Monday, August 9, 2010

Tamba: A truly eco way to avoid using toilet paper

Many people looking to lower the ecological impact of their lifestyle and those that just want to save money are turning to cloth wipes (also called family wipes) as an alternative to toilet paper.

I'm all for cloth wipes and use them myself, but the use of wet wipes for poo (along with a wipes warmer) seems a bit wasteful to me. There's a far easier, economical and more ecological way to get the job done and people have been doing it for centuries.

In Nigeria, some people refer to it as "tamba." It basically involves cleaning your bum with water after you poo. Here's the process: Fill a small bowl or watering can with water. After you poo, scoot your bum towards the edge of the toilet, so that you have some room behind you. Then put the bowl in your right hand and place it at the crack of your bum. Slowly poor the water and use your left hand to wash your bum (i.e. remove the poo).

It doesn't require electricity, soap or essential oils. It's a lot cheaper too and you'll feel really clean afterwards. I've never once had a problem with using my hand to wash--I just make sure that I wash my hands well with soap and warm water afterwards. It also eliminates the possibilty of staining the cloth wipes, which I use to dry.

This is what people do in a lot of other countries where toilet paper is too expensive or hard to find. Many muslims also do it as a part of their religiously prescribed hygiene practices.
Try it a few times until you get the hang of it. Once get accustomed to it, you'll become addicted to the fresh feeling that a wet cloth just can't provide.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ghee--Edible Golden Delight

I've always loved the richness of butter. It's heavy on the palate satiating saturated fats that everyone loves to hate. It's all natural, unlike margarine and other "buttery" spreads. And it's so versatile: adding flavor and texture to everything from toast and corn-on-the-cob to broccoli and brownies. Recently, however, I've undertaken a strict dairy-free diet to ward off my casein allergy (i.e. skin eruptions, digestive upset et. al.) which caused me to lay off the butter. Butter, which has relatively little casein, only caused a very mild allergic reaction but I wanted to find a way to enjoy it without any pimples or bubble gut. I did some Googling and found that ghee contains no or only trace amounts of casein. I was so ecstatic. I began a search on the net and YouTube for instructions but that search only ended in confusion. Many people, it seemed have confused western-style "clarified butter" with ghee. They're real two different things. Anyway, I finally found authentic ghee making instructions at Anjuli's site below:

The instructions have pictures and is very detailed.

The process is about 45 minutes, but it is well worth it! I've been putting ghee on EVERYTHING! It has a smooth, melt-like-a-cloud texture and wonderful caramel taste and smell (which was strong enough to draw my family to the kitchen with hungry eyes). It's like caramel without the sugar! It's really delectable. After making it I couldn't stop opening the jar to smell it. It is really wonderful. Perhaps because of the time involved in making it or because it's simply so tasty, it is now as precious to me as gold.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Homemade Beauty

Nowadays, there's a beauty product for everything under the sun: acne, dry skin, oily skin, cellulite. Supposedly the more expense a product, the more effective. But this often isn't the case. There are many simple solutions to beauty issues, often right under your own roof. Here are a few that I've found:

  • Acne: Some people can have great skin and eat whatever they like but some cannot. If you have acne, consider removing all dairy (including casein-containing products like butter and Cool Whip) from your diet. Try it for 2 weeks and you're sure to notice a dramatic improvement. You'd have saved yourself hundreds of dollars in visits to the dermatologist and acne-fighting potions. In my experience, removing gluten from my diet made no difference. FREE
  • Bath Soak: Baking soda (aka sodium bicarbonate) makes a great, cheap bath soak. It doesn't fizz like the fancy bath bombs (most of which list it as a main ingredient) but it softens the skin just the same. If plain old baking soda leaves you yearning for a touch of luxury, add a touch of olive oil along with a few drops of your favorite essential oil to jazz it up a bit. $ 0.50
  • Body Scrub: Granulated sugar and olive and/or coconut oil makes a great moisturizing body scrub and won't break the bank. Use it in the shower after you've cleansed your skin and it'll leave you with soft, silky skin. Careful though, it may make your shower a little slippery. $5.00
  • Skin Peel: Here's a beauty recipe that'll save you big bucks if you're into microdermabrasion and chemical peels: half the juice of a fresh lemon (or lime) and 1 cup of granulated sugar. Rub on the skin for 30-60 seconds and you've got an invigorating scrub/peel that will knock off those rough patches. It'll also help with hyperpigmentation, stretch marks and dull skin. Use it at night or avoid sun exposure afterwards and moisturizing is a must! $2.00
  • Tooth Whitening: Swish with a cap full of hydrogen peroxide before brushing for whiter teeth. It doesn't taste great but it works.$1.00
What are some of your cheap and effective homemade beauty recipes?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Money Saving Tips

