Name That Bath Soak and You Will be Soaking in Some for Free!

16 oz jar of bath soak Today, well now it is more accurate to say that yesterday was my birthday. I also must confess to you that, sadly, I feel every bit my age, and then some! LOL. For days now I have been creating all manner of new recipes, so I decided that I would celebrate my big day by treating myself to a bath with one of my new creations. I chose a bath soak that has several ingredients, most of which are used for healing and soothing. Although I generally have friends and family test my products first, I have to say that I am SO GLAD that I didn't wait to try this one! Not only did it relax me, it really soothed my aching joints and muscles, and it left my skin feeling oh so soft! I have to say that if I didn't make this stuff, I really would buy it! Sooo, happy birthday to me and to my newest bath soak! [This is a picture before all the ingredients were added] Now, what I need is a name. I kind of gave up on the creative naming idea a while back, settling for the more direct, plain names so that search engines could find me easier, but I am bored with a compromise. I am going to name them, then subtitle the more direct name. All of that to get to this, I need your creativity! What do you think I should name it????? Let me know your ideas by leaving a comment here. The winner will receive their own bath soak and a surprise gift as my thanks for a job well done! I want to get labels made and list this soon, so please submit your ideas by July 2, 2009. You may want to check out my shop to get an idea of my products and their names. The last bath soak I made was named "Luxury Bath Soak" and the one before that was "Cleo's Bath Soak", for Cleopatra. While I will not give out my ingredients on the net (thank you unscrupulous people), I can tell you that it is all natural, has 9 different ingredients, and includes a therapeutic blend of essential oils. While certainly not all inclusive, this soak is formulated with ingredients that are known to;
  • reduce inflammation and edema (swelling)
  • relieve pain
  • promote soothing and relaxation
  • draw impurities from the skin
  • remove dirt and debris from pores soak in kraft bag
  • remove dead skin cells
  • improve circulation
  • both promote and speed healing of the skin
  • encourage rapid and healthy regrowth of skin and tissue cells
  • prevent infection
  • generally bring a smooth, healthy glow to your skin

There you go, you now know as much as I can tell you. I hope that you find inspiration. Have Fun, be creative, and Good Luck to you!!

Now for the fine print. You will need to leave a way for me to reach you in case you are the winner, so leave an email addy, your bog url, an Etsy or an Artfire shop name. By submitting your entry you are giving Unique Garden Essences the right to use that name without further compensation. A winner may not be chosen from the names submitted, if none are deemed suitable. I really do want to share this soak with you, so I will do my best to be open-minded and find one that works. I have several new products making their debut shortly so your entry may work for one of those, if not for this one. Should that be the case, you would be contacted for approval and with the details.

Face Mask for Mature and/or Dry Skin

Yesterday my Mother had a very bad day. After several misshapes she ended her day by splashing a swimming pool chemical in her eye. Needless to say, after the necessary flushing, hours in the ER, and the medicine to save her eye, she ended up with a red, swollen eye. Additionally she was extremely worn out and it really showed on her face, so I decided that I would treat her to a face mask. Specifically, a new clay based mask that I just created a recipe for. I figured that this would give me a guinea pig and I would also be doing something nice for her. I love two birds with one stone deals, but I made a huge mistake. My mistake? I didn't take a before, during, and after picture! I really was just thinking she would either say that it felt bad, good, or great, and that afterwords her skin felt okay, good, or great. I watched as she rinsed off the mask, after only 10 minutes and I was completely taken aback when her skin showed marked and visible signs of improvement. Her under and supra orbital swelling was decreased, the redness of the skin, and even facial wrinkles were decreased. We immediately could SEE a big difference her skin tone. We were really both blown away as we examined her skin. The first thing she said was, "you should have taken a before and after picture!" Of course the second thing she said was, "when can I do another one?" lol.
I always love it when a recipe comes together, but it amazes me to know that these small wonders still amaze me!


