Make Like Cleopatra!
February is a month that abounds with opportunities for lovely, simple pleasures. Oh yes, it is a grey month, it is still winter when it feels like winter has been forever already and I begin to think we may be living in Narnia; but February has so many treasures to offer, they surely outweigh a little bit of winter gloom.
Even the winter weather itself may be seen as a treasure if you look carefully. Oh I know it is horrible to have to get up in the dark, and if you are like me, go home in the dark and it seems like daylight never really happened. But this is the perfect invitation to create your own winter light. I like to scatter tea lights about the living room, and on my windowsill have two large pillar candles, a pot of narcissus that I am hoping will bloom any day now, and a bunch of daffodils that are full out and flaunting their glorious sunshine colours. Continue the theme in the kitchen, and treat yourself to a bag of oranges. How mundane oranges seem, until you see these lovely orbs of sunlight in your kitchen, or in a bowl in the living room. So many varieties, either proper big oranges, or the smaller clementines, mandarins, satsumas and more. My favourite thing at the moment is to peel an orange, sprinkle the segments with orange flower water, and pop in the fridge to chill before eating. I love the decadence of sitting on my sofa in the glow of candlelight, with a little pink bowl of these chilled segments, perhaps reading or just day dreaming.
Maybe ten years ago, one February. I found in a little second hand book shop a book by Vidal Sassoon and his then wife Beverley, called A Year of Beauty and Health. There was a maintenance plan of things you did every week or month, and then for each month there were ‘specials’ for your diet, figure, body or hair. And that is were I found this lovely idea, to make like Cleopatra and take a milk bath! I know, I know it sounds strange and odd, and to be honest I was convinced I was going to come out sticky the first time I tried it! But trust in it as I did, and take your turn at playing Queen of the Nile
For this adventure in the bathtub, you will need a pint of milk, some almond oil, a bottle of lovely body lotion, a loofah or similar, and lots of warm fluffy towels. Any little extras such as some pretty candles to burn, a good book or a magazine to read, or some violet creams will not go amiss, but are not essential. You also need to close your eyes and get into the idea of being a modern day Cleopatra! Don’t go as far as the asp, but certainly decide that for now you are the Queen of February and all its hidden delights. And now is the time to reveal your own hidden delight- baby soft skin that has been hiding under winter woollies.
First, run your bath, make it nice and warm- not too hot that you get bright red legs when you get in, but certainly nice and snugly. I tend to put a saucepan of water on to boil at this point, then call on my lovely fiancé to top me up when I start to get chilly! As the bath is pouring, tip in your pint of milk- whole, semi, skimmed, whatever you fancy, but organic is best. Add a splash of almond oil, and watch your tub fill with a silky cloud for you to relax in. Make sure the towels are on the radiator, and it is not too chilly in there- then when you are undressed, do dry brushing all over your body with the loofah. This is where you do nice long strokes along your limbs towards your heart and round little circles on your tummy. I can never reach my back, but oh, how I try! Then, rub generous amounts of body lotion in, and settle back in your bath. Close your eyes, think how nice it is to float about in your own warm little cloud, and imagine yourself Cleopatra. Have a nice soak for fifteen minutes or so, then get to work with the loofah or flannel again, buffing your elbows and knees especially. I like to shave my legs while I am about this, as it seems to make legs even more silky smooth. When you are all clean, hop out, pat yourself dry, but not bone dry, then rub in a second helping of body lotion.
The best thing to do now in my opinion is to get into a bed made up with fresh clean sheets and all smelling sweetly of lavender. As you lay there, you can feel your skin so soft against the covers, and you will feel amazing. All light, soft and silky. Now is the time to recline like the Queen of the Nile, relax, perhaps with some beautiful music, or a spoken word story, or maybe just peel another orange...
Lots of love, from Mimi!