Category Archives: Crafts

The Great Aloe Vera Experiment

The Great Aloe Vera Experiment

aloe vera plant

While trolling my way around the web, I found an old article on using Aloe Vera gel for healing the teeth and gums. This seemed interesting, and I read and then searched for a few others. Imagine my surprise when not one but several of these articles firmly declared that using aloe gel as a substitute for toothpaste was every bit as effective as those aforementioned toothpastes!

Yup, the stuff from inside the aloe leaves was as good as toothpaste. Fights germs and everything, according to the article. Here’s the link to the study I found which gives all the details of the 15 person study they did, using aloe gel directly injected into disease pockets of gums in the test subjects. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3200013/

I am more used to using aloe gel on my skin for sun burn and the like, but since like most folks I do have a bit of an issue with my teeth and no dental coverage, I figured it couldn’t hurt. So I am going to give it a try.

First and foremost let me state firmly that I am not a doctor! I am just trying this on my own, so if you want to try it, I’d suggest talking to your doctor first. Now that we have that clearly established, let’s proceed.

Since I have a HUGE Aloe Vera plant with lots and lots of little plants cropping up, I took several of  the larger older plants and stripped the biggest leaves. The instructions for processing aloe at home advocated using a vegetable peeler to remove the outer skin and leaving just the clear interior gel.

That wasn’t exactly a success, I have to admit. I did my best to scrape the gel from their interior before giving up and simply whirring them into submission in my blender. The result was a thick, sticky green goo. Since I mean to carry out this experiment for at least the next couple of months, I will try to have pictures of the process for you at a later date.

I then put the sticky goo into a mesh colander and set that in a large bowl to catch the drips. I wasn’t aiming to remove all the outer skin of the leaves, just the biggest portion of it. The saponins in the skin have a mild laxative effect, but with the current trend for colon cleansing that is only another plus, right?

Now while my delightful alien slime was settling out, I headed back to the computer to do a little more research.

Apparently Aloe Vera gel has a lot of vitamins. Mike Adams, editor of NaturalNews.com has a very detailed article on the benefits of using Aloe Vera. He also has included links to studies and analyses of the plant and its effects. Here’s the link: http://www.naturalnews.com/021858_aloe_vera_gel.html .

Once the gel had more or less separated from the gunk in the colander, I poured it into a sterilized glass bottle, labeled it and put it in my fridge. Using a shot glass, I poured a one ounce amount and swished around my mouth for several minutes. I can’t say I’m fond of the texture, but the taste wasn’t too bad. Kind of hard to describe, but the best way to say it would be that it tastes very ‘green’—like a mix of celery and kiwi, if you can imagine that. When I was done swishing it, I swallowed the stuff; no sense letting it go to waste, right?

I even used the leftover green gunk as a facial mask, since aloe has such significant benefits for the skin. I just smeared it onto my face and let it sit for twenty minutes while writing this post. My skin is feeling nice and smooth and fresh and my mouth feels pretty good too.

I’ll keep you guys updated as to the results of my Aloe experiment. So far things are in the very early stages, but if it has even half the effects that are claimed for it, this could be a very good thing. Who knew a little houseplant was so good for you? If you have ever experimented with Aloe Vera, I’d love to hear your results as well. Please leave a comment and let me know, or if you have any advice on a better way to process the leaves, it would be great if you would share!

Find your peace, friends.
Rev. Zita.
All pictures and images on this page are courtesy of Microsoft Free clipart

Pocket Shrines Update!

Hello all you crafty people out there. I know it’s been several weeks since I started my pocket shrine project, but I wanted to give you all a small bit of news as to where it’s going. As usual, once I found these things I went a bit berserk. I bought paint, gems, glitter, glue, brushes—and then sat down and tried to figure out what I was doing. Sadly, that’s a real failing of mine that never fails to exasperate my friends.

I started thinking about all the things that could be done with these little boxes and got more than a little overwhelmed with ideas. Of course, lots of people have been doing very clever things with them. If you google ‘Altoids tins’ you will be astonished at the things folks are making out of them! Let’s just say I could never cover all the possibilities on my own; that and I don’t have a soldering gun for some of those ideas.

I finally decided to start with something fairly simple: a travelling ritual kit for Wicca.


The kit is still in progress due to time constraints, but I wanted to give you an idea of where it was going.

My first step was to paint the tin white as a primer. At this point I realized that it wasn’t a good idea to paint in the area where the lid overlaps the sides of the tin—it stuck together like it had been epoxied!

Please note for future reference: do not paint the side of the inside of the lid. Very bad idea.

 

While waiting for that to dry, I began the assembly of the basic tools for Wiccan ritual, representing the five traditional elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit. (Some traditions only recognize four, or use Plasma as the fifth. Go with your own tradition on this.)

Water: I used a ½ inch copper pipe cap for a cauldron/chalice. Copper is a metal sacred to the goddess and the size was just about perfect. Plus using plumbing supplies guaranteed there was no toxic coating to be removed. To make it easier to pick up and prettier, I glued small cabochon gems in five colors at equal intervals around the rim. Red, yellow, green, blue and clear/white for the elements again.

Earth: I have a small polished agate that has been hanging around my jewelry box since I was a kid. What better to represent the whole world than a lovely stone of many colors?

