Pantry pampering and a treat for tired feet……

ground almonds and sweet almond oil


I’m still a bit snuffly and have “ear hiccups” but I think the head cold has finally begun to pack it’s bags…..while I’ve been feeling somewhat under the weather (and needing to spend a lot of time under a blanket on a make shift poorly bed) sewing small pieces of patchwork and watching an embarrassing amount of period dramas, I’ve been making some kitchen cupboard cosmetics or as I like to call them ….pantry pampers.  I have to be quite careful about which products I use on my face, especially when I’ve had a cold and my nose feels particularly delicate, however my skin and face always seems to benefit (and not break out in angry retaliation) and respond well when I’ve made face scrubs and washes from things I have in the kitchen cupboards.

My favourite face scrub smells more like a light Madeira sponge cake than something you’d think to put on your face.  It gently exfoliates while at the same time moisturizes so after washing off you can just pat your face and you’re ready to go… also helps remove all that horrible “post cold” lizard skin around your nose.

Lemon, orange, bergamot and cypress are all nice essential oils to use in the morning as they help you feel all wakey and fresh, in the evening I like to use rose, neroli, chamomile or jasmine.  The evening oils are all a bit on the pricey side but are wonderful to use on the face and have a more calming effect on my mind rather than the perky “up and at them smelling” citrusy morning oils.

It’s important not to over do it when you are using essential oils, a little goes a long way and if you use them neat on the skin then they can irritate and inflame sensitive skin.  I tend to use this scrub more in the winter or when I have a cold, but it is still used a fair bit in the Summer, so to avoid being heavy handed with the oils I like to prepare a couple of bottles of different oil blends in advance so they are all ready to use…. just pour a little almond oil into a smaller bottle (a 30 ml or 50 ml will be about the right size) and then add a few drops of whatever essential oil I want to use….I often mix a few oils together so I get the benefit of them working together, they also smell wonderful.  Don’t forget to label it and keep out of sunlight.


Oil and almond face scrub

1 teaspoon of ground almonds

1/2 teaspoon of sweet almond oil (though I’ve used grapeseed oil before and that is a good substitute)

1 drop of essential oil of your choice

(or 1/2 a teaspoon of your prepared oil and then you won’t need to add any extra essential oil)

Into a small bowl, mix the oil with the almonds.  Carefully pat the mix on your face, avoiding around your eyes. Gently rub the mixture over your skin.  Wash off with handfuls of warm water until the scrub mix is all gone.  Pat your face dry with a towel.


When I have a cold my face often breaks out and I feel somewhat like a teenager again, I keep a tiny bottle (I use an old essential oil bottle as they are 5ml or 10 ml sized) and mix lavender and tea tree essential oils in equal parts, then apply 1 drop neat to the offending spot.  This is pretty much the only time I’d apply an oil neat to my skin and was a recipe given me by a friend who used to work in a Natural Beauty and Remedies shop. (the only other time is when my chilblains are bad or I have blisters from too much walking in shoes that rub, then I carefully dab on neat geranium essential oil and find this gives some much needed relief.


pestle and mortar, ground rice and rolled oats


If I don’t have any ground almonds to hand then I substitute porridge oats and some rice , I just put a desert spoon of each into a spice grinder and then give them a whizz for a few seconds so both are a nice fine powder…..this is also good to use if you have nut allergies.


Oat and Rice face scrub

1 teaspoon of ground oatmeal and rice (it’s easier to grind a desert spoon or so of each and then mix them together and keep in a jam jar)

1/2 teaspoon light oil (grapeseed is good if you have nut allergies)

1 drop of essential oil

(or if you have some prepared oil then use a 1/2 teaspoon of that and then you don’t have to add any extra essential oil)

Into a small bowl, mix the oil with the ground rice and oats.  Carefully pat the mix on your face, avoiding around your eyes. Gently rub the mixture over your skin.  Wash off with handfuls of warm water until the scrub mix is all gone.  Pat your face dry with a towel.


Tired feet treat

I find the oat and rice scrub also very good to use on my hands when they are particularly dry or tired feeling, and it’s also good to use on my feet and ankles, though then I like to make up double the amount and add a couple of drops of peppermint or tagettes essential oil to the blend.  (making up a bottle of almond oil/grapeseed oil and adding a little peppermint essential oil or tagettes is nice to have to hand as it makes for a good massage oil for feet after you’ve had a bath)

Something I find that always helps make me feel better when I’ve got a cold or just feel all tired after a day in town, is soaking my feet in a big bowl of warm water (I like it quite hot so keep a kettle nearby to top the water up) with some big flattish pebbles at the bottom.  I spread out a couple of big towels, then place the half dozen or so pebbles in the bottom of the bowl, then pour on the water and add whatever essential oils I’m using…(I like peppermint and lavender combined so just a couple of drops is enough, and geranium and lemon is another favourite blend)…..I can sit like that with my feet in the warm water ’til the cows come home…it’s so relaxing and I have nodded off like this on many occasions.  Once I’ve let my feet relax for about 15 minutes, I then use the foot scrub, rubbing it in around the ball and heel of each foot, and also rubbing it over each ankle.  Rinse it off and then dry thoroughly before putting on a pair of clean socks……I used to be friends with a rather manly gentleman, and when he stayed over and had had a really tough day at work, I’d prepare one of these foot bathes for him and the days troubles would just disappear (the first time I suggested it there was some eye rolling and a deep sigh but within minutes someone was all smiles and completely chilled out.)


