In the So Many Fairies story “Fairy Feathers,” Anna loves the garden and the woods because that is where her best friends live — the fairies. But school is a different matter.
In school she feels alone and out-of-place. That is, until she has a remarkable dream about fairy feathers and the little itchy bumps that can come when the feathers fall out. Anna wakes with a case of the chicken pox and a new sense of herself at school.
Between dry winter air and summer bugs and poison ivy — even without catching the chicken pox, like Anna — a person can spend a good part of the year with itchy skin. For millennia, one way humans have solved that problem is by bathing in milk.
As far back as Cleopatra in Egypt, people have enjoyed the skin soothing properties of milk. In the recipes below — a milk bath powder and a milk soap — milk is combined with oatmeal for an extra punch of moisturizing goodness.
The powder is wonderful when you're at home and have time for a soak in the tub. The ingredients are probably already in your cupboard right now or can be picked up on a quick trip to the grocery store. If you have trouble finding full-fat powdered milk, check the international section.
If you don't have time for a bath or are using a camping shower house, the soap will also soothe. You will have to make a trip to the craft store for the soap base, but once you have it, the soap comes together quickly and easily. Other than using ordinary caution when the soap is hot, the whole process is safe and a great way to invite kids to help.
You can add a few drops of essential oil to either recipe to add scent, but I enjoy the clean smell of milk so much that I never bother.
This soap also makes a perfect gift, especially when paired with a homemade wash cloth or garden-grown loofa. Be warned, it's one of those gifts you'll be asked for again and again!
Milk and Oatmeal Bath Powder
½ cup oats
1 cup powdered milk (full-fat if you can find it)
¼ cup baking soda
Use a food processor to pulverize the oats. For this recipe, I like to break down the oats to as close to powder as possible, so that the powder washes down the drain easily when you're done with your bath.
Then, in a large bowl, mix the oat powder with the powdered milk and baking soda. Once the ingredients are combined well, funnel them into a large jar with a lid.
To use, sprinkle about 4 tablespoons in a tub of warm water.
Milk, Honey, and Oatmeal Soap
1 pound goat's milk melt-and-pour soap base
3 tablespoons honey
½ cup oats
Use a food processor to break down the oats, but don't fully pulverize them. For this recipe, the oats act as a gentle exfoliant, too, which works better if they're not completely turned to powder.
As you're processing the oats, cut the soap base into cubes and place them in a large, microwave safe bowl. Microwave the soap cubes for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until they're liquid. Add the oats and honey, and stir well to combine.
Then, pour the soap mixture into small silicone molds. If you don't have a mold, an ice cube tray will work fine, too. You can also make larger bars of soap, but I like to keep these small so that they're easier to take along for travel.
Put the filled molds in the fridge for about an hour, so that the soap can harden. Then, pop the soaps out, and let any condensation dry completely before packing them way in a cool, dry place.
If you liked this tutorial, here are others you might enjoy:
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.