Making Bath Salts for Relaxation and Gifts

K on treeThere are a few things in life that are truly relaxing. One of those is a nice, warm bath with wonderful scents.

I have lately been messing around with making them on my own and thought I’d share a general recipe for one I recently made. It was for a gift for someone who loves the ocean. It’s not the Artist–he doesn’t take baths.

What I like about making bath salts is that you can tailor the recipe to use only scents you like. And also it’s REALLY easy. The only problem is that essential oils are not cheap, so the thing to do if you’re on a budget is pick out a few that you like and slowly add to your collection when you have the money.

So, you want to make bath salts? Let’s do this together. I made a Kelp Forest scent.

Ingredients

Step 1: get your ingredients together.

You will need:

1 pretty jar to put the bath salts in when they’re done

1 bowl to mix everything in

1 spoon to mix with

Epsom Salts

Course Salt—Sea or Mineral will do nicely. I used Sea Salt

A variety of essential oils that you like the scent of–try to mix something deeper/woodier with something brighter to get a balanced scent.

Food Dye

Fill your jar about halfway with Epsom Salt, then fill the rest of the way with Sea Salt. This way you will be sure to make just enough to fill the jar.

Pour!

Then pour the salts from the jar into the mixing bowl. That way you have space to stir! At this point, you want to add your essential oils. Add enough so it’s definitely scented. You want it to be strong because, remember, this is going to be highly diluted by the bath water. Most of the recipes online say you only need 5-10 drops of oils for a cup and a half of bath salts, but when I followed that recipe, you couldn’t even smell them in the bath. So I used a lot more than that in this recipe.

For reference, I used the following amounts–keep in mind, the scent is strong, which is how I like it, but if you don’t like strong scents, use a lot less essential oil:

15 drops Sandalwood (my Sandalwood is diluted to 14%, so this is the equivalent of 2 drops of pure essential oil)

5 drops Vetiver

9 drops Bergamot

15 drops Geranium

10 drops Lime

8 drops Grapefruit

Food ColoringThen add in food coloring. I used 5 drops of green since it’s a Kelp Forest scent. Pick a color that goes with what you are trying to make the bath salts smell like.

Mix!

Mix it all up and put it back in the pretty jar!

Kelp Forest!Last step: convince the Artist to write you a pretty label in calligraphy and photograph in front of kelp fronds.

Enjoy your baths!

Making a Hair Trim Silly

S on SnowdoniaYou may or may not have noticed by this point that I have really, really long hair. I like to keep it just above my tailbone. I also only wear skirts. I just like how feminine both of those things make me feel.

I started growing out my hair soon after I graduated college because I was mostly unemployed and waking up every day and doing some new hairstyle made me feel pretty and like I had it together. And now I just like it. I like the flexibility to have it formal or casual, it’s easy to wear–I just throw it up in a bun with a hairstick most days and it takes me all of five seconds to have my hair done.

I started wearing only skirts when I was working in a warehouse. It made me feel sad and gross to wear grungy clothes in case they got dirty, and the dust in the warehouse washed out easily in the laundry. So I started wearing only skirts as a sort of rebellion against the lack of beauty in the warehouse. Even after I left that job, though, the skirts have stuck around. I own exactly one pair of jeans, which I wear for things like bonfires where a skirt is really just not the most appropriate thing.

Anyway, it was time for a hair trim today, so I thought I would should you guys how I do it. Plus, BONUS SILLY FACES! I trim my hair any time it actually reaches my tailbone. Here’s the before picture: Hair to infinity

Hair trim beforeI trim my own hair because it’s easy, and I don’t want to spend my dollas on paying someone to cut off more hair than I want them to cut off. K got her hair cut couple months back, and I went with her, and I realized it was my first time being in a hair salon in oh, about seven years. I’ve only been actively growing my hair out for about four, but before that I was a poor college student and just had K cut it. Anyway, back to my free and goofy trim. This will work for any hair long enough to make a ponytail with. Step one: Make a ponytail straight at the top of your head, and then make foolish faces because your hair feels super cheerleadery and your bangs point at the sky.

put in a high ponytail

silly ponytail1

silly ponytail 2Step two: Pull your hair straight up and down and grab the end even if it’s way beyond where you can reach it. Make an absurd face because you can’t reach.

measure length

 

Step three: Chop straight across. Make a ludicrous face like this takes concentration.

cut straight across

 

Step four: Look at that flat cut and momentarily freak out. I thought I was cutting layers? What have I done?!

chopped

hair on floorStep five: Make a crazy face while you pretend like you have short hair for once.

short hairdo

 

Step six: Make ANOTHER preposterous face while you check to make sure it looks good.

check it's cuteAnd finally, step seven: Stare wistfully into the distance as you take an “after” photo

hair trim after

 

And there you have it! Seven steps to a tiny little hair trim complete with a good time!

