Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Ultimate Natural DIY Guide to Beauty Recipes for Broke College Students

Who needs hair conditioning treatment when you've got olive oil?

Spinach is probably good for something too....

Here are some fun recipes for you natural-minded broke college students. Each of them can be simplified to be made with just one or two ingredients. Yay!

Hair Conditioner
What you need: Olive Oil

What to do: Heat some olive oil in the microwave (30 seconds) or in a hot water bath. Carefully spread the oil over your hands and then run your fingers through your hair and massage your scalp. Leave the oil in for a while (you can put a plastic bag over your hair if you are feeling fancy) and then wash it out. 

An alternative is to liquify a peeled cucumber and a peeled lemon in your blender and put the mush in your hair. This is a 2-in-1 Conditioner and Shampoo! Just wash it out afterwards.

What you need: Castile Soap, optional green tea, optional olive oil, optional honey 

What to do: If you are going to use a homemade conditioner or dandruff treatment anyway, then you can go ahead and just wash you hair with plain ol' castile soap (like Dr. Bronners which smells good and is widely available). You can also wash your body and your face with the same soap! (really, you don't need fancy products for each different part of your body... who needs special elbow cream? really? I mean... can I use it on my knees is that OK?!? sorry digressing)

Want SUPER-AWESOME shampoo? Then try this recipe: (found here
  • 1 cup pure liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronners)
  • 1 cup green tea (brewed for 30 minutes)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Dandruff Treatment
(also conditions hair)
What you need: Apple Cider Vinegar

What to do: Grab a bottle of apple cider vinegar and spritz or splash your scalp with it. leave it in for a bit, then rinse with just water (Your hair will smell fine afterwards. just rinse well.)

What you need: Baking Soda (NOT baking powder), optional sea salt, optional coconut oil, optional dried orange peel or vanilla or mint, optional hydrogen peroxide

What to do: My grandmother used to brush her teeth with just baking soda every day. You could do that, or you can make a fancier tooth whitening paste by adding 2 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide into 3 teaspoons of baking soda, approximately. You can change the consistency to get a texture you like. Add some salt (its good for your teeth!) or some coconut oil. Ground dried orange peel, vanilla, or mint leaves give your toothpaste more flavor-ness.

Face mask for Acne
What you need: Oatmeal, pure real Honey, optional cinnamon, optional lemon juice, optional green tea, optional plain yogurt

What to do: When i'm feeling lazy, I just put honey with cinnamon all over my face and thats it!

If you want a more complete mask, first grind up your oatmeal (you can use a blender and pulse it). It doesn't have to be powder, just more broken up. Add a little bit of water to the oatmeal and let it soak it up. Add as much honey as you want to make a sticky mixture. Optionally, you can make this mask even better by adding cinnamon, drops of lemon juice, a spoon of green tea (or matcha powder) or a spoonful of plain yogurt. Put it on your face while lying down and relaxing. Feel free to add two cucumber slices over your eyes.

Gentle Face Wash
What you need: Oatmeal

What to do: If you don't want to use castile soap on your face, oatmeal is a good option. It is great for acne-prone skin! I only wash my face with ground up oatmeal. Plus - it doesn't go bad! Grind up a good quantity in your blender and put it in an old container. Done.

Body Scrub
What you need: Brown sugar (or regular sugar), optional olive oil, optional lime or lemon juice or vanilla extract

What to do: You can use a handfull of plain brown sugar and scrub away! Or, be fancier and add a spoon of olive oil, and another spoon of lemon or lime juice. If you prefer a vanilla smell, try a few drops of pure vanilla extract. Scrub it all over (it's awesome for feet and legs) and then rinse.

What you need: Some almonds, a bit of Jojoba oil

What to do: First off, I acknowledge that Jojoba oil does not fit into the "help I'm broke" ingredients category BUT you only need a few drops for this recipe, so you can buy just a little bottle.

Now, burn the almonds with a lighter (be careful!). Take some soot and combine with jojoba oil. This link recommends 2 drops for every almond's worth of soot. The mixture should stay fresh for about a month, but try and use it quickly!

Eyeliner and makeup remover
What you need: Good ol' olive oil again!

What to do: put some olive oil on a soft towel or cotton ball, and rub gently to remove makeup! Then rinse off your face. Jojoba oil is also an effective makeup remover but it is more expensive.

