Easy, Wheezy! Decongestant Salve

Even though it’s officially spring, both the weather and my lungs are holding on tight to winter. It’s all kinds of rainy and cold outside, and I can’t quite shake the stuffy nose I picked up last week.

Easy, Wheezy! Decongestant Salve - MamootDIY.com

I whipped up a little homemade VapoRub (Viva Peru!) to get me through the next few days of this cold, and – BONUS – to help me take on the spring allergies I know are coming as soon as everything starts blooming.

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Wood Butter: For the Care and Keeping of Your Wooden Tools and Surfaces

During my last semester of college, I lived with a woman named Brenda. I had just gotten back from a semester abroad and all my friends already had homes, so I took to craigslist and found myself a sublet. Brenda had a 3-story row house filled with beautiful things in the Italian Market section of Philadelphia. Her basement (which you entered through a trapdoor in the kitchen) was filled with power tools that she taught me to use and a kiln that she used to fire pottery she made in her studio. In her turquoise kitchen she had a collection of wooden spoons from all over the world and a heavy wooden cutting board that I loved.

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Brenda’s kitchen is all about the details: her friend made her hand-poured concrete counter tops and used real leaves used to make imprints in them

I haven’t seen Brenda since I moved after graduation in 2011, but I made this wood butter thinking about her kitchen. I had always saved pretty things for special occasions, but Brenda used her Japanese spoons and hand-thrown bowls every day and taught me to do the same. Life’s short; use the good china, you know? Using things is part of what makes them special. On a shelf, they’re cold and impersonal, but use them every day and they become part of you: something worth passing on to people you love.

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In the spirit of using the good china every day, I’ve been working on balms and salves that will keep my pretty things pretty, even through lots of use love. This wood butter will keep cutting boards, spoons, hammers, awls, butcher blocks, and whatever else you can throw it at good for years so that one day, you’ll be able to pass them on.

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Soothing and Healing Eczema Balm

Once upon a time, I was a very little girl with eczema. My mom took me to the doctor, who told her that she shouldn’t let me sleep with socks on. I now realize that the no sock rule was instituted because socks would make me too hot and I would sweat all the moisture out of my tiny, eczema-covered, raisin-y body. However at the time I was sure that sleeping with socks on would cause my toes to grow together and I’d be stuck with two flippers for feet.

I think I was about 9 when I finally realized that my fear of webbed toes was entirely unfounded.

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All this is to say: I’ve had eczema since I was a wee lass. It miraculously cleared up when I was about 17 and I had 7 glorious, eczema-free years before it came back with a vengeance when I moved to New York.

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Hierbabuena Lip Balm

I’ve finally figured out how to make labels for my lip balm and I am ecstatic. More on that later, but for now, I’m celebrating the end of way too many months of printer problems by making an easy and wintery peppermint lip balm.

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Lavender Salve

Happy exam season, students of the parts of the world that still operate school according to an agrarian calendar! You know you what need? A little something to help you breathe. This salve does just that. It’s got lavender in it, which is nice and calming. And since it’s a salve, just the act of rubbing it into your skin can is like a tiny massage.

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None-Of-Your-Beeswax Deodorant

It’s been over a year since my first foray into homemade deodorant and last week, I finally ran out and decided it was time for an upgrade.

My original recipe was way too moody. During the summer (especially in my un-airconditioned apartment) it completely melted and all the solid bits slid to the bottom. During the winter, it was so rock-solid that part of my morning ritual became using a knife to pry a pea sized amount of the stuff out of the jar, sticking it under my arms, and brushing my teeth while I waited for it to melt before rubbing it in.

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Making Lip Balm

The summer after 7th grade, I spent most nights at my grandma’s house. After three or four rounds of Hand and Foot, everyone else would go to sleep and my cousin and I would tumble into our blowup bed in the basement and watch reruns of Whose Line Is It Anyway until The 700 Club came on at 2:00. One night, I remember Drew Carey switching up his usual lame joke about the winner getting to do “something special” with him at the end for a different prize: a lifetime supply of chapstick (one tube). My cousin, in all her sparkly-eyeshadowed and lip-lined glory, laughed along with the audience, but I knew this wasn’t something to be taken lightly. Winning a lifetime supply of chapstick would be a serious coup. Even as a fledgling gay, I was already going through a tube a month. Chapstick was and is my lifestyle choice. I buy bulk chapstick the way Mormons prepare for famine. Every bag, pocket and drawer I own has a tube of chapstick hiding in it somewhere.

With roughly 17% of my income going to chapstick (okay, not really, but I buy enough that it’s got its own line in my budget), you can imagine how thrilled I was when Laneia sent me a recipe for a homemade version. Although she was worried that we wouldn’t be able to figure out how to keep it from melting in the sun, with a little bit of tinkering we were able to come up with a formula that’ll stay solid all summer long and is stupid-easy to make. If you can find beeswax, you can make this stuff. Let us know how it goes, what flavors you come up with and if you figure out a way to duplicate Dr. Pepper chapstick in your kitchen. Seriously, I’ll buy you lunch.
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