Mindful Living Short Takes

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Alternative First-Aid Kit

from the Ecologist

Help your loved ones beat the cold season, minor scrapes and bumps, and the daily stress of life with a natural first-aid kit. All you need is an old shoebox, a tin, an unused cosmetics bag, or anything else suitable to hold your kit. Here are some suggestions on what to fill it with:

Essential oils: Lavender oil, soothing, antiseptic, useful in treating burns and as a sleep aid. Peppermint oil for instant headache relief; also a decongestant. Tea tree oil, a good general disinfectant for cuts and grazes and occasional blemishes.

Tinctures/remedies: A bottle of Rescue Remedy or similar all-purpose flower remedy for the stress and fatigue of daily life. Echinacea tincture; if you can get this in a spray, so much the better, as it can double as a throat spray and disinfectant for cuts. Propolis tincture, good for cold sores and sore throats.

Salves: An all-purpose herbal salve such as calendula, comfrey, or hypercal. Badger balms for a range of problems from sore feet to insomnia, cuts, and grazes. Traumeel, a homeopathic anti-inflammatory cream made from 14 plant extracts, which is good to treat pain and bruising. Manukacare 18+ (Manuka honey has well-researched antibacterial properties; honey in general is also known to be antifungal), good for cuts, grazes, and burns.

For colds: Potter's Allerclear nasal spray, based on sea salt, to help soothe and clear congestion.

Reprinted from the Ecologist (December 2006), the 2006 Utne Independent Press Award winner in the category of environmental coverage; www.theecologist.org.


Busting Out of the B-cup

The crafting renaissance seems to have thrust knitting needles into the clutches of every happening Gen-Xer. But for all the beaded appliques and stenciled T-shirts, sewing quality clothing remains a daunting task for anyone who didn't grow up with one foot on the pedal of a Singer. In the premier issue of Craft (Oct. 2006), a quarterly magazine dedicated to the fuzzy, quilty, hot-glue-gun side of DIY culture, feminist writer Susie Bright exposes one reason: breasts. Or, rather, lack of consideration for them. Women's bodies come in plenty of sizes, but major pattern companies (such as Simplicity, Butterick, Vogue, New Look, and McCall's) design patterns almost exclusively for a B-cup bosom. "You could cut out the tissue with a 40-inch bust," Bright writes, "and it would still be a B-cup." Sure, designing clothing for a flatter plane is easier and more forgiving, which is why the super-slender physique became a popular model for high fashion designers. (Bright refers to this as the "hanger-like look.") But one size obviously doesn't fit all, and the rejection of mass-marketed monotony is at the heart of the DIY movement, so for women who want to stitch their own duds, Bright suggests checking out Burda (www.burdamode.com), Hot Patterns (www.hotpatterns.com), and Kwik Sew (www.kwiksew.com), all of which offer patterns with cup sizes proportional to chest measurements. Simplicity also recently debuted some patterns with variable cup sizes. For more information on Craft, sister publication to the tech geek's must-have manual Make, check out www.craftzine.com. -Julie Hanus