Here are some more recipes that utilize the food in your refrigerator to care for your skin. Look through and try a few!
With carrot, avocado and cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 carrot, cooked and mashed
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and mashed
3 Tbs. honey
Combine all ingredients in a bowel and mix well, then spread over the face and neck. Relax for 15 minutes, then rinse with cool water and pat dry.
Carrots are high in beta-carotene and anti-oxidant vitamins, heavy cream is high in calcium and protein, and avocado is a rich source of vitamin E. This mask will improve skin texture, diminish age spots and rebuild collagen when it is used regularly.
with pineapple
4 large pineapple chunks or 1/2 cup canned pineapple, drained
3 Tbs. ev olive oil
Put the pineapple and oil in the blender and blend until mostly smooth. Apply to your face and neck with your fingers, relax for 15 minutes then rinse with warm water and pat skin dry.
Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme which helps rid the skin of dead cells and dirt. It also helps counteract histamines, therefore it has anti-inflammatory properties. The pineapple fruit also acts as a mild astringent and skin freshener. The olive oil has excellent healing properties, is a great source of vitamin E, and will help to restore the skin's surface. Together, this masks ingredients combine to make a very beneficial treatment.
with apricots
6 dried apricots
2 cups water
1 oz beeswax
1 cup apricot oil
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup aloe vera gel
5 vitamin E capsules, open and use the gel only
place apricots in a small saucepan, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, then set aside and allow to cool. Use a double boiler (put adequate amount of water in the bottom pan) to melt the beeswax, apricot oil, and coconut oil together. Cook, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes, then pour into a glass container and set aside. Put the apricots and water into a blender and blend until smooth, then strain through a cheesecloth, trash the solids and put the liquid back into the blender. Add the aloe vera gel and the vitamin E to the blender, then mix on low speed. While still blending on low, slowly drizzle the beeswax into the blender, blending and drizzling [on low] until this mixture has the consistency of cake frosting. You may OR may not use all of the beeswax. Once you have the right consistency, pour the mixture into jars. Store in a cool place. This mixture will thicken as it cools. Apply it to your hands after every washing. This moisturizer is particularly effective on prematurely aged, dry, sensitive, and/or inflamed skin!
with avocado and mayo
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
1 cup real mayonnaise
Mash the avocado in a small bowel, then blend in the mayonnaise. Once mixed, gently massage into the scalp and hair, then cover with a shower cap or plastic wrap. Leave on for 20 minutes, then shampoo as usual.
This mixture is a wonderful conditioner for dry hair and can be used as often as needed.
with molasses
1/2 cup of molasses, honey or maple syrup
Apply molasses, (you can substitute honey or maple syrup if you want) directly to damp hair, massaging into the scalp. Once worked in, cover with a shower cap or plastic wrap and leave for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes, rinse with warm water, then rinse and shampoo as usual.
This treatment is incredibly easy to do and will add shine and moisture to your hair.
PUFFY EYE REMEDY With potatoes and cucumbers
1/4 small raw potato, peeled 1/2 medium-sized cucumber, peeled 2 Tbs sage infusion, cooled *(to make a sage infusion you take 1/4 cup sage (fresh or dried) and pour 1 cup almost boiling water over it, allow to steep for about 30 min. then strain. Throw out the sage and store the "tea" aka infusion in the refrigerator in a glass jar, covered. This will remain good for about 2 months.)* Slice the potato into chunks then mash into pieces in a food processor to get them as fine as possible. Use the food processor to puree the peeled cucumber very briefly. You don't want to over process it. Then strain the excess juice. The whole thing will be runny, but preserve the more pulpy part.Now mix the potato, cucumber and tea together and pour into an empty ice cube tray. Freeze. Next time eyes are puffy, red and sore, pop out one of these ice cubes and place over the eyes. Leave on for 2-3 minutes, or you may just dab them on if leaving on bothers you. When finished, rinse your eyelids off & pad dry. You'll see the difference! The cubes will remain good in the freezer for 2 months. Also, for another, quicker, easier remedy you can throw a few slices of cucumber or just two teaspoons into the freezer before you get into the shower in the morning. After you've gotten out of the shower & dressed, place the frosted spoons or the cucumber slices on your eyelids. Sit back and relax for 10 minutes. The cool of the spoons reduces puffiness, while the cucumber actually possess a natural ingredient that helps to sooth irritated skin.

Food for Though....NOT!