Perfume/ Body Mist
What you need: flowers and herbs, water, and alcohol

What to do: Grind up some herbs (like rosemary) and sweet flowers. Add water and a drop of alcohol. Let it soak... then drain out the leaves/flowers and put it in a spray bottle. Done!

You can see some other ways to make your own perfume here

Lipstick/ Costume face paint
What you need: A crayon butt in a pretty color, some drops of natural oil (you can use some of that jojoba oil mentioned earlier)

This one may is not so natural, but you can make lipstick with a melted crayon of any color and a little natural oil! I'm going to link to Wikihow again, because they explain well and I don't have personal experience with this one. 

This recipe is fun because you can get some crazy colors to use for costume makeup and face paint!

Experimenting is half the fun! Add spices from your kitchen to any of these recipes to make them smell awesome.

The main point of this post is to show you that you don't need to buy expensive products, even if you aren't a broke college student. If you want to save money, be a minimalist that uses 1-ingredient products, or adopt a more natural routine, then these recipes could work for you. 

Another main point? Olive oil can be used for many things.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Videos on YouTube to Help You Move your Body

I've put together a playlist on YouTube that doesn't include any of those exercise videos that feature blurry people working out to metal music. Those videos are valuable for a certain kind of goal, for when you want to lift weights or do "detox fat burning" stuff. Some videos do feature traditional fitness ideas (like the stair video from the P90X guy). But I chose them for their simplicity, lack of frills or jarring music, and focus on teaching you how to actually do something to move your body (as opposed to telling you to "get ripped" or "burn fat").

I think a lot of people, and young students like me, are looking for something different. There are people who are focusing a lot less on what you look like, and much more on knowing your body and moving. Squatting, jumping, flipping, crawling... that kind of moving. Newproducts like these Monkii bars are reflecting the inclination to move through the world and be healthy without being confined to iron and concrete.

Martial artists have been training out in the wilderness, using their own bodyweight, since ancient times. Serious yogis consider movement to be a deeply spiritual practice. So in many ways these ideas aren't new.

Foto by Andreas Ivarsson

Whats new is the availability of these ideas on the internet, and ways to learn them on your own without retreating to the mountains to become an expert in your chosen art. These big ideas can be practiced in little bits, placed into the space that used to be carved out for "workouts". With YouTube and the internet, you can take 30 minutes to focus on moving your body and understanding yourself.
Sure, you won't get 'fast results' this way. But you will be giving yourself something much more valuable - you are returning to your body its ability to move in wonderful ways.

But where can you find simple instruction to move a little bit each day? Searching the internet can be frustrating when you just want to get started.

If you're ready, you can try watching the videos on my playlist, keeping in mind that many of them are for those with capoeira and yoga experience. Or click on one and follow the YouTube suggestions. You never know what you'll find. If you are super busy, try 5 minutes a day! Even if its just to sit and have some healthy alone-time.

Here's my playlist:

And if you are a begginer, I highly recommend the following playlist:

Take it a step further and mute the videos, and put on some of your favorite instrumental music. Zoe Keating is a great choice (very empowering).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How an Internship Should Be

I have been surprised by how awesome my internship with ecolab is here in São Paulo. Not that I haven't had the opportunity to do a really great internships before.

It's just that this time its different. I'm a part of the team (I get CCd on emails!),  my contributions (even if they are small) are important, and if I have an idea I can propose it. It feels like an...

Did you know that... here in Brazil its illegal to have an unpaid internship?
Its true! If you are working, you've got to get paid. As a result, I get paid. I get reimbursed for my transport costs, too. This is how an internship should be! The USA would do well to implement this concept, instead of maintaining the unfair idea that interns don't have to get paid because they get other stuff out of an internship (like the job that never actually appears).

So what exactly am I doing at this internship? I am looking for news stories about deforestation of the amazon rainforest (or illegal mining or pollution or other problems) and posting the articles to infoamazonia.org.

Infoamazonia is a really cool website which you should check out (you could even submit an article if you are in the know).

I am updating the maps on this very same website as we get new data about deforestation and forest fires (yes this is depressing). In the process I am learning how to use Github, Mapbox, TileMill, and QGIS woohoo!

I also do other tasks which are easy and other people are too busy to do. Which I am totally fine with, because its USEFUL.

I also get to witness the culture here which supports international collaboration, open software, open data, hackathons, and lots of crazy ideas. A lot of Brazilians ask me "why did you leave the US to study here, if you are interested in computers?!?". The answer is a lot more complicated that what I can write here, but this culture is definitely a part of it. The work happening here might just be revolutionary.

