Activated Charcoal Deodorant

When feasible, we like to experiment with our own beauty potions. You can find a bunch here, from lip balms to face masks to foot scrubs!

We like our deodorants simple and effective. With their long ingredient lists, it can be hard to find simple deodorants in the beauty section. And when we do find something that’s simple and often “natural” it’s often not as effective as we want it to be. Admittedly, that goes for our own DIY blends too.

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But we aren’t throwing in the towel yet, and today we have a new blend that we’re excited to share!

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Solid Perfume Necklace

We love crafting with essential oils. You can see some previous projects here.

One of the homemade gifts that I gave this year were these necklaces. Each contained an adorable acorn locket filled with solid perfume.

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Read on for the simple DIY and an amazing woodsy essential oil blend.

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Ginger Liqueur & Mule

Ginger is our ingredient of the season, you can find more ginger recipes here and more drink recipes here.

We’re popping in with a homemade ginger liqueur recipe and using it in a ginger mule cocktail. Just getting ready for the weekend.

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This liqueur has a quick turn-around. No long steeping period like our hazelnut liqueur or limoncello (oh hey, old blog!). Instead, it’s much similar in wait to something like our rosemary vodka.

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Ginger Tisane

Ginger is our ingredient of the season. You can find a variety of drink, main dish, and dessert ginger recipes here. If you like teas, you may like browsing these posts.
On Tuesday Sarah introduced you to a beautiful made-up word. Today I’m popping in to share a lovely but rarely used word: tisane.
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ti·sane
təˈzan/
noun
plural noun: tisanes
  1. an herbal tea.
    • archaic
      a medicinal drink or infusion, originally one made with barley.

To review, the true definition of a tea is any drink made by brewing the leaves from Camilla sinensis. As we discuss in this post, there are many varieties of teas. They differ based upon the type and quality of the tea leaves and how they were processed after being harvested.  My understanding is that everything else, would be an herbal tea, and thereby considered a tisane.

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And now, let’s turn to the fiery ginger tisanes. They are lovely any time of year, but particularly perfect during the long cold winter months. They’ll warm you up from the inside out and may even help to sooth some of those nasty winter blahs.

When writing posts like this, I would love to tell you all of the claims made about an ingredient or exercise, but the scientist in me can’t bear to make a claim without citing the primary literature… so I’ll just leave it at this, I believe that some cultures and practices carry with them an ancient wisdom.

In Ayurvedic medicine, ginger is believed to be a “universal great medicine” and an Indian proverb says that “everything good is found in ginger”. 

Pictured in this post are two ginger tisanes that I love. Ginger Soother by Ginger People can be opened and drunk hot or cold. I always drink it cold and usually on the go. It’s delicious and not too fiery if you’re still warming up to ginger (puns!).

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My other go-to are the dehydrated honey ginger crystals in single serving pouches by Prince of Peace. I’ve found them in grocery stores, Asian markets, and online. I always drink this one hot – just boil water and pour of the crystals – it creates an immediate ginger tisane that has a bit more of a ginger kick than the Ginger Soother. These are awesome because they’re easy to pack for camping and other travel. 

If you’re looking for a new habit this winter, start drinking a mug of ginger tisane in the evenings (and definitely during your Monday meditations).  xo

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Read With Me : The Nature Fix

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If you dislike reading, tune out now because this is the third post about books in two weeks. #Nerdalert OR get into it man! Now’s the time. Okay, I’ll shut up. Last week I touched on the positives of reading and clued you in on the books I was reading. You can see them all on our sidebar to the right and just FYI anything that you buy from Amazon by clicking through from our website kicks back a few cents to us at no additional cost to you. Pretty cool, huh?

I mentioned in my Year in Readview post that I was working on The Nature Fix : Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative – a neuroscience read but written by a journalist, not a scientist, so equal parts informative and entertaining. That sounded like a dig on scientists, it wasn’t, but geez their books can be a little heavy and hard to get through. Once I really focused on reading this book, I flew through it in three days.

Florence Williams does an excellent job of setting the scene for each city, park, and wilderness space she spends time in. She also lays out the scientific process and experiments as well as potential knowledge gaps in an understandable and often comedic manner. It’s easy to process without being bogged down by too many details and yet she’s not just skimming over the science stuff. She’s not skimming at all actually, this entire book focuses on our mental and physical health and yet it doesn’t read like a textbook. Ahem. You can also tell that Florence is doing her due diligence to not just feed you the success stories. She’s honest and she mentions the less than perfect results of some studies, again I point to the background in journalism. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I was learning something page after page, positives about spending time in nature that I could share with my Schu Tours adventure groups and friends alike.