Food You Can Wear, If You Dare!
lol, my title may be a bit extreme, but accurate none the less. There are a lot of foods that are great for skin care. They have properties and nutrients that are great for your skin, not to mention the fact that they are likely already in your kitchen or refrigerator, so that makes them very handy.
with cranberries and savory
1 Tbs. crushed, dried savory leaves
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
Put the savory leaves into a small bowl and cover with the boiling water, and allow to steep for 15 minutes, then strain and reserve the liquid. Put the cranberries into the blender and puree. Once pureed, strain and reserve the liquid, adding it to the savory liquid, now called an infusion. Soak cotton pads or a washcloth in the liquid, then place on face for 15 minutes, making sure to avoid the eye area. After the 15 minutes, remove the cotton or washcloth and rinse with warm water, then pat dry.
The acidity in the cranberries works as a mild astringent and a great toner, while the Savory helps to cleanse the skin of excess oils.
with cucumbers
2 small cucumbers, peeled and halved
1 cup lanolin
1/4 cup almond oil
1/2 cup boiling water
Blend the peeled cucumber in a blender until it is liquefied. Slowly add the boiling water to the cucumber liquid, then set aside and allow to cool.
Melt the lanolin in a saucepan, over low heat. When melted, remove from heat and gradually add in the almond oil, stirring constantly. Strain the cucumber pulp through a cheesecloth, reserving the liquid and trashing the pulp. Gradually add the cucumber juice to the lanolin oil mixture, stirring all the while. Once thoroughly mixed, spoon into a small plastic or glass jar and store in the refrigerator.
This cold cream is extremely refreshing! The cucumber juice acts as a mild astringent, and is perfect for cleansing sensitive skin, while lanolin absorbs and holds water next to the skin, adding moisture.
with egg and lemon
1 egg
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 Tbs. liquid lecithin
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup coconut oil
Blend the egg and the sesame oil together in a blender, at low speed. While the blender is running, slowly add in the sunflower oil, lecithin and lemon juice. Then gradually add in the coconut oil and blend until the mixture is thick. Place mixture in refrigerator for one hour, then blend on low speed again. Once blended, spoon into a jar and store in the refrigerator. This recipe will keep/stay good for about two weeks. Apply mixture to your face and neck just before going to bed each night.
This night cream helps to rebuild and regenerate cell tissue. The lemon's citric acid kills bacteria on the skin, while the sesame oil has natural sunscreen properties. The coconut oil helps to seal in moisture and leave your face feeling very smooth.
with cucumbers
This hand rub exfoliates, deeply cleanses, and moisturizes the hands. It is especially good if you have irritated hands, puffy hands, or abrasions on your hands, as it will decrease the puffiness and help to heal irritations and abrasions.
1 small cucumber, peeled
1 Tbs. witch hazel
Put the cucumber into a blended and liquify. Add the witch hazel to the cucumber juice, then wash your hands in the liquid. Pat skin dry and moisturize.
with avocados
1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup sweet almond oil
1/4 cup ev olive oil
1/4 cup water
Put the avocado, oatmeal, almond oil, and olive oil into a blender and blend until smooth. Put blender on low, and while still blending, drizzle in the water until the paste has a consistency of thick pudding. You may or may not need the full amount of water listed. Once the consistency is right, rub/massage the mixture onto your hands in a circular motion. Rinse off with tepid water and pat dry. For full effectiveness, and to maintain results, this mixture should be used twice a week.
Next post will be a continuation of this one, as I have some more FOOD recipes for you! So come back and see how you can use carrots and apricots!

Add Some Pep With Peppermint!

