Oil…and Cloth

Oil…and Cloth.


Oil…and Cloth

Wow, it has been a while since I have written, but spring has a way of awakening things in all of us.  Yeah, ok…it is not technically spring yet, but I can see crocus popping up on the lawn, and as soon as I see Irish Soda Bread in the stores, I know St. Patrick’s Day and spring are coming soon.

Spring often has me thinking of nature, and jars and bottles.  Jars and bottles??  What’s up with THAT, right?  Well, I start to think of fresh things – vegetables and fruits, the time for planting, and eventually the time for harvest.  No, I am not a canner.  The only thing I tend to put in mason jars of a food variety are pickles (refrigerator pickles at that) and my roasted tomatoes with garlic mixture.  No, for me, spring is a great time to open the kitchen windows and let the smells of grass and growth waft in.  To add to those smells, I like to put things in jars and bottles that are of the skin care variety, and that smell like grass and growth, plants and herbs.

I have often been a fan of natural skin care, and even household stuff, like homemade laundry soap, etc.  But one thing has been a steady for me, and that is using oils to cleanse my face.  I know you are saying “did I just read that correctly?  Did she just put cleanse and oil in the same sentence?”.  No, I am not encouraging you to make your face an oil slick.  And no, I am not ruling out all of you with oil-prone skin and related issues.  But let’s go back to some basic chemistry.  Like dissolves like, right?  Right.

People have been using oils as a solvent for ages.  And skincare is no deviation from the logic.  However, you must use the RIGHT type of oils.  I am not saying you can douse your face in canola and call it a night.  There is one oil that you MUST use if you are creating a blend to remove your makeup and all the other cares of the day.  And the process is also important.

First of all, you need a vessel.  Glass bottles are great for this, and one with a dropper or a pump would be ideal.  As you can see, I have a cleansing blend in a less-than-ideal vessel, but the dropper bottle contains a blend that I use as a moisturizer.oilsSecondly, you need the right oils.  The Oil of High Importance here is good, old fashioned CASTOR OIL.  Yep…wasn’t it used as a laxative years ago?  Lordy.  Well…let me tell you, Castor Oil is the solvent for all the bad stuff…dirt, makeup and yes, even other oil and impurities.  But, you cannot rely solely on Castor Oil.  Why?  Because, believe it or not, it is rather drying.  And when you strip your skin, you get more problems, even more bad oil production, blackheads and other ickiness.  So…you need a balancer or two.  Generally speaking, you can use any other moisturizing oil with good results.  I used to use Olive Oil, which is a very balancing oil, but have found some controversy on the ‘net lately that it might actually be a pore clogging oil.  And we don’t want that, do we?  Anywho…the basic rule is, the drier the skin, the less Castor Oil, and the oilier the skin, the more Castor Oil.  The beauty of creating this cleanser is that you can customize it to YOU and you alone.  No more guesswork in the store about all the soaps, cream cleansers, foaming washes…that are all quite likely packed with chemical agents, no less, and will also lighten your wallet.

I will tell you what the recipe is for my own blend.  As a point of reference, I am 45 years old (translate to “maturing”), and have combination to dry skin.  In the winter, my skin desperately needs moisture, but from time to time (rarely), I get a little pimple.  I have some sun damage…spots, and moderate wrinkles on my forehead and around my eyes.  I have always been religious about taking care of my skin, and have been moisturizing since high school.  But as I have gotten older (and…I worked in skin care for about 3 years a while back), I have veered more toward natural skin care.  Keep in mind that your skin is the largest organ of your body – and what you put on it, goes directly into you.

Anyway…in my bottle is about one third Castor Oil to two thirds Argan Oil.  I happened upon some Argan Oil at a very good price.  It is incredibly expensive oil, but the moisturizing properties are legendary.  It is reaaaallllly luxurious.  A wonderful substitution would be Sesame Oil, Jojoba Oil, or Apricot Kernel Oil…or a blend.  I have also added about 10 drops of Vitamin E oil (emollient…and great at preservation) and about 10 drops of Patchouli Oil (wonderful for mature skin…and smells great too.).  Certain Essential Oils have properties for different skin types, so you may want to research that and add to yours accordingly.  And why the essential oils when you are really just going to rinse this off?  Well…that brings me to the process!

The Oil Cleansing Method is a nighttime cleansing routine.  It is not something to be rushed…and for me, it is a bit ritualistic.  Like a short, little nightly facial.  Lately, I have been knitting and crocheting cotton washcloths, which are a big part of my ritual.  Here are a few – aren’t they pretty?washcloths2Well, anyway, they are my new friends.  When it is time to de-stress every evening and remove the “day” from my face, I let the faucet run on hot…not egregiously scalding, but hot enough so that it is just bearable.  I have my washcloth handy, and I get it wet, and then hold the steaming cloth to my face.  Let it sit for a minute to open the pores.  Then, I pour about a nickel sized amount of cleansing oil into my palm.  I massage that into my skin, avoiding my eyes for the moment.  Massage inward…and upward from the neck.  Then, I pour a teensy bit more into my hands, and gently massage that over my eyes.  You can open your eyes – it is funny to see yourself looking like a raccoon if you wear black eyeliner and mascara like I do!  Then, get your washcloth under that hot water again.  And put it back on your face and leave it for a sec or two…then gently scrub all the day’s grime away.  Rinse the cloth again, and gently wipe the eye makeup off.  Wipe until you get it all off…the oils will dissolve it nicely.  Then rinse.  Rinse with the water hot…and then take it down to cooler temperatures with the next rinse…and keep rinsing.  Finish with a cool (not cold) rinse, and pat your skin dry.  You will notice (you are such a Doubting Thomas!) that it is NOT OILY.  If it is oily, then you have either A) used too much oil, or B) need to add more Castor, or C) not rinsed enough.

