Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Wearing of the Spanx

Did I ever tell you about the time I went to Dillard's to shop for a Spanx V-Neck Camisole to wear under my knitted tops? I wanted to smooth out the extra flesh my body has produced. I mean I have WAY more flesh than I need to cover my muscles and bones. I slipped into the dressing room intending to slip into a size medium V-Neck Camisole. Not without some difficulty I maneuvered the garment to where my arms were up over my ears and the camisole had rolled into a huge, powerful and immovable "rubberband." Hopelessly entrapped, I felt panic starting to engulf me. My first instinct was to scream for the clerk to come and bring a hacksaw. I calmed down and was able to escape from the size medium Spanx V-Neck Camisole, and without further discussion, got myself into and out of a size large Spanx camisole which I did purchase.

Later that summer hubby and I attended a wedding in Lewistown. I wore the Spanx V-Neck Camisole underneath a knitted dress. I also wore (beneath the dress) some compression underpants. I tucked my compression V-Neck Camisole into my compression underpants, thereby cutting off all lymph flow between the Northern and Southern hemispheres of my body. Immediately following the wedding, we attended a reception where a sumptuous meal was served. I indulged myself in the eating and drinking festivities, but the hour of reckoning dawned when I arrived in the "Ladies' Room." It appeared to have been converted from a small coat closet and contained three tiny stalls. I don't even want to THINK about the grunting, gasping and deep breathing that erupted from my micro toilet stall as I determinedly struggled to rearrange my upper and lower super-spandexed "shapers" to prepare myself to occupy the "throne." An equal amount of time and toil was required to put myself back together before emerging from my sweat box to wash my hands.

My advice to anyone who is trying on a Spanx V-Neck Camisole for the first time is this: Climb into it feet first and pull UP. Much easier than getting stuck when trying to roll DOWN. My leg muscles are stronger than my arm muscles, and I haven't had an entrapment since using the feet first method. As the song written by two guys goes, "I Enjoy Being a Girl." (a BIG girl!)

Gee, I hope you're feeling good! Smile on.

Mainly Skin

It has been some weeks since I posted, and I hardly know where to begin. I have been following a skin care regimen and feeling rather smug about it. Then yesterday I noticed the beginnings of some blemishes on my face!! So I tried to think why that would happen while I have been practicing such "excellent" skin care. Each night I remove my make-up using the cleansing cream I made (it is very pure). I wipe off the cream with facial tissue. Then I gently scrub my face using the cleansing grains I made. After rinsing thoroughly, I splash on cold water to close the pores. Sometimes I spray on the calendula toner I made, but not always, because the toner has to be kept downstairs in the refrigerator, and it is inconvenient to trudge downstairs to get it, etc. (Okay - I admit I've been a bit of a slacker regarding the toner, and a demerit is in order.)

The one thing I had not yet tried that is recommended by Rosemary Gladstar is to steam your face occasionally to clean the pores. So tonight after cleansing and scrubbing my face, I heated a kettle of water to boiling; then set the kettle in the kitchen sink. I put a heavy towel over my head and held my face to the steam, and I did this for 8 minutes. After the steam, I gently patted my face dry with a clean cotton cloth. To close the pores, I splashed on cold water; then semi-dried my face with facial tissue. Rosemary suggests adding various herbs to the steaming water, but I wanted to try it plain first.

Another thing I am considering is making moisture cream using grapeseed oil instead of jojoba or almond oil as the base. Jojoba and almond are supposed to be better for mature skin and grapeseed oil better for oily skin. But, as I have read, each person's skin responds uniquely to each base oil; so I wish I had tried them all out first, sampled each on my arm and noted how readily my skin absorbed it, how it felt - like the books advise. (But, what the heck! Why spoil my record for making things as frought with problems as possible and learning everything the hard way?!!) I think I would also like to substitute shea butter for coconut oil. Finally, I would use only essential oil, such as grapefruit seed oil for natural preservative purposes and vitamin E. Unscented or a very subtly scented cream would appeal to more people. (I must say I have tended to go hog wild - adding to the concoctions various essential oils in weird combinations! Note to self: use essential oil restraint.)

It was another beautiful day here, and we expect more of the same tomorrow. Hope all is marvelous with you! Happy day!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cleansing Grains

Yesterday I finished putting together my most recent personal care product concoction - cleansing grains. It took a couple of weeks to accumulate all the necessary ingredients, particularly the white clay. I had read the clay was cheaper if you purchase it in a ceramics supply store than if you buy it in a health food store. There was not a ceramics supply store listed for Missoula, so I went to JoAnn craft supply store and bought a big bag of what turned out to be not pure white clay, but white clay mixed with several other ingredients, such as cellulose, which are not intended to be put on your skin. So I returned it and purchased pure white clay from Meadowsweet Herbs. White clay is supposed to be less drying than other clays, such as green or red clay.

