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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Gentle Tattoo-Healing Lotion

Just recently, my girlfriend came home from a week in Chicago with a new tattoo. After showing me the still-red a-camp mountain on her arm, she went in the other room to rub some lotion on it and – “OW!” As much as I love Vaseline’s lotion, it’s isn’t the most gentle stuff on broken skin.

Wanting to give her something a little less painful and a lot more DIY, I researched tattoo healing and got to work.

Gentle Tattoo Healing Lotion - Mamoot DIY

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Things I Learned In Summer Herbalism Class

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been taking herbalism classes at the Neighborhood Farm Initiative’s urban farm in Washington, D.C. I got to talk to other plant nerds, ate all kinds of weeds, and learned LOADS. I loved it so much that I’m already planning to sneak back down to D.C. in October to get my season’s worth of herbal info in the autumn classes.

Things I Learned In Summer Herbalism Class

This one is fennel. You might have eaten it as a spice or had the bulb as a vegetable. It’s a member of the carrot family and can help stimulate the production of breast milk. Fascinating, right?

Since it’s summer (and, as everyone in New York reminded me before I can here: summers in D.C. are brutal. (although I hate to burst your collective bubbles, NYC people, but here in D.C. we have air conditioning and trees and sky which makes summertime nine-hundred percent more bearable)), we talked about and touched and smelled and ate cooling herbs – the little guys that help with heat-related ailments like sunburn, bug bites, agitation, nerves, and insomnia. The classes were taught by Holly Poole-Kavana, an herbalist who, in my book, is the perfect balance of woo and evidence-based practices.

This plant is called cheeses. Yep, just like the dairy product. It's got little pods that look (but don't taste) a lot like cheese wheels. It's related to marshmallow, okra, and hibiscus and can help with dry eyes, mouth, and skin.

This plant is called cheeses. Yep, just like the dairy product. It’s got little pods that look (but don’t taste) a lot like cheese wheels. It’s related to marshmallow, okra, and hibiscus and can help with dry eyes, mouth, and skin.

How much is there really to say about plants? Ohmylord, SO MUCH. I took notes and I know that I still missed gobs. Here are my six favorite things that I learned.

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Honeysuckle Lotion

On the first day of spring here in New York City, we had some downright vernal weather.

The Manhattan Bridge is seen in the background as commuters make their way through the streets of Dumbo after a snow storm in New YorkDesperate for the tiniest hint of spring, I broke out the honeysuckle essential oil I’ve been holding onto since last October. I’d experimented with lotion before but my results were always hit or miss. One day I’d end up with a perfect, creamy lotion. The next, I’d have a lump of concrete in a puddle of water. I gave up. Last week, though – armed with my little bottle of honeysuckle and facing an nearly-empty bottle of store-bought lotion – I decided to give homemade lotion another try.

Honeysuckle Lotion

The result was a velvety, floral lotion that I’ve been able to duplicate twice with no concrete disasters.

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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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