Winter is here. Wah Wahhh. Time for cold fingers and toes, figuring out how to exercise the dog, taking 30 minutes extra to suit up the kids only to walk to the car and suit down to buckle up. I am trying to embrace it, trying to see the dusting of snow that covered the yard this week as gorgeous. Trying to laugh at my daughter touching every snowy surface the other morning with her gloved finger and then licking her finger. And trying to know that following every snowy and cold winter there is a glorious and green spring. I am trying.
And I am mentally escaping… I mean coping. In doing this I like to think about growing and life and green.
Lately I can pretend I am growing. My mom recently got me a pre-winter, birthday gift of a sun lamp. It helps me to feel like a plant- absorbing all the sun needed to become full and green. It is really nice to sit at my desk and feel bright and warm. The lamp is called a Sun Box and it certainly is as bright as the sun. The goal is that it can provide light therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder. There is research on the positive effects of using properly made sun lamps.
“Researchers have two main theories on why light therapy works. One is that it affects the biological clock in the brain. There’s some evidence that depression, like jet lag, occurs when the biological clock is out of sync, and light helps to correct that, Lam said.
SAD isn’t something I have diagnostically struggled with- though my opening introduction to winter may cause you to think otherwise! However, I can say that our house gets very little direct sunlight in the areas where I tend to hang out and that can be a little sad to me. I remember designing a dream house in an introductory Computer Aided Design class in college. Budget and reality weren’t an issue and modesty was apparently not on my mind, because the whole thing was made of windows. I like natural light. I do often want to bathe in it. Now I can. My goal is to integrate the Sun light into my morning yoga routine (that routine I have done for three mornings in a row- yes, that makes it a routine!).
In addition to feeling like a plant, I am also growing a plant. Last birthday I asked for a citrus tree for my gift. It came, about 2 feet tall and green. I am not blessed with a green thumb. But it is a goal of mine to paint it green somehow. And this fall I almost jumped up and down and called everyone I knew when that tree finally had blossoms. Seriously. The blossoms smelled great all fall and they were really pretty. I have gifted the plant with one of the few windows of the house that gets sun. It is happy. And it has fruit on it! So now I can patiently wait and hope that some of those teeny tiny clementine’s will become delicious. And that I don’t freeze off my green thumb. Seriously I want to build some planters and try growing a little garden this spring. I pray I maintain this glimmer of an ability and the Clementine doesn’t go the way of the Money Tree, Rubber Plant, Wandering Jew and all the other lovely green housemates I have neglected over the years.
Smelling the sweet citrusy buds on my clementine got me feeling creative and desirous of smelling that scent more often. But I didn’t want to stop at tangerine, I needed to smell like all the citrus. That feels like it should be a hastag: (#allthecitrus). Maybe it could be the name of this delicious body butter. I also thought Citrus Grove was fitting. I have made a few different kinds of body butters. In perusing recipes to determine what helps make it wonderful, I like the ones with the least possible steps (no emulsifying needed), basic ingredients and pure scents. There are a few basic butters out there that I have tried but by far Mango butter has become my favorite. It is soft to the touch once whipped, non-greasy and doesn’t have any smell. Shea is good in that it’s soft and not too greasy (though I think it’s slightly more buttery than mango which is a little more powdery soft) but I can’t stand the smell of it and it doesn’t allow the essential oils in the recipe to come through purely.
When I make a homemade lotion, I like to use a food scale to measure my ingredients- mainly because some of them are in large chunks and figuring out how to make that work with measuring cups makes my math brain hurt. This recipe is all in ratios- that way I can make different amounts in the future based on the amount of ingredients that I have on hand. I prefer non-technical recipes. And my goal is to empower people to realize that you can play around a little. This isn’t baking, your body butter won’t “fall” if you have too much coconut oil in it. It may be a little oilier but you can balance that out by adding more shea or mango butters And it’s not that big of a deal breaker. I promise. Just try it, have fun and feel moisturized and fresh, like a Citrus Grove in California. A bucket list place I’d like to go: California in January.
Citrus Grove Body Butter
Ingredients and the Ratio amount for Body Butter
Four : Mango Butter. I get it Here.
One: Coconut Oil. The only question is how much you want to stock up on.
One: Shea Butter. I get it Here.
One Tenth: Beeswax. I got mine in bricks from a local beekeeper.
One Tenth: Sweet Almond Oil I get it Here.
18-36 drops of Essential Oils These are the ones I use.
How to use the Ratios: If you have 4 ounces of Mango Butter(one fourth of the bag that I get), use 1-ounce Coconut Oil, 1-ounce Shea Butter, .10-ounce beeswax and .10-ounce Sweet Almond Oil. This will give you about one cup of body butter- since whipping it will add volume.
Melt the Beeswax in a DIY double boiler: AKA a Jar in a pot of water on Low. (if in a chunk, break this up while it’s melting to speed process)
When melted, Add Mango Butter, Coconut Oil and Shea Butter. If you don’t have Shea, you can just add a little more mango or even cocoa or other butter- honestly it may not even be all that needed to have that extra bit. You can also add these in smaller chunks if possible so that they melt quicker. Stir as able to get them melting and mixed in.
When it's mostly liquid- it’s ok if there are little bits of butter chunks. Take glass container out of the pot and pour liquid into a mixing bowl. You can place this in the fridge and check on it. You want it to start to get thicker. I will check on it and start to whip it with an electric beater. I don’t use anything fancy. I am not fancy.
After this mixture cools, you can add your essential oils. With Citrus oils sometimes you need to add extra for lasting scent. I added about 3-6 of each of these oils: Stress Away, Lime, Orange, Tangerine, Lemon and Grapefruit. There is no exact science in adding essential oils. Citrus essential oils are distilled from the rind and have a more subtle scent when added to lotions. But you can use what you have and the best part is you can try it out while you’re working to see if it is scented to your preference and add more as you go along. Citrus oils can cause some sun sensitivity- of course in the winter months this is not so big of an issue but they are best to avoid where the sun is shining the rest of the year! I am using these oils to embrace their emotional influence. I call them “happy oils” as they all have properties that enhance positive feelings. If you’re looking to support the condition of your skin, here are some other options: Lavender, German and Roman Chamomile, Geranium, Ylang Ylang, Elemi and Frankincense.
Make sure to whip this into a stiff consistency. If it’s not doing that just keep refrigerating and then taking it out and whipping it more. It also stiffens when it sits. I accidentally over refrigerated one batch but just sort of let it warm under a light and then whipped it. Whipping adds air to it and allows you to be able to get a good scoop of it when you're ready to use it.
In making my own lotions and lip balms I’ve noticed that the longer they “Cure” the stronger the scent will get. The viscous oils seem to absorb the essential oils more. Also DIY lotions can take a little longer to absorb into the skin and some people find them oily. I feel like this body butter is the right balance of moisturizing and oily and a little bit can go a long way. It is also always good to give your skin a little time to absorb the lotion before putting on clothes- depending on how harsh winter has been on it! My feet can use this slathered on like butter on a fresh baked roll. I say slather away and become one with the citrus grove.
May we all be able to mentally escape the winter as needed. And may I learn to love licking snow.
For now I will be sitting in the "sun" sending positive thoughts to my tree while slathered up with Citrus Body Butter.
I am an eat, play, work at home Mom- a part time new-mom's support facilitator- full time dreamer of clay- an all the time thinker- a trained art therapist- and a home biz empower-er who never has enough minutes in the day, clay in my hands or ideas in my brain to create all the things! Also: I am mildly invested in our families health using nature's tools! Just kidding. That's my passion and message for others: Your life is essential. Take back your health!
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