Fire: A small tea light serves as the residence for one of the more dramatic elements, as does the smallest Bic lighter I could find. Obviously if travelling by air, this will be confiscated, so be prepared to replace this item when needed.

Air: In my tradition the wand is used to focus air energies. The wand is made from a 2 ½ inch piece of dowel, 1/8 inch in diameter. A tiny acrylic star was fastened to the end, simply because I liked it. Hey, it’s cute and still very effective. The clear star symbolizes that air cannot be seen yet gives me a directional focus when I use it. Often a small piece of cone incense can be used as the Air symbol, or a small feather works as well. Again, I recommend finding a symbol that works within your own Tradition.

Spirit: the pentacle is a painted wooden disk bought in a package of twenty from a craft store for less than three dollars US. At the moment it is only black and white, but eventually will have a white pentagram surrounded by blue, red, green, yellow and silver points of the star.

 

There will be an altar cloth included, but I haven’t found the right color of silk yet.  I want to use silk for two reasons: first, it is a sumptuous but not heavy fabric to use and secondly it will fold very well into a very small area in the tin. I intend to use a small handkerchief or cut down a scarf into a square that folds into the tin. It will also cut down on any rattling noises when the kit is carried in pocket or purse. It doesn’t need to be rattling like a maraca when I’m trying to be discreet.


Each of the items in the kit will have photos as soon as possdible.  As soon as I have pictures of the finished project, I will get them up for you to see. Happy Belated
Equinox, by the way, may Ostara bless you all.

Find your peace, friends.

Rev. Zita.

Pocket shrines

Beauty in Miniature: The Pocket Shrine

 

While just buzzing around the internet the other day, I clicked on a link, which led to clicking another, and another, and before I knew it, I had been introduced to the concept of the ‘pocket shrine’.  What is this? I asked myself while staring in wonder. ‘A tiny little shrine made from a matchbox? How ingenious’! (and yes, I actually did say that. My roommate thinks I’m nuts.) I was amazed to find that there are Art Swaps for these lovely little objects, classes, blogs, and even collectors out there. Seems I’ve been missing out on this, but that stops right now.

If, like me, you have never seen a pocket shrine before, let me briefly explain the idea: a pocket or matchbox shrine is a small container that has been decorated and embellished to create a piece of art dedicated to a certain theme. The theme may be religious, such as a tiny shrine to your favorite saint or deity, or it may be for encouragement and empowerment, healing, a memorial to a friend or loved one, a pet, or to express an emotion or wish. There are even shrines to fictional heroes such as Superman!

Any container is a potential shrine. Altoids tins, paper matchboxes, square, round, oblong; any shape or size you choose, as long as it is fairly small. They also seem to be simple enough to make: choose your theme and a container, then carefully clean it, dry it (not for paper, obviously) and apply paint, glue, glitter, stickers, beads, charms, gems, little bottles, coins, or other decorations of your choice.

True to my tinkering nature, I began thinking of other uses for these pretty little things: portable miniature altars, spell containers, prayers boxes, wish boxes, etc. I even thought of a few mundane uses for decorated tins like carrying hairclips and ties, little emergency makeup and sewing kits; carrying flashdrives and memory cards, manicure kits for quick repairs, tiny notebook and pencil for notes and ideas as a PDA, little incense carrier, a container for my MP3 player and so on. Who says practicality has to be ugly?

I am going to be exploring this idea myself, and making a few of these for my own and Rev. Kelly’s use. I will give you a few updates as we go and will include pictures of the final results when we have them done. If any of our readers out there want to get involved, we’d love to hear from you and maybe we can include pictures of your pocket shrines as well?  This could be fun as well as interesting, and who doesn’t love to make something both beautiful and useful?

I’ve included a few links to some sites with both instructions and pictures of pocket shrines so that you can explore these for yourself. Some of them are truly inspirational, and some are just plain fun (the shrine to Superman just makes me laugh) but all are a marvel to see. Go take a look, and then go see what you can make for yourself: embody a wish, a prayer; the memory of a loved one or fallen comrade. Praise your favorite sports icon or musician, make a shrine to your lover or pet. Carry your God or Goddess with you always in a pocket, or make your own good luck charm. Or not; your choice.

Either way, go have some fun making something.

Links to pocket Shrine sites:

http://www.cutoutandkeep.net/projects/matchbox_shrines (with instructions)

http://www.lisavollrath.com/shrines (very nice work this girl does)

http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=99533.0 (Basic ideas and info)

http://www.sassyartgoddess.com/altered_altoid_tin.htm (gorgeous and a good source of ideas)

http://www.art-shrines.com/pocketshrines.htm (this has the Superman shrine that made me laugh)

http://hobbyloco.com/shrines.html (Detailed descriptions of matchbox shrines)

http://sushibird.com/2011/02/pocket-shrines (lovely images of matchbox shrines)

There are so many more out there that I’m sure you can find an inspiration for your own shrine—a NASCAR driver or shuttle pilot, a relative who inspires you, a movie or book you love (Harry Potter, anyone?)  a wish you want to come true or anything you like.

Find your peace, friends.

Rev Zita

(I’m the one covered in glitter and glue)