Deborah J. "DJ" Martin

A Witch and a Bitch with an Herbal Itch - and an overactive imagination

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Month: October 2012

Signs of a Clueless Husband

The conversation last night:

Hubby: Boy, whatever you’re cooking on your bench sure smells good! (A few oils & vinegars steeping in sealed jars.)

Me: Um … you shouldn’t be smelling anything off my bench. What does it smell like?

Hubby: Mmm. Piney, but not.

Me: Hello? Freshly-harvested bunches of Rosemary hanging?

Hubby: Oh.


Why I Don’t Write About Magic (much)

Blogs & books about “how to perform magic” or “how to be a witch” [snort] are popular around this time of year. They’re chock-full of instructions on what to do when for what, an ingredient/tool list as long as your arm, etc. I’ve obviously been remiss in this regard as a “public” witch and should probably rectify the situation.

I  don’t follow any tradition nor do I work with any deities so my magic is rather simple:

Step One: Question: Have you done all the mundane stuff necessary for desired outcome?

Step Two: If the answer to One is yes, decide on spell. Envision as many outcomes as possible to refine. You know: conditional logic. Oh, you don’t? If this, then that. Take as long as you need to “get it right”. (Ten, fifteen minutes ought to do it or for really big issues, maybe an hour.)

Step Three: Grab whatever strikes your fancy at the moment, whether it be herbs, candles, pen & ink … Assemble it all wherever you feel like casting the spell. (Yes, I’ve done one on top of the toilet.)

Step Four: Ask anyone around (like spirits) to help if they’re of a mind. Light candle/burn herbs or whatever you feel needs to be done while focusing on outcome. Got something to say? Say or think it.

Step Five: Give thanks for any help, say you’re done, dispose of spell leftovers (like used herbs or ash) and get on with your life.

I don’t have any fancy rituals or secret methods. I customize each spell to the individual situation so do things in whatever way I feel appropriate in a short, sweet and to-the-point manner, and as Larry The Cable Guy says, “Git ‘R Done”.

That is why I don’t write much about magic.

Heaven in a Tub

As you may have noticed from my last post, I’m starting to pay a little more attention to the skin on my face. Following along those lines, I got to thinking perhaps the exfoliating pad I was using might now be a bit too harsh. A couple of hours of following link after link after link on the Internet (you know how it goes), I decided perhaps a sugar scrub might be a better way to go.

Oh. Em. Gee. You gotta try this. I found an easy-peasy recipe that leaves my skin as smooth as the proverbial baby’s bottom.  (I would love to give credit but can’t find the page anymore. Gotta love Google sometimes, huh? If this is yours, email me and I’ll provide the link back.)

  • 50% sugar (white works just fine or use brown sugar if you have very sensitive skin – the granules are generally smaller than white)
  • 50% vegetable glycerin
  • A dollop of Aloe Vera gel

Just to experiment, I used 2 tablespoons each (white) sugar & glycerin, and the “dollop” of gel was about a teaspoon. Mix together well. Then use a palmful to wash your face, neck & décolletage.  I found mine separates a little between uses so just mix it all up again with my fingers before scooping out a glob of it.

(I would have taken a picture but it doesn’t look like much in the recycled cream cheese container. OTOH, it does somewhat resemble semen. I stand by the post title. :D)

Some of the recipes I found suggested mixing a few drops of essential oils into the scrub. I didn’t do that for the first batch, wanting to see how it worked on the cleaning end by itself. Although EOs do absorb quickly into the skin, the only thing I let sit long enough for beneficial absorption is my face cream, so I’ll leave the “therapeutic” aspects in that, rather than the scrub. But if you want the aroma, add a drop or two of EOs appropriate for your skin type (and nose).

I think a longer-term experiment is going to be making an herbal glycerite (like a tincture but with glycerin rather than alcohol as the extraction method) and using that in place of the plain glycerin, just to see if there’s any benefit to that sort of effort. I’ll let you know how that comes out.

In the meantime, I have a smooooooooooth face!

Natural Skin Care for Smokers

I hate to admit it, but I still smoke (pauses to light up) and I know there are still a lot of smokers out there. Are you like me, using smoking as a crutch to get you through stressful times (“better to kill myself than someone else”); or like my mother, who claims to enjoy smoking while hacking up gobs of brown-colored mucus? Either way, unless you’re illiterate (in which case, you’re not reading this blog), you’ve known smoking is bad for you for at least 46 years: the first Surgeon General’s warning hit cigarette packs in the US in 1966.

Ignoring for the moment all the damage we’re doing to the inside of our bodies, which is not inconsiderable, let’s look at what we’re doing to the outside … our skin.

If you’re of a certain age [ahem], your skin is dry yet you still get blocked pores and the occasional zit, amirite? You may be in your thirties but you’re starting to get wrinkles around your mouth and eyes, yes? All this is caused by that damned cigarette you’re sucking on as you read this.

