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Three Luxurious Bath Oils to Make Yourself

Sugar and Pith, make your own luxurious bath oils, three decorative bottles of bath oils with wax sealed corks and pretty tags
Bath oils are a great way to boost low winter spirits and add extra moisturizer to your skin during the cold wet months of winter. They’re easy to make yourself and are wonderful luxurious gifts to give to others. I’m presenting three different blends for you to try. All of them use jojoba as the base oil because it’s an oil that works well with most skin types. Jojoba is a great moisturizer and absorbs well. You need to use a base oil with most essential oils but what percentage of base oils to essential oils to use depends on how you’re using the blend.

Rose, Sandalwood, and Jojoba Bath Oil

This blend is the most luxurious of all three because the rose absolute and sandalwood are precious oils that are very costly. It’s a heavenly sensual blend and one of my favorites.

30 ml jojoba oil
7 ml rose absolute|
7 ml sandalwood

In a tiny measuring cup or shot glass with milliliter measurements printed on the side.  Mix the oils together and stir them well. Let them sit for a while and then stir again. If you’re using a Boston round to keep your blends in you can mix the oils by shaking the bottle vigorously several times. But if you’re going to put them in the small decorative bottles shown above you won’t be able to shake the oils well once you’ve filled them.

Pour the oils into your chosen bottle. This batch of oil is good for 2 baths.

Jasmine and Jojoba Bath Oil

This bath oil blend is wonderfully floral and warm. The tropical scent will warm you up and make your forget rain and snow for a little while.

40 ml jojoba oil
5 ml jasmine absolute

In a tiny measuring cup or shot glass with milliliter measurements printed on the side.  Mix the oils together and stir them well. Let them sit for a while and then stir again. If you’re using a Boston round to keep your blends in you can mix the oils by shaking the bottle vigorously several times. But if you’re going to put them in the small decorative bottles shown above you won’t be able to shake the oils well once you’ve filled them.

Pour the oils into your chosen bottle. This batch of oil is good for 2 baths.

Vetiver, Bergamot, and Jojoba Bath Oil

This blend is perfect for people who don’t like floral scents. Vetiver is a woodsy, smoky, sexy, earthy scent. Adding bergamot to vetiver brightens and vitalizes it. Bergamot is great for lifting and brightening your mood.

40 ml jojoba oil
5 ml vetiver
5 ml bergamot

In a tiny measuring cup or shot glass with milliliter measurements printed on the side.  Mix the oils together and stir them well. Let them sit for a while and then stir again. If you’re using a Boston round to keep your blends in you can mix the oils by shaking the bottle vigorously several times. But if you’re going to put them in the small decorative bottles shown above you won’t be able to shake the oils well once you’ve filled them.

Pour the oils into your chosen bottle. This batch of oil is good for 2 baths.

Package Your Bath Oils Beautifully

There are so many ways you can package your bath oils to present as gifts. I encourage you to let your imagination guide you. But if you like how I’ve packaged mine, feel free to do the same. Here are the supplies you will need (click on bold items for links):

Small decorative bottles

Bottle Sealing Wax

Decorative paper (I found William Morris prints online and printed them onto card stock)

Glass (or other) glitter

Thread (if you don’t have any already, you can get some at any craft store)

Fill your bottles with the oils. Note that the bottles I used are all between 1.25 oz and 1.5 oz so you may have a little extra of some of these oil blends.

Cut your decorative paper (preferably a card stock weight, but use what you have!) into 1.25″ squares. You can also just wing it. Put a thin line of glue around the edges of each square and sprinkle glitter on. Let it dry. Then write what blend you’ve used on the back.

Punch a small hole in the top corner of your label. Cut a little over double the length you want your label to hang. Lordy, I don’t know how to describe how I knotted my thread – hopefully the above picture can guide you.

Fill a small jam jar a quarter of the way up with your wax sealing pellets. Set it in a small sauce pot of simmering water until the wax melts fully. Keep an eye on it, you may need to add more water before the wax is fully melted.

Put the tops of your thread into the opening of the bottles and push the cork in as tight as you can without making it flush with the opening. Holding the label to the side of the jar, dip the cork and the lip of the bottle in the wax a couple of times. This will prevent the cork from popping out and spilling the oil before it’s ready to be used.

 

Calendula Cooling Eye Mask Review

Sugar and Pith, cross hatching a piece of aloe vera leaf

I’m squeezing this post in a little bit late but I didn’t want you to miss a fun little recipe my sister and I tried out for an eye mask from the book Natural Beauty by Susan Curtis, Fran Johnson, and Pat Thomas. This book is one of my favorite reference books for natural beauty information and recipes. My sister and I decided to try their recipe for their cooling eye mask that uses the calendula tincture I just made. This eye mask recipe is supposed to cool, tone, and smooth puffy lines around your eyes.

