Sunday, May 24, 2009

Blogging is just like Journaling.....

sometimes I do it and am all excited about it - but most times I start making something and forget all about doing it!

Today's exciting news is that I somewhat succesfully swirled soap! That's right - I made soap from scratch and and got the swirl on - see:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I AM SORE and learned something new! ROSEMARY - is not just a pretty name to dress up a chicken!

03 May 2009

Yesterday, a whole bunch of really ripped men with arms the width of my waist were working out at the gym at the same time I was. One of these hulky-types while giving me that "ha-you-couldn't-possibly-ever-do-what-we-do-look" - offered to take the HEAVY weights off of the seated calf-raiser rack so that I could use the machine. Well then, ego severely challenged and fully engaged in the defensive-injured-pride mode, I bravely "instructed" the "kind" Schwarzeneggar that I would be fine if he just left the last weight on there. This ofcourse meant that I did indeed - in a miraculous leap of self-confidence - upped the weight from my usual 10kgs to 20kg (just under 40lbs I think). I figured if I can use my 'superior' leg strength on the leg press machine to push 22.5kg's, this shouldnt be too bad yeah? Now while 20kg's might not sound that impressive to you, for me however, 20kg's (40lbs) is about 2kg's (4lb) less than half my total bodyweight. The moment I pulled the resting lever away I knew that I was going to completely cut off circulation and that in effect, literally trapped me in the contraption. Never-the-less, determined to put straight the incredible hulks, I gritted my teeth through a blood stopping 3 sets of 15reps ritual and well.....eventually had to get one of the staff to lift the machine off of me.

Today I cannot walk, walking causes pain - moving causes pain -I didnt realise that you could actually hurt where it hurts - just above the calf muscle, just under the back of your knee. I have never felt pain there before. I limped through the whole day, hoping that some kind of movement will ease the torture. Nothing doing!!! I then figured - this is all lactic acid buildup and busted out my ol' faithful Bicarb Bucket - drank it neat - yep just like that - still no relief.

Somewhere between February and now, my trusty bottle of Arnica Oil moved out - so I am somewhat in a fix! Okay, all problems have a solution I reckon - I decided to go through some home remedy/herbology books and found out the following:

  • It's probably too late to counteract muscle sprain stiffness now (a day later), but there are certain herby things in nature that will help with inflammation and lactic acid buildup. I need to get the blood vessels dilated in order to flush out the acid buildup - apparently cayenne pepper will do the trick, - but my question is - do I have to drink that or apply it? I am not sure Cayenne Pop would be a best seller (Cayenne Pepper and Bicarb cocktail anyone?)
  • Topical application of Rosemary will reduce inflammation. Apparently Rosemary has 4 anti-inflammatory properties and is easily absorbed through the skin.
  • I also read that topical application of mint, witch hazel and chamomile also help in relieving muscle stiffness and inflammation. From Amma (my grandma), I learned a long time ago - that clove oil is an anaesthetic.
  • So here is what I am going to do in desperation - it is nearly 1:00am - I am going to take a torch out to my garden and raid my rosemary, peppermint and chamomile plants. I am going to grind all these up in my coffee mill and then add the cayenne pepper . I am going to take 2 teaspoons of Epsom Salts, mill that to a fine powder and mix that up with a little bit of witch hazel and about 3 drops of clove oil to get a paste going. (FYI: Bathing in Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulphate) is great - baths often cos magnesium helps with achy muscles and cramps).
  • Now - I am going to mix this in with the herbal mixture.
  • Then I am going to apply the concotion to the backs of my legs and wrap it lightly with a bandage so that the herb bits are not all over the place.
  • And I am going to go to bed -
I will let you know tomorrow if this was helpful!

Report Back: 04 May 2009

I decided to leave out the chamomile in my little poultice, and make tea out of it instead. Chamomile helps you sleep.
  • NEGATIVE Clove Oil burns - quite a bit - kind of like how Cinnamon Oil does. POSITIVE smells fabulous (if you like that Chai Tea kinda smell). The next time I am in cold climes (it doesnt ever get below 17 degrees Celsius where I live) - I will remember to take a big bottle of Clove Oil with me - it warmed me up in no time at all. There was sort of a kind of instant relief - right when it started feeling warm, the pain started feeling less intense!
  • When I woke up and got out of bed, there was a wee bit of stiffness, but certainly not to the degree of torture I was in yesterday. By the end of the afternoon, I am happy to report the pain has completely disappeared.
  1. Never try to lift double the weight than you are used to, even if you really think Tankmuscle Man needs a coming down.
  2. Home remedy seems to have worked. Rosemary, Peppermint, Cayenne pepper, Clove Oil and Epsom Salts with a touch of Witch Hazel is my new favourite bruised muscle remedy.
  3. I will probably go a little easier on the Clove Oil.
  4. Next time I am cold, I will remember that Clove Oil warms me up.
  5. Chamomile & Chai tea will be boycotting my tastebuds from now on. They dont like to work together it seems, I will make sure that I keep them separated in the future.
That's it for today!


Friday, May 1, 2009

Handmade facial cleanser right from your kitchen!