The recipe for cleansing grains calls for 2 cups of white clay, 1 cup finely ground oatmeal, and small amounts of ground dried rose buds, dried lavender, almonds and poppy seeds. This forms the base which I use in smaller amounts to mix with raw honey and distilled water to create a moist, thick texture. I made a 1-week supply in a small jar, and Wednesday night I tried out the cleansing grains. I gently massaged about 1 tsp. of the grains/honey/water mixture all over my face, then rinsed it off with warm water. I patted my face dry with a clean soft towel; then spritzed on the toner I made. Finally I applied moisture cream. My facial skin feels as good as it did after my expensive professional European facial I received a few months ago! (And I have spent only about three times as much on my ever-growing collection of personal care product ingredients!)

Right now I am in the process of using up my "mistakes". The moisturizing cream began separating - the water and the oil - shortly after I first made it on July 11. I tried re-blending the oil and water; but that has proven unsuccessful. However, I am still using the moisturizer, because it still contains the wonderful jojoba oil, rosewater, beeswax and other superb components. It has a bumpy texture that becomes smooth as soon as the cream is applied to my skin. The cleansing cream is now starting to separate slightly, but it still works marvelously well. I have been keeping the creams and the toner in the refrigerator during the hot weather. As soon as I turn out a really lovely batch of moisturizing cream, I will start giving it out to friends and family and ask them what they think of it.

I want to try a recipe for deodorant that is completely different from the deodorant I made in July. I want something that does not melt when it gets above 80 degrees in the house. Instead of baking soda, coconut oil, lavender essential oil, arrowroot powder and borax, the new recipe calls for simply witch hazel and lavender essential oil. I can spritz it on. The witch hazel and lavender essential oil both have preservative and deodorizing properties. I will let you know how it compares to the baking soda-based deodorant. Keep smiling!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tomato plants; plus the oil business

Two or three weeks ago Gary planted the two tomato plants I purchased at the Farmers' Market. I would some day like to try growing heirloom tomatoes, but this year I wanted to be safe; so I got Early Girl variety, which I have grown in years past. Our yard, and the entire neighborhood where we live, for decades was home to populations of deer, and we still involuntarily share our yard with them. They help themselves to most everything we could plant in the way of food or flowers; and have been known to stand on their hind legs, stretching to eat the leaves from our last surviving ancient apple tree. We have a large pot filled with flowering plants on our front porch post, and we're hoping one of the deer doesn't climb up there and munch off all the colorful blossoms. Our neighbors who have fenced-in back yards do not have ongoing plant wars with deer.

Okay, back to the tomato plants. They are being watered every other day by a drip line from our underground sprinkling system. Today we admired the tiny green tomatoes that have appeared. Hopefully the two layers of protective screening that Gary installed will save the plants from the deer, and we will one day harvest the fruit. If this venture is successful, next year we may try growing green beans, another nutritious and delicious food.

On Saturday I made lip balm using calendula-infused olive oil, cold-pressed canola oil, beeswax, wheat germ oil, vitamin E oil, and a combination of several different essential oils. The next day I decided I wanted to firm up the texture and add more scent; so I scraped all the approximately 8 oz. of balm back into a beaker and put the beaker into a hot water bath over a double boiler. I added more beeswax and also some African shea butter, because I like that stuff, stirring to blend all as the wax and butter melted. When it was completely liquid, I removed the beaker to a towel on the counter. Then I began adding drops of various essential oils until it had an aroma that seemed appealing. I have accumulated a rather extensive selection of essential oils, but the list of what is available seems endless; so I keep buying more. It is generally a good idea to include some lavender essential oil in creams and balms, etc., because of its preservative properties.

The modified lip balm is an improvement over the original, and I may try sending some in the mail to my son and daughter-in-law to evaluate for me. I also want to make some more meringued nuts for them to try, but that's another story. Please keep your chin up, and be determined to have a Happy Day!

Friday, July 15, 2011

More on skin care products

Yesterday I put a handful of dried calendula flowers into a jar of 8 oz. of distilled water and let it set overnight. This morning I strained the calendula-infused water and put two oz. of it into a spritzer bottle. Then I added three teaspoons aloe vera gel, one teaspoon glycerin and chamomile, fennel and vitamin E essential oils. After shaking this mixture, the directions are to store it in the refrigerator, use it within two months and spritz it on your face for a refreshing facial toning.