When money is tight and inflation is high, it time to stretch your dollars. Try these money saving tips:

Bring your lunch to work instead of eating out.
Buy dry goods in bulk when they’re on sale.
Use coupons.
Drink water or tea instead of juice, soft drinks and coffee.
Don’t overeat and use leftovers.
Forego sugary items, which usually provide no nutritional value.
Grow expensive food items in a home garden.
Filter your water instead of buying bottled water.
Limit meat and seafood consumption to the necessary minimums.
Don't smoke.


Buy basic needs items such as toothpaste, laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid in bulk when they’re on sale.
Use coupons.
Bring a list with you on shopping trips and stick to it.
Don’t buy clothes that require dry cleaning or use other means such as Dryel to clean “dry clean only” clothing.
Repair or alter items before replacing them.
Switch disposable paper products to reusable ones: kitchen towels instead of paper towels, cloth napkins instead of paper napkins, handkerchiefs instead of facial tissue, cloth wipes or water rinsing instead of toilet paper and baby wipes, cloth diapers instead of disposable ones, and reusable cloth and cups instead of disposable pads and tampons.
Don't window shop or go to malls to "hang-out."

Energy & Utilities
Unplug electronic devises and appliances when not in use. Surge protectors can facilitate this process.
Use a wood stove for heating.
Purchase Energy Star Appliances.
Install “Low-e,” double paned windows.
Use thick, insulated window coverings during cold months.
Use weatherstripping and caulk to keep home well insulated.
Use florescent and LED lighting.
Open the blinds (or curtains) during the day instead of turning on the lights.
Use cold water to wash clothes.
Air dry clothes when possible.
Use rainwater for landscaping and gardening.
Don’t keep a lot of junk in your car and keep a regular car maintenance schedule.

Exercise at home or in your neighborhood.
Go to free events.
Avoid going to the movies, instead rent or borrow [from a library] a movie or watch online.
Skip cable and watch TV online instead.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why I HATE the iPhone 3G

Okay, so I bought into the iPhone fanfare. The design and interface lured me into a 2 year contract with AT&T. But about a month later, now that I'm no longer hypnotised by the cool, bright icons and the touchscreen, I have a lot of griping to do:

  • $30 Unlimited Data Plan: Even if you just want the iPhone to use just as phone (and maybe a calendar and alarm clock), you can't. You are required to pay an extra $30 a month for unlimited data over the supposedly fast 3G network. 3G is incredibly slow or all together absent, so you're likely to have better luck finding a random wifi network. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that this so-called "data" plan doesn't include a very familiar type of mobile phone data: texting. That'll cost you at least another $5.99 a month!
  • iTunes: If you thought, as I did, that you could simply add applications to your iPhone by connecting to the internet, think again. You must have an account with iTunes and use it to download applications to your iPhone through your PC. Doesn't this seem like a waste of time, hard drive space and mobile internet access to you?
  • Flashy Interface: This is another feature that will slow you down. Sure, it looks nice to see pages on your iPhone fade in and out like a well-made PowerPoint presentation, but it means more steps for you. It'll more time for you to access your key pad to dial a number and view your contacts. In an emergency, the iPhone will take up to six steps to dial 911.
  • Poor Battery Life: Even if you just use your iPhone for occasional phone calls as I do, you'll have to charge your phone every single day. I can't imagine using my phone as an iPod, video viewer, and internet browser as the makers intended--I'd have to keep a charger at home, work, in my car and at my best buddy's house!
  • Cumbersome Shape: When you look at the iPhone, there can be no doubt that the creators spend a lot of time designing it. But if you ever hold an iPhone in your hand, you'll notice how awkward it is. Try holding it up to your ear during a long conversation. It's boxy shape feels like having a book pressed to your ear.
  • Low Volume & Poor Speakers: Speaking of good conversations, have you ever noticed that the sound quality on the iPhone sucks? The volume level is very low for anyone that doesn't have bionic hearing or doesn't talk while on a stroll in a city. The speakerphone and finger volumes are just as wimpy.
  • Spotty Service & Dropped Phone Calls: Before getting the iPhone, I would brag to others about how great AT&T service was. Now, I don't have service in places where I used to and it's not uncommon for calls to drop in mid conversation. Without service, the phone can't fulfill its main function: making phone calls!

