Happy World Coconut Day!

Posted by Maria on September 2, 2014 under Aromatherapy, Ayurveda & Elemental Nature, Gift Ideas, Green Living, Guest Bloggers, Home spa, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way book, Newspapers and Newsworthy, Nutrition, Photo gallery, Recipes, Seasonal, Self-Care, Skin Care, Sponsors, Uncategorized, Wellness | Be the First to Comment

By Maria Alexandra Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
& Laura Benvenuto, guest blogger

Did you know that September 2nd is World Coconut day?

Coconuts (Cocos nucifera) are one of the world’s most nourishing, versatile and popular foods and to celebrate World Coconut Day, I’ve teamed up with Laura Benvenuto of Truth be Told New York and Nutiva in this blog post to showcase the many wonderful health benefits of coconuts.

From my research, I’ve found many fun facts and interesting applications for coconuts.

First of all, the word “coconut” comes from “cocos,” a 16th century Portuguese & Spanish word that means “grinning face.”

COCONUTS AND COCONUT WATER, JUICE, MILK

  • Home spa recipes: cleansers, refiners, creams, lotions, moisturizers, soaps, spa snacks.
  • Role in cosmetic formulation: abrasive, skin conditioning, emollient, hair conditioning, humectant, masking.
  • Face: Add to facials to soften, exfoliate, protect skin, strengthen elasticity, promote healing, fade age spots, and minimize acne scars.
  • Skin Types: Use especially on AGING skin.
  • Food: Eat for nutrition and to quench thirst.
  • Balances: Sacral (2nd) Chakra. Calms Vata (Infinity/Air), calms Pitta (Fire), and increases Kapha (Water/Earth) Doshas.
  • Native Region: Tropical and sub-tropical countries worldwide.
  • Find: grocery stores, health food stores.

COCONUT OIL

Emollient Coconut oil is moisturizing to the skin and the scent can whisk your imagination off to a tropical beach. It’s also considered one of the “super foods.”

  • Home spa recipes: cleansers, make up removers, creams, suntanning lotions, moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners, massage oils, soaps.
  • Role in cosmetic formulation: emollient, skin conditioning, hair conditioning, masking, solvent.
  • Face: Add to facials to cleanse pores, remove make-up, moisturize, soften, protect, and heal skin, to reduce the signs of aging skin, relax facial expression, de-stress, for fragrance.
  • Skin Type: Use especially on DRY & SENSITIVE skin types.
  • Massage Oil: Add to massage oil to relax, to condition, soften and cool skin, for sun protection, for anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties, to carry ingredients and for scent.
  • Body: Use in body care products to moisturize and cleanse skin and as suntanning lotion.
  • Hair: Apply to hair as lathering agent to revitalize hair, curb dandruff, cleanse hair, condition normal, dry or damaged hair, and inhibit static.
  • Soap: Add to soap recipes for lather.
  • Food: Use as a delicious and nutritious cooking oil as it contains Lauric Acid, one of the good fats.
  • Balances: Sacral (2nd) Chakra. Calms Vata (Infinity/Air), calms Pitta (Fire), and increases Kapha (Water/Earth) Doshas.
  • Native Region: Tropical and sub-tropical countries worldwide.
  • Find: grocery stores, health food stores, online.
  • Caution: 1) Solidifies and melts according to room temperature. 2) Can irritate skin for some. 3) May be drying to skin. 4) Do not confuse with hydrogenated coconut oil.

Nutiva’s products (including Coconut Oil, Coconut Manna, O’Coconut, and Coconut Sugar) can be used to enhance a favourite recipe or make a DIY beauty product. All of Nutiva’s products are non-GMO and organic and certain products are vegan-friendly or have low-cholesterol.

Below are two of Nutiva’s most popular DIY summer beauty recipes.

Home Spa Recipe #1: Ocean Hair Spray

Use this ocean-in-a-bottle spray for gorgeous beach hair. Salt water provides texture and coconut oil provides moisture and nourishment for dry hair.

Ingredients

  • 3 tsp Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil
  • 4oz Purified Water, warm
  • 3 tsp Sea Salt
  • 4 drops Rosemary Essential Oil

Directions

  1. Put coconut oil in an 8 oz canning jar and place in a pan filled with several inches of water. Melt the coconut oil over low heat.
  2. Meanwhile, fill an 8 oz spray bottle about ¾ full with warm, purified water and add the sea salt. Stir until the sea salt is dissolved in the water.
  3. Use a funnel to add the coconut oil and essential oil to the spray bottle.
  4. Shake the bottle to blend, then fill to the top with purified water.

Yields 8 oz. Sometimes the oil solidifies. If this happens, run the bottle under hot water to melt. Shake the product and it’s ready to use.

To use: Shake the bottle and spray 2 to 5 pumps on damp hair. Try different amounts to see what works best for your hair.