Ingredients:

2 tsp witch hazel

1 tsp aloe vera juice

1 tsp glycerin

1 tsp calendula tincture

First of all, we didn’t use store bought aloe juice because we have several large aloe plants in the garden. Milking an aloe leaf for its juice is surprisingly challenging! We split the leaf in half and scored the flesh and then squeezed the viscous juice which, being viscous, hung from the leaf in a slimy glop that refused to actually fall into the teacup. We resorted to scraping the juice off with the measuring spoon which proved equally difficult. There are worse things for your hands to be completely covered with than fresh aloe leaf juice. I don’t regret it.

Suagar and Pith, measuring out calendula tincture into tea cup

Next we poured the rest of the ingredients in the tea cup and gave it a really good stir. This eye mask is that easy to put together. Once it seemed about as mixed as it would ever get, we applied the mask generously to the area under our eyes (being careful not to get it IN our eyes) and to our brow bones.

The instructions say to let it sit for five minutes. Being very thorough people, my sister and I waited for ten and just to make the experience extra zen, we practiced breathing slowly and deeply. It was a lovely warm late morning so we did all of this on my front porch looking out at the garden.

Sugar and Pith, antique tea cup and silver spoon filled with eye mask ingredients

Then we removed gently, as instructed, with a cotton pad.

Was it cooling? Kind of. Was it toning? Maybe. Did it smooth puffy lines? Not even a tiny bit. I’ll tell you what it DID do, though. For the rest of the day the skin under my eyes felt really soft and hydrated. As a middle aged person with “mature” skin that’s a plus in my book. I really didn’t experience the astringent qualities of the mask that do the toning and it’s my suspicion that that’s because of the glycerine. If I do this eye mask again I’ll leave out the glycerin. Aloe, witch hazel, and calendula tincture without glycerin would feel more cooling and toning. However, if you want to try this and the skin under your eyes is especially sensitive, you may want to leave it in. That’s your call.

What was really nice about making this recipe is that my sister and I sat down together and took care of our faces while hanging out. I firmly believe that half of the benefit of doing spa treatments is that you stop rushing around, you stop fretting, and you feel more peaceful. This is an incredibly important act of self care, the little things we do every day that feed our body in some way while slowing us down and helping us be mindful.

Go ahead and give this cooling eye mask a try and see what you think.

Calendula Tincture: How to Make Your Own

 

Sugar and Pith, picture from top looking into jar of unfiltered calendula tincture

Calendula tincture isn’t called for all that often in herbal medicine but there are a few good uses to which you can put it. You can add it to mouthwash recipes as calendula is good for reducing gum inflammation, healing mouth ulcers, and inhibiting bacterial growth. You can use it in topical skin applications where you want a more concentrated amount of its medicinal properties. And you can also take it internally to sooth stomach aches.

How to Make a Calendula Tincture:

Fill a pint jar about half full of dried calendula and then cover it with 100 proof alcohol.

It’s important that you use 100 proof because the solvent range for extracting the medicinal constituents from calendula flowers is between 50-80%. If you can’t get your hands on 100 proof, see if you can find a source for grain aclohcol (between 150-153 proof).

Label your jar with the date you started the batch and put it somewhere where you won’t forget about it.

Shake it vigorously every day for two to four weeks.

Shaking it every day is important because it helps break down the cell walls of the plant material.

Sugar and Pith, jar pouring calendula infused alcohol through a filter into a jar

Next, get a fresh clean jar fitted either with a strainer or (as I’ve done here) with a wide mouthed funnel fitted with an unbleached coffee filter and pour the liquid through it. Alternatively, you can use cheese cloth or muslin. Shake the plant material into the filter or cheese cloth and squeeze as much of the liquid out of it as you can.

Sugar and Pith, pouring calendula tincture through funnel into an amber round bottle

Decant your tincture into a dark bottle and label it. Store in a cool dark cupboard to maintain the best quality.

Sugar and Pith, dropper full of calendula tincture poised above shot glass

Your tincture is ready to be used in whatever recipe you like! Calendula is a safe herb to use but I recommend that if you decide to take it internally you do so with the dosage advice of an herbalist or naturopathic doctor.

The next Herb of the Month post will feature an experiment with a recipe for an eye mask that uses this calendula tincture. So be sure to check back in soon!

Calendula Tea With Cleavers and Mint

Sugar and Pith, two vintage glasses with calendula and mint iced tea in them, garnished with sprig of mint and calendula petals

Spring has arrived in Northern California and everything in my garden has greened up and budded out. If you live in a more severe climate, be patient, spring is heading your way soon too. To me, spring is about new beginnings, coming out of dormancy, and fresh energy. Although I like winter better than spring, I do love watching my garden open up and fill with light. One of the first things to flower is calendula. I haven’t been a big fan of drinking a lot of detoxifying teas or going on big organ-cleansing tears. However, I think this spring is a great time to add this to my occasional regimen.