AND I work in a really pretty old building (pictures soon).

This work is also related to THE FUTURE. Because someday in THE FUTURE I want to do stuff with collaborative mapping, and thats part of what ecolab does. Plus I want to work on international projects and do some good for humanity. I get to do a little bit of that with the enviornmental part of the infoamazonia project.

Sidenote: I got this internship thanks to Twitter. I sent a tweet to my boss. Its the modern form of cold calling. So, follow me on twitter, ok?

I am done bragging now. If anyone offers to get you an internship in Brazil for valuable international experience and you only have to PAY a little bitty fee for a year, then you should say NO because if you are a person with determination you could get the internship you always wanted. And get paid for it.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tours of São Paulo

Hello world! Today I am announcing that I am now giving tours of this amazing and chaotic city I have come to love.

Me and the awesome students who are collaborating with me set up Goiaba Tours.

We offer tours in Spanish, English, or Portuguese always, and French, Arabic, Japanese and Italian on demand. I have plans for themed and interactive tours, including a tour especially for foodies (São Paulo is called the culinary capital of Brazil for a reason) and a mystery tour in the famous Cemitério da Consolação.

Other options include an art tour (museums, street art, and galleries) and a historic tour (the old city and sites where history happened).

What kind of things can you see in São Paulo? Check out my pictures!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

6 Things I Already Love about Brazil

Being here in São Paulo is more amazing than I could have ever imagined (never let anyone tell you that there is nothing in São Paulo- there are more things to do than I have time to see!)

1. Pastel

Crispy, fried, and filled with fresh vegetables and melted cheese, pastel is a genius invention thought to have been created by Japanese-Brazilians. I will say that pastel is the ultimate street food. When it's served with chopped onion/tomato/parsley (called salidinha i.e. "little salad") and eaten hot at the feira, there is nothing better.


2. Fresh Coconut Water

You can get a coconut chopped open for you everywhere that there are casual places to eat. Which is almost everywhere. It is so good. (Did I mention it is really healthy? Did I also mention that it is delicious?) One thing I haven't found is a coconut with enough meat in it to eat. Too bad... I could use a coconut with chile and lime sometimes. (When life gives you lemons.... squeeze them over a coconut and add some chili poweder).

3. The People I've Met

I have found that in Brazil, I can make friends quickly. Is it because Brazilians are really cool? Who knows, but I feel like I'm around awesome people. Here at Mooca Hostel I'm pretty sure I've been adopted and I'm now part of the family. 

4. São Paulo

Before I got here, I was warned about São Paulo. I was told it was a dirty, violent, ugly concrete blah-city. Now that I'm here, I would like to politely disagree with those opinions. Although São Paulo has its ugly parts, it also has beautiful buildings, plenty of historical sites, cobblestones, great streetfood, diversity, artists, theaters everywhere, independent cinema, free concerts, jaw-dropping parks, so many museums, alternative hipster spots, vegan indian food, used book stores, the best graffiti I've ever seen, record stores, galleries, balconies, lights, LIFE!

5.  My Internship

Who knew I would get the chance to work with an organization I've admired for a long time? Well, I just tweeted at them and got an interview. Now I work on the InfoAmazonia project. I am really excited about it, because their work uses the internet for the good of people and the environment. It is a site for everyone, but most useful for journalists and environmental activists. The data and maps are all available for anyone to use. 

6. Capoeira

This is an extra item, because I practice capoeira back home, too. However, Brazil is the birthplace of capoeira. I am here in the country where it all began. The training here is serious and intense, the capoeira community is strong, and the jogos that I see in the rodas amaze me. Being in Brazil inspires me to train harder, so that I can be a part of what I'm seeing. 

In conclusion,
Time flies when you're in Brazil!

Blogging for Class

Why are teachers at the University of Arizona more frequently incorporating blogging into their class assignments?

I have seen these efforts to teach blogging involve teachers who don't know much about blogging, and a very small percentage of students who want to learn to blog (those who want to usually are learning on their own, already).

There is an admirable side to these efforts - the teachers want their class to be modern and relevant to their students.

Still, I think there is a better way to incorporate blogging into education. Learning how to use blogs to find credible sources could be a way to challenge students to take what they already know and apply it to the class.

Because, lets face it, it isn't difficult to learn how to blog. It makes sense to assume that with sites that do all of the formatting and publishing for you (blogger...tumblr...), a college student is capable of figuring out how to start and maintain a blog (on their own! gasp!).