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Heartwritten – A Letter To My Dead Boss

I made up a word at 7:46am today after I finished writing a letter to Ron Presby. He was my boss and he was amazing, but he died of ALS nearly a month ago. I couldn’t attend his memorial service in Philadelphia this morning and I had been thinking about that for days. Basically the lack of impact my presence would have compared to the amount of effort it would take to travel 412 miles. We wanted Ron there. I wanted Ron there. What was the point of me going if he wasn’t? So I did what felt right and I stayed put, but I woke up to a message from an old coworker:
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apparently, Bob, Ron’s husband read the handwritten heartwritten letter I sent Ron two years ago after I found out he was diagnosed.
heart·writ·ten
/härt/ˌritn/
adjective
  1. written with a pen or pencil straight from the heart.

Ron lived with ALS for several years before his death this past December.

When I found out Ron was sick I couldn’t not say something. There are so many times I bite my tongue, become shy, and ultimately harden where my being wishes to be soft. I decide that being truthful and in turn vulnerable, is somehow not worth it.

But it is.

It took me a few months to reach out and ask for Ron’s address and somehow another half a year passed and I still had no idea what to say. I found myself ruminating on Ron, his life, and the unfairness of his immobility and failing health while I myself was walking eighty miles through a remote mountain range in Nepal. I couldn’t stop marveling at the simultaneous beauty and treachery that is life. That we can work so hard to enjoy it and one day it has to be taken away from us. That our end is already written just as was the beginning.

Over the course of the two-week trek, Ron kept popping up. The guilt of not sharing my truth was starting to eat away at me, but I was still nervous. How do I tell Ron what he means to me? Ron who most likely thinks he was simply some boss or a random person passing through my life, how do I tell him that I deeply care and appreciate him. If it weren’t for Facebook, I doubt Ron would recognize my name as he’s managed thousands of people during his career.

So how do I tell this man I think of him often. That he was different from the other captains and shift leaders? That he made a positive impact on my entire being. That part of who I was and therefore who I am now was shaped by him. That I felt like a worthwhile human when he spoke to me even if it was to basically tell me to stop stuffing my face with desserts by saying, ‘Hey Schusie, hurry it up so we can get outta here.’

It’s difficult to write all that down, pen on paper. It feels weird and maybe even creepy to really tell the truth about your feelings when no one is asking it of you. Especially when that no one is your former boss that you worked under for only three years, among hundreds of other coworkers all wearing the same exact uniform, over half a decade ago.

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Standing at a viewpoint and being moved to silent tears as I watched hundreds of prayer flags blowing in the breeze, I had this epiphany. I carry so much love within me, but I often stay rigid and hold onto it. It’s rare that I reach out and allow my love to extend and flow to the ones I care for around me, but at that moment on top of a mountain, looking into the valley below, I felt this expansive power of love and the realization that it is okay to give it away, that it is more than okay, that by holding onto it I was actually robbing the world of love instead of sharing it and generating even more compassion. If love is not shared, where does it live?

And after dozens of hesitations, I simply started: Dear Ron,

And before I knew it, I filled a couple pages and then shame washed over me again.

‘This is weird,’ I said.

‘It’s pretty weird,’ replied my boyfriend.

And so I finished off the letter, read it over once, cried and laughed, and felt the bliss that washes over you after a weight has been lifted, after something has been purged, after having a moment of raw truthfulness and purity in a world where we are constantly censoring ourselves for others’ and our own consumption. And then another moment of hesitation where I thought I should rewrite it and polish it up. Maybe lose a page and fix the misspellings and definitely leave out the smoking weed after work part, but I thought if I didn’t send it now I wouldn’t rewrite it, I would instead regret it and never send it.

I folded the letter up among some Tibetan prayer flags and a signing bowl and wrote a few words about the gifts as if they were the reason for sending the box. A few days later Ron replied via Facebook. Overjoyed and honest about it. Sincere. Something that had taken almost a year of courage for me to achieve.

It took me four days to open that message because I was protecting myself from it. From fear of rejection and judgment and the self-inflicted shame of vulnerability, but there was none of that. There was only Ron.

In part of his message he confirmed my revelation by saying, “Your words uplifted me…and what makes everything in life worthwhile is to touch, help, or inspire a good soul. I haven’t received much feedback like that so, let me just say thank you again…”

I didn’t realize until I read his reply that I sent the letter for me, not for Ron. Ron the beautiful person that deserved to be showered with admiration and care for his years of service to this earth and humanity. Ron who thinks helping good souls is what makes life worthwhile. I knew for certain that he inspired and assisted dozens of us during my time in Philadelphia. That we all had feedback for him that we were too timid to share.

