Thursday, June 30, 2011

from the herb garden

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to work in my herb garden. Every year, I read about new herbs and their possible uses. Then, I pick three or four of my favorites and add them to the garden. Fresh herbs taste so good in just about anything edible and their wonderful aromas keep me smiling. Lately, I have been exploring other herb uses. Have I ever been having fun in the kitchen mixing up fragrant concoctions that aren't just for cooking! After a long hard day, there is nothing quite as nice as a long luxurious soak in the tub. I mean the kind of bath that when you sink down into the warm steamy depths there is nothing more to say than--- Ahhhhhhhhhh. Add a few extra ingredients to that bath and you will feel the stress, aches and fatigue of the day melt away. Surprisingly, the extra ingredients I am speaking of have nothing to do with adult beverages. I would like to introduce you to my new bath time favorite----bath tea. I researched all sorts of herbal bath recipes and came up with an ingredient combination of my own. I call it a bath tea because, once the ingredients are mixed, I scoop it into tea pockets that you can find at most specialty tea shops. I got mine from Teavana. I have included some of the supposed benefits of each herb just for fun. Who knows, maybe there is something truly therapeutic in the use of herbs and aromatherapy! If nothing else, the fragrance is divine and the salts soothe my achy muscles.
The mixture is very simple to put together and the results have me wanting to take baths several times a day.
Aromatic Bath Tea
1/2 cup Epsom salt
1/2 cup sea salt
1/4 cup baking soda
3/4 cup total of any or all of these fresh herbs
       Basil- relieves mental stress
       Sage- restores energy. Used in the bath to relieve labor
                   pains and the discomforts of menopause.
                  Supposedly, sage incites wisdom so I added 
       Rosemary- relieves mental fatigue and sore muscles
5 drops Geranium Essential Oil- calming, balancing,uplifting
5 drops Sweet Orange EO- calming. Promotes happiness. 
                                          Let's just make that 8 drops.
10 drops Lavender EO- relieves stress, headache,muscle
                                    soreness, and insomnia

Mix all ingredients together in a food processor (this chops the fresh herbs. I put in leaves and stems)
Spoon into tea pouches and fold over the flap. You could also use muslin bags with tie strings.
Hang the bag from the faucet of your bath tub and let the warm water flow through it.

Enjoy being swept away to a steamy fragrant ambience of bliss and relaxation! 
When you are done, toss the tea bag containing the fresh herb remains in the compost pile.  
Hope you are having a wonderful summer!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Got Soap?

Not long ago I saw the most amazing apothecary jar filled with miniature soaps in a catalog. I loved it! It would be perfect in my master bath. I really wanted it. I knew that I should see if a similar product could be found at a better price but my inner impulsive voice began to speak. What if other home decor companies did not carry anything resembling this chic concept? What if,while searching and coming up empty handed, the very last amazing apothecary jar was purchased by some one else? It does happen, you know. All the time. Before I could stop myself, my fingers had proceeded to the shopping cart check-out and pressed purchase! Oops. Was that bad to do? Oh, well. Next, the soap. Let's see, I should need a couple of dozen or so for the large apothecary. Yikes! Those little soaps are oh so cute but pricey. What to do? Thankfully, I remembered all of the miniature soaps we have collected from hotels while traveling that were stashed away in the linen closet. Brilliant! I ran upstairs and pulled the overflowing basket from the shelf and was pleased to see that, not only would the soaps fit perfectly in my new apothecary jar, they were also a nice variety of colors, fragrances, and shapes. I love the way they look in the bathroom. I do not anticipate needing to buy bath soap at all in the near future! Every time someone in the family travels, I will become the happy recipient of hotel toiletries and restock the jar. If you would like to display your own collection of bath soaps, you can find all sorts of really pretty containers that are fairly inexpensive. I paid extra for instant gratification but you need not worry that you won't find the container of your dreams. I, of course, saw all kinds of similar apothecary jars the next week for a fraction of the cost at craft and discount retail stores. Did I mention that I do not anticipate purchasing bath soap in the near future? The cut glass decanter sitting next to the soap display is filled with mouth wash! My clever friend, Laura, introduced me to the idea. I purchased the decanter at an antique store for $5.00. What are some bath decor ideas that you have seen or use? Any ideas for fun guest bath ideas?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lake House Summer