*Today’s silly synonyms courtesy of S and her Thesaurus

 

 

 

Ren Faire Fun

K on treeIt’s fall! And you know what that means! I know what you’re thinking. Pumpkin spice lattes, amiright!?

No. That’s not what I mean, though they are delicious. I mean it’s Renaissance Faire Tyme! The Artist got really excited when we learned there was a Ren Faire in our new home, and when we got coupons for half-price tickets, we knew we had to go!

In even better luck, two of the Artist’s friends happened to be driving through town on the way home from a baseball game, so they joined us for some of the fun!

Even though the Artist and I have costumes, we neglected to wear them because it was too warm that day. Though when we go back next month, we’ll definitely wear the costumes. That’s half the fun!

Ren Faire!

Since I knew it would be sunny I wore my trusty sun hat. I swear, those things need to get more in style because they are the greatest things since sliced bread. At least 400% better than sunglasses. Especially when you put sunglasses on top to improve their sun-blocking effect.

The Ren Faire had everything you could possibly want. There was a drunken scoundrel lying on the ground yelling at women, there were fairies, there was mead and there was delicious food! There was even a booth for tomato throwing!

Insult Game

This booth was a lot of fun. Do you see that little sign on the left? It says , “This is an insult game. Do not play if you are easily offended.” And you know what? They were NOT kidding. Standing inside the tomato must be a favorite job for angry teenage boys who like to be offensive, because WOW. The things that came out of their mouths would not be acceptable in polite company. And if you think they’re nice to children, you would be wrong. Two poor girls(probably 5 years old) went to throw tomatoes at the guy and he asked them if they liked Miley Cyrus. They squeeled, and said “Oh my gosh! I LOVE Miley Cyrus!” and he said “Well I just got off the phone with Miley Cyrus, and she HATES YOU, LITTLE GIRL!” And that was the very nicest thing he said. So, no, don’t play that game if you’re easily offended.

Archery!One of the more fun games they had there was archery. You got a handful of arrows and a bow, and you just shot at the target. So much fun! But unfortunately, they only had children’s or men’s bows, so by the time I got through all the arrows my arms were tired. That was a real workout, I tell you. But SO MUCH FUN! I am trying to get the Artist to look up some archery classes for us to take, but he wants to wait until he has a job (let’s just pause for a second and congratulate him on his financial responsibility). But, man. So much fun! I’ll have to get some bracers, though. My arms hyper-extend and I got a big bruise on the inside of my elbow from the string hitting it. Or else I’ll have to learn to not straighten my arm all the way when I pull the arrow back.

photo (2)At the end of the day there was even a joust to the death! Our knight won. Way to go, blonde knight! He killed TWO other knights and a squire. That’s how they do it in the Renaissance. And I got to shake his hand! It was like meeting a celebrity. (Disclosure: They were actors and didn’t really die. I know you were concerned.)

And then, when it was all over, we went to go back to our car. Good thing there were helpful people at the Faire! They were just SO helpful! We saw this sign on our way out.

Helpful

With S talking about her wedding last week, I wanted to throw in some love for our brother, Ole Redneck (yes, he picked out his own pseudonym). I was the Maid of Honor, so as you might imagine, a lot of last-minute wedding issues were going through me. One major problem had to do with the setup of the ceremony site that took significantly longer than expected. So after the rehearsal dinner, Ole Mom and Old RedneckRedneck, Young Redneck (his son), the Artist and I went back to the ceremony site and stayed there until 2 am setting things up. Both rednecks were humongous helps, and without them the wedding would not have gone nearly as smoothly.

Also, see what I mean about sunhats? Ole Redneck knows where it’s at.

Young Redneck was the ringing bearer for the ceremony. He was too old to be the ring bearer, and since I was bringing the ring in we didn’t need him to. So instead, Young Redneck rang a bell to signal the beginning and end of the ceremony. He did a fantastic job. ringing bearer

It’s nearly Ole Redneck’s birthday. Any ideas about what I should get him?

First wedding anniversary

S on Snowdonia

Just over a month ago, the Architect and I had our tenth anniversary of when we started dating in high school.  And now this weekend was our first wedding anniversary. It was a lovely day. We went mini golfing and rode a carousel and cooked a delicious dinner and ate our surprisingly not-that-freezer-burned year old cake. (I was expecting it to be horrible. It was actually pretty tasty.)

