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Bath Pig!
PAGE ONE
November 2005

*It should surprise no one to find out that I wrote this Blather over a year ago, when we still lived in the Milwaukee Mondo Condo with the big-ass bathtub. Bobby sucks! Bobby sucks!

The ritual goes something like this:

*rapid, little-kid-type knocking at the bathroom door*

“What?” I call from the bathtub.

*more rapid, little-kid-type knocking*

“What?”

*even more knocking*

“What?”

“ BATH PIIIIIIG!” The Husband-Type Man yodels, and I respond by splishing the water around at him.

Yep, I’m a bath pig. I officially pig ALL the baths. Baths are one of my favoritest things in the world, and on a daily basis, you’ll likely find me in the bathtub at some point. I think it has to do with my Cancerian nature; water is what makes me feel whole and happy. I can’t live away from an ocean or river. Even a dunking of my feet in the pool can make me feel better. So baths are not just a way to get clean, but a kind of spiritual regeneration far beyond the whole “Calgone, take me away!” shtick. And with my insane stash of bath accouterments and essential oils, I have baths for all occasions. I have getting-rid-of-migraine baths, insomnia baths, foreplay baths, gearing-up-for-studying baths, winding-down-from-studying baths, PMS baths, flu baths, springtime baths, winter baths, decadent baths….

When I mention “insane stash of bath stuff,” I’m not just talking about the crummy pre-wrapped kits that can be found at any and every discount department store and have been the glut of non-creative gift-giving for decades. I have a ridiculously over-sensitive nose, and, while any reputable doctor will inform you that you cannot be “allergic” to a fragrance, I am extremely fussy with bath products (and candles and perfumes and-), because most of them smell like a mess of chemicals to me. About a dozen years ago, I discovered an amazing Chinese apothecary, now closed, when I still lived in San Diego, and thus began my hording of essential oils. Luckily, the whole New Age aromatherapy thing boomed around that time; the good news was people no longer looked at you weird when you asked about essential oils, but the bad news was that crappy oils made their way into the mainstream, and it can still be just as much work to find decent high-quality oils as it ever was. So if you’re going to take a serious bath, I’d suggest getting some good oils from a reputable place (I have my favorites on both the West Coast and the East Coast. DragonMarsh is worth the drive to Riverside, believe it or not. And at Aphrodisia on Bleeker Street, you can visit with Miss Pepper while poking around. Both do mail-orders, too). And if you, like me, are a Bath Pig, you may find yourself with a horde of herbs (dried and fresh), oils, waters, and other various ingredients, some of which you might never have thought about in conjunction with bathing before.

Some happy bath tips? Don’t try to have a nice, relaxing bath in a dirty, disorganized and/or messy bathroom. Gross! Plus, have plenty of clean, fluffy towels on hand. Get a good, snuggly, warm bathrobe, preferably terry/toweling material, and, unless you are a size 4, get an extra-large one – from a men’s department, even – so you can really bundle up in it. Get some cozy slippers, too. Don’t use grubby or worn-out bath stuff; throw out the mildewing loofahs and the scrub-brushes with half the bristles missing; a plain clean washcloth is preferable to that! Store your bath stuff and bottles of oils neatly, so you don’t have to deal with a sticky, leaky mess of oils when all you really want is a nice bath. You may want to sip a glass of wine, an icy sparkling water, or some hot tea while in the tub, and if so, be VERY careful with the glass, because broken glass in a tubful of water would suck. Duh. Don’t overload on various scented this-and-that extra stuff if you’re taking a scented bath; you don’t want your freesia shampoo and your green-apple scrub competing with the other fragrances. If you’re all dirty and sweaty and grimy, take a quick wash-up in the shower, Japanese style, first before immersing yourself in a tub full of oils. Bathe in slightly hotter water for before bedtime and/or relaxation baths, and in slightly cooler water for invigorating baths And if you read in the tub like I do, don’t read anything too intense; now’s the time for those trashy paperbacks, not The Bell Jar!