I loved Ron because I never saw him be anything other than a truly good person. He continuously showed up in his life and in turn mine as a kind, funny, stable and fair human being. His presence and the example he set by simply existing and interacting with the world around him was worth thanking him for. Was worth loving him for.

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In Ron’s message, he also mentioned that he was inspired by the Dali Lama and that he thought Tibet was a holy place. Two years passed and I was back in Nepal, trekking the same route only this time with cell service. I logged into Facebook and saw that Ron was in the process of completing his life. Once again I was standing in ancient Tibet with thoughts of Ron, carrying him along with me on the trek in an environment where you can feel the majesty of the mountains pulsating around you like a low electrical buzz or maybe a vibration of love and appreciation for the opportunity to be a witness to them.

I read about his admittance to the hospital on the same day of the trek that I had had the epiphany at the viewpoint two years earlier. Somehow he had reached me once again with a reminder: spread the love, think of me, cultivate compassion, carry on. Each time I spun the prayer wheels along the trail I felt the love and I spun it right back out, love, love, love. I felt it reverberate around me over the days to come when I’d worry and fight the urge to check facebook because this one instance of death in Ron’s life doesn’t detract from the immense amount of love it was filled with.

We love you, Ron, but you already knew that. You weren’t one to stand still and keep all your love and joy inside. You let it wave out of you as you waltzed around the various ballroom floors kindly telling us to get our shit together with only a little nod, wink, or grin in the direction of the mild crisis. So thankful for you. This note came a little late, but again, I think it was more for me than you.

-Schusie

 

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Meditative Mondays – Episode 1

Hey babes! *Years* ago I thought about creating a weekly email newsletter to cultivate a more regular meditation practice and that was before I knew anything about meditation. The only thing I was certain of was that it made me feel good. Since then, I’ve read countless mindfulness texts, completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training and stuck to a consistent meditation practice each week so today I’ve finally gon’ and dun it. I sent out the first Meditative Mondays newsletter.

You can sign up for the email here & learn more about what they contain here or you can say screw all that and simply listen along below for a quick Meditative Monday session.

 

If you want to be super helpful you can tell me how to get rid of that underlying fuzzzzzz sound in my audio. I think it’s picking up noise from my DSLR. Do I need a deadcat wind muff? Should I not use this Rode mic? Should I use a lav mic instead? Is that crazy? I don’t want you to be able to hear me swallow like on Ted Talks. I find that creepy. And you thought you read this blog because I had the answers, nope! I know practically nothing and that’s after graduating with a degree in Journalism where I actively gathered news via audio and video for four years. Help.

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Read With Me

Pages read in 2018 : 553.

This isn’t a competition or anything, but who is winning? Me or you? One of those books was poetry, so even I, the self-proclaimed reading champ, knows it shouldn’t count as full pages. Let’s not get hung up on the details. I just finished a book this morning at 5:30 AM, yes, I’ve been staying up that late early and it was so weird and wonderful and confusing that I really need to talk it out with someone. Thankfully, a friend loaned me the book so I can call him, but what about the next book? Who will be there to discuss? I’m trying to head this proposed catastrophe off by asking you to read with me

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Welcome January

Typically, on the first Wednesday of each month, we like to pause and take a look at what’s going on in the world around us, sometimes we focus on animal activity, celestial events, and our farmers’ fields and other times we expand the conversation to highlight relevant nature and environmental topics in the news, a discussion of our intentions for the month, and other bits of inspiration.

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In the News

Guys, there is something called a bomb cyclone and it’s coming for the east coast. Think hurricane, but wintery conditions. Ick. I moved to North Carolina to avoid winter and here we are talking about temperatures 20-40 degrees colder than usual. Typing that just sent a shiver down my spine. Hopefully, Santa brought that electric blanket I asked for, we’ll see at Russian Christmas this weekend in Saxis.

I thoroughly appreciated this nature in the news roundup for 2018. What to expect in 2018: science in the new year gives you a briefing of what we’ll hear about this year.

Two negatives and a neutral is what we’ll call this segment :

Human impacts on forests and grasslands are much larger and older than we previously assumed. Why does that matter? Well, carbon stocks in vegetation have a crucial role in the global climate system and if we’re going to take climate change and the Paris Agreement seriously, these studies are important for future bioenergy policies.

Boats are threatening the survival of Panama’s Bocas Del Toro dolphins. These dolphins are pretty special because there is a pod of about eighty who do not interbreed with the more common Carribean dolphins. Dolphin watching in the area is increasing, which may work in the dolphins’ favor as it will bring awareness and attention to this small, unique dolphin population.