Hi again

There is only so much that you can write about your love for soapmaking. So today I am going to let you in on a few secret ingredients that you probably do have in your kitchen that I find indispensible when it comes to "handmade" beauty products. There is a lot of really great information on the healing, moisturising and cleansing properties of each of these items. Plus I have a fantastic collection of lots of superb recipes that you can throw together in the time it takes to ignore a tv commercial. But in order to keep the posts within quick, readable length, I will break all of this up into a series of posts, and maybe try to include a recipe at a time on the featured ingredient.
But anyway, why would you want "handmade" instead of the easy-peasy, tubed, tubbed, sacheted and gorgeously packaged expensive shop bought beauty products? I am 31, in July I will turn 32. Without trying to bolster my ego, I must brag that I do have fantastic skin for my age, glowing, taut and healthy, no signs of wrinkles (yet), I hardly ever have acne, whiteheads or blackhead breakouts and in fact I often have to convince people with some kind of identification that I am in my thirties and not early twenties. I think the reason I have been able to maintain my skin's excellent condition is because I have always eshewed synthetic products in favour of a more natural approach. I have always had quite an interest in natural ingredients, and when I was a little younger I used to love splurging on products with natural ingredients.

One day I ran out of my "Ground Oatmeal Cleanser" and decided to try and make some up myself, so I had a look at the back of the tube listing all the ingredients figuring that I would be able to whip it up myself if I got the formula worked out. It didnt give me much to go on, and there seemed to be a lot of stuff that didnt seem quite natural to me. I decided to research some more on it and much to my horror I discovered that usually, the concentration of "natural" product in ratio to all the other filler ingredients is less than 2%. In a more in-depth investigation of all he stuff that I was using I realised that I was in fact "cleansing" my skin with more synthetic filler than the supposedly natural extract that was advertised as making the product superior to the others. For instance, did you know that to create that rich, super foamy lather - a lot of products add in a "surfactant", a foaming agent and more often than not - the added surfactant is notoriously drying and an irritant to sensitive skin types.

Anyway, this terrible discovery served as a catalyst in my quest to make the best possible natural products from ingredients I knew to be beneficial, and with the added protection of knowing and controlling exactly how much of what went into them. I only trust my own stuff now, and my skin is a testament to it.
Anyway - all the above is probably filler -let's get to the meat of it.

Almost every (particularly South African) kitchens have these ingredients that are indispensible to the homemade spa.

  • HONEY (The kind from organically farmed bees is the best)
  • OATS (Again, organically grown - but good ol' Jungle Oats or Quaker Oats work just as well in a fix
  • LEMON/LIME (fresh organic with pulp is the best - but Lemon juice works as well )
  • OLIVE OIL (Extra virgin)
  • AVOCADO OIL (slightly expensive but more about the brilliance of this later)
  • GINGER ROOT (Fresh or Powdered - I find that powdered is easier to use and store)

  • TUMERIC (Yes, you're going to be needing this alot)
  • CHAMOMILE TEA (plain powdered flowerheads)
  • FRESH TOMATOES (must be organic and not GM)
  • NATURAL CANE BROWN SUGAR GOATS MILK (finding Goats Milk in South Africa is difficult - will list suppliers later) UNIODATED MEDIUM GRAIN SEA SALT
  • BICARBONATE OF SODA (not Baking Powder)
  • EPSOM SALTS (aka Magnesium Sulphate)
  • CITRIC ACID (now go and dust off your sour worms into a nice jar)

Now here is a list of stuff that you may not have - but you should try and get your hands on as soon as you can. These items are regularly available at Health Stores and most Pharmacies.

  • TEATREE OIL (absolute must, must, must)
  • VITAMIN E OIL or capsules
  • SANDALWOOD or PATCHOULI (for me these are mainly about how great they smell) COCOA BUTTER (raw form - is great with almost anything)
Anyway, go dig around your kitchen or cleaning cupboard and I am sure you will find a few of these versatile ingredients kicking about somewhere around the house.

Most people should have the following basic ingredients - HONEY, OATS, LEMON JUICE and OLIVE OIL so I am going to tell you how you can use all of these to make a fantastic cleanser.

If you have a coffee grinder or a mill - grind up as much the oatmeal as fine as you can. How much oatmeal you use is relative - I usually just grab a handful.

Incorporate lemon juice into the ground oatmeal - I like to use about 2 to 3 Tablespoons. The reason why I add the lemon juice first is that - honey can be a bit of pain to incorporate into dry oatmeal, but if you moisten up

Now add about 2 Tablespoons of honey. A handy hint is that if you warm up the honey first, it makes it runnier and easier to blend into the rest of mixture. Try not to nuke it - nuking is terrible and exposes you to unnecessary radiation. Just boil enough water in a kettle, and either pop the honey bottle in there - or measure out the amount into a little container and warm it up that way.

While Olive Oil is an excellent mosisturiser - it can be a bit, well.....oily. I usually just add enough to make the mixture pasty enough to spread. If you are adverse to the Olive Oil, just add more honey or lemon juice, or even a little bit of water (Rosewater is an excellent substitute)

Blend everything together until you get a nice paste, fluid enough to spread, but thick enough to stick. Apply paste to your face - I do the the neck and decollete area as well. Wait for 10 - 15 minutes until it starts to solidify or harden a bit and then rinse off. The worst part of this cleanser is waiting the 10-15 minutes - so do what I do, search a few great articles/blogs on the web and before you know it - the time has passed. I have a friend who is very into Transcendental Meditation, I reckon she would say you could meditate for that length of time.

Alright - that's it for me for now - I am off to take a decadent rooibos, goatsmilk and Epsom Salts bath - the only thing that gets rid of the post-jog ache and phew!