Home Spa Recipe #2: After-Sun Calming Balm

A soothing blend of coconut oil, shea butter, calendula, aloe and lavender to calm the skin after spending time in the sun. Shea Butter is available at most natural foods stores.

Ingredients

  • 6 Tbsp Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 cup Shea Butter
  • 1/4 cup Aloe
  • 2 Tbsp Calendula Oil
  • 1 tsp Vitamin E oil
  • 25-60 drops *Lavender Essential Oil

*Note: Lavender is well known for its skin healing properties and is especially soothing for burns. Be sure to use lavender and not lavendin, which can actually cause more inflammation.

Directions

  1. In a double boiler over low heat, gently warm the coconut oil and shea butter. Be careful not to melt the oil and butter — heat just enough to blend easily. Once incorporated, transfer the oil and butter mixture to a bowl.
  2. Using an electric mixer, blend the coconut oil and shea butter mixture on low to medium speed until well incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and avoid having clumps in the final product.
  3. Add calendula, aloe vera and vitamin E oil. Blend for 3 to 5 minutes until thick and creamy.
  4. Add essential oil and blend to incorporate.

Yields 8oz. Transfer to a container like a wide-mouth canning jar for easy scooping. Keep out of direct sun as the oils and butter will separate if melted.

Thank you, Laura, for sharing these lovely home spa recipes that include coconut oil.

Please let us know in the comments how these recipes have worked out for you or if you have any other ideas on how to celebrate World Coconut Day.

Happy World Coconut Day!

Win a Guest Spot on My New Show on VoiceAmerica

Posted by Maria on June 22, 2014 under Aromatherapy, Ayurveda & Elemental Nature, Books, Magazines, Music, Energy Healing, Esthetics School, Fitness, Gift Ideas, Home spa, Homespunspa, Homespunspa Wellness Tour, Meditation, Mobile Spa, Newspapers and Newsworthy, Nutrition, Photo gallery, Self-Care, Skin Care, Sleep, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Spirituality, Sponsors, Stress Management and Relaxation, Supernatural Spa on VoiceAmerica, TV Shows & Movies, Travel, Uncategorized, Weight Management, Wellness, Yoga | Read the First Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

I’m about to live a dream I’ve had for most of my life.

Let me take you back to the mid-80’s when I was 15 or 16 years old. One summer, I went to a tennis camp in upstate New York and one of the girls I met there, Raisa, was from Chicago and she told me that she once saw this woman called, “Oprah Winfrey,” in the airport and that was the most famous person she had ever seen. I hadn’t heard of Oprah at that point but for some reason I made a mental note. Raisa said, “keep an eye out for her because some day she’ll be a household name.”

Wow, did she ever call that one!

A few months later, Oprah’s talk show went national and my mom and I watched her show at 4pm in the afternoons. The Oprah Show, among other talk shows of the era, inspired me and my friends to pretend we had our own talk show and we would interview each other and sing songs and laugh at our own goofiness. I think we also recorded our shenanigans on the technological marvel of the time, VHS!

I didn’t mention Oprah because I’m about to meet her – that’s not the dream I’m talking about – though fingers crossed, maybe I’ll meet her some day :) .

I mentioned Oprah because to me, she’s a great communicator and she has been one of the touchstones of my life. Someday, I’d like to thank her in person for paving the way for people like me and for showing the world how important good communication is in the grand scheme of things.

Back to my story. Also while I was in high school, I went on a weekend retreat. At some point, everybody had to go to the front of the room and speak to the group and share their story. That was a turning point moment for me because when I stood at the podium and spoke to everyone and made them laugh, I discovered that I actually like public speaking!

I think my dream of being a professional speaker was born in my teens but as my life continued, the dream somehow never got off the ground in spite of my many attempts.

Fast forward a few years to the early ‘90’s – this was before the Internet! I was in University studying English. One weekend, I dragged my friends to a Psychic Fair and I sat down with a man called, “Ravenhawk.” He told me that he saw me having my own radio show one day. Before he could finish his thought, I interrupted him, which ticks me off to this day, but those words have always stuck with me.

The following year, I took a speech course at University and it was by far my favourite class of my entire degree.

A few years later, I almost went to Broadcasting school, which I should have done in hindsight, but that didn’t work out.

I’ve also been a member of Toastmasters and may return soon.

So that’s basically my history with public speaking. I like to joke that I’m taking the extended milk run toward my dream.

I think Ravenhawk said the radio show won’t happen till my early 40’s and I wish he had said something like “have patience” and “don’t try to force it” because the timing won’t be right sooner.

Well, I’ve just turned 45 and things are coming together for me. The pieces of the puzzle are taking shape.

Suddenly my dream of speaking to an audience is within reach because a few months ago, out of the blue, I got an email with the subject line, “Speak up, the World is Listening!”