Lastly, humans are kinda helpful here: Ecologists used maps produced before World War I to recent kelp forest surveys in the Pacific Northwest and found that they’ve been pretty stable over the past century. Read the article to find out why we surveyed kelp beds way back then in the first place, pretty interesting stuff.

 

Russian Christmas

If you’ve been a friend of the Schu family long enough, you know the whole crew gets together during the first weekend of January to celebrate Russian Christmas, which takes place on the 7th each year. The date marks the birth of Jesus on the Russian Orthodox Church’s calendar and really that’s where it starts and ends for the Schu fam. We use the date as an excuse to gather once more, which is especially convenient now that some siblings head to their inlaws for Dec. 25.

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Tea Season

For me, tea season is all year long, but I find myself doubling up this time of year. If there’s not a steaming mug of tea in my hands, likely I’m walking to the kitchen to procure one. Drinking tea has become one of my favorite daily rituals. Heating the water, picking my favorite mug, selecting a tea, allowing it to steep, reading the tag (kind of like a fortune in a cookie) sipping it in both hands until the mug is empty.. and repeat.

A few details of my tea routine :

  • My Mug – I used to photograph for Haand, a lovely local company, and I honestly love their mugs and dishes more than any I’ve ever used. First off, matte glazes. I could end there, but they’re also really easy to clean, they’re restaurant quality, so not easily chipped, and each piece is designed to interact with you and your food in a really delightful way. I use these three pieces every single day: the short large mug, the margay, and the caracal. My friends also bought me this eat, sleep, yoga, repeat mug, which is a great reminder and there’s a little golden smiley face waiting at the bottom of the mug for when you finish, which always brightens my day. So choose your mug wisely, it should bring you joy each time you pick it up and even while you wash it.
  • My Tea – Celestial Seasonings is my absolute favorite. I’ve been drinking their brews for years, but after visiting the factory in Boulder, CO and hearing the company’s story (basically a few flower-picking hippies) my love was solidified. They also minimize waste by skipping the teabag string, tag, and wrapper. I also like Yogi Tea because of the little tea fortune and I think Trader Joe’s makes a few great blends, but I really hate that they wrap each individual teabag in plastic. I don’t think I would have even thought of this if it weren’t for Celestial Seasonings. Brands that drive you to be more conscious of how you consume are the best brands, don’t you think? My favorite teas at the moment (some of these are always on the list): CS fast lane, CS sleepytime, CS tension tamer, Yogi Green Tea Kombucha, Yogi Breathe Deep, Yogi Relaxed Mind, Yogi Calming, and TJ’s Moroccan Mint.
  • My Brewing – I was a big fan of the teapot for a long time, but last year, I moved in with a roommate who used an electric tea kettle and I must admit I’m totally hooked and it’s the number one appliance I use, second up is my coffee grinder. You can buy a ceramic, stainless, or see-through version. Here’s a super secret teapot trick I didn’t learn until I was 22, you *never* need to take the lid off, just fill up the pot from the spout. Maybe you knew this? Maybe I revolutionized your life? No need to tell me which.

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New Year’s Resolution Success Story

It’s nothing major, but last year, a few of us sat around and wrote down resolutions. We then put the resolutions in a bowl, mixed them up, and picked one. The one I received was, “Read a book a month” and funny enough this was a resolution I made years prior, but never fully followed up on. After pulling that resolution from the bowl in 2017 however, I made it a point to always be reading a book or three. I just decided that I needed to reincorporate reading into my daily or at least weekly routine, and I did. Simple as that. I picked up a book and made time for reading again. This is me reminding you that READING IS FUN and awesome and totally worth it and way better than facebook or instagram or whatever else you’re wasting time on (besides this website obviously). Sometimes I find myself reading by way of procrastination, but honestly, that feels way better than scrolling through FB to procrastinate. I actually deleted my FB app over six months ago and haven’t looked back. I log on way less and my life feels full of interesting stories instead of mostly superficial ones. Here’s what I read in 2017.

On that note, are you a resolute person? But really, do you take the time to look at your year and plan for the next or do you treat the shifting from December to January just like you would February to March? I’m a bit of both. I value the pendulum that swings from December 31 to January 1st, but I also feel like each moment is an opportunity to decide to take action or cease bad habits. Did you hear about our Meditative Mondays email newsletter? Just a little opportunity to bring some calm into your atmosphere this year. Join us if you’d like 🙂 or pass it along to that friend who is always running circles in his or her mind.



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