Now that the holiday season is coming to a close, and the old year drawing to an end, I find myself longing for quiet days that involve zero fuss. After spending the chilly days putting my house in order, and clearing out old files and clutter from my office, itâ€™s heavenly to settle down by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa and a book by whatever author Iâ€™m involved with at the moment (current obsession: the Isabel Dalhousie series by Scots author Alexander McCall Smith).
Since dairy and I are no longer very good friends, I make my evening beverage with almond milk and Green & Blackâ€™sÂ organic hot chocolate mix, plus a half-teaspoon or so of almond extract swirled into the mug.
When bedtime rolls around, I fill a hot water bottle with steamy water and slip it under the covers toward the foot of the bedâ€”something I remember my Grandmother doing for me on snowy winter nights when I was a child. I rediscovered this simplest of all pleasures a few years ago when I came across my dusty hot water bottle in a box of attic treasures. Itâ€™s amazing how comforting and delightful it is to snuggle into bed with something toasty to wrap my feet around, especially when frost coats the windows, and the wind is whistling through the bare branches of the trees outside. I make a mental note to try and remember this: that wonderful things donâ€™t have to be fancy, or expensive, or complicated. Sometimes something simple really is all that our souls need.
Here in the mountains above Boulder, winter has definitely arrived. Not only is the snow gathering daily in depth, but thereâ€™s ice coating the roads, and itâ€™s been all I can do to talk myself into my daily walk. A couple of things have made it easier, despite the whippy wind and the sub-freezing temps.
First up are my Yaktrax. These lightweight, stretchy traction webs slip over the soles of my shoes and give me amazing stability on my icy up- and downhill hikes and runs. The companyâ€™s interest in footing also extends to its own footprintâ€”Yaktrax purchases green wind power energy to cover all electricity used in the manufacturing of their product.
The second thing getting me outside on a semi-regular basis is my supply of organic almond oil. After applying my normal moisturizer and sunscreen, and before stepping through the door, I add a thin, protective coating of the oil to the surface of my face. Itâ€™s doing absolute wonders to prevent chapping without clogging my pores (or creating an oil slick).
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is the 80-something-year-old gentleman who lives up the hill from me. Every day, regardless of the weather, he passes my house with a cheerful wave and friendly hello, on his way to make the 3-mile circuit from his home to the Post Office and back (half of it uphill). Heâ€™s an inspiration to me, and not only because of his ageâ€”but because I happen to know he has a fully functioning four-wheel drive vehicle in his driveway, and still chooses to make the journey on foot. I hope that if I live as long as he has, Iâ€™ll still be enjoying my daily walk as well, reveling in the fresh air and happily greeting my neighbors. Regardless of how cold it is outside.
From the misty fields of Bali, rice farmers would return to their village homes where theyâ€™d apply a hand-crushed spice paste (called â€˜borehâ€™ in the Indonesian language) to their legs and feet, often leaving it on overnight. WhileÂ borehÂ recipes vary from household to household, a key warming ingredient prevails — ginger root – good for relieving muscle and joint ache, warming the body and increasing blood circulation. Taken internally, ginger also aids in digestion and soothes nausea.
Not long ago, in my home in New Jersey, I spent a cold autumn evening experimenting with this powerful warming ingredient.Â The ginger ritual was translated from Indonesian tradition by Kim Collier, founder of JAMU Asian Spa Rituals, first to introduce Indonesian healing remedies to the west. Standing naked in my bath, I mixed a body paste (a combination of ground spices, herbs and rice powder) with JAMU Ginger Spice Organic Massage Oil and warm water, then gently painted it onto my body.Â After reclining under mounds of blankets, I slipped next into a warm bath laced with flower petals and JAMU Ginger Spice Bath and Shower Gel, ending my hour-long ritual by applying more nourishing JAMU Organic Ginger Spice Massage Oil toÂ my still-moist skin. Reclining once more, and sipping a cup of hot ginger tea, I felt both warm and deliciously fragrant — my skin reminiscent of a gingersnap cookie, fresh from the oven.
Recreating this experience in your home is easy, and will go a long way in helping you stay warm and glowing into a healthy new 2010. Simply follow Kim Collierâ€™s bliss-out bath and shower recipes.
FOR A QUICK DAILY SHOWER SCRUB
1. Blend JAMU Ginger Spice Body Hand and Foot Scrub with Â½ tsp. fresh-grated ginger.
2. Step into warm shower.
3. Vigorously scrub the body, effectively cleansing and exfoliating the skin, and increasing blood circulation.
4. During the scrub, breathe deeply- and take time to smell the ginger as this will warm your body and increase chi.
5. Rinse thoroughly.
6. Step out of the shower and lightly massage JAMU Ginger Spice Organic Massage Oil onto still-moist skin.
7. Throughout the day, apply JAMU Ginger Spice Hand and Body Lotion to arms and neck as a quick ‘pick-me-up’; on hands and feet (especially before bed) to moisturize.
- Kim Collier, Founder, JAMU Asian Spa Rituals; and Shari Mycek, spa writer and lover of all things JAMU