After putting together the toner, I finely ground 2 oz. calendula dried flowers and put them into a jar into which I had put 10 oz of olive oil. Several hours later, I strained the calendula-infused oil and will use it for other recipes in addition to the lip balm recipe. Tomorrow I plan to make my first batch of lip balm using this calendula-infused olive oil and other natural ingredients. The main products that I use on a daily basis and I want to make myself out of pure ingredients are deodorant, moisturinzing cream, cleansing cream, facial toner, lip balm, bath oil and skin lotion. So far I have made deodorant, moisture cream and cleansing cream. Lip balm, lotion and bath oil are not far behind.

Wednesday was the day I pick up my order from Farmer Brown of the Heirloom Project. I purchased one-half gallon raw milk, one loaf whole wheat sourdough bread and one beef sirloin roast. I find the raw milk easy to digest, unlike the pasturized milk I had been trying to drink the past several years. Tomorrow morning we plan to shop at the Farmer's Market for green vegetables, carrots, greens and bacon. We have to get to the market by about 8:00AM in order to beat the crowd. Good Night!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Success report...

In my earlier post today I described a recipe for Holiday Nuts that I was trying. I am pleased to announce the Holiday Nuts turned out to be a tasty treat! They spent 6-1/2 hours in the food drier, and my husband turned off the drier and placed the snack food into a small, cute cookie jar. To repeat the ingredients in this recipe: a total of five cups crispy cashews, almonds and walnuts mixed (the way to make crispy nuts is to soak them overnight in water and sea salt; then dry them for about 12 hours in the food drier), three egg whites, one-half cup Vermont Maple Syrup, pinch of sea salt and one tablespoon vanilla extract. I also added one-half teaspoon sea salt.

Also in my earlier post today I mentioned jojoba might be too oily for my skin. However, I just read in another book that your face needs only a tiny amount of the cream, and to apply it, dip the tip of your little finger into the cream and gently massage it all over your face. At first it will seem to be too oily; but it will soon be obsorbed by your skin, the pure natural ingredients leaving your face soft and smooth. To deal with the separation of the oil and water in my first attempt at making moisture cream, I will just shake the container well before applying. Tonight I found another recipe for moisture cream I want to try, and it has a slightly different process for mixing the waters and oils, but the directions say it can be tricky to get it right. I will let you know how this new recipe turns out. Good Night!

Technique Needs Work

My homemade moisturizing and cleansing creams feel good on my skin. Because they have no chemical preservatives or stabilizers in them, the creams have a very loose texture during our summer heat. They become firm under refrigeration, and the texture alters a bit from that as well. Whatever the textures are does not affect how well the creams perform. I intend to try using grapefruit seed extract in my next batch, as it is supposed to have some natural preservative properties.

When I apply the jojoba-based moisturizing cream to my face (I am also using it on my hands, arms, legs and feet.), it feels very concentrated, and I have to tissue off the extra. Otherwise I would walk around with a very shiney face and need to be particularly careful not to walk through an insect hatch. I may make some moisturizing cream with grapeseed oil rather than jojoba oil as the base, because it is supposed to be less oily.

On the nutrition end of things, today I am making what is supposed to be a wholesome and nutritious snack - - Holiday Nuts. The recipe, from the Nourishing Traditions book, is called Holiday Pecans, but I am substituting a mixture of walnuts, almonds and cashews for the pecans. I had already soaked the almonds, cashews and walnuts in sea salt water overnight; then dried them in my food drier for another night. These are called Crispy Nuts.

To make the Holiday Nuts, I beat three egg whites and a pinch of sea salt until the whites were stiff. Then I gradually poured in one-half cup Vermont Maple Syrup and one tablespoon vanilla. I hope I don't regret it, but I also added an extra one-half teaspoon sea salt to the mixture. I ended up with what seemed like an enormous amount of whipped egg whites, syrup and vanilla (was this caused by the added salt?). I stirred in an extra cupful of Crispy Nuts, because there was so much of the creamy fluff.

I covered the screens of my food drier trays with foil and buttered them. Then I spread the creamy, globby egg/nut mixture onto the trays. They are to remain in the food drier for several hours, until the egg whites, which are now beige, are dry. I have never seen anything that looks like this before, and I hope it turns out well.

My overall opinion of the projects I have described today is that I need to work on my technique to develop a better batch of cream and a better batch of Holiday Nuts. We learn by doing, as the old adage says. Happy Day!