Archive for the ‘Simple Beauty’ Category

Daisy takes a bath.

Winter is full upon us, and so is my winter skin.  I get so spoiled in the hot, humid summers here, rarely needing moisturizer, glistening like a frog in a bog.  Then winter creeps the cold and dry into all the cracks and my skin dries out until it looks and feels like paper.  Mmmm sexy.

I love to warm up on a chilly winter day with a hot bath, but soaking in a tub of hot water is murder on my skin – I dry up faster than Lindsay Lohan in rehab.  I used to douse myself with bottles and bottles of lotion afterwards, but my skin always seemed to soak it right up and be just as tight and dry as ever. 

But wait Gentle Reader!  Despair not!  I have discovered the secret to baby smooth winter skin, and because I love you all so much, I shall reveal it to you.  Drumroll please (you have to imagine the drumroll yourself)….    

Twice weekly oil massage/salt scrub/hot bath! 

It sounds decadent, which it is.  And it’s also easy and cheap, and don’t the Herban Cowgirls just LOVE easy and cheap?  So here’s how you do it.

Warm up the bathroom and gather your usual towel, washcloth and soap.  Go to the kitchen and get a dish of regular table salt.  Get some oil, a few tablespoons to a quarter cup.  Any kind of oil will do.  I use whatever’s cheapest or whatever’s going rancid (hey, can’t eat it, might as well use it!), usually olive oil.

DISCLAIMER:  I am about to suggest pouring oil on your naked body while sitting in a slippery tub!  This is clearly an idea fraught with peril!  If you have never done this before, BE CAREFUL!!  Rubber mats and extra towels can save you some bruises (or worse!), but use your judgment and BE SAFE.  Again:  DANGER!  SLIPPERY OIL!

Okay, now take your clothes off and rub the oil all over your body while you sit in the slippery tub.  Really massage it in there.  I like to go from the extremities towards the heart.  I usually do this part standing, since the tub is COLD under my butt, but you may feel safer sitting.  Again, the slippery oil.  Danger and all.

Once you’ve oiled yourself slippery, it’s time to salt scrub those hamhocks.  Get some salt on those hands and polish that skin, working in circles from the extremities towards the heart.  I hope I don’t have to tell everyone to avoid your face with this treatment.  Please do not scrub handfuls of salt into your face.  You will not feel spa fresh doing that.

When you’re covered shoulders to feet in oil and salt, it’s time for your hot bath.  Yay!  I like to add a few drops of lavender essential oil and swish it around.  Rinse off all the salt, letting it dissolve into the hot water.  Massage the oil into your skin, using the washcloth to remove excess oil from all your cracks and crevices.  After a good soaking, if I still feel overly oily, I rinse off a few minutes more in a hot shower.

HERE IS ANOTHER DISCLAIMER:  I am about to tell you to hoist your oiled body out of a ceramic tub!  Danger!!  Use a towel to dry your hands off, or put a hand towel on top of your rubber bathmat, or call someone in to help you – whatever you have to do to get out of the tub safely.  Also make sure you remove all excess oil with your washcloth and/or towel.  Oil will stain your clothing and sheets!  Use caution please!!

Okay now hoist your oiled body out of your tub.  Rub yourself dry with your towel.  Congratulations.  Your skin is now softer than it’s been since the day you were born.  Now put on your jammies and snuggle under the covers with a book and some hot chocolate. 

You’re welcome.


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I was just thinking, if it is really religion with these nudist colonies, they sure must turn atheists in the wintertime. ~Will Rogers

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"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” Henry David Thoreau

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Can miles truly separate you from friends.... If you want to be with someone you love, aren't you already there? ~Richard Bach

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"My great mistake, the fault for which I can't forgive myself, is that one day I ceased my obstinate pursuit of my own individuality."-Oscar Wilde

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fern keeps it short and sweet

a couple of nights ago, i spent a night tossing and turning with bad dreams.  it became difficult to tell where sleep ended and waking began.  finally, the sun arose, and i found myself clumsily awake in the new day.  still, the dreams wouldn’t stop.

i wearily readied myself for a work day.  as i was putting the final elements together to leave, the honeyman rolled over, smiled, and asked how i was doing.  and that’s all it took.

a flood of tears, mournful sobs, and a pint of snot later, i found myself asleep, peacefully, gratefully, safe in the morning sunlight.  i had had to miss work, regrettably, but my hindsight wisdom told me that this cryfest would have happened either way.  i am glad i had it at home.

never had i dreams so real, and so terrifying.  until i spilled the dream beans to my love, each time i blinked, the horrible imagery was as real as the toothbrush in my mouth.  once shared, however, the images began to fade, as if diluted by my tears.

it was at the honeyman’s suggestion that i decided to visit my sister.  she lives 50 minutes away, so i don’t see her and her family as often as i would like.  still, it’s good to know there are hugs available within an hour’s drive.  so i picked out a good driving cd, kissed the honeyman, and off i went.

of course, no good driving music is complete without a few crying songs.  heck, singing and crying are half the reason i drive in the first place.  so i sang, and i cried, and a few times more did the same.  and then, i arrived.

