Tag Archives: indulgence

Roses Are Red

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

If you’re lucky, you may receive roses from your Sweetie for Valentine’s Day.  They’re such a traditional and classic gift and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like receiving roses.  At least no one I know has complained to me about it.  While lovely, like all cut flowers, they eventually wilt and die.  If we’re quick, we can pull them out of the water before they’re past the point of no return, hang them upside-down, and dry them in bouquet-form quite successfully.  Alas, I’m seldom that on top of things.  I’m sure I’m not alone in having dead little roses bent all kitty-wampus  at the neck.  Such sad little guys.  At that point I usually pull the petals off them and tuck them away.  There’s all kinds of things you can use them for:

– put them in potpourri

– simmer them in a pot of water on the stove or float in a warming-pot

– crush them up and make rose beads

– use as confetti

– use in bath salts, bath teas, in soaps

– add to homemade paper:  see below


I found this adorable fan online:  you can find it HERE

Of course, if you’re on top of things, you can get those beautiful petals before they start to dry out.  Use them like this:

– as packing material for a gift

– tuck inside a card or envelope

– tuck a few into your sweetie’s packed lunch or coat pocket

– write a message on a bed, scatter on pillows, or tuck into pillowcases

– float in a bowl with some candles and glitter

– hide inside the book your honey is reading

– float in a bath

– garnish a salad or dessert (use only pesticide free petals)

But my all-time favorite use for rose petals is to make Rosewater out of them.  Not only does Rosewater smell divine, it’s an amazing light astringent and can be used as a flavouring in edible delicacies.  To make Rosewater, it is important to use either roses you’ve grown yourself that are pesticide and chemical-free or to work with your florist to ensure that the petals will be contaminant free.

Rosewater Recipe

You will need a small canner with a jar rack and a curved-top lid.

Place the jar rack on the bottom of the canner and add fresh rose petals up to the level of the top of the rack.  Add distilled water just until the petals are covered with water.  Place a shallow bowl on top of the rack, making sure it is steady and stable.  Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Invert the lid and place it on top of the canner.  If it doesn’t seal well because it’s bent or warped, you can use a wide aluminum bowl, double-boiler style, but it must curve down over top of the shallow bowl beneath.  Fill the lid or bowl with ice.  As the rose-steam rises it will hit the cold lid, condense, and drip into the bowl inside the pot.  Every 10 minutes or so, quickly lift the lid and pull the bowl out to remove the Rosewater.  Replenish the ice when it melts.  Do this until the distillate no longer smells of heavenly roses.  Often, after an hour or so all you’re getting is faintly-scented distilled water, and you don’t want that.  Keep your Rosewater in the fridge and it will last a very long time.  I add a capsule of vitamin e to mine to keep any rose oil from going rancid.  This Rosewater is lovely in facials, skin creams, and yes, even in Indian, Jamican, Persian and Middle Eastern food.  I love it in icing on pretty pink cupcakes with a sugared rose petal on top.

So, if some total sweetheart gifted you with roses this Valentine’s Day, don’t just let them fade slowly away….DO something with them.  Come on….you can do it.  Just Make That Mess!

Pure Decadence

There is an amazing bath & body company out there that is a 4-letter word in my house.  Yes, its name has 4 letters, it begins with an L and ends with an H and I have a love-hate relationship with them.  I loooooove their products.  All their products.  Haven’t found one yet that I didn’t fall head-over-heels for.  But……..

I HATE that in order to get their stuff I have to either drive to a major center to stand in the middle of their store inhaling so deeply that the dust-bunnies come creeping out from under their shelves or I have to do mail-order.  I don’t want do mail-order.  I want to sniff it before I buy it.  I want to touch it before I plunk down $8 for an itty-bitty bar of soap.

So to heck with it.  I just made my own.  You’ve seen the soaps already.  I’ve been using them in the shower.  My skin is soft, they lather like crazy, they’re creamy, foamy, and downright delectable.

Today was the bath salts.  “Bath Salts” is such an inadequate term for these though.  They’re all enriched with skin-loving oils or butters to leave you soft and silky even in the horror we call winter.  My favorite is the Pure Decadence Spa Bath line.  These are also enriched with my own blends of Pure Essential Oils and smell divine.  The Rainforest Pure Decadence Spa Bath is a blend of Patchouli and 2 other Essential Oils.  It reminds me of the West Coast Temperate Rainforest.  My favorite part of living in Vancouver was wandering through the forests of UBC and just BREATHING it all in.

The Island Blossom Pure Decadence Spa Bath takes me back to Hawaii.  With Neroli and 2 other Essential Oils it has a rich, heady fragrance that I find flat-out intoxicating.  Just ask my husband…he laughed, shook his head, and walked away from me when he saw me sitting there with my face buried in the bag opening for this stuff.  Sniffing.  No…..snuffling, really.  I may not take this to the Craft Fair on Saturday.  I may hide it.  For ME.