Get Peppy With Peppermint
The herb peppermint is utilized in many products. Everything from candy, to mouthwash to medicine, contain the flavor of peppermint. But peppermint is more than just a pleasant taste, it has been used for centuries to aide with digestion. In fact, the custom of having an after dinner mint was begun by the ancient Romans, when they ate mint after their meals to aide with the digestion of the meal. Peppermint was recommended by American herbalists for gas, colic, hiccups, and nausea, as early as 1801. Peppermint is probably the best known remedy for stomach ailments. The essential oils in peppermint stimulate the gallbladder and encourage bile secretion, while helping the muscles that line the stomach and the intestines to smooth out and function properly. In fact, in recent years, research has shown that peppermint is very helpful for irritable bowel syndrome, which is a common, hard to treat ailment. Peppermint oil, in extremely high concentrations, may also inhibit and/or kill many microorganisms associated with digestive and other problems. The chemical in the plants volatile oil which makes it so potent and effective as a health aide, is menthol. Menthol, albeit usually a synthetic version, is used in many health care products, for clearing congestion, opening airways, and topically for easing muscle pain and cooling inflammation. While peppermint tea is widely used to receive digestive upset, it is not really recommended for colicky infants because the menthol may cause them to experience a choking sensation. Even in older children, a weakened dilution is recommended. Additionally, please remember that essential oils are highly concentrated and should only be used by drops. In fact, pure menthol is poisonous and should not be used internally.
Peppermint is purported to help;
  • ease intestinal gas
  • relieve indigestion and diarrhea
  • relieve congestion
  • soothe muscle soreness
  • treat irritable bowel syndrome
  • calm menstrual cramps
While spearmint is a related plant, and is also used for flavoring, it is not considered medicinally potent like peppermint, so if you are in need make sure to use peppermint.
Want to make your own breath mints? They aren't that difficult, try this recipe. 1 3/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup honey 3/4 cup light corn syrup 1/2 tsp peppermint extract (you can also use spearmint, or wintergreen. Adding lemon extract instead of the peppermint will make this a great cough/sore throat drop. Adding comfrey and pepsin, in addition to the lemon, will make this a great stomach relief drop.) 1/2 cup water *You can also add vitamin C if you want to fortify these drops
  • Line a 9x9 baking pan with aluminum foil, making sure that the foil continues up the sides of the pan.
  • Butter the sides of a 2 qt sauce pan.
  • Combine the sugar, corn syrup, water and honey in the sauce pan. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until the mixture boils, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar (this usually takes about 4-6 minutes).
  • Turn the heat down to medium and continue a light boil at a steady rate, stirring occasionally, until at the soft crack stage, 290 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  • Continue to cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool, stirring occasionally over the next 2-3 minutes. Add the peppermint extract (other herbs or vitamins should be added now if you desire them).
  • Immediately pour the mixture into the foil lined pan and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then go ahead and "mark" your break lines into the mixture with a spatula. Make the portions square and small/large enough for a single serving. If the marks do not stay as the mixture sets up, it means that it was too hot, so mark again and allow it to cool more.
  • Allow the mixture to set overnight, then use the foil to lift the batch from the pan. Break along your marks, and package in individual candy wrappers which can be purchased in the crafting section of grocery stores, or at cake decorating shops. Of course, you can simply use wax paper if you'd prefer.
  • Make sure that you store these in a cool, dark place until you need them. This batch will make about 200 portions, depending upon the size you make them. they should be good for about 6-8 months, but you will need to wrap them well, then store them in a plastic or paper bag.
You can even make your own mouthwash! Making your own mouthwash will ensure that you get a quality mouthwash, without the detergent that most name-brand mouthwashes have. Additionally, if you'd prefer to not have alcohol in you recipe, you don't have to! Simply, place the peppermint extract in water and leave out the alcohol. 1/4 cup 90 proof vodka or everclear 10 to 15 drops of peppermint extract or 3-5 drops of essential oil *make sure that you buy food grade extract or essential oil. (you may use food grade spearmint, wintergreen or cinnamon extract if you'd prefer) 3/4 cup distilled water
  • Mix all together and store in a dark, glass bottle. This mixture will keep for 1-2 months if you use the alcohol, but has no shelf life without it, so mix and use as needed.
  • *You can use food coloring to color the mixture if you'd like
Homemade Tooth Powder 1/4 cup of baking soda 1 tsp of table salt 1 Tbs. dried, finely grated lemon peel 1-2 drops peppermint extract *make sure it is food grade
  • Mix together and use a cheese shaker to sprinkle onto your wet toothbrush. Use as you would a store purchased toothpaste.
  • This will only remain good for about 2 weeks, so do not make a batch at a time.

The Charms of Chamomile

Chamomile has been noted for centuries as being calming, comforting and as a healing herb. Over 400 years ago herbalists noted that drinking chamomile was good for indigestion, while bathing in an infusion of chamomile flowers seemed to relieve aching joints and strained muscles. In shampoo and hair rinses chamomile is purported to keep blond hair at its golden best, while it is traditionally recommended to topically treat swelling from arthritis, burns, and sprains, it has also been noted to decrease redness of the skin that is due to irritations. Chamomile is also noted as a mild sedative and an anti-errythemic (anti-itch) medicine. Used as a treatment for everything from teething pain relief to diaper rash relief, this herb has long had the reputation of being good for "whatever ails you"! As a matter of fact, chamomile is frequently used in many products for adults and children, and is often preferred for infants and children, for both internal and topical remedies, because of its mildness. Chamomile is one of the few medicinal plants that still have a large, prominent role in modern medicine. European researchers have shown that substances found in the essential oil of chamomile flowers have anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, sedative and analgesic properties. Some studies also report that chamomile oil or extract soothes burned or irritated skin, and even helps to prevent stomach ulcers. The tea made from the chamomile flowers has long been touted to help calm an upset stomach and to help induce sleepiness. It seems that centuries old folklore is a modern day fact! Chamomile comes in two species, the Roman and the German, but both belong to the same family as asters and daisies. The flower heads resemble mini daisies, and are where the healing power is found. The flower heads are the part of the herb that the essential oil is distilled from, and they yield an azure blue volatile oil. Chamomile is considered to be one of the safest herbs to use, frequently recommended for use by infants, children and pregnant women, however, anyone with a ragweed, daisy, aster, or mum allergy should exercise caution when using chamomile products, and especially think twice about drinking chamomile tea. Now I have to say that many people, even those with such allergies, do use chamomile products without any adverse affects, it is generally better safe than sorry, most especially with internal preparations! If a topical makes your skin red or itchy, it is fairly easy to discontinue use, but if your airway is swelling shut it is not something you can take care of yourself! Chamomile is purported to help;
  • reduce inflammation
  • sooth skin irritations, including diaper rash
  • decrease toothache and teething pain
  • reduce earaches
  • ease indigestion, including colic in infants
  • calm nerves
  • promote rest/sleep
  • reduce cold symptoms
  • relieve menstrual cramps
  • prevent stomach ulcers

