Geek Chef

I cook, I talk, I geek

Screw you shingles! December 30, 2012

Filed under: Craft — geekchef @ 7:09 pm
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So it turns out that the super itchy and painful rash on my scalp neck and face is shingles. I really wasn’t expecting that when I went to the doctor.

She gave me meds to get rid of it and another pill for itch, which isn’t really working. Since the majority of the area is on my scalp, calamine lotion seemed like a bad (or at least unattractive) idea. I know chamomile and oatmeal are often used for itch and irritation so I figured I’d make some kind of soak.

Before I got started I did a little research online and found some helpful recipes, which I then combined and specialized for my somewhat specific need.

From what I read, many people use chamomile to lighten their hair. I’ve done it with lemon juice before and it was pretty effective- in case anyone is interested. The Internet also says that green tea seems to work better for hair and scalp health, so I used both.

As I read on I found other ingredients that seemed beneficial: either for itch relief, astringent properties (to dry out the sores and promote healing) or moisturizers. I ended up with a sort of manic solution to all my problems, which turned out to be more of a shampoo than rinse/treatment.

The result was quite good. I had instant relief on application and then as I massaged it in I started to feel a tingle from the astringents. I kept it in for a few minutes and rinsed when the stuff got in my eye (not fun). After rinsing my hair felt clean and to my surprise not tangled. From what I can tell that was the xantham gum, which I added to thicken and keep the solution mixed. Be warned, I sneezed and added too much xantham in the first batch and it turned into a goo that reminded me of the pink slime in Ghostbusters 2.

So here is the recipe for my anti itch shampoo with a description of the qualities of each ingredient:

*4 cups water (most recipes called for distilled, I just used regular tap)
*2 green tea bags (soothes and moisturizes – has natural Panthenol)
*2 chamomile tea bags (antiseptic and anti inflammatory)
*1/2 apple cider vinegar (antibacterial)
*1/2 cup oatmeal – non instant, just oats (anti itch)
*1/2 cup Dr. Bronners soap (very gentle Castile soap for lather)
*1/3 cup jojoba oil (moisturizer, could be replaced with olive or coconut oil)
*1 tablespoon tea tree oil (pretty intense astringent, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic)
*1 teaspoon xantham gum (thickener, detangler)

Boil water with tea bags. Once boiling reduce heat and add vinegar and oatmeal, simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and return to pot. I’m keeping the oatmeal to grind up and use as a paste for itchy spots.
On a very low flame and stirring constantly, add the rest of the ingredients xantham gum last. Stir until everything is incorporated, pour into a squeeze bottle and let cool.
I didn’t put the xantham gum in until after I took it off the flame and it ended up clotting a bit, I think the trick is to move quick while mixing.


Walk or Run? June 29, 2010

Filed under: Craft,Geek — geekchef @ 3:39 pm
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I’ve been planning on buying an embroidery machine for a few months now. I’ve been using the one at the Techshop and it is slowly driving me insane. It’s hard to make enough time and due to the excessive use, it’s often out of order. No good.

The original plan was to take part of the money from the deposit on my old apartment and buy the same or a similar machine as the one I’ve been using. But while researching prices and features I came across the Janome MB4, a super awesome semi-industrial embroidery machine. It is super sexy, in that automated embroidery machine kind of way. It does everything I want it to do, better than all the other machines I’ve been looking at. But, and this is a big but, it is 4 times more money.

Now I thought about it a lot: compared the upfront cost with it’s resale value, the time savings and efficiency, and figured it was very possible that this machine would eventually pay for itself. But, I just don’t have that kind of money.

So with a little sanity check from my mom, I decided to give it a year. I’ll buy the best one I can within the price range I afforded myself. In a year if I’m still going strong and have made/sold enough badges and whatnot to sustain this project, I’ll see about getting the big gun.

So please continue to buy my stuff, tell your science-y friends about the badges and keep giving me all your wonderful support. I really love making things, I’d really love to be able to make this an actual living one day. But at least, I’d like to continue breaking even on a larger scale. 😀


Science Scouts May 17, 2010

Filed under: Craft,Geek — geekchef @ 3:37 pm
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I’ve been spending a lot of time away from the kitchen this month. Slaving over a hot sewing machine instead. You see, a while ago I discovered The Science Scouts, a super awesome site that celebrates the science-y accomplishments of nerdy types like me.  They have created badges for accomplishments, but no actual – tangible thingies to sew on a bag or lab coat. So I took the initiative and picked up where they left off.

My plan was to make the ones my friends and I have accomplished, and sell a couple extra on etsy to pay for the materials. However, I have gotten such great feedback from everyone, including O.O.T.S.S.O.E.R.A.A.A.P. itself, that I’m going to try and make a few of all of them (90 something, if I counted correctly), WHEW!

So if you are interested, please let me know. You can reply to this post or contact me via etsy with a list of the badges you want and I’ll contact you when they are ready. I am also thinking of ways to show off the badges i.e. sashes, etc., and will make them on special order.