I do not actually own a lake house. However, after all of the major clean-up that has occurred at our humble abode over the last four weeks, I need one. I have decided, now that the house is in order, that I am going to enjoy what I call a Lake House Summer. It is not really a place---it is an attitude. It is a vacation  state- of- mind that you can go to every day after the work is done. When I announced my brilliant summer theme, the family exchanged "mom's not quite herself" glances, groaned at the thought of what "fun activities" I had dreamed up requiring their participation, and My Dear Man turned pale thinking that I actually wanted to buy a lake house. I assured them that what I had in mind was a summer of simplicity and relaxation. Simple meals, good books, open schedules and anything else that does not require extensive planning, hard work or stress. I knew the Youngest was completely on board when I mentioned sleeping-in-late every possible opportunity.
It is quite fortunate that I adopted this idea. We narrowly escaped a harrowing meltdown because of it.  Here is the tale: 
It was towards the end of week three of our renovation/spring cleaning adventure. I was tired. Bone tired. Every time we painted and refreshed one room, another area was illuminated that needed immediate attention and more cleaning. We have the sweetest banquette in our kitchen that was installed in the 1960's. It is very charming and has cushioned many a derriere at family gatherings. It is part of the family and I would never throw it out. Now that the kitchen was freshly painted and updated, the worn vinyl on the seats became a focal point that had not been so noticeable before. We removed the bench and sent it off to be recovered.The grout and floor tiles where the banquette had been looked me straight in the eye and chortled,"Well,well,well. Don't we look different from the rest of the tiles in the kitchen." Wow, that is the color they should be?  I had forgotten. Needless to say, something had to be done about the kitchen floor. I was informed by a certain someone that new flooring was not an option. I mopped with a little more gusto than usual. Nope. I washed an area vigorously with a wash cloth. Nothing. Remember, I am bone tired. I realized, with dread, that scrubbing with a bristle brush and then sealing the grout was the only way to restore the tiles to their original lustre. So, I began. Good grief, scrubbing is hard work. I was working up a good glow (ladies do not sweat). I had to take breaks. I had to have more snacks than usual to sustain myself. It was taking HOURS. Why did I not think to call Stanley Steamer? Towards the end of the grueling chore, the Youngest casually strolled in and began merrily singing "CinderLisa, CinderLisa". Really? How about,"Gee, Mom, I see that you are faint with fatigue ---could I help out? " I realized, as she stepped over me to get to the refrigerator, that these words were not in her vocabulary at the moment. The nerve. Please. Don't mind me down here on hands and knees----working like a slave so that we can have a nice home. I see that you have already exhausted yourself today laying in bed all morning watching u-tube videos. May I offer you a refreshing beverage? How about a rejuvenating wallop on the noggin with my Fairy Godmother Wand of Wrath? My private thoughts were interrupted when My Dear Man walked in and asked,"Have you thought about what we will be having for dinner tonight?" Good lord, man, we just had lunch. Look at me. I am "glowing" like a neon billboard sign and I have floor dents on my kneecaps. Do I look like a woman who has thought about dinner? Danger. Danger. Sailors be warned--- a storm is brewing and she's gonna be a big one.
photo by Meg
For the safety of all, I checked myself. I remembered my glorious theme for the summer. It was time to activate Operation Lake House Summer. I took a deep breath and put the scrub brush away for another day. We ordered pizza for dinner that night and took a long walk. It was wonderful. All is well. The house is in order, the flower beds are now weed-free and the garden is planted.
 Here is an invitation from me to you: If you find that your flair for the domestic is on the verge of a flop, take a break! Join me for my Lake House Summer state- of- mind. We are going to have fun!