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Ringing in the New Year 2007
Rose Care....Lucky enough to get roses? Want them to last and shine? Pick a vase 1/2 as tall as the roses. Make sure you have a vase ready of cool water ready before your start. (Warm water will cause them to bloom too fast.) Be sure you cut each stem at an angle so they can drink as much as possible. I also use a utility knife to get rid of any thorns and give each rose more ways to drink! Remove any leafs that fall below or near the water line. If you do not, you will have a smelly mess a few days later. Simple to arrange: To arrange, put one rose on on side at a slant, and then another rose on the opposite side, at a slant. Keep working your way around--spinning the vase to make it even. Keep your longest rose for the middle. When they are in place, spin your vase around to pinch off any "working" petals. These are petals that make look bad and have defended the flower. I am not big on Baby's Breath--except alone in it's own vase. Alone it looks breathtaking and simple, like snow on winter tree limbs. If you use Baby's Breath in your rose design, it is placed in last as a "filler" for empty spots. Just spin the vase around to fill gaps and make it all look even. Crushed Aspirin and 1/2 can of Sprite--to the rest water-they sure do love. Try to change water every fourth day.
Turning Your Oils and Butters into Soap
As a start to the new year, time to do some "spring cleaning" on your raw materials. I always loved the Rumpelstiltskin story spinning straw into gold. In this case we are spinning aged oils and butters into soap! Before I get going on "Soap" I hope you all started your "craft gift basket area" and pillaged and salvaged every bow, decoration and box you could during the holidays! I went to the dollar store and picked up candles just for the pretty shape of the jar! Pretty glass is so expensive to ship in. After burning the candle, I reuse them to make my own soy candles.
Cold Process Soap
I am talking to some women who have had carrier oils over a year. Yikes. First, smell them. If they are "ok" get ready to make a lot of soap with them. The old fashioned lye type. That is about all you can do when you are up against a good carrier oil about to meet rancid. Rancid is a smell you will never forget--the smell of vomit may be a good key indicator. So, easy to tell when an oil is becoming "off." If your oil is old--but still not nearing the "off" smell--say hello soap day. I think a year is way old for oils and butters. And when oils and butters are not kept cool, and in a dark place, they are easily compromised. Even my Bee Pollen Oil, after a year, should be made into soap. Someone called me with a gallon of it and wanted to make lip balm, (after a year.)
In fact I agreed with these customers we would all aim for the same day to dedicate to soap making, so we can support each other long distance. I need to make 180 pounds of soap, because I have fresh stock in and will not sell "iffy" dates. I noticed I am stuck with the high end oils--like borage, rose hip, because it is so expensive--it does not rotate as I want it too. I called Leeann Ketcherside, our former essential oils expert who is the guru. She is about to have to make a whopping amount also-her stash of oils and butters are nearing a year. But her back is still not recovered and she needs a day when her husband can take off work to help her lift things. She said she adds so much ROE to her oils when they come in, she does not worry as much. We do also, we learned that practice from her--but still, I am determined to make soap. The big issue is where to get the Lye. Lowes does have it, it is called Roebic and look for the crystal form--not the liquid form. It comes to $3 a pound since it comes in a two pound container. Look in the plumbing section. Make sure it says Sodium Hydroxide as the only ingredient as Roebic sells quite a line. Above is my first go around, just to get back in the groove. The Marble technique I wrote about in The Natural Soap Maker and the other photo "Savonettes." Meaning little bath soap balls in that bowl above. Leeann also taught me that--to shred leftovers and pack as hard as you can. That is a work out--who needs a gym?
We have a soap mill who already makes our Castile and Goats milk, more set up for such a large scale project. I had given some thought to shipping that 180 pounds to the mill. But the shipping would probably be outrageous.
Melt and Pour, you can shred or chunk old designs and make new ones, or melt them back down and make soap on a rope incorporating fresh essential oils. So grab a cup of coffee, or tea and set a day aside to create! Click here for how much money you save making your own products. It was a newsletter after thought based on feedback I am hearing.
Green Tea Bath and Body Recipes
The best way to care for your skin is to keep it hydrated! Water, green tea, Rooibos, and lots of it!
The Orient has always been state of the art in skin care. They were one of the first developing cultures and I deeply respect their values. I will be flying to Tokyo and Singapore for Harry's Teas, so I am studying up fast on culture and customs. For starter's you can powder Jasmine rice in a food processor for basic powder. Tapioca is also another neat ingredient.
When making lotion or crème, Green Tea can be infused and look a tint of green, depending on what type. It will be very light in color. The way we make lotion and crème in a blender has not changed. Click here for that and here to buy EmulSoy. We also sell Green Tea Flavor oil, I use in my own lotions and crèmes.
Matcha powder is basically the finest ceremonial green tea in a powdered form. We now use "Matcha" powder to make face masks. This can also be infused to achieve a natural bright green color for lotion making infusions. Delicate Matcha powder has a rich sweet taste and is naturally pure . It contains rich in vitamin C, E and many minerals. It also contains an important element of Polyphenols.
Matcha is an excellent source of rejuvenation. A new beauty treatment for refreshing and revitalizing the skin is to apply a mask of fresh green tea powder mixed with natural ingredients. This is a natural and inexpensive way to a fresher, clearer skin. You could do a 1/2 matcha and 1/2 green clay base, and make a paste with a little liquid. Remember, hot steaming towels are always an elegant trademark of the orient. If you cannot afford the Matcha, try buying a bright green tea in bulk and making a powder form in your food processor. You can also buy Matcha Powder here.