Kitchen cupboard hand scrub and balm……..

cornflower,oatsa nd ground rice


Now it’s all officially Spring and the weather here has warmed up some, the layers are slowly being peeled off to reveal a pair of rather neglected and tired looking hands much to my shame…..generally I’m very good about applying liberal amounts of hand cream in the evenings but I’ve been a bit of a slack Alice of late and my poor old hands are really showing their age.

I  much prefer making my own hand balms and treatments, mainly because I then know exactly what goes into them, but also my budget never seems to stretch very far for anything too fancy…..and if I can make an effective and pretty cheap (we’re talking pence) cleanser, scrub or general balm from ingredients I’ve already got in the cupboards then so much the better.

This is one of my favourite hand cleansers, it’s nice and gentle and takes as much time to make as a kettle takes to boil to make a cup of tea…’s a real store cupboard recipe and if you don’t have vegetable glycerine then you can use a runny honey (it’s a bit stickier but the smell then more than makes up for the goopyness)

I use a spice grinder to grind up the oats and rice really fine, it’s always best to give the grinder a wipe before using it if not you end up with a spicy or curry scented  hand cleaner.  I try to avoid making up too much at anyone time, it doesn’t keep for long just a few weeks (up to two months in the fridge).


rose water


Store cupboard hand cleanser


vegetable glycerine (or you can use runny honey


ground rice (you don’t need to use posh carnaroli rice, plain long ground is fine)

ground oats


almond oil (a light olive oil or sunflower oil if you don’t have almond)


In a bain marie (I’m not fancy so tend to use a glass bowl sat on top of a saucepan filled with a half inch or so of water on a medium heat), gently heat a couple of dessert spoons of vegetable glycerine (or the runny honey) in the glass bowl, slowly stir in a couple of heaped tea spoons of cornflower to make a thick runny paste…remove from the heat.

Now add a little rosewater, just a splash and stir, mix in a couple of heaped tea spoons of the ground oats and then the ground rice.  Mix and add a small dribble of oil.

Continue to mix, if it’s too much like stirring a Christmas pudding then add another splash of rosewater.  Once it’s at a nice gloopy consistency then scrape it into a small sterilized jar and if you’ve used honey then it’s better to store it in the fridge.

To use, just scoop out a marble sized bit, and gently rub all over your hands and fingers, pay particular attention to the skin between your fingers as I find this gets the most dry.  Wash off with warm water and pat dry…’s like a lovely soft massage for your hands and fingers so is nice to use any time of day.

Don’t forget to label it so you remember when you made it…..

Another excellent hand scrub, (though one a tad more abrasive so if you have very sensitive skin then maybe don’t use it,) uses a slightly heaped tea spoon of coarse sugar, a splash of olive oil and a squirt of mild washing up liquid… mix the ingredients between your fingers and hands, you want to really rub it in and spend a good couple of minutes rubbing around knuckles and finger joints…it feels like a proper work out for your hands..wash off in warm water and gently pat dry.  This is great for using if you’ve been out in the garden and gotten all grubby. or if you’ve been mending a puncture on a bike…I’ve read that the sewers in the Haute Couture ateliers use something similar to keep their hands soft and smooth to prevent snagging fine silks and fabrics…..


cocoa butter and beeswax


Queen Bee hand balm…..

When I’ve spent a long day piecing or hand sewing or crocheting then my fingers can get a bit cramped feeling or twitchy, it’s not arthritis they just have done a good days work…to reward them and keep the skin in best condition I like to make my own hand balms, it’s a recipe I’ve used on and off for nearly 20 years…when I’ve had a lot on and have been somewhat neglectful of myself and my hands look a bit worn and aged then a few days of using this religiously morning, noon and night soon has them looking and feeling heaps better….although it keeps quite well, I prefer to make just a small amount at a time so I can vary which essential oils I use in it (though it works just fine if you don’t add them)…


cocoa butter

beeswax (I prefer the golden almost orangey kind rather than the white)

almond oil

essential oils*


In a bain marie (again I tend to use a glass pyrex bowl in a small saucepan that has about half an inch of water in it, and have it on a gentle heat) slowly melt a heaped teaspoon or so cocoa butter and a heaped teaspoon of beeswax…..stir gently with a small metal spoon.

Pour in a little almond oil, about 2 dessert spoons and gently warm…..remove for the heat and stir well.

Carefully transfer to a small sterilized glass jar.  Add your chosen essential oils if you are using them and stir with a clean wooden skewer or cocktail stick.  Allow to cool thoroughly before using…..

Rub in to your hands and fingers, pay particular attention to your fingertips and nail bed, and the skin between your fingers…rubbing this in is lovely and relaxing…the smell of the beeswax is just mmmm eye closingly nice, and it’s good for your fingers and hands as the heat from rubbing allows the oils to penetrate while encouraging the circulation in your hands to speed up a bit.

* I love using rose maroc oil (though it’s a bit pricey, a cheaper option is the gorgeous rose geranium oil…it’s fantastic smelling.  I also use lavender and thyme.  Another nice combination is regular geranium and lemon (although ladies of a certain age will recognize this as the smell of those little flat tubs of hand cream so beloved of Nanny’s in the seventies.)