by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Winter Solstice is here. Today, December 21st, is the shortest day in terms of day light hours of the year. The sun will set in these parts at 4:17 pm and the day is already gray and overcast to begin with. On the bright side, the days are going to start getting longer again for the next six months starting tomorrow.
It seems like only yesterday I was writing about Summer Solstice and talking with my Swedish friends about how they sleep in broad daylight. I suspect they’re not having too much trouble in that regard these days.
All of this talk about astronomy is leading me to think about the night sky and how the three Wise Men followed the brightest star that would eventually lead them to the baby Jesus so they could deliver their gifts. If you want a refresher on the story, here are the words to the Christmas carol, We Three Kings of Orient Are, words and music by John H. Hopkins.
We Three Kings of Orient Are
(1) We Three Kings of Orient Are,
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.
O, star of wonder
star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright.
Westward leading still proceeding,
Guide us to Thy perfect light.
(2) Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain,
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign. (chorus)
(3) Frankincense to offer have I,
Incense owns a Deity nigh.
Prayer and praising, all men raising,
Worship Him, God most high. (chorus)
(4) Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb. (chorus)
(5) Glorious now behold Him arise,
King and God and sacrifice.
Earth to heav’n replies. (chorus)
Back in the days of yore, gold, frankincense and myrrh were considered the creme de la creme of gifts — if you had to shop for a king or queen or royalty of any kind, these presents would have been the way to go. These days, you don’t hear much about frankincense and myrrh, but of course, you still can’t go wrong by giving someone gold, (hint, hint:>).
Have you ever thought about adding gold, frankincense and myrrh to your home spa?
If you want to use frankincense, here is a lovely recipe for a Shower Sachet. Hanging this herbal sachet from your shower head as the water runs will generate a steamy aroma to take care of your mood, skin, hair and breathing passages all at the same time.
from the book, How to Throw a Home Spa Pajama Party the Homespunspa Way, by Maria Koropecky, page 78.
- 1 tsp cardamom seeds — Helpful in the home spa as a tension reliever, digestive aid and skin conditioner.
- 1 tsp thyme — Good for sleep. Adds shine and strength to dark hair.
- 1 tsp spearmint — Makes a refreshing, aromatic tea which chases away feverish colds, aids digestion, freshens breath and cools skin.
- 1 tsp sage — Combines with other herbs to induce sleep. Treats normal or damaged hair, giving it extra shine and covers gray stands.
- 1 tsp Frankincense crystals — Enhance deep breathing and meditation.
- 1 tsp fennel seeds — Used to tone the scalp and to wash normal hair.
- 1 tsp yarrow — Used for insomnia, headaches. Improves hair’s manageability. Excellent for oily or problem skin.
- 1 tsp lemon peel — Can be massaged into temples for headaches or added to bath products for zesty aroma.
Method: The easiest thing to use for the shower sachet is a pre-made (drawstring included) organza gift bag that you can find in a craft store. Or you can make your own pouch with cheesecloth and some ribbon. Place the herbs in the small bag and secure the opening.
Manner: Squeeze the bag with your fingers to release the aroma and tie it to the shower head so the water hits it as it runs. Turn on the shower and step inside. The steam from the shower should intensify the aroma of the herbs and your tension will evaporate. Your hair and skin will also benefit from the herbs.
Storage / Shelf-Life: Shelf-life will last at least 3 months, depending on the freshness of the original ingredients.
And if you want to use myrrh, here is a recipe for an exfoliating scrub. Ground rosehips add delightful red flecks to this purely luxurious recipe and you’ll be surprised by the depth of fragrance coming from the myrrh.
Sugar & Myrrh Massage Scrub for Hands
from the book, How to Throw a Home Spa Pajama Party the Homespunspa Way, by Maria Koropecky, page 56.
- 1 cup sugar — Granules are abrasive and make sweet alternatives to salt in exfoliating scrubs.
- 1 TB myrrh gum powder — Rich, exotic, velvety and smoky. It is known to treat dry skin and gum problems.
- 1 tsp rosehips, ground — Antidepressant and sedative. Add to beauty recipes for scent, colour and for their astringent, anti-inflammatory and wrinkle-reducing properties.
- 1/2 cup grapeseed oil — Ideal for massage because it is light, non-greasy, odourless and leaves a satin-smooth finish on skin.
Method: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly.
Manner: Massage mixture on your hands for a minute. Rinse off with warm water.
Storage / Shelf-Life: Keep leftovers in a sterilized jar in the fridge. Use within 3 months.
So I’ve got the frankincense and myrrh covered, but gold in a home spa treatment, you ask? Yes, it’s possible. Nowadays, you can find edible (food grade) gold leaf to add to your home spa recipes. And gold is not just a pretty face. Gold smooths out wrinkles, draws out impurities, softens skin and reduces puffiness. Gold gets glowing reviews all around. Apparently, Cleopatra, the mother of all home spa beauty secrets, slept with a gold mask on her face every night.
The thing is, I haven’t developed or tested a home spa recipe using gold yet. That’s on my to do list over the holidays. But here’s your chance to contribute a recipe to this blog. If you have a recipe using gold, by all means, post it here. You can leave your golden home spa recipe in a comment and I’ll make sure it appears online. I would really appreciate it. And as always, if you don’t know where you can find any of these ingredients or supplies, ask me and I’ll shed some light on the path for you.