Green Tea With Egg White Facial Mask
Place 2/3 teaspoon Matcha with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl,
Add 1 teaspoon egg white,
Mix into green paste,
Use 2 cotton buds to apply green paste on face, avoid eye area,
Wait 10 minutes,
Clean face with warm water.
Green Tea With Lemon Juice / Milk Facial Mask
Place 2/3 teaspoon Matcha in a small bowl,
Add 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or milk, ½ teaspoon clear honey,
Mix into green paste,
Use 2 cotton buds to apply green paste on face, avoid eye area,
Wait 10 minutes,
Clean face with warm water.
Green Tea Milk Bath
1/2 Matcha Powder
1/2 Dry Milk
Mix well and enjoy with candlelight!
When using any infusions, whether it be herbal or teas, for lotions and crèmes, you will have to add a preservative at 1% of the entire formula. And take care not to get the preservative on you. We wear gloves when handling any preservatives.
Blue Malva petals make the most beautiful purple infusion for the water side of lotion making. Plus, Blue Malva purportedly has a slew of properties ranging from aphrodisiac to anti-inflammatory. I would use Evening Primrose oil as my carrier oil. Infusing dried red rose petals on the water side also produces a beautiful pink lotion. I used our Rose Flavor oil for the pink lotion that was infused with red rose petals.
Green Tea and Rose Lip Balm
Yes, we actually have green tea flavor oil! I also use it when I make green tea lotion. Rose flavor is popular and mixes nicely with the green tea flavor oil.
Oriental Theme Body Care
Buzz words include: Almond, Bee Pollen, Coconut, Coconut Milk, Cassia, Cajuput, Ginger, Green Tea, Honey, Lemongrass, Lime, Lychee, Mango, Patchouli, and Rose.
The Chinese New Year
I have usually associated the United States New Year with the celebration of the Chinese New Year, and decorate accordingly. I recently learned the Chinese New Year is much longer than ours, and the date depends literally on the moon!
The Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The 15th day of the new year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade. In 2007 the Chinese New Year starts on February 18th. (Competing with my birthday and Valentines!)
Prior to New Year's Day, Chinese families decorate their living rooms with vases of pretty blossoms, platters of oranges and tangerines and a candy tray with eight varieties of dried sweet fruit. On walls and doors are poetic couplets, happy wishes written on red paper. These messages sound better than the typical fortune cookie messages. For instance, "May you enjoy continuous good health" and "May the Star of Happiness, the Star of Wealth and the Star of Longevity shine on you" are especially positive couplets.
Etiquette dictates that you must bring a bag of oranges and tangerines and enclose a lai see when visiting family or friends anytime during the two-week long Chinese New Year celebration. Tangerines with leaves intact assure that one's relationship with the other remains secure. For newlyweds, this represents the branching of the couple into a family with many children. Oranges and tangerines are symbols for abundant happiness.
Superstitions and Customs
The entire house should be cleaned before New Year's Day. On New Year's Eve, all brooms, brushes, dusters, dust pans and other cleaning equipment are put away. Sweeping or dusting should not be done on New Year's Day for fear that good fortune will be swept away. After New Year's Day, the floors may be swept. Beginning at the door, the dust and rubbish are swept to the middle of the parlor, then placed in the corners and not taken or thrown out until the fifth day. At no time should the rubbish in the corners be trampled upon. In sweeping, there is a superstition that if you sweep the dirt out over the threshold, you will sweep one of the family away. Also, to sweep the dust and dirt out of your house by the front entrance is to sweep away the good fortune of the family; it must always be swept inwards and then carried out, then no harm will follow. All dirt and rubbish must be taken out the back door.
Shooting off firecrackers on New Year's Eve is the Chinese way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year. On the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, every door in the house, and even windows, have to be open to allow the old year to go out. Making your own lanterns is easy and fun. Click here for a site that shows children how to do it.
Fortune Cookies (an excerpt of Making Fortune Cookies by Judea Bentley)
The fortune cookie, like chop suey, is a U.S. invention that is often thought to be from another country. Fortune cookies actually come from Los Angeles, where Canton-native David Jung, a baker and restaurateur, began making cookies with thin slips of paper inside sometime around 1920. Jung founded the Hong Kong Noodle Company, which was producing more than 3,000 cookies an hour in the 1920s. Jung handed out these cookies, which contained words of encouragement, to the poor and homeless people on the streets.
For Tea Newbie's
Age 42. I never liked tea until I traveled to Europe. After visiting London, and the SoHo District, I learned "L_pton's" is not a good example of tea. So, when I tell my U.S. friends about my new tea site, I hear a lot about the same opinion I grew up with. I have to explain there is no comparison. The tea project became priority in my life because it is the best "vice" I picked up over the years. Plus, drinking fragrant tea totally replaced the bad vices that were keeping my weight on--all that coffee and tons of creamer. With a fragrant loose tea, I do not desire creamer. Prior to tea, I was not really consuming the eight glasses of water, that I should have each day, either. Now I well exceed that and my kidneys are in the best shape ever. I have also dropped ten pounds, I feel due to the exchange. I love loose tea so much, I look forward to drinking them every day, almost every hour, and take delight in picking which tea.
I returned to the States, so excited, I started "Harry's Tea." Named after my Grandfather. We started selling only "herbal" and "medicinal" teas. The first problem was everyone exclaimed "Great bath tea site!" Mabel is so branded in bath and body--I never thought about it. For those that understood the beauty of tea in general, I must have received 1,200 e-mails to carry "Green" tea and "Rooibos" tea, with just two orders for the herbals! (Those two orders were family--so not sure that counted anyway!) I went back to the drawing board on Harry's, tested every tea grower on the planet and re-drafted the entire line. We re-opened in Boston with a much more "on point" line of highly fragrant teas.