I use it for?

Add a little water to make a paste, and slather that stuff on bug bites and stings.

The relief is nearly instantaneous. The sooner I can apply it after being bitten, the more pronounced the results.

I also put a band aid over it so it doesn’t get wiped off.

It’ll dry out, and you can flake it off (or wash it). For bad bites or stings, reapply every few hours.

I’ve read that it works well for many skin issues, but my only personal experience is mosquito bites, ant bites, and bee stings.

I’ve also read that it works well as a generic skin mask. Haven’t tried that either, but maybe I will.

I have made tooth powder including it, and my teeth looked good, but the powder was somewhat unpleasant. (Can’t entirely blame it on this ingredient, but still.)

Bentonite clay needs to be stored in glass, plastic, or wood. Stored in metal, it will absorb from the container which makes it inert. In other words, it won’t work. My little container that goes hiking with me? Plastic. I’m not keeping glass in my hiking pack, I couldn’t find a suitable wooden container, and I already had a plastic container. (And if you’re using utensils to scoop or mix it, use wood or plastic.)

If you do a search to find more information, many sites will give recommendations for ingesting it. I don’t. This is why.

There are two common types of bentonite clay: sodium and calcium. Most brands of clay are recommended for external use only. Only calcium is typically recommended for internal use. But really: its namesake mineral goes in to your body as it draws out whatever it’s drawing. A lot of extra sodium isn’t good. But if you have certain health issues, a lot of extra calcium could be a significant problem as well.

Much like any natural remedy (I’m looking at you, essential oils!), before ingesting, speak with a professional who knows about these things (naturopath, aromatherapist, etc.—most typical US physicians wouldn’t have sought training in these types of things). Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s safe to use willy nilly.

But for bug bites? Try it!

Posted in just a quote, mindset, podcasts, thoughtfulness

Podcast quote: evidence vs. belief

A quote from Seth Godin via his podcast Akimbo. It stands on its own. (This quote is actually from the Q&A at the end of the linked episode. Emphases are his.)

Where it’s starting to get tricky, in the last hundred years, is that the scientific method, the engineers’ approach to the world, the thought of testing, measuring, understanding processes means that many of the arguments that people make sound like arguments that are based on that engineers’ approach.

But while it may sound that way, that’s not really what’s being said. That what is really being said is, ‘This is something I believe. This is part of my identity. This is who I have chosen to be culturally, and I’m going to dress it up in the uniform of the scientific method.’

This drives engineers and actual scientists crazy, because when they’re doing their job properly, the scientific method forces them to change their mind in the face of a better argument.

But of course, as we’ve all experienced, people who are coming from a place of belief cannot change their mind in the face of a better argument because that’s why it’s called ‘belief.’ That belief withstands a better argument and we get pleasure out of believing it.

Posted in food, meandering, storytelling

An interesting challenge: Canada edition

The Climbing Daddy is friends with the couple who own the fishing lodge we stayed at in Canada. As a result, we were there the week before they officially opened for the season, so they weren’t serving meals.

They were apologetic but assured us that in terms of appliances and equipment, there was a fully stocked kitchen.

We flew into Williams Lake, a small town northeast of Vancouver, where we were picked up for the 90-minute drive northeast to the lodge. Before heading up, we went grocery shopping.

This was the challenge: what were we going to make?

It’s always challenging to cook in someone else’s kitchen. We didn’t know exactly what “fully stocked” meant. We didn’t know what foods would be available or not in small town Canada. And we needed everything for cooking—no set of oils, spices, dressings, etc. on hand. And we didn’t have international roaming, so no internet while we were at the store.

It turned out, there was a fridge/freezer, oven, stove, microwave, coffeemaker, kettle, toaster. There were pots and pans and a few but enough cooking utensils. Dishes, bowls, plates, glasses, mugs, forks, spoons, knives. There were a few Tupperware-type containers. There was a grill and tools on the patio. Some napkins, aluminum foil, hand towels, dish soap, and a drying rack.

There was salt, pepper, honey, and packets of artificial sweeteners.

At some point, we borrowed a colander.

The biggest challenge in preparation was making food that was tasty without a spice cabinet. We had prepackaged pasta and salads (that came with dressing) and made other things from scratch. We had fruit and nuts and cheese for snacking. Eggs, potatoes, a bag of fresh stir fry veggies.

Overall, we ate well and it was, if nothing else, entertaining to pull meals together.

If we had thought of it, we would have bought a couple more storage containers (and just left them for the next guests). We couldn’t keep many leftovers, and it would have made life a little simpler (and fewer dishes!) if we could have made larger portions with leftovers.

If you had a “fully stocked” kitchen (without really knowing what that included) and only one chance at the front end to go food shopping, what would you plan?