That yellow film of nicotine you keep washing off your windows? There’s an even thicker layer on your face, which is right in the middle of the cloud of nicotine-laden smoke every time you take a puff. It’s clogging your pores. (Any other exposed parts of you, too … those yellowed fingernails!)  Pursing your lips each time you take a drag or squinting as smoke gets in your eyes stretches the skin and over time, creates wrinkles. Cigarette smoke constricts the top layer of the skin, reducing oxygen and causes the blood to thicken; it thins the skin and reduces the level of collagen (the “plumping” stuff). It also reduces the body’s ability to make and store Vitamin A, which is crucial to good skin health.

Everyone will tell you to quit smoking, even me. And we all will at some point … even if it’s the cigarette that kills us. In the meantime …

  • Drink copious amounts of water. A lot of pundits for a long time have been touting eight glasses each day. I was taught something different in school. To what I said in that post, I’d add even more to flush out all the toxins you’re building up.
  • Keep your skin clean. I’m not too particular about my looks and rarely wear makeup. This makes it easy for me to clean my face more than once in the morning and once at night. I use a mild soap (goat’s milk) when I wash, and swipe my face a couple more times a day with a witch hazel-soaked cotton pad. Those of you who wear makeup every day should wash it off the minute you walk in the door – despite claims of “good for your skin” stuff, none of it really is.
  • Add foods high in Vitamin A to your diet: most dairy products, liver, salmon, green vegetables, almonds or fortified orange juice.
  • Get outside into the fresh air and get some sun (but not too much). Closeting yourself in the house/office with all the crap you’re exhaling into the air isn’t doing you any good. A little sun is good for the skin and the rest of you – helps you manufacture Vitamin D.
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Do a little research to find out what types of oils are good for your particular skin type. Now that my skin has changed, I made a cream with shea butter, a green tea infusion and a couple drops of Geranium essential oil. Although most of the antioxidant benefits of green tea disappear when it’s exposed to air, some does remain. (This was my first attempt at using an herbal butter. This ain’t your dairy butter, folks. It’s hard.) It’s not quite the consistency I like so the next batch, I think, will be shea butter blended with camellia seed oil instead of the infusion. Camellia seed oil is from a plant in the same family as the green tea I drink, just an oil instead of water.
  • There are some other skin  care suggestions here.

Until you can quit, take as best care of yourself as you can. Adequate sleep, a reasonable amount of exercise, and eating healthy foods will go a long ways toward at least ameliorating the effects of your habit.

Create Memories

As I’ve mentioned here before, my mother has both Parkinson’s and dementia. Her diseases have progressed rapidly. The woman who was my best friend for the majority of my life is no longer there … I’m caring for someone who only resembles her physically.

I was going to write this in a letter to my kids who now have wee ones of their own, but the spirits said I should share this publicly (and I always listen to the spirits :cough:), so here goes:

Parents, I know you want to create memories for you. Kids grow up so quickly that photos (and now videos, I guess) are the only thing to remind you how small they really were. So, you take a photo of their first tooth, their first step, etc. I’m here to tell you that your children want memories, too. It doesn’t take anything other than time.

Although I’m old(er) and a lot of past things have faded, I still carry a memory of walking in a park on a Fall day and my very non-witchy mother telling toddler me all the fallen leaves crunching under my feet were talking, just as my Rice Krispies did every morning; then she told me to listen very carefully to hear what they were saying with each step. I’m not sure, but this may have been where I got the idea to listen to plants.

There’s the memory of my first ice skating experience: I was about five, the skates had two blades on them and strapped over my winter boots. (There’s a really embarrassing photo of that day around somewhere.) She told me to just stand there a minute to get used to the slippery ice. While I stood teetering, Mom, who participated in the Silver Skates program as a kid, went swishing once around the rink, bent over with one hand behind her back as any good speed skater will, and came to a hockey stop in front of me. (This was all wearing figure skates, not speed skates.) She told me one day I’d be able to do that, too; then gently took both of my hands in hers and, skating backward, encouraged me to walk, then glide. Thanks to her guidance, I graduated to single blades that same Winter. I still love to ice skate, although I don’t get a chance to do so often.

Mom taught me to dance … Waltz, Polka, Jitterbug and The Twist. I can even tell you which living room it was in. (I grew up in multiple apartments.) Dance remains a passion of mine.

Fast forward many, many years. I can still hear her voice soothing me on the phone, saying my current husband was “Mr. Right” as I blubbered that circumstances weren’t right for us to get together. She was right (as Moms usually are) and stood witness for me when I married the best thing that ever happened to me.

There are others, of course. Now, as I see the person who looks like my mother but isn’t her, I cling to those memories. So parents, create memories not just for yourself but for your children, too. Even if you’re not the magical sort, teach them the wonder of crunchy Fall leaves, or of the caterpillar that becomes a butterfly. Teach them to dance … even if it’s just wiggling around and not a “real” dance step. Teach them to throw a fast ball or kick a field goal. Give them your time.

You never know how things will play out in the future. I guarantee your children will cherish those memories. I certainly do.