Anyway, I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about what marriage means to me, especially as it relates to living with my sister and our expectations to live together forever. Plus, bonus wedding pictures mixed in!

D&S-1193

There is a story in Plato’s Symposium on the origins of soul mates. The story goes like this: Originally, people were these round blobs with four arms and four legs and two heads. Some had a boy part and a girl part, some had two girl parts, and some had two boy parts (because the Ancient Greeks loved them some homosexuality!). These people were very powerful, and Zeus was afraid, so he cleaved them in half to weaken them. After that, people went around looking for their other half in an attempt to once again be whole.

K is my soul mate.

D&S-772

Many people worry that it is cruel of me to tell my husband that he is not my soul mate, and when we were children our mother warned us that any men we dated would be jealous of our bond. But it is not cruel and doesn’t mean I love my husband any less. It is simply the fact that K and I were originally a round blob that was cleaved in two by the forces of our mother’s womb which left us two people who need one another to be whole.

D&S-119

The Architect and I spent five years of our time together in a long distance relationship, and K and I have been apart from one another for a total of about ten months of our lives. I can say with complete honesty that without both of them, I am lost, and I am incomplete.

D&S-134

K and I have planned to live together for as long as I can remember. Now that we’re adults, I can see all kinds of logistical benefits to the situation like shared living costs, increased resilience for the entire family in case anyone loses their job, shared childcare, and companionship. But the truth is that those reasons are not why I intend to live with K in my house as long as I live. I remember telling the Architect early in our relationship – probably three years in, which was long enough to know we intended to marry one another–that if he married me, it would mean living with K. That she and I were going to live together with our husbands and our children because we are family and that is what family means to us. He was opposed to the idea until later that day when I got heat stroke and I lay crying and shaking on the floor of my parents’ living room. K walked in and put ice on my wrists and I shortly felt better. He saw then that I needed her and that I would be happy with her and, by extension, so would he. That day he agreed to our bargain.

D&S-954

It is not uncommon for people to be completely shocked at this arrangement. When K recently told a coworker that she lived with her sister and brother-in-law, he said, “Yeah, you live with your sister until one of you gets married.” And she laughed and told him I already was married and there were no plans for us to maintain separate households. Even twins who live states away from their sisters sometimes tell us that we will have to cut the cord eventually. But why should we cut a cord that makes our lives richer and more joyous, that weaves the web of our family stronger and makes us into stronger people by virtue of providing a strong support system?

Mom-Dad Cry

When we were children, we used to talk about how we have matching genes, and so, genetically speaking, our children would be half-siblings. We have always intended to love each other’s children as our own. And besides that, we are a family. Not just K and I or the Architect and I or the Artist and K. The four of us together are a family. We are a family when we wake up on Saturday mornings, the Architect and I make breakfast while K and the Artist sleep. And then we wake them up and they laugh and snuggle and act silly and it injects such joy into our lives. K understands me on a level that no one else ever could because for literally every experience of my life, she has been there. She has heard my stories day in and day out for nearly twenty-seven years. I have held her as she sobbed with heartbreak and she has told me I can handle things I didn’t think I could. The Architect makes me feel loved and he holds me in my sleep and he laughs at me when I dance like an idiot in the living room and he is my home. I said that in my wedding vows.

But there is an extent to which it isn’t home right now, with K living several states away. Yes, I have my husband who is my home and whose home I am. But home is where the heart is and my home is equally with K. And so I am lost in having too many homes that aren’t together.

yarn universe

On our wedding day, K was my maid of honor (of course). She was the one who asked the Architect if he took me to be his lawfully wedded wife because as my twin she is the one who will watch as he holds me in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. She will watch over our arguments and help translate them for us. On our wedding day, after I kissed the Architect and we walked out of the circle our ceremony was held in, I turned to look back at the circle of my family and friends, and K was sobbing. I immediately left the Architect’s side to rush to hug her. I needed her then, and I needed her to know that I would always love her. She is almost as much a part of my memories of my wedding day as the Architect is.

twiny embrace

But still, it was my wedding to him, not to her. So I will finish this post with a copy of the vows that I said to him. Vows that brought on the winds and a stamp of approval from the forest itself. The Architect nourishes me spiritually. I love him. I love her. I love my family.

D&S-628

My wedding vows:

I will never forget the first time I told you I love you. Ever since the first day I met you, and you asked me for a smile, I had always known you were different from everyone else. But that day, I saw your home. I saw the way that you and your family treasure your belongings and your house that’s practically a museum and your fireside dinner conversations. You walked me around those forty acres, showed me the history there. You showed me the trees you used to climb and the branches where you did your homework. You tried to teach me to climb a tree, but a branch broke out from under me. You caught me.