Refreshing calendula tea to gently support your lymphatic system and eliminative processes

Calendula Tea with Cleavers and Mint

4-6 fresh calendula flower heads

2 big handfuls of fresh cleavers

3-4 sprigs fresh mint

How to make it:

Rinse all of the herbs in running water to remove any dirt or insects.

Put all of the herbs in a half gallon jar or other container.

Cover to the top with boiling water and put a lid loosely on the top (don’t screw tight, you want to let the steam out). Let it steep for ten minutes if drinking hot. If drinking cold, let it steep until it cools down and then refrigerate for a couple of hours to get it cold.

Strain before drinking.

Sugar and Pith, half gallon jar filled with fresh calendula, cleavers, and mint

Both calendula and cleavers are lymphatic tonics which, in simplistic terms, means they help your lymphatic system work better to filter out foreign bodies such as bacteria from your body. Cleavers is also alterative which means it helps support your liver function. Mint is good for dispelling gas and stimulating appetite which isn’t why I added it to this tea. I added mint for the fresh flavor and because I’ve got lots of tender new growth on my mint plant right now.

 

I consult a lot of different sources for my herbal information. Here are a few of the sources I consulted for the medicinal information above:

http://www.rjwhelan.co.nz/herbs%20A-Z/calendula.html

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/303087.php

Medical Herbalism (the science and practice of herbal medicine) by David Hoffmann

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galium_aparine

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lymphatic_system

Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine by Steven Foster and Rebecca L. Johnson

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Calendula officinalis is This Month’s Featured Herb

Sugar and Pith, vintage botanical illustration of calendula

Calendula has been used for hundreds of years for both medicinal and culinary purposes. No one knows exactly how far back this flower has been healing people, but it’s remained in broad use for good reasons. Modern studies are beginning to support what herbalists have always known: it has emollient, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and vulnerary properties. All of this makes calendula a common ingredient in wound salves and skin treatments.

But it has also traditionally been used to color foods like butter and cheese as well as to flavor beverages and stews, especially in medieval times. It was considered the “poor man’s saffron” and added to dishes where one might have used saffron if only one wasn’t a penniless serf. Nowadays you can buy your own crocuses for a reasonable price and grow a pinch of saffron a year if you’re particularly enterprising.

Calendula can be drunk as an infusion or added to other teas. Although it isn’t as popular now, it was used to settle stomachs and heal ulcers, both of the stomach and the mouth.

In the Garden

Sugar and Pith, weathered white and purple lion statue in a garden with calendula growing at its base

Calendula is one of the top five herbs I believe it’s essential to grow in my own garden. The brilliant thing about it is that this flower reseeds itself in most gardens freely. Some people may see this as a nuisance but I can’t enter into their feelings because seeing their blossoms are like viral sunshine. My garden is spilling over with yellow and orange flowers screaming loudly that even when the sky is grey spring is here! I pluck them out where I don’t want them and let them reseed all over again. I think I could be happy in a garden almost exclusively covered in calendula and California poppies.

How to Harvest and Dry

Harvest calendula in the morning when the flowers are fully open but still fresh. If you’re going to dry them in a bundle make sure you leave enough stem with which to do this. If you’re drying them in a dehydrator stem length isn’t as important because after you select all the best flower heads you’ll remove the whole stem up to the base of the flower. Don’t wash your herbs unless they’re very dirty, you use pesticides in your garden, or have pets that might have peed on them. If you choose to wash them be sure to remove as much water and dampness as you can for best quality.

I dry my mine in my dehydrator because I find it preserves the quality best but if you don’t have one, don’t worry. You can tie the stems together in a bundle and hang them upside down out of direct sunlight or you can thread them together with a needle to form a chain of them and hang them somewhere dry and warm. You want to make sure the base of the flower is completely dry before storing or they may mold. Store your dried calendula heads in an airtight jar in a place out of direct light. It will keep for a long time but I recommend using it within six months for best quality.

Calendula in Sugar & Pith products

Sugar and Pith mini triple strength wound salve, four tins of salve on a book page with a calendula flower and petals

Many of Sugar & Pith’s products feature calendula such as the Triple Strenth Wound Salve, Maiden’s Blush herbal bath soak, and all of the lip balms.

Sugar and Pith mini triple strength wound salve, four tins of salve on a book page with a calendula flower and petalsSugar and Pith mini triple strength wound salve, four tins of salve on a book page with a calendula flower and petalsSave

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