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Journal

Making bath soaks


Bath soaks are a gentle way of bringing herbal healing into your life. You can simply hang fresh herbs from your bath tap – letting their natural oils release into the water. Lavender, rosemary and mint are particularly effective. For soaks where you want to use petals, dried leaves or oats I use a square of organic cotton muslin to tie everything up in – then you don’t need to negate all that relaxation by having to clean gunge out of the bath.

Calming bath soak for inflamed skin

This reduces skin irritation from stings, insect bites or chickenpox. It also makes you drowsy so is good before bed.

You need:

Square of muslin

Porridge oats – 1 tablespoon

Calendula (fresh or dried) 2-4 teaspoons

Chamomile (fresh or dried) 2-4 teaspoons

Hop flowers – 2 teaspoons

Method:

Mix everything together and wrap it in a piece of muslin with a tie at the top.

Put the muslin parcel into a bath and let it steep for 10 minutes, swishing it around. The bath should be warm rather than hot to avoid irritating the skin.

Muscle ache bath soak

This uses magnesium rich Epson salts along with herbs to relax muscles and improve circulation. It is perfect for an after-gardening soak. Do not use Epson salts if you have an open wound.

You need

2 handfuls of epsom salts

Square of muslin

A selection of these herbs:

Rosemary (fresh or dried), 2-4 tsp - stimulates circulation

Daisies (fresh or dried), 2-4 tsp - prevent bruising

Lavender (fresh or dried), 2-4 tsp - relaxes muscles

Eucalyptus (fresh or dried), 2-4 tsp - anti microbial

Pine leaves (fresh or dried) - stimulates circulation

Ginger - stimulates circulation

Method

Chop the herbs finely and put into the muslin, tying at the top and float in the bath or tie to the tap with the water flowing through it.

Put the Epson salts into the bath and swirl to dissolve.

Soak in bath for at least half an hour.

Herbal scalp rinse

This herbal tea works as a final rinse on hair to soothe itchy scalps – you can also use it as a cooling toner on inflamed skin.

You need

Fresh rosemary chopped finely – about

2 tablespoons

A teapot/cafetiere

Sterilised bottle or jar

Method

Put the rosemary into the teapot/cafetiere and cover with boiling water.

Leave it to steep for an hour until the liquid changes from green to more of a rusty colour.

Pour into your jar and put to cool into the fridge.

Use as a final rinse on hair or gently dab onto inflamed skin.

It only lasts a few days in the fridge so don’t make more than you need.

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I am a bit of a womble.  My Studio is a layering of things that have been found, things that have been saved, things that have been given to me - I like to be surrounded by a bit of history. ⁠⠀
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I am known as an avid skip diver so people kindly keep me things.  This weekend I am off to pick up 13 sash windows rescued from a skip.⁠⠀
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This is my dye cupboard - the mordants and other powders, the piles of fabrics and yarns, my newly started record book and the glue to paste the swatches in.⁠⠀
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It has had a hard life - the back is patched with hinges as plates, there are many, many layers of paint and a door has gone missing along the way.  It is perfect.⁠⠀
Back when I grew flowers commercially the area that is now ‘the orchardy bit’ was rows and rows of spring bulbs.⁠ In the years where the deer didn’t eat the tulips they looked magnificent, stripe upon stripe of pure pigment. ⠀
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When I turned my back on growing for money, we simply took out the beds and levelled it, turning it back to grass.⁠⠀
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The tulips quickly gave up - never brilliantly perennial here anyway, they took the opportunity to fade out fast.⁠ Well if you don’t want us . . . ⠀
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The narcissi loved it though and every year appeared back in their serried rows through the grass. ⁠There was something disturbingly grave like about them.
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My planting  ever since has all been an attempt to disguise that - feathering the edges, making little islands, trying to make it all look haphazard.⁠⠀
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Gradually it is working - this is the edge of what would have been a bed of Narcissi geranium (best vase life, along with best scent) - now happily interspersed with a pheasants eye and a little lemon coloured one I have lost the name of.
Abundance.⁠⠀
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And the hedges beginning to vibrate with that gloriously specific spring green.
This week has been about experimenting.⁠⠀
Experimenting with all the ways to dye with daffodils, experimenting with the new e-course part of my website, experimenting with shooting and editing videos on my phone.⁠⠀
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My business hero is @sethgodin and his mantra is 'ship it' - a way of saying that the best way to learn is to make things and get them out in front of people before they are polished and 'perfect'.⁠⠀
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So I took his advice and combined all three experiments. Today's newsletters will have links to a free e-course all about dyeing wool with daffodils.⁠⠀
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I have been absolutely amazed by the colour you get from faded daffodil flowers (see the second photo). It is a bright, yet somehow soft, golden yellow which is now adding an amazing zing to my pile of plant dyed fabrics.⁠⠀
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I am prone to obsessions.  My brain hones in on topics and rabbit holes away, a constant background chatter to my life.⁠⠀
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It annoys the people I live with as my world shrinks to one topic. ⠀
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My camera roll shows me it is three years ago this week that I returned to natural dyeing with plants, concentrating on using only the plants growing within a couple of miles.⁠⠀
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Three years of experimenting with plant after plant, three years of googling and reading obscure articles and piling up samples. ⁠three years of conversation about mordants and modifiers. ⠀
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Three years is a short time in such a slow craft. A blink of an eye. ⁠⠀
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But already I can see a difference in my skill.⁠⠀
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This is a corner of the cupboard where I stash my fabrics and yarns building up enough for a project.  These have all been dyed this year - with barks and cones. ⁠⠀
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This week I am dyeing with bright deadheaded daffodils and the golden yellows will join these soft terracottas and pinks while I dream up something to make.
I grow very few white flowers. ⁠⠀
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White summer flowers tend to mark in the rain - white roses look like discarded tissues, white dahlias spot brown.  Even cosmos purity - which I do grow - goes droopy and grey in a way that the coloured versions don't.⁠⠀
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The petals of spring bulbs however seem rain resistant - so I can indulge my love of white flowers and enjoy them backlit by the morning sun on the Studio window shelf.
Bright and light and pretty.
I am spending a lot of time in the greenhouse at the moment - playing an endless game of jenga with my seed trays.⁠⠀
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Many of the seedlings are for the community gardens - being planted out gradually under fleece. We are biding time, taking the cautious route so that we minimise the risk of everything being wiped out by a very cold night.⁠⠀
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We still have a full month of frosts to go here - little ones of -2 or 3 are manageable, an extra covering of fleece, some bricks to act like a storage heater.  Most hardy seedlings will recover from getting their tips nipped a bit.⁠⠀
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Last year though we had a really cold night in mid May, when growth was going well and sappily. It blasted the blossom and killed many of my hardy veg too. Slightly too late to resow.⁠⠀
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Speak to the older generation of gardeners and they all sowed and planted out much later than is the fashion today.  They perhaps had a point.
I wrote in my Friday letter this week about the sudden lifting of the uncertainty and inertia that had been dogging me for a few months.⁠⠀
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It's always easier to write about these things once they are resolved - do you find that?  Once I am unstuck and lolloping along happily again, I can look at it all and not get sucked down.⁠⠀
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Of course all this talk of getting going again, of new plans and exciting things . . . . it all actually means hard work. ⁠⠀
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Head down, working through an actual written plan kind of hard work.  Not always my natural strength.⁠⠀
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So yesterday I rearranged the studio window shelves and cleared the working table, ready for an uninterrupted start today. ⁠⠀
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An attempt to keep momentum.
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About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

 

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