As for me, I finish up my routine with a moisturizing oil blend…just two drops for my whole face.   Luxury, and the smell!!  Oh, the smell…just like at the spa!

Anyway…give this a try.  And if you don’t believe me, just google “oil cleansing method”.  I swear, it is almost a religion.  Your skin will thank you…really!  And lastly, I don’t think my skin makes me look a day over 29:-).

A Knitting Pattern…

I have been playing with leaves…knitted, that is.  I came up with this after adapting some other patterns, and I kinda like it.  Here is a picture of the work in progress:-)

wandering leaf scarf photo


And here is the pattern!

Wandering Leaf Scarf Pattern

Worsted yarn, 180 yards (I used Valley Yarns Goshen – a cotton/modal/silk blend – 3 balls)
Size 6 or 7 needles (I used size 6, 8 inch double points)

CO 15 stitches
R1: P1, K6, YO, K1, YO, K6, P1 (17 STITCHES)
R3: P1, K7, YO, K1, YO, K7, P1 (19 STITCHES)
R5: P1,K8, YO, K1, YO, K8, P1 (21 STITCHES)
R7: P1, K9, YO, K1, YO, K9, P1 (23 STITCHES)
R9: P1, K10, YO, K1, YO, K10, P1 (25 STITCHES)
R12: PURL ACROSS (and all even rows in the decrease)
Repeat Rows 11 and 12 to decrease until 5 stitches remain.
R23: P1, K1, SSK, P1
R25: P1, SSK, P1
R27: SSK, P1

To continue on with the leaves, pick up 15 stitches along the left edge of the first leaf. Use the photo to show how the leaves will be connecting with each other. Once you have picked up 15 stitches, simply follow the same pattern as before beginning with Row 1. Alternate the sides of the leaves as you go, picking up the stitches on the left side of one leaf, then the right of the next, then the left of the next and so on until you reach the desired length of your scarf. If you want your leaves bigger, you can simply change your needle size and yarn weight.
When the scarf is done, be sure to block it so your leaves open up beautifully!

Play around with this pattern – I know I will.  I almost cannot wait for winter to roll around again, as I might just try it with a bulky yarn and big needles!  Or stitch it in a circle to make a “leafy” cowl!


Chicken Soup, Motherhood and a Stream of Consciousness

My mom is sick today.  So, I stayed home from work to take care of her.  Its strange, having my mom sick, and being so worried about it.  After all, moms are supposed to take care of us kids, right?  I was out last night, and when I got home, my mom was here.  She had called my husband to go pick her up, as she was feeling dizzy and did not want to be alone.  I was up all night with my mom here.  What if she got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and fell?  What if she needed me?

Its funny how things come full circle, isn’t it?  We spend the early part of our lives being taken care OF.  We are fed, clothed, and nurtured by our parents.  Then, we grow up, and don’t really give them a second thought for a large part of our lives.  We go to college, or start businesses and careers.  We get married, and have kids, or stay single and tend to our busy lives.  We begin the process of feeding, clothing and nurturing our own offspring.  Our parents become grandparents…and life just goes along merrily. They give advice, and we think they know nothing and we know everything, until that first fever or illness.  Then, we are on the phone immediately with “Mom, what do I do with the baby?  She has a fever!  Can you help?”.  We don’t think of them as getting older, and certainly not as getting OLD.  But, suddenly…they are.

My Dad passed almost five years ago.  He was not doing well, and I think in a way, it was time for him to go.  I say this not callously, but God has a plan for everyone, and Dad was just so angry that his body could not do what he wanted it to anymore.  It was hard on him and Mom, and I miss him terribly.  I keep lots of pictures of him, but they are all pictures of him in his hey-day, when he was young and so full of life.  But mom is aging in a different way.  She is vibrant, smart, “hip”, and full of energy.  She can out-do me on any given day.  And yet, she is 85.  She has aged, and I suppose I have to face the fact that she is, well…old.  A slight illness can be the catalyst that will set in motion the beginning of the end now.  I have to be careful with her.  She took care of me (and still does in many ways), and now its my turn.  I am glad to be close enough to her to do it, and know that my siblings would do the same if they were close enough.