As my complaints mount, I'll continue to update this post. In the meantime, don't just buy a phone for looks or you may end up broke and disappointed.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sugar Babies: The Addiction Starts Early

For most of us, sugar addiction starts early. It begins in the wombs of our mothers. Everyday, mothers partake of the many sugary treats of the Western world--candy, gum, chocolate, fruit juice, and a plethora of desserts--and so do their unborn children. There, in the womb, we learn to crave for the taste of sugar and yearn for the rush that it provides--however brief. Once outside the womb, sugar becomes a more palpable addiction. In addition to the sugar-ladden breast milk that we receive from our mothers, we learn to identify the taste, smell and appearance of sweet treats for ourselves.

By the age of one, most children are able to identify sweets by the brightly colored packaging, the noisy plastic wrapping and the value that adults place on it. Thus begins the path to diabetes, obesity, acne (it is NOT a myth, if anyone tells you otherwise they're probably trying to sell you something to "cure" it), insulin resistance, polycystic ovarian syndrome and impaired immunity (just a few spoonfuls of table sugar can decrease your immune response for several hours, not to mention ruin your appetite).

So, if sugar's so bad for us, why do we like it some much?

The simple answer is that it's easy to like (and become addicted to) something that you need to live. Sugar or more accurately, glucose is the fuel used by most live forms. Our bodies take sugar (sucrose) and starch (carbohydrates) and coverts them into glucose. It's essential for the function of our cells and brains.

But, overconsumption of sugar actually reduces brain function, takes blood sugar levels on a rollercoaster ride, and makes us feel sluggish and crappy.

And it is oh so easy to consume too much sugar. Take an average American meal as an example:

A hamburger, fries and soda.

The soda is high in high fructose corn syrup (a type of super-concentrated, cheap sugar), the fries are made from starchy potatoes, and the hamburger is on a refined carbohydrate bun with sugar injected ketchup. The hamburger itself may also have sugar as an ingredient.

Just try to go without sugar for 1 day and you'll see how difficult it is to avoid. Check the labels and look up the nutrition facts of every thing that you eat and see for yourself.

A diet devoid of soda, candy and pastries provides more than enough sugar to fuel body and won't leave you feeling like a drained sugar feign.

But, whole grains, fruits and veggies can be a hard pill to swallow after more than 20 years of sugar highs. What is an addict in recover to do?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Happy Feet

Having recently discovered my own flat-footedness after years of denial and ignorance, I have decided to compile a list of shoe brands offering built-in arch support. If you're anything like me, you've probably started to associate your foot pain, lower back pain and occasional ankle pain with a hard day's work, not realizing that your inability to stand for long periods of time isn't normal. Most people don't realize the value of well-built shoes until they own a pair and feel the difference between conventional shoes.

In general, shoes with built in arch-support aren't cheap--often around $100 or more. But don't be fooled into thinking that so-called luxury brands that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars are better for you. Often with luxury brand shoes you simply pay for the brand name, materials and the aesthetic design.

As a true believer in the unity of form and function, below is a list of brand names that offer good arch-support and other orthopedic features along with attractive and innovative designs:

List is updated periodically. Suggestions incouraged!