So Ends Soap-Week

Almond Oatcake Bars

It looks like it should be eaten, doesn’t it?  It smells like it should be eaten too.  This Almond Oatcake soap is my absolute favorite scent ever.  I had a bar of soap given to me about 20 years ago that smelled like this and I never forgot it.  After years of searching and experimenting, I finally have what I remember.  Sweet and warm, enriched with Colloidal Oatmeal for dry, itchy skin and Shea Butter for its skin-loving properties, this bar is a must-have for our dry winter months.

I simply couldn’t develop a soap line without Lavender in it.  Lavender is like the Goddess of soap scents.  While we may tinker around experimenting with other fragrances, Lavender is always there.  Reliable and constant, the earthiness of Lavender can calm and soothe away the stress of my most crazy day.  I’ve added Sweet Orange for a bright counter-note to the Lavender’s depth and love how this scent can lift my mood and make me feel like it’s a brand-new day.

Lavender Sunrise Bars

So ends Soap Week here at Just Make a Mess.  My house could not smell more heavenly and my hands are as soft as they can get after playing with all of those emollient-rich oils all week.  Other things are calling me, other messes are waiting to be made.  What shall it be next?  Earrings….Bath Bombs….Tub Truffles…..that unfinished painting in my studio?   Decisions decisions…….

Dare to be Decadent

We ended up having to go out of town today, which meant that I didn’t get the last batches of soap I made cut or photographed.  Soap Week here at Just Make a Mess has been a total blast, even though it ground my jewelery-building to a halt.  Had to be done though.  Soap HAS to cure.

Curing soap does a couple of things.  It ensures that all of the lye in the soap has been completely saponified; that is, rendered harmless and non-caustic by converting fat to soap.  Properly cured soap is much milder than fresh soap, as well.  No one wants sandpaper-skin.  Lastly, curing allows some of the water used in the soapmaking process to evaporate, making the bar harder and longer-lasting.

Once it’s ready for sale, though, it’s going to need a name.  And packaging.  Branding is integral in marketing and I wanted something unique that really represented how flat-out DECADENT these products are.  If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll already know I’m on a Swirly kick these days.  Swirls make me happy.  They’re pretty and whimsical but also, for me, they represent “Flow”.  Flow as in a melody line.  As in life.  As in art.  As in the creative process in general.  Getting things to flow is really what most of us strive for.  We’re looking to eliminate bumps, have things roll smoothly along, and sometimes to make things just a little prettier.

© Jan Mac 2010

I’m also into symmetry.  Black Swan Bodyworks is symmetrical.  BSB.  Swans are elegant and posh.  Black swans are unique;  unique makes me happy too.  If we were all the same life would be so incredibly boring.  This swan’s swirly and it flows.  It’s black and white; basic and sophisticated.  It’s all good.

Now…..Truth or Dare?  When it comes to your bath-time, do you reeeeally want to smell like an Irish countryside or a deodorant?  Do you reeeally want to grab just whatever’s handy, whatever your children or dear hubby have left behind, soaking in a puddle of water until it’s all gooey and pulls off the soapdish like hot mozzarella cheese?  Or do you want something chock-full of yumminess?  Something that makes you slightly delirious because you’re inhaling the scent so deeply?  Something just for YOU.  Something so Decadently Good you stash it away so the kiddies don’t *gasp!* use it to wash the dog?!?  Now tell the truth…..I Dare Ya.

Starry Starry Night

A starry night is going to smell different to everyone.  Now I know some of you, those of you who are all about details, are sitting there saying “A starry night, per se, doesn’t have a smell”.  Relax.  Open up.  Let a little romance into your life.

To some, the phrase Starry Night will make them think of walking along a deserted beach, their hand enfolded in the warm grip of a loved one.  To others, it will smell of burning leaves, autumn air, and moist compost.  Yet others will feel fresh snow going chunk-whump-chuck-wup beneath booted feet as a snowflake settles on their tongue.

For me, Starry Night means all of those things.  But underneath any of those first impressions, the feeling swirling beneath those seasonal top-notes is evoked by THIS scent.   It’s crispity, it’s crunchity, silky and smooth all at once.  It’s fresh yet warm, subtle yet present.

I know.  It looks like a cake.  More specifically, it looks like my Mom’s Lemon Loaf Cake with Cream Cheese Icing.  Do not eat this…it will traumatize you to the point where you’ll be too frightened to try Lemon Loaf Cake ever again.  And that would be a wholesale tragedy.

It also looks pretty basic.  No sprinkly bits.  No colour.  Nothing outrageous at all.  But trust me.  There is nothing, and I do mean nothing, basic about this bar.

This bar is enriched with both Shea Butter and Meadowfoam Oil.  Shea, or Karite Butter is a nut-butter that absorbs quickly into the skin without feeling greasy.  It’s positively the most luxurious butter I’ve ever found.  My skin loves this stuff.  Remember I talked about superfatting soap?  Shea butter is unique in that it’s a fat that simply cannot be completely converted into soap by the saponification (soaping) process, leaving it present to do good things for your skin.  Meadowfoam oil is an extremely stable oil that has skin-soothing and softening properties that does more for making me feel moisturized fresh out of the shower than any other oil.

You’ll be able to bathe under this Starry Starry Night soon.  Who knows?  It might even lead to a little romance.