Posted in ebb & flow, motivation, parenting

The relentless forward movement of life

Overwhelm is everywhere. At least among people I know, more people than not have more to do than time or energy to do it.

The solution largely seems to be: pare down. (I sometimes follow my own advice in this realm.)

If you have less stuff, there’s less to put away, to maintain, to clean. The lack of clutter is mentally and emotionally freeing. (This is something I have been working on for years. Still not where I’d like to be, but not nearly as pack rat as I used to be.)

Our outgoing books go to the used book store for hopefully a bit of store credit. Clothes go in a pile of “outgoing” and then get donated to The Kid’s preschool’s clothing donation drop. The Kid’s old clothes get handed down.

We have a Goodwill box for anything else. When the box is full, it sits in the car for a few days (are there people who just take it right away?), then gets dropped off at Goodwill.

If you buy less stuff, besides the above benefits, you save money. Because even if you get all your crap at the dollar store, you’re still spending dollars. They might not add up to make you a millionaire, but they easily could add up to something more rewarding than impulse buys, especially if you’re accumulating things that don’t hold up well or don’t keep your interest for long.

(Shop with a list. When you go grocery shopping or to Target or to wherever your impulse purchase weakness is, take a list and stick to it! And if you’re going in to pick up two or three things, don’t get a cart. Or a basket.)

Do less stuff. Clear as much of the calendar as you can, and be mindful about adding things back in. Make things do double duty if you can. For example, when The Kid was doing track, he had practice for 90 minutes three times a week, plus meets. I used his practice time to get exercise in for that day, and sometimes brought something else to do when I was done instead of wasting an hour and a half on games and social media. Even if the “something else” was just a book to read, not having (or making) time to read has been a point of contention between me and life, so using that time to read made life better.

Farm out household tasks. I know too many women with husbands and bigger or big kids who are still doing most of the work themselves. There are some things that we do because we live in a house, and that applies to all members of the house (except the youngest of the young; even kids who are two or three can put away their own toys).

How to get there if you’re not there? One suggestion: make a list of all of the housework, then sit down all together and decide who is going to do what and how often. It doesn’t need to be rigid, but it does need to be followed. What’s the payoff for them? A happier you. A more engaged you. A more energetic you. A less nagging you. They’ll need some reminders at first (as would you, if it was the other way around). While you’re working on the schedule, ask what words you can use to remind them to do stuff without it feeling like a nag. If there aren’t any, then they just need to remember to do it. Calendars, chore charts, white boards or chalk boards, sticky notes—whatever works for you.

Make meal plans. Do this one as time goes on, and it slowly accumulates without a huge time commitment. Just keep a list of meals you have and what ingredients you need to make them. Spreadsheet, index cards, whatever. As it comes time to plan meals for the coming week (which is much more efficient than trying to decide after work what to make), you have a bank of meals to choose from and a list of what you need to make them. Make your shopping list from the meals you’ve chosen from the meal bank.

I’ve seen many posts with crockpot freezer meals, sometimes taking a few hours on a weekend to prep a week or more’s worth of meals. (They’re always for people with omnivorous diets, so I haven’t tried them.) Take a meal out of the freezer in the evening (make it part of the dinner clean up routine), put it in the crockpot in the morning, and dinner is ready (or the main portion of it is) when you get home.

I’m a little off topic of paring down, but really, given our lack of community any more, it’s all about simplifying.

If you have neighbors or nearby friends who would share dinner responsibilities (which would require similar enough diets and schedules), you could cook for both families once a week, they could cook for both families once a week. You both just got one night a week that you have home-cooked food without having to cook it, and you’ve worked in some social time. Don’t worry about your house being tidy enough (as long as you have space for everyone to eat).

Pare down. Simplify. It’s very much easier said than done, but like nearly everything else, doing it in steps makes it doable.

Once you’ve taken a little more control, you’ll have more energy for some of the things you want to do now and can’t because there’s just too much.

Posted in ebb & flow, mindset

Tweak the plan instead of yourself

If you’ve tried to make a change in habit and it’s not working, see if it can be tweaked to fit you (instead of trying to change yourself to fit it).

If you’ve decided to keep shoes put away and they’re still in a pile by the door, get a shoe rack or a basket and keep shoes by the door. They’re tidy and put away, just not in your bedroom.

If you put something (basket, shelf, hooks, etc.) by the front door for keys, wallet, etc., but all those things keep landing on the kitchen table anyway, move the something to the kitchen.

Keep forgetting reusable bags? Keep them in the car. (And after you empty them in the kitchen, hang them on the doorknob so you take them back to the car when you go.)

Staying up too late online? Put the modem on a timer so the wifi cuts out every evening.

Enough habits require you to change yourself to make them work. When you have the opportunity to be flexible about the way it all shakes down, take it.