You can buy a cup of chamomile tea in restaurants all over the world, or purchase pre-made bags in your local grocery store, but this tea is going to be weak. Even the strongest of prepared teas will only contain 10-15% of the volatile oil that the flowers themselves have. So.....if you would like something stronger, remember that many health experts feel that a cup of tea a day will provide long-term health benefits, you can simply brew about 1 Tbs. of flower heads to about 1 cup of water, strain and sip! When cooled, this solution can also be used as a hair rinse. You can even infuse some olive oil with an ounce of flowers, leave sit for several days then strain and use as a body oil.

I just planted my chamomile last week, but I still have some dried from my old house, so I think I will head to the kitchen and brew a cup, as all this writing has made me thirsty!

Fleas and Ticks, Oh my!

You are not the only ones that need to protect your skin during the summer months. You can't forget about your pets and their special needs! Aside from the basics of extra, clean, fresh water and temperature control, you need to protect your pets from the insects of summer. Yes, I'm talking about the nasty, dreaded fleas and ticks that are easily acquired from a single trip to the back yard. Certainly there are chemical means to control these pests. You can treat your yards, even your pets with strong, life depleting chemicals. While these are proven to reduce the number of pests that can attack your pet, they can certainly affect the health of your pet too, not to mention that pets tend to build an immunity to them. Many people find that what use to last a month, now needs reapplication every two to three weeks. You may not know it, but there are some herbal alternatives available! There are natural, herbs that are known to help repel insects such as fleas and ticks. They may not be as strong or as reliable as the chemicals, but they do not affect the health of your pet like the chemicals either. You will need to reapply often, and you will need to be vigilant about checking your pets for pests, as well as providing regular bathing and grooming. You can even go to your local herbalist, garden shop, or large chain store and obtain all natural treatments for your yard. If you put together a yard treatment, a soap, a spray, and a dusting powder, you will have a comprehensive, all natural, herbal plan of care that will meet your pets summer needs. I encourage you to look at these herbal alternatives. I personally have to use them for my Gizmo because he has seizures after the application of topical monthly flea treatments. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to tell you that the Vet says that he has never known the treatment [for fleas] to cause seizures. However, Gizmo has only ever had a seizure after I applied the monthly flea treatment [on three seperate occassions]. Once I stopped applying the treatments, his sezures stopped, and have never returned. I refuse to take the chance with my little guy, so now I only use herbal remedies on him. Here is a recipe that you can whip up to use for your carpets, rugs, pet bedding and cloth covered furniture. It deodorizes, freshens and naturally repels fleas. To use, simply apply the powder liberally to the chosen surface, then leave on for 15 to 20 minutes, then vacuum as usual. Repeat once per week.
Carpet Dusting Powder
2 1/4 Cups of Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) 2 Tbs. Borax 2 Tbs. Dried Tansy flowers (finely ground) 2 Tbs. Dried Lavender buds (finely ground) 1/2 tsp. Orris root powder 5 drops patchouli oil 1/2 Tbs. witch hazel 1/2 Tbs. cedar leaf oil (some people prefer cedarwood oil) 1/4 Tbs. lemon oil or lemon grass oil Mix all of the dry ingredients together, except for the baking soda. Once mixed, add the essential oils into the powder and mix well. Once combined, store in a plastic, air tight container, preferably one with a shaker lid for easy dispensing. This mixture has a shelf life of approximately 1 year.