That day, I learned to understand you. I knew why you are so different from everyone else, why you care so deeply for everyone you know even slightly, Why I want you to be in my life always. That day, the words “I love you” slipped out of my mouth the way I slipped off the broken branch: suddenly and by accident.

But the fact that I love you is no accident. I have loved you since even before I knew it, since 9th grade gym class when I told all my friends that I somehow wanted to take care of you, and how silly I felt about that because you were so much stronger than me. And you are strong, both physically and emotionally. But I will be there for you in your moments of weakness. I will tell you I love you on sad nights when you reveal to me your deepest insecurities, and when we deal with our lives’ greatest tragedies. I will hold your hand on life’s long journeys and when the branches beneath your feet fall suddenly away.

Then, when those same branches are strong, I will hold you as tightly as I can and smile. I will tell you all about the wonderful new things I am learning, and I will push you to learn the things you want to learn. I will dance and make silly faces to make you laugh in the living room, and I will laugh at the quiet asides you murmur to me during group dinners. We will make things together, and discover things together, and I will rediscover myself every two days, and you will discover things and annoy me by showing them to me every two minutes, and we will be home together.

I want to finish these vows with a poem that has always made me think of our long, fruitful and beautiful future together. As you hear these words, remember: as your wife, I will help you to harvest the comfort, joy, and passion that life can hold.

I was wrapped in black
fur and white fur and
you undid me and then
you placed me in gold light
and then you crowned me,
while snow fell outside
the door in diagonal darts.
While a ten-inch snow
came down like stars
in small calcium fragments,
we were in our bodies
(that room that will bury us)
and you were in my body
(that room that will outlive us)
and at first I rubbed your
feet dry with a towel
because I was your slave
and then you called me princess.
Princess!
Oh then
I stood up in my gold skin
and I beat down the psalms
and I beat down the clothes
and you undid the bridle
and you undid the reins
and I undid the buttons,
the bones, the confusions,
the New England postcards,
the January ten o’clock night,
and we rose up like wheat,
acre after acre of gold,
and we harvested,
we harvested.
D&S-1040
*Poem by Anne Sexton and Entitled Us. All photographs courtesy of Meghan Hayes of Meggi Leigh Photo

Nautical Handles

K on treeI have mentioned previously that the Artist likes the ocean. To continue fixing up our nautical kitchen, we recently decided to make ourselves some rope handles for our kitchen cabinets.

I was inspired by this DIY rope chandelier when I was looking for ways to make our kitchen more ours and less cookie cutter. Since we’re still waiting for S and the Architect to come move in, we are missing a lot of the art and furniture, meaning we can’t really decorate. Except the kitchen. That’s all ours. And I’ve been feeling nest-y since it’s fall and I want to make this place home.

The first step was finding some rope. We went to the hardware store and bought some plain sisal rope. I think that’s great because I love sisal! When I was in college, I studied abroad in the Yucatan, which is where Sisal is from.

A little history of sisal: it is a fiber that comes from a plant in the agave family. It originated in Yucatan and was the major crop there during the colonial period. It is actually called henequen in Spanish (pronounced heh-neh-ken), but the major port it was exported from was a town called Sisal, so the name stuck as the name of the fiber. Sisal makes excellent rope and burlap. The plant was eventually exported to other areas, and now Brazil and parts of Africa are also major exporters.

So we got our rope, but thought the color was too bright. It didn’t look like good, weathered nautical rope. So we coffee dyed it. Our method was pretty simple: Make some strong coffee, add a dash of white vinegar, and boil the rope in the coffee for an hour or so.  It yielded some pretty good results.

dyed rope

The lower pile is the rope after we dyed it, and the upper is beforehand. You can see that it just got a little deeper/richer in color from the dyeing.

Time to get to work: through a little trial and error, we discovered how much rope we needed for each handle. The correct answer was 47 inches. So they all got measured.

measure twice, cut onceMeasure twice, cut once. That’s what my brother taught me.

Then, the job was just wrapping the rope around each of the handles in the kitchen. It was pretty simple. The main trick was just pulling tight enough to be sure it would make a good handle at the end. And we put a dab of hot glue at each end to make sure that the handle stuck, but also would be removable enough that we can take it all out when we finish renting this place.  We also trimmed off any excess rope.

wrapping time!And when it was all done, it was totally worth the few hours of effort! I’d say our kitchen has a lot more personality now!

Do you like it? Do you have any ideas that will make our kitchen better?

panoramic of our kitchen