So, what did I do today with my day home with mom?  I nursed her…I made sure she got some good rest…and I made chicken soup.  It is natural for me to cook when someone is not well.  I think that many women, and some men are this way too.  In fact, I wonder who ends up feeling  better from this process – the ill person, or the chicken-soup-making-care-taking-person?  I could not do anything else…but cook!  Which brings me to my rant, or stream of consciousness.  Was I put here on this earth to get an education, and have a career?  Or was I born to nurture, cook, and be the master of house and home life?  Geez, I really NEEDED to be home today – to care for my mom, to make soup, and have a nice dinner on the table for my family tonight.  I feel in my element, and that this is where I am meant to be, and this is what I am meant to be doing.  Would I feel like a fish out of water if I were doing this every day?  After having had it both ways in my lifetime (being a stay at home mom versus a “working” mom), I would say no.  I believe that staying home is harder in many ways than working in the office.  But…the rewards are greater.  The pay stinks, but the benefits are great.  So what is my purpose?

Sometimes I wish I had grown up in a different era, when roles were more defined.  When “girls were girls and men were men” as Archie Bunker used to sing.  I wish someone had said to me “you will grow up, get married, have kids and be a momma”, rather than “you will grow up, get an education, get a higher education, have a high powered career, get married, have kids, work, volunteer, and try to be Superwoman and fit it all into every 24 hour day of your life, for the rest of your life”.  Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, and too black and white, but this “all or nothing” scenario is just getting old.  And roles are so blurred, while at the same time still being so separate that its mind-boggling.

So, for today, I am a care-taker.  I am a momma.  I love my momma, so its my job to take care of her…and make her soup.  And you know what?  I like it that way just fine, thank you very much.  I will take this role any day.

Take care of your aging parents, for they have given us so much.  Share them with your children…and make them soup:-)  If you want to know what’s in mine, keep reading.


Chicken Soup:

1 good, heavy stock pot (I prefer cast iron!)

2 whole chicken breasts (bone in and skin on)

1 container vegetable or chicken stock, plus half that amount in water

2 tablespoons butter (use the real thing, please!)

1 Sweet Potato

2 large shallots

2 cups of baby carrots, divided

2 stalks of celery

Salt, Pepper and Bay leaves

fresh or dried parsley

Melt the butter in the bottom of your pot.  Generously salt and pepper your chicken breasts and then sear them in the pot.  Peel the sweet potato, and cut into big chunks.  Throw in the pot, along with the shallots, cut into quarters.  Let the veggis cook in the butter with the chicken.  Once that chicken has browned on one side, turn it over and let the other side brown.  Then, cover the chicken with the stock and water, and throw in about half the carrots, celery and about 2 large Bay Leaves.  Add some more salt and pepper, and put that cover on, flame on LOW!  Cook that for several hours…low and slow.  Then, strain your soup into a large colander, but MAKE SURE YOU PUT A POT UNDER IT!  Oh, how many gallons of good soup have gone down my drain, because I forgot to put a darn put under the colander!!  Then, put your soup back on the stove, shred all that good white chicken meat into it.  Cut up the reserved carrots, and throw them in.  Add the parsley.  If you want, you can take the cooked sweet potatoes and carrots, and blend them with a little of the stock, and put that back in for a rich soup.  You may also cook rice or pasta in a separate pot, and add that to your soup.  Or, just serve it with a nice, crusty bread.  Then…experience the love of a good, homemade soup, and share it with someone who needs it.

When there is a Chill in the Air, try some Chili!!

Big Pot 'O Chili!

When Fall rolls around, grillin turns to chillin!  Forget burgers and dogs, I turn instead to my slow-cooker, and my big, cast iron dutch oven.  I “fall” in love all over again with being in the kitchen.  There is nothing like a lazy Saturday or Sunday dinner – cooked low and slow on either stove-top or in a crock pot.  I have done the following recipe in both, however my preference as of late, for both flavor and ease, is on the stove in the cast iron pot.  The weight of the pot distributes the heat evenly, and the flavor is incomparable.  So, give this recipe for Chili a whirl.  You can do it in any large pot, or even in your slow-cooker!  Just don’t forget to have plenty of cheddar cheese and sour cream on hand for the perfect accompaniment.  Continue reading

My Fall Top Ten

There are “top ten” lists out there for every imaginable thing, or situation.  Late night talk show hosts have made them famous, and they abound all over the media and the blogosphere.  So, as a quickie this morning, I figured “why not post mine”?  Here is my “Top Ten” regarding my favorite season, Fall.  Of course, there are probably 100 things I love about fall but I am trying to be concise here.  Let’s see how many of these are your favorites too! Continue reading

HGSDEHC (Handmade Goodness, So-Darn-Easy Hand Cream)

Handmade Cream

HGSDEHC – sounds like a bizarre, scientific ingredient, doesn’t it?  Sorta like all those nebulous and strangely-named ingredients in the hand cream or face cream you just pulled off your medicine cabinet shelf, right?  Well, let me tell you sister (or brother)…Handmade Goodness, So-Darn-Easy Hand Cream is just a few steps (and ingredients) away.  The best part is, you likely have most of the components on “hand”. (insert chuckle) Continue reading