If you don’t have essential oils (or a particular essential oil for a recipe) on hand, you can steep dried or fresh herbs in hot water to make a bath tea. Sometimes it’s even preferable to use the fresh stuff instead of the oil (although not as convenient); I love being able to go out to my garden and cut a handful of fresh rosemary or basil or pick some lemons and oranges off the trees for any occasion anyway. But a word of warning: don’t dump herbs directly into the water without using a bath bag or straining the steeped liquid… your plumbing will thank you.

So turn on some appropriate music, crank up the heater, and start that hot water running!

Uplifting Baths

Invigorating Before-Studying or Writing Bath

  • Ten drops of bergamot oil
  • Eight drops of verbena oil
  • Eight drops of grapefruit oil

Add the oils when the tub is almost full, first the bergamot, then verbena, then grapefruit, and agitate the water after each one.

This bath gets the mind ticking again and is great for first thing in the morning. Another good one is:

  • Five drops of geranium oil
  • Eight drops of lemon oil
  • Twenty drops of jasmine oil

Jasmine is great for fighting off headaches, so I prefer this bath as a more middle-of-the-day thing when I’ve been working too long. And another good pick-me-up is:

  • 8 drops rosemary oil
  • 8 drops bergamot oil

Or:

  • 8 drops lemon oil
  • 8 drops geranium oil
  • Juice of one lemon*

*You can use the halved lemons to rub on your knees and elbows, too.

A Summertime Bath

I love this particular bath on bright summer mornings; it softens the skin, and is both relaxing and invigorating. My friend e.Beth once told me that this recipe sounds more like a punch than a bath! I actually took this bath the morning of The Husband-Type Man’s and my wedding, in fact. I came out of the bathroom, bundled up in my favorite robe, to try to have some tea and toast, and my Aunt Terri exclaimed, “Honey! You smell so good! What was in that bath?” and I said “Honey!”

  • Two cups of whole milk or milk powder
  • One cup of honey
  • Ten drops of lavender oil
  • Ten drops of orange blossom oil
  • Orange flower water to splash on after bathing

A Wintertime Bath

Especially when living in cold, snowy climes, I’ve found this bath is great for chilled feetses and dry skin.

  • Ten drops of pine balsam oil
  • Eight drops of rosemary oil
  • Eight drops of sage (not clary sage!) oil
  • One cup Borax
  • One-half cup sea salt (not table salt!)

Pour the Borax and sea salt under the bathwater while it’s running, and agitate water until everything is dissolved before adding oils.

Relaxing Baths

Anti-Anxiety Bath

I also use this combination of scents as a perfume, and without fail, every time I do, SOMEONE will ask what perfume I’m wearing. Clary sage (not regular sage!) is wonderful for staving off anxiety and depression, and this combination is happy and summery:

  • 10 drops geranium oil
  • 10 drops clary sage oil

Another soothing one when you’re feeling blue is:

  • 8 drops lavender oil
  • 5 drops neroli oil
  • 5 drops geranium oil
  • 3 drops rose oil*

*Note: essential oil of rose is VERY expensive, so opt for a good-quality fragrance oil.

And another:

  • 4 drops lavender
  • 2 drops jasmine
  • 4 drops ylang-ylang

Insomnia Baths

Because, Lord knows, I have my share of insomnia when school’s in full swing. Of course, it can be nice to just take one of these baths before bed as a pampering thing; you don’t necessarily have to toss and turn for an hour first.

  • 8 drops marjoram oil
  • 5 drops geranium oil
  • 5 drops lavender oil
  • 3 drops neroli oil

Or:

  • 8 drops chamomile oil
  • 4 drops lavender oil
  • 3 drops clary sage oil

Or:

  • 1 ounce of each of the following in a cotton bath bag*:
  • Dried chamomile flowers
  • Dried rosebuds and petals
  • Dried basil leaves
  • 10 drops lavender oil
  • 5 drops bergamot oil

Or:

  • 1 ounce of each of the following in a cotton bath bag*
  • Dried comfrey
  • Dried linden flower
  • Dried catnip
  • 10 drops lavender oil
  • 5 drops lemon verbena oil

Draw a very hot bath until the tub is about half- to three-quarters full. Immerse the bath bag and let it steep in the water for a few minutes. Then add cooler water, squeeze the bath bag to release the herbal essences and oils.