Be warned, these are handmade, not in any way professionally done. There will be minor flaws, at least in the first few, but all of them are made with love. I hope you find them as special as I do 🙂

A fellow Science Scout modeling his sash for me

First sucker, ahem, (custom order) customer

Thank you all for the wonderful support! My etsy store got so many hits, it was crazy. I am almost completely out of stock, more on the way. Please do send special requests, I will do my best fill your orders right away.

You guys ROCK!


Container Gardens September 24, 2009

Filed under: Craft,Food — geekchef @ 1:40 pm
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There is nothing like the taste of home grown food and it’s something that most apartment dwellers think they can not experience. True they will never be able to live off of what they grow; but it is very possible to maintain a small garden on balconies, patios, hell even fire escapes.

I bought some of those Topsy Turvy Tomato dealies in the spring and I have harvested quite a few cherry tomatoes recently. My apartment only gets partial sun, so many of the summer veggies only fared so-so but I think I did ok. I am now preparing for the winter and last night built a self watering container which I am very proud of, no pictures yet – it was very dark by the time I was finished.

The idea of self watering is great. Not only do you save water, but you also save yourself some of the hassle of watering. One of the problems I have faced in apartment gardening is a lack of a water source, so I would have to fill up a bucket in the tub and lug it thru the house (usually dripping) and water the plants from the bucket. And without a container that holds drainage water to use later, I was making trips every other day. Now, I can cut that down to weekly!

So here are a few tips I’ve found helpful:

  • Choose large or medium sized pots, depending on your space. Small pots restrict the root area and dry out very quickly.
  • Make sure you have good drainage! If you have found the perfect pot for your garden, but it doesn’t have holes – you better come up with another drainage solution or you are going to have dead plants.
  • Grow plants based on your sun exposure.  Fruits and tomatoes need full sun for most of the day, while leafy greens can live in a good amount of shade, root veggies are somewhere in the middle – ask a garden center expert if you have questions.
  • Start with something that grows quickly, like lettuce,  mustard cress,  beets and herbs, next to something that takes longer. The quick turnaround will give you a preview of wonderful things to come.

I hope this helps. Good luck to all that give it a try, please tell me how it turns out!

Cherry and Arugula Salad

Large handful arugula
Large handful cherry tomatoes
One clove of garlic, sliced
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon mint, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of curry powder

Lightly saute the sliced garlic until soft, then add arugula and tomatoes and cook for until the leaves start to wilt. Remove from heat and let cool.
Drizzle lime juice, sprinkle curry powder and mint and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!


I just found this window curtain planter irrigation dealie that is so cool, here is a diagram and a link, check it out!!!


Back on the market June 24, 2009

Filed under: Craft — geekchef @ 1:33 pm
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Today I posted two of my older prints on Etsy. These were done on a Gocco press a few years ago. I really love my Gocco and am sad that it has been discontinued, angry that the supplies are becoming harder and harder to find.  I haven’t cracked the seal on my yudo yet but I am excited and have a few ideas in the works.

What is a Gocco?

Gocco is a Japanese screenprinting system developed in 1977. The colorful plastic body is compact and completely self-contained. It is clean, quick and easy to use. The system works using flash bulbs, a carbon-based image or photocopy and an emulsion-coated screen. When the bulbs are manually flashed the carbon burns the screen into a stencil. Ink can then be applied and multiple prints  stamped out, as many as 100 before re-inking is needed. Fans of print gocco appreciate its size, cleanliness, relatively inexpensive cost and the fact that several colors can be printed in one “pass”.

Gocco supplies online

Felt Cafe
Gocco Press
Letters and Print
Northwood Studios
Paper Source
Print Addict
Welsh Products
Price Per Gocco Print, Broken Down

Alternative for Gocco supplies

yudu 62-5000 Screen Printing Machine-USA Gocco Resources
G.E. #5 flasbulbs

Gocco info and articles

Gocco Blog
Associated Content Gocco Article
Wikipedia Entry
NEHOC Australian gocco supply + guides
go go gocco info and interactive demo
Riso Corp. site
A letter from a gocco US rep to a us supplier
Flikr gocco demise discussion
Supernaturale gocco demise discussion
gocco gone article in Detroit’s metrotimes
Save Gocco Campaign Update
New York Times: The Cult of Gocco
Gocco Press

Gocco classes

San Francisco center for the book
Maine College of Art: Portland, ME
gocco workshops: Portland, ME
gocco available for open studio use: craft gym, sf ca

Information graciously taken from


Make stuff! June 10, 2009

Filed under: Craft,Geek — geekchef @ 12:12 pm
Inspirational poster from Maker Faire 2009

Inspirational poster from Maker Faire 2009

I’m excited, that’s for sure, but I’m still in the research stage of “making things”.

I’ve recently invested in a yudu, I had a blast at the Maker Faire and I just signed up for a membership at The TechShop. All amazingly cool stuff that makes me feel the need to “get up and do something!” but the “something” part is vauge and needs work.

The TechShop is having an open house this weekend and I encourage anyone in the area to check it out. I’m hoping I can find my inspiration there. At the least, I’ll find some new cool stuff that impresses and inspires feelings of inadequacy.