Monday, March 28, 2011

Sugar Body Scrub

Small acts of consumer anarchy have increased in frequency around here lately; in direct correlation, as a matter of fact, to the element of financial necessity.  Which reasoning may take some of the fun out of it, really - because it isn't much of a stretch to resort to homemade items when one's budget demands that sort of thing.

But still.  A little fire under one's hindquarters can be a good thing in the ultimate name of Getting Something Accomplished.

And taking care of business, we are.  In the past month alone, spurred on by minor (and some not-so-minor) financial setbacks, I have gotten back in the habit of hanging clothes outside to dry (thanks to the glorious change in the weather), gone an eight day stretch without spending a dime on anything (other than household utility usage), found countless ways to make do or to do without when it comes to menu planning, baked fresh bread no less than five times, and most importantly at the moment, learned the joys of homemade sugar body scrubs.

'Joy' may not be a strong enough word.  'Glee' has been co-opted (and capitalized).  I'm going to have to work on my descriptives...

You know how lovely it feels when you've taken a few minutes to pamper yourself?  And how rarely you actually do it because you (a) don't seem to have the time, (b) resent spending a handful of cash on an obviously over-priced body care product that is (c) filled with all manner of sulfates and parabens and other bizarre and unnecessary "ingredients," and (d) who wants another tub/jar/bottle of anything else in their bathrooms?

It is that lovely feeling that I am trying to recapture, and I think I've found a way around all those other pesky roadblocks to loveliness.

There is one major rule I have been following in my quest to consume less: avoid single-purpose consumables.  There is just no need to buy shampoo, carpet/rug cleaning powder, scouring powder, odor eliminators, toilet bowl cleaner, facial masks, and heaven knows how many other products, when one giant box of negligible-cost baking soda will take care of all these things handily.

Similarly, I can avoid buying sandwich bread, pasta, baguettes, and numerous other items by making use of a bag of flour and, in the process, be more intentional and mindful in time spent kneading dough, rolling out pasta, and filling the house with the incomparable smell of freshly-baked bread.

But back to that afore-mentioned sugar scrub, yes?  Oh, I wouldn't have really gone out and bought a body scrub (though I have nothing against buying a loofah), but it was high time, I decided, to do something that felt a bit decadent, and this scrub is nothing if not luxurious and guilty-pleasure resembling.  And I could make it with items I already had on hand, multi-purpose items like sugar (hello, second most necessary product on our shopping list), olive oil, honey, and essential oil (which I use to scent cleaning products, vinegar hair rinse, failed experiments in homemade deodorant, and other tasks I can't bring to mind at the moment).

The recipe was one I ran across in a recent issue of Whole Living, and was so simple as to not even register at first.  I think I ran right past the page without a second glance, but then I remembered Sarah H. mentioning that she had made a sugar scrub that was (and I paraphrase here) life-altering.  I flipped back to the page and set the recipe aside for future inspiration and, as I am wont to do, promptly forgot about it for a while.

Then the day came when I needed a pick-me-up.  I craved a guilty pleasure moment, something I could do to center myself in the midst of chaos, just a few minutes of pampering.  You know the sort of something I mean, right?  I wasn't looking for a weekend yoga retreat in Arizona (though that would be nice - don't get me wrong) or even a girls' night out (though that also, of course, would be *nice*).

So I pulled out that little recipe and, in less than two minutes, had a homemade sugar scrub tucked away in the shower for, ahem, such a time as I might find to actually luxuriate in a shower.  Without the children.  Especially that slightly annoying three-year-old that never misses a chance to shed her clothes and play in water.

I scented the scrub with a mixture of sweet orange and grapefruit essential oils, because I'm still finding myself tangled loosely in those murky end-of-winter doldrums, and nothing works quite as well as the smell of citrus to help slow my breathing and bring an unexpected sense of brightness.

And, oh, the scrub turned out to be pure loveliness in a jar.  It is such a simple thing and yet so richly layered in its ability to transform: to transform a mundane moment into a guilty pleasure moment; to transform minor depressive feelings into a tiny puff of light and joy; and to transform the body physically, of course.

The sugar exfoliates as well as any other product I have used, better even than using a loofah, and the oil clings so well to the skin as to make after-bath moisturizing unnecessary (goodbye plastic bottle of lotion with too many unpronounceable ingredients).  The Carnivore and I have both been using the scrub for a few weeks now, and I find I like it even better as time passes and the coarser grains of sugar mellow out a bit in their rough edges.  Even better, as the sugar is used and excess oil is left in the jar, more sugar can be added and stirred in so that there is never any waste at the bottom.  And a little goes a long way.  It only take a couple teaspoons to do my whole body, and with only a brief pat down with a towel when I get out of the shower, the lightly-scented oil stays on my skin, leaving a silky soft feeling behind.

I am a little bit in love with this, you see.  And I think you will be, too.


SUGAR BODY SCRUB (adapted from Whole Living magazine)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 5 to 10 drops essential oils, or 2 tsp fresh citrus zest
  1. Stir until well-mixed.  Store in a jar or other canister.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

On the Vernal Equinox

The lettuce got planted this week, and just like that, I started to wake up from the long-running winter lull that had taken over in its usual and truly oppressive fashion.  I opened the pantry door, and noticed the jar of homemade vanilla extract that I started back at the end of December, and that will be ready in another week or so.  And then I walked outside to hang the laundry out to dry (reason enough to appreciate the change of seasons) and I saw the buds starting to burst out on the wisteria vines.

We can finally breathe a sigh of relief.  Winter is over.

Crafty projects are beginning again, which means hits and misses are everywhere.  An attempt to make my own sugar body scrub turned out beautifully earlier this week, and I find myself craving time to take a shower so I can slough off a little more of the winter dullness and revel further in the glorious silkiness that the oils leave on my skin.  Two different recipes for baguettes - God bless crusty, chewy bread - turned out mostly decently but still need more practice.  This afternoon's frozen mocha drink recipe reminded me that Frappuccinos are just too sweet and all I really wanted was a big steaming mug of hot, black coffee anyway.

The idea is to try new things, not for every new thing to be exquisite.

My list for this Spring keeps growing, in the best of ways, and I hope to keep this momentum going before the midsummer heat sets in and everything begins to slow down again - including my sluggish extreme-temperature-sensitive brain.

And so, a few short hours before the Equinox, while the temperatures are temperate, and on a day when the hours of daylight will perfectly balance the hours of nighttime, I plan the projects for this welcome new season.

It is my own brand of bucket list, you see, only much less grand in scope, and far more achievable.

Spring is a time of gentle new beginnings, and so is my list:

  1. Learn how to bake a perfect baguette (at least once)
  2. Make my own liquid dishwashing soap, for hand-washing purposes (the Dishwasher soap recipe is still working beautifully)
  3. Make my own laundry detergent
  4. Rig up a pulley clothesline system from the back stoop
  5. Attempt proper succession planting to extend the luscious and lovely salad greens season
  6. Read Love Wins and come to my own conclusions regarding eternal torment
  7. Hold Crane Pose for longer than 2.4 seconds (without falling on my nose again)
  8. Craft a family mission statement that all four of us can get on board with (without rolling our eyes)
  9. And most importantly, accept that this season may come to an end before all of the items on this list have been successfully crossed off
Happy Equinox, my friends.