The blog post could be taught in English class, as a new form of writing. It's not quite journalism, and its not quite a diary. It can be a curated collection or a creative story - ultimately, its an opportunity to self publish anything you want.

So, in a science class, why not publish your project and its results? Now your work is associated with your name on the internet. If you've done a good job, it adds to what might be found when someone googles you.

I don't think forcing students to blog about specific things is any better than the traditional 20 page essay. Innovative teaching could use blogs for so much more!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Study Abroad Homesickness Timeline

When I was getting ready to study abroad, I read that at student usually lasts for just 2 months before homesickness kicks in.
"But, don't worry, It'll pass!"
Well, it's been two months, and the result has been exactly the opposite. The first two months was when I felt most homesick, but.... now it's passing,

My theory is that there is a difference when you're in it for a year. You can imagine the semester's end, the start of another... and all the other experiences to come. It is definitely exciting, but I keep thinking of my family and friends, and I want to bring them along, too!

But now, after two months I have a message for all of you thinking about studying abroad. It's worth all the homesickness, uncertainty, and inability to communicate! It is worth it 100%.
Once you push past that first hump, you will start absorbing so many things. By then your language ability will be much better.

And this, in my opinion, is when your study abroad experience (or gap year) will really begin. If you can stay longer, don't just do a summer program (or for goodness sake don't do a week long "immersion"), because you'll only just be getting started.

The first time I came to Brazil, I was in Marilia for two months, staying with family-friends and volunteering. I'm not saying this wasn't a valuable experience. But its nothing like what this year is starting to become. I have so many plans and things to do! I am starting to think a year won't be enough.

So, feeling homesick and wondering when it will stop? It is different for everyone, but there is one common truth. If you stay active and social, it will pass, and you will learn much more about yourself and the place you are visiting.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Iskashitaa Refugee Network

Iskashitaa Refugee Network is a really great place to do an internship if you are a student at the University of Arizona. You get a lot of responsibility for your work, and a lot of flexibility, two ingredients which I think make for a perfect internship workplace. If you are interested in working with a nonprofit organization someday, then Iskashitaa will give you insight into what that's like- the good parts and the difficult ones, too. To find out more about what it is like to be an intern at Iskashitaa, check out the Prezi I made.

Apart from all that, I would like to point out that Iskashitaa Refugee Network is a really admirable organization in general. NPR does a pretty good coverage of what they're all about. Here's my view-

Iskashitaa addresses two very important problems- food waste, and the difficulties faced by refugees in the United States. A lot of Americans tend to waste a big amount of food, while there are others who are starving. Refugees have a lot to contribute in Tucson, Arizona, and all over the United States. Iskashitaa brings together the potential of volunteers and refugees to battle food waste. Every week, Iskashita leads teams to harvest fruits and foods from around Tucson- often fruit from average people's backyards- resulting in TONS and TONS of rescued food. Then, Iskshitaa takes it one amazing step further, and makes the foods into delicious preserves and meals, often with the help of traditional recipes contributed by refugees.

Part of a day's harvest

Iskashitaa does other activites, too, like English as a second language classes, publishing recipes, and college engagement teams. As an intern or volunteer, you can do anything from photography to culinary arts.

So, if you want to give back a little something to Tucson, by donating or volunteering, and you're not sure where to start, try sending Iskashitaa a message on Facebook! I know they'll be glad to here from you.

Oh, and if you are looking for prickly pair syrup, Iskashitaa makes that. You're welcome.

Image by David Hammond from http://www.oakpark.com/Dining/Blogs/4-4-2011/Arizona,-Cactus-Food-and-Frank-Lloyd-Wright/

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Why I Love Hostels

I've stayed in a few hostels, now. Albuquerque was the first, where I slept in the tiny "monk's room" in a big old colorful house. Then Montreal, where I spent the best New Year ever and wrote on the walls. Also, Los Angeles, where a trip I had to make turned into a trip i'm glad I took, seeing movies (in the land of movies) with new friends. Now, I am living at Mooca Hostel Atlantica, in São Paulo, and its my favorite. I'm going to spend the whole year here!

Hostels to me are linked to travel, adventures,  and meeting new people. I love all these things. Plus, Hostels are CHEAPER. I don't think i'll be paying for a hotel again any time soon.

What compares to that feeling of walking into a place and feeling completely at ease to start a conversation with anyone there? Then there is the way you can forget about planning, the focus on random discovery. Sometimes in a hostel you have no plan and you end up going to a fascinating place with a group of friends you met 5 minutes ago. Humanity should have more interactions like this!

