Scrubs, Salts and Stocking Stuffers
This time of year feels hectic. There's always another show or party or dinner or get-together happening and never enough time to feel prepared for it all. Never. Inevitably, I get sick too. That's what happened this year. I'm battling a cold. A "keep you on the ground, sneezing, coughing, snotting" cold. But that doesn't mean any of the events are postponed or that I don't seem to pressure myself to make sure I have my blog post ready for 'that neighbor'.
Because of all that, I took an hour today (while high on Sudafed) and threw together some bath salts and body scrubs for last minute hostess gifts and maybe a few stocking stuffers.
They're pretty easy to throw together using some of the items you already have in your baking cupboard. Brown sugar, coffee and a little coconut oil? You've got everything you need for a coffee scrub. Epsom salts and fresh herbs? You're on the way to a fresh bath salt that's going to be lovely for some on your list. Sugar and oil? Sugar body scrub, here I come!
One of the things I love about these recipes is that I get to use up some of my collection of random glass jars too. Being a glass artist, it's hard for me to throw out (or recycle) glass in any shape. Salsa jars, honey jars, jam jars, wine bottles...I often keep them around to find another use for them, either melting them down to become something completely new, or cleaning them up and adding new contents to make them useful again.
Easiest way I've found for removing the labels from jars is to fill the empty jars with hot water and let them sit for 2 minutes. Normally the labels will fall off after that. If not, a little bit of elbow grease and a green scrubby will take the rest off quickly.
Then, it's time to decide what to make to fill those jars with. For these recipes i like 4oz and smaller jars, the kind of jars that would have had capers, jams or thai curry paste in them previously.
3 parts coffee grounds
1 part brown sugar
coconut oil (warmed to liquid, not solid)
This recipe is very loosey-goosey, just the way I enjoy (no need to follow the recipe to a "T"). It's easy to make as much or as little as you want. For instance, I had 1 cup of finely ground coffee (espresso grind) so I used 1/3 cup brown sugar and about 2 Tbls coconut oil.
Mix the coffee grounds and the sugar in a bowl. Add a little coconut oil and mix. By 'a little', I mean a fraction of the amount of sugar you added. In my case, for 1/3 cup of sugar I added about 2 Tbls of coconut oil. Stir the mixture to make sure it's well mixed in. Test the consistency. I like my scrubs to be only a little oily, and just barely sticking together...some people like more oil and a thick paste-like consistency. This is up to you...add more or less to satisfy your preferences. Add newly created scrub to a jar with an air-tight lid and viola!
Make this scrub for people that like the smell of coffee! Wow is it pungent. A great way to wake up in the AM while showering...and before your first cup. Some beauty bloggers like to say that caffeine is good for the skin and helps invigorate your blood flow...not sure how much I buy into that view, but I did use fully caffeinated grounds for my scrub, just in case. Others have found that using used coffee grounds helps make the scrub a little less scratchy, in case your coffee grinder doesn't grind as finely as you hope, this could be a good idea.
Also, and this sounds bizarre...but since all the ingredients are edible, this is edible AND tastes great. If you really need a little jolt in the AM, scrub and nibble!
1 part coconut oil (melted)
2 parts sugar
essential oils (optional)
This is just as easy to make as the coffee scrub. Mix the sugar and the oil, add essential oils if using. Done. Again, the mixture does depend on how much oil you like in your scrub. Sometimes I add more sugar so the scrub is less greasy, and more scrubby. Once you've gotten a consistent texture and you like the smells, add the mixture to your clean containers.
Now for the smells.
I always add essential oils to my mixture because I LOVE smells. My mother has a friend that sells Doterra oils and a few years ago, I started buying from her and haven't stopped. Who knows if the oils do anything like the wonderful claims they have on the website (all accompanied with "not verified by the FDA" language) but if I get to smell a little more grapefruit and mint in my day and it makes me smile, that's something. Besides, Grapefruit and Mint are supposed to be good for perking up the senses (not verified by the FDA of course)...and I like to use a scrub in my AM shower so why not go with bright smells? Almost every morning I start the day with an essential oil combo in the diffuser in my bedroom, and now I'll carry those great scents into the shower too. Essential oils can be purchased anywhere though...if you're inclined to use the link above, they do ship quickly and their prices are reasonable. If you don't have time to wait for shipping, Whole Foods has a pretty good array of oils and their employees can help you pick out the right scents for your ailments too. Always remember that the FDA doesn't stand by any of the claims people make around the oils...so maybe just get them for the pure enjoyment?
For this batch of sugar scrub, I added 7 drops of Grapefruit essential oils and 3 drops of Spearmint essential oils. DO NOT ADD MUCH MORE THAN THAT. Some oils can be irritating for the skin and they are very strong smells. If you make a batch of scrub and aren't smelling enough, you can always add more essential oils later, but you can never remove them. Start slowly and then add if necessary. Mine was well scented and hasn't bothered my sensitive skin one bit.
Some people also like to add a few drops of food coloring to give this mixture a little splash. I'm not big on the idea, but if you want to try...I can sure see having half the mixture be blue and half white...and layering the jars! Or green and red? It could be amazing. Now, be very light handed with the food coloring, adding a drop or two at a time and mixing thoroughly to see if the color is enough before adding more. There are unconfirmed horror stories on the internet of food coloring in things that dyed people's skin a bit. So...if you're into Avatar add a little more blue to the scrub...and see what happens.
Now...let me throw you a little curve ball. You could make this scrub using Kosher salt instead of sugar. Up to you. Do you like the sounds of a sugar scrub or a salt scrub? Mix it up based on how much sugar or salt you have in the cupboard!
Here's another curve ball, don't have coconut oil? I like Olive oil too. Or Grapeseed. Or Almond. You get the picture. Oil and sugar/salt together make a great scrub, use what you have.
Mint Epsom Salts
1 part mint (fresh)
4 parts Epsom Salts
Essential oils (optional)
And again, this recipe can be adjusted any way you see fit. Basically, add fresh mint leaves to a small food processor, add salts. Pulse until mint is finely ground and the salts are nice green color. Add additional oils as desired. Spoon into waiting jars.
Oh the fun one can have with this. Today I made a simple mint + tangerine oil salt. Then I got crazy and made a second batch with a little orange zest for that refreshing orange mint scent. The fresh zest added more color to the second batch (little bits of zest glow orange in a sea of green) but the smell isn't as strong as the batch I added essential oils to. Is your mint not minty enough, add a few drops of Mint essential oils. Don't like the idea of taking a bath with little flecks of mint in the water? Skip the fresh herbs and just add essential oils to the salt in the food processor and pulse.
So many options!
Now comes the fun, when we get to decorate those bottles and get ready for gift giving. Your handwriting may be better than mine (I'm an artist, not a penmanship expert)...but no matter what, the contents of your jars will be warmly received. Don't let bad penmanship or less than stellar drawing skills get in the way of giving people your fantastic creations. Get creative! Want to be fancy, find a great spoon to tie to the jar like one of these (I am NOT an affiliate, just love these spoons). Have some stencils lying around? Use them to add a little holiday charm to your lids or bottles. Pull out the ribbon or washi tape to add interest to the lids. You get the picture, make these your own and decorate to your heart's content. Or not...add a sticker that says who it's from and be done. That works too.
The possibilities are endless. My mind is spinning (and the Sudafed is wearing off). Think it's time for a hot Epsom salts bath to help push this cold on it's way.