*You can even use just an old washcloth, securely tied, as a bath bag.

Fighting Jet Lag

I can’t take credit for this bath; it comes straight from The Healing Bath, a particularly handy book (as are all of Riggs’s bath books). It’s in there under “Jet Lag Spa To-Go” and it helps immensely with everything post-airline-travel, from muzzy-headedness to dehydration:

  • 12 drops rosemary oil
  • 10 drops lemongrass oil
  • 8 drops geranium oil
  • 4 drops peppermint oil
  • 4 drops juniper oil
  • One-quarter ounce amber glass bottle with screw-top
  • Glass dropper
  • Travel-size bar of peppermint soap
  • Travel-size atomizer of mineral water

Combine all the oils in the amber glass bottle, and store in your carry-on in a plastic bag. When you arrive at your hotel room, draw a hot bath, pour in the pre-mixed oils, and soak for a while. (Riggs recommends using an eye shade and ear plugs whilst soaking, as a sort of block-out-the-whole-world trick). Scrub well with the soap. After, mist your face with the mineral water, and apply a whole lot of moisturizer to your poor dehydrated skin!

Therapeutic Baths

Cold? Sore throat? Those aches that indicate the flu might be coming on? There are some good baths that can help, provided you dry off well, and don’t overdo the hot water if you’re running a fever and haven’t eaten anything but chicken broth in two days.

Anti-Cold Bath

  • 6 drops juniper oil
  • 4 drops peppermint oil
  • 10 drops lavender oil

Don’t soak for more than 15-20 minutes. Then, dry off thoroughly, get on your coziest pajamas, take 3 aspirin, and go to bed.

If it’s worse than a mere cold, try this:

Anti-Bronchitis Bath

  • 4 drops peppermint oil
  • 4 drops eucalyptus oil
  • 4 drops rosemary oil
  • 4 drops neroli oil

Or, if you have a fever, try:

  • 4 drops peppermint oil
  • 2 drops eucalyptus oil
  • 1 drop black pepper oil

Again, make it a short bath, then go right to bed.

I mentioned that jasmine can be great to ease a migraine or sinus headache, but this is another bath that helps. You may want to put a cold compress on your head while you soak, too.

Anti-Migraine Bath

  • 4 drops peppermint oil
  • 4 drops lavender oil

Baths For Two

If you have a big enough bathtub, you know what fun dual bathing can be! And, games with liquid soap aside, baths can be a great way to unwind together and talk, or to transition from “Damn, what an insane day of work” to “Damn, baby!” A nice recharging bath to take together is:

  • Ten drops eucalyptus oil
  • Ten drops bergamot oil
  • Ten drops lavender oil
  • Five drops marjoram oil
  • Three drops cinnamon oil

You can really go all-out with Party of Two Bathing. This is a nice Foreplay Bath if you haven’t had any time with your Beloved (and credit where credit is due, this one also came from one of the aforementioned Riggs books):

Fantasy Island Hot Spring

  • One whole orange
  • Twenty-four whole cloves
  • Five drops of patchouli oil
  • Seven drops of ginger oil
  • Three drops of clove oil
  • Ten drops of ylang-ylang oil
  • Cocoa butter

Cut the unpeeled orange into six round slices, and insert cloves into each slice; you’ll float them in the bath later. Run a warm bath, and, when it’s almost full, add the oils, agitate the water, and then float the orange slices on the surface. Play and scrub each other, and, when you finally get out of the tub and are still rosy and warm and damp, rub each other all over with the cocoa butter. Be sure to get all the important spots. Yummy!

Making out in the bath is great good fun, especially if you have a particularly boudoir-esque fragrance environment to go with it. Light some candles, share a glass of fruity red wine or some sort of finger-food (just peeled and slightly messy, maybe?), read some Baudelaire out loud, and mack down!

Make Out Bath

  • 8 drops sandalwood oil
  • 8 drops clary sage oil
  • 4 drops ylang-ylang oil
  • 4 drops jasmine or rose* oil

*Rose can be a little too sweet and old-ladyish for a Make Out Bath; I prefer jasmine.

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