You know what else happens at hostels? Romance. Its pretty funny actually. Its like people become emboldened by this new-found ability to actually talk to people around them. Not to mention the fact that a lot of travelers are young and want to meet people and go to parties. Who says we have lost the ability to connect to each other in the real world?

Diverse communities of trust and mutual discovery still exist out there, and they don't need Facebook to survive (although Facebook can also be a good way to stay in touch with your new friends once you go back to opposite ends of the earth).

Hostels are more eco-friendly, too. Since they are often minimalist in their services (in order to save on costs), they don't waste as much.

And then there are hostels which make the environment a priority. These are the hostels I like best of all. And there is one hostel which I feel merits special attention because of its awesome-ness.
Mooca Hostel here in São Paulo (full disclosure- I work there). I'm being sincere. Its great to see a business take protection of the ecosystem to heart and blend it into this house.

So, where are you going to travel next? I bet they have a hostel there.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Simple Recipes with Unique Ingredients! Raw Goat Kefir

I decided to go around Tucson (mostly to the Food Conspiracy Co-op but also to the Babylon Market and others) and buy unique ingredients that I haven't been brave enough to try before...


because now I'm going to do a series of blog post of very simple recipes featuring wacky one-of-a-kind ingredients!

For the first featured ingredient, we have Raw Goat Kefir from the Food Conspiracy Co-op.

Here is the recipe:

2 cups Raw Honey Vanilla Goat Kefir
1 large ripe mango, cut into random blend-able pieces
1 teaspoon Chia seeds (optional)
1/2 cup water


Let me tell you- this smoothie tastes just like ice cream- only better. If mango lassie and homemade vanilla ice cream had a baby, this would be it. I had a hard time leaving enough in my jar to photograph before drinking it all because it is so yummy.
Try adding whatever fruit you have around, or just drink it by itself in a cup. This unique ingredient is officially a win.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pineapple Pie with Delicious Raw Crust

The recipe for Pineapple Pie emerged almost by accident, when I was looking for a way to use up canned pineapple that the Korean-International Student Society (KISS) gave me (that is another story, but just know that this club is an awesome group at the UofA and very welcoming to everybody).

I had a lot of canned pineapple, and I had been reading a lot of recipes from Ani's Raw Food Desserts (excellent book, the desserts are better than non-raw ones) and I saw the way she made raw apple pie with a nut crust.

Then the ideas started brewing in my brain, and since my mom had recently gotten me a food processor as a present (she knows me too well) I had the machine power to make just such a crust. Note that you don't need an oven for this recipe (perfect for the dorm where people where making cookies CONSTANTLY and there was no available oven).

And so, thanks to the KISS club and Ani Phyo, PINEAPPLE PIE was born!!

This version has berries in the filling, too

Here is what you need to make it:

Small pie tin lined with waxpaper OR glass dish, food processor, stovetop


Two Cups of raw nuts (I like to use Almonds because they come in processor-friendly slivers, and they are cheaper than others)
Two Cups of chopped pitted Medjool Dates (come on and splurg on this one- they are SO GOOD)...

Optional crust additions: Dried Figs, other Raw Nuts to mix it up, Nutmeg

 The fruit you wish for or are given (Three cans of pineapple, or Three 16 oz packets of frozen pineapple, or 3.5 cups of fresh chopped pineapple)

Here is how to make it:
Put your fruit in a pot with a little water, cover and heat it over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After about 10 minutes, add cinnamon to taste (I put in what I thought was too much and it turned out great)
I used fresh apples and frozen pineapple in this filling

Continue to heat until the fruit has softened and most/all of the liquid has evaporated

While your filling heats up, put an equal amount of nuts and dates into your food processor and process until the mixture becomes sticky enough to mold into a crust,

Continue to process until you have used all of the nuts and dates.

Line a small pie tin with wax paper, or use a glass dish, then press the date/nut mixture into the tin, molding it into a pie crust shape.
When all the mixture is used up, pour the filling into the middle.

DONE! Serves 1-3 people

Note: if you want the pie to be served in slices, refrigerate it for at least an hour. This ensures that it won't fall apart. Otherwise, it is really good eaten immediately or warmed up.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Follow Me!

So, how about showing some love?
I have a new tumblr sister blog: pacifistcactus.tumblr.com
or how about following me on twitter? @laurakurtzberg