there is no feeling quite so therapuetic as seeing someone who is happy to see you.  i got to see four little humans who healed me before they could even hug me.  my nieces and nephews bring so much clarity, so much honest magic into my heart, that i barely remembered the impetus for my journey.  i laughed for the pure joy of feeling the marshmallow hugs encircling my neck, the constant giggles, the two freshly missing teeth of my oldest niece, the spelling talents of my oldest nephew, the rockstar mischief of the younger boy, and the darling newly-toothed smile of the baby girl.  we played memory games, i spy, we colored, we felt baby kicks, we spelled, we hugged, we ate, we loved.  and i left a healed woman.

my niece cried when she hugged me goodbye.  she didn’t want to let go, she said she missed me so much, and i felt her sweet little body warming mine.  i remembered when she was just a day old, and how quickly the time has passed since she was born.  i looked up at my sisters other three children, all so distinctly different, and so perfect.  i thought of my own brother, and how we’ve grown apart over the years.  and i thought of my budding family, and how i never want to lose the feeling of closeness with my child or my honeyman.  and what had originally seemed to be a wasted day became a time of redemption, of nourishment.  my soul was at ease once more.

i slept beautifully that night.  i felt my baby kick and flip, and i sent loving thoughts down and into his little soul.  i hope he feels them for all of his days.  i know i will.


sanity replacement therapy


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Daisy comes clean.

When I was a teenager, I spent years honing my skin care regimen.  The magazines were clear that the only beautiful face was one free of unsightly blemishes.  A girl’s skin must appear smooth and hairless, with invisible pores (god help the poor girl with large pores).  The only way to achieve such pristine beauty was to adhere to a strict skin care regimen.  Which always involved products.  Lots of products.  A different one for every skin type (god help the poor girl who doesn’t know her skin type).

First you must cleanse your face.  There are dozens of different creams and lotions to choose from.  Most of them, you just apply and rinse off.  Then you need a toner, to remove any remaining traces of filthy, dirty oil and grimy makeup.  Once or twice a week you use a mask that either firms or tones or moisturizes.  Rinse with warm water and then splash with cold water to close those pesky, ugly pores.  Finish with a cream to moisturize – and make sure you are using a separate cream for nighttime (don’t want ugly to sneak up on you while you sleep!).

Of course all of that is complete crap. 

Gradually I parted ways with the magazine’s ideal of an array of products.  Over the years I have discovered lots of skin care “secrets,” most of which cost just pennies to make or use.  I’ve experimented with honey, avocados, oatmeal, yogurt and eggs to clean my face and used herbs to steam those dreaded pores open.  I have made toners from vinegar, rosewater and witch hazel (and also discovered that you don’t really need toner).  I’ve moisturized with everything from plain olive oil to homemade creams and lotions and body butters. 

I’m sure I could go on for pages and pages, but let’s keep focused today, shall we?  A few weeks ago, I made some facial cleanser, and Fern had come over to help me.  It’s my current favorite cleanser, so I thought I’d share the recipe and process.  The original recipe comes from Rosemary Gladstar’s book “Herbs for Natural Beauty.”

You’ll need:

2 cups of white clay (bentonite)

1 cup of rolled oats, finely ground

¼ cup almonds, finely ground

1/4 cup lavender, finely ground

1/8 cup cornmeal

From L to R: Honey, Cleansing Grains, Wonder Woman notebook, almonds, mortar and pestle, rolled oats, Gladstar book, white clay, lavender flowers, measuring cup

You may have to go to a Whole Foods or your local natural grocery store for the bentonite clay and the lavender flowers.  These will also be your most expensive of the ingredients, so it might pay to shop around a bit or buy by the pound.  If you’re in a very rural area and don’t have access to a store, you can order online.  Frontier Herbs is a good brand to try.

Make sure the oats, almonds and lavender flowers are very finely ground.  Use an herb/spice grinder, a blender or a mortar and pestle.  The mortar and pestle take the longest and use the most personal energy, but it’s a very satisfying way to do it.  You’ll get the smoothest results, though, from a coffee or spice grinder.  If the grinder is also used for coffee, your cleanser will probably smell like coffee, but that may not be a bad thing.  Depends on your taste.

After everything has been pulverized into a powder, you’re done.  Put it in a container and use a teaspoon or so at a time.  Wet the powder and massage it into your face in little circles.  Rinse.  Enjoy your baby smooth skin.

The cleansing grains can be used all over your body as a gentle exfoliant and skin softener.  Add honey to the powder to make a paste that is an excellent face mask.  Leave on for 20 minutes and rinse off.  I keep mine in a little shaker jar I got at the dollar store.  It goes on the bathroom windowsill right by the shower.  

It takes very little time to make, and is much less expensive than cleanser you buy in the store.  It’s also better for your skin than plain soap.  And with the holidays coming up, it makes an impressive homemade gift. 

Tomorrow I’m making face cream.  The weather is getting colder and drier, and so is my face.  Hopefully I can round up a small posse of Herban Cowgirls to join me in my potion making.  I’ll take pics, of course.

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