How to Build the Perfect Bath
Design Your Own Perfect Bath
Just as there are cat people and dog people, there are bath people and there are shower people. Sure, we dog people might own a cat, and certainly we bath people have a shower -- but the cat is to catch mice, and the shower is purely for cleaning in a hurry. Dogs are our true soul mates, and baths are for our soul. I shower grudgingly, because I must; but when I soak in my blazing hot bath, immersed in scented water, I feel purified.
Don't just do a quick splish-splash and call it good. Indulge yourself. Design your perfect nightly bath. Want to feel wicked good? Have a wonderful hot afternoon bath, when no one else is around. It'll feel so decadent, you'll feel guilty.
Set the Stage
You don't have to have a huge bathroom, a claw-footed tub, and marble tile. It's nice, but it's not necessary. You can create your own bath-time refuge with a few simple (and inexpensive) tricks.
- Keep it clean! First and foremost, scrub your tub. Don't stop there -- give all the surfaces a good scrubbing. Let your chrome gleam and your porcelain shine. You don't want to be mid-soak and find that all you can focus on is the dust bunny hiding beneath the vanity.
- Remove the clutter. Books tend to congregate on my bathroom hamper. If anything will inhibit relaxation, it's clutter.
- Position your bath cushion where your head or back will most appreciate it.
- Wash your best, fattest, fluffiest towels, and dry them fully, using dryer sheets. You want everything to look, feel, and smell luxurious.
- Now, "stage" your bathroom. If you have any flowers blooming, cut a few blossoms and bring them in. Set them where you'll see them as you soak.
- Light the candles, turn on your music, pour yourself a beverage to bathe by, and run the water. Get ready to escape from reality!
Something to Sip
A truly great bath will appeal to all your senses -- sight, sound, sensation, scent, and taste. Select a beverage to suit the occasion and your own bath theme. Because your water will be hot, consider something cool -- perhaps a seltzer with a splash of lime juice, or an Izze's sparkling juice on ice (I like the blackberry). If you're focusing on health and nutrition, perhaps a Naked Green Machine will be your ideal refreshment. Occasionally, I indulge in a sip of Courvoisier (in a snifter, of course) during a cold winter evening.
If you're having a night-time bath and will be wanting to sleep immediately afterwards, avoid milk or other dairy products. The calcium will cause your muscles to contract and will contribute to insomnia. Restless legs? Avoid milk at night!
Bubbles or Salts?
What's your preference, bubbles or salts? If you love a luxurious bubble-filled tub, choose a "bath supplement" that satisfies your craving. Keep in mind, though, that salts offer a few advantages. Epsom salts will relax the muscles and alleviate soreness. They also contain magnesium -- and that will relax your muscles. Recent studies indicate that people who have soaked in epsom salt baths will absorb magnesium subcutaneously. This will help those with restless legs or that feeling that you just can't remain still when you're trying to sleep.
You can make an amazing, inexpensive bath salt compound of your own very easily. Mix one cup of epsom salts, one half cup of kosher salt, and one half cup of baking soda together. Pour under hot running water. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil combination -- I love Auracacia products, and have come up with my own "theme" recipes using their essential oils. For example, I have a combination I call "woodland mix" which is a few drops of Texas cedarwood, clary sage, and rosemary. I also make a "spice bath" occasionally, with cardamom, clove bud, and sandalwood. My "old reliable" mix is peppermint, lavender, and tea tree oil. Be creative!
Before you know it, you'll have developed a whole new understanding of how scents interact. Be aware that some essential oils are not recommended for pregnant women; others may cause photosensitivity, and others still may be irritants. Take time to do your research and find what works for you.
C'mon Baby, Light Your Fire
What can be more relaxing than a hot bath surrounded by candles? Dim the lights and let candles guide you! If you like scented candles, as I do, choose those that complement the aromas already involved. If you're having a spice-scented bath, consider a vanilla candle; for a rosemary-and-sage bath, you might want a juniper candle or a leftover Christmas pine candle.
Make sure that you use your candles safely. Watch for towels hanging in close proximity to the flame, and make sure you don't light your candles next to flammable cleaning or cosmetic products!
Are you a bathophile or a bathophobe?
Lend an Ear
I love rock music. I don't love it while I'm relaxing. For the ultimate home-spa experience, choose Carlos Nakai's Navajo flute recordings. You will thank me for it. The Native American flute has an ethereal quality that will soothe you as nothing else can. Shut off the rest of the world, and open your ears to the haunting tones of the Navajo flute.
If necessary, bring a portable player into the hallway outside your bathroom so you have the right combination of safety and good acoustics. No player available? Put your iPad nearby, find a Youtube selection of continual-play videos of the Navajo flute, and prepare yourself for a near-transcendant experience.
Splurge on Soap
Choose a good, milled soap. Not a shower gel, or a bath gel -- those are detergents. I'm talking soap --the way your grandma used to buy it. Good, well-made, scented, triple-milled bar soap. Do your community a favor and find a locally-made artisan soap to add some good karma to your good bath time. A well-made soap is a thing of beauty. You can find them not only in all your favorite essences, but with specific additives -- a friend of mine likes a pumice-scrub soap that has a "desert" scent; you might want a moisturizing soap, or even an astringent or exfoliating. I like variety: sometimes it's frankincense soap, often it's oatmeal-lavender, and I never tire of sandalwood or pomegranate. One of my great favorites is grapefruit-scented soap.
Personally, I don't care for glycerine soaps. They're an inferior quality to the rich, creamy milled soap made in the traditional manner. You might prefer them -- but if you haven't tried a GOOD hand-made artisan soap lately, now's a great time to give it a chance! Find your locally made soaps at arts and crafts festivals, small local boutiques, or farmers' markets.
Read All About It!
If you haven't yet learned to discipline your unruly mind, and the thought of just soaking without a TV blaring or a cell phone in your hand, break yourself in easily: take a book to the bathtub with you. Don't try to avoid the awfulness of reality by reading a true crime book, though, no matter how you enjoy them. Instead, reach for one of the classics. My recommendation for great bath-time fare? Jane Austen's Emma, or perhaps Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. If you've always meant to tackle Pride and Prejudice, or haven't revisited Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre in decades, here's your excuse.
Here's a hint: buy paperbacks.
Soak It Up!
Now you've got all the ingredients. Turn off your cell phone. Give the dogs rawhide chew bones to occupy them. Unplug the land-line and leave a "do not disturb" sign on the doorknob. Pour yourself a thirst-quencher, light a few candles, and put Carlos in the CD player.
Now, run that water and then dive in. Make sure you spend at least half an hour enjoying the experience. If you can't sit still that long, you need it more than you think. Concentrate on the music, the feeling of the bubbles or the softness of the mineral-laden water, and tell yourself how much you deserve the pleasure of a long, decadent soak in the tub. Don't come out until you've pruned up.
Indulge. Enjoy. Breathe. Relax. Emerge. Tomorrow: do it all over again.
Copyright (c) 2013 MJ Miller. All rights reserved.
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