Those words struck me like a lightening bolt.

And now I’m ready to make my announcement.

This is brand new information and you are among the first to know.

I have a new radio show called, “Supernatural Spa” on VoiceAmerica starting in the autumn! I’m so excited, I can hardly contain myself!

I’m going to be talking about how spas are designed to stimulate the senses and elicit the relaxation response. I’m going to interview all kinds of holistic practitioners for tips on how to manage stress and lead a healthier life.

But wait, there’s more…

To get the ball rolling for my show and to introduce myself to more people, my executive producer and I have come up with a really fun and unique idea! I’ve combined my education and all of my life experience, work experience, talents, skills and interests and my entire heart and soul to create a Stress Relief VIP Spa Day!

You're invited to a stress relief VIP spa day.

The Stress Relief VIP Spa Day is a full day, intensive, one-to-one spa appointment and as the owner of Homespunspa Mobile Spa, I’ll bring the spa experience to you in five different sessions over the course of one day.

You can choose either the Face-to-Face VIP Spa Day or the Virtual VIP Spa Day.

But wait, there’s more!

And when you sign up for the Stress Relief VIP Spa Day in the next three days – this is where things get really special – as a bonus, you will be entered in a draw to win one of four guest spots and be interviewed by yours truly, Maria Koropecky, about your success story, on my show, on VoiceAmerica’s Health and Wellness Channel. I know! Isn’t that amazing!

Win a Guest Spot on my new show on VoiceAmerica

To find out more about me, Maria, and the Stress Relief VIP Spa Day, I’d love for you to watch my short video series on my YouTube channel, “Homespunspa.” The links are also at the top of the “VIP Spa Day” page on homespunspa.com.

To register right now for the Stress Relief VIP Spa Day and get the amazing chance to win a guest spot on my Radio Show, call me, text me, or email me and leave a message saying, “Yes, Maria, I’m interested in hearing more about your Stress Relief VIP Spa Day.

I will promptly return your call to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you for your interest in my story. I’m looking forward to this new chapter in my life and I hope you join the conversation.

Can’t have your Dairy and Yogurt too?

Posted by Maria on April 17, 2013 under Books, Magazines, Music, Ingredients, Nutrition, Photo gallery, Self-Care, Skin Care, Sponsors, Uncategorized, Weight Management | Read the First Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

I love yogurt. I used to eat a bowl full of plain, no-fat yogurt with blueberries, cinnamon and ground flax seeds along with half a toasted English muffin, slathered with margarine, plus cup of coffee with milk every morning for breakfast.

That was my stand-by for years because it was quick, easy, tasty and filling and I didn’t have to think about it. Life was good. But things change. I have decided — after watching JJ Virgin on Public TV — to see what would happen if I followed her advice and took soy, peanuts, sugar, eggs, corn, dairy and gluten out of my diet for three whole weeks. I was hoping to lose some weight and clear some skin issues. As an esthetician, I know about the relationship between good nutrition, good digestion, and healthy body weight and healthy skin and I knew the food I was eating wasn’t doing me any favours.

I knew it would be challenging to avoid bread for a few weeks. That was a given. Soy has proven to be very challenging because it seems to find its way into everything — especially gluten-free stuff — and it was in my margarine which I wasn’t aware of until I read the label. Eggs, corn and peanuts are probably the easiest, though I do like my popcorn, sunny side up eggs on Sundays, and celery with peanutbutter. I had given up dairy before and I knew what that was all about so I wasn’t too concerned about things like cheese, butter and ice cream. The yogurt, though, was closest to my heart and I was most sorry to see it go.

I didn’t think I could have my dairy and yogurt too but I’m happy to say I was wrong about that.

JJ Virgin suggested replacing dairy yogurt with coconut yogurt. I thought that was too good to be true. And what were the chances of being able to find this stuff in Canada?

Much to my surprise, I found “Cultured Coconut Milk” at a nearby Planet Organic and it was on sale! I was so excited!

bowl of cultured coconut milk or coconut yogurt.

Bowl of cultured coconut milk or coconut yogurt with blueberries for breakfast..

When I saw the containers of cultured coconut milk in the refrigerated dairy section of the grocery store, I picked one up and quickly read the label: Dairy free and Certified Gluten Free. Check, check. The ingredients include: coconut milk, water, organic coconut cream, chicory root extract, organic dried cane syrup, rice starch, pectin, tapioca, kelp, magnesium, locust bean gum, live cultures, guar gum, carrageenan and monk fruit extract. A serving of 175 grams has 140 calories, 5 grams of fat, 0 cholesterol, 135 mg’s of sodium, 23 grams of carbs (9 grams of fibre and 7 grams of sugar), 2 grams of protein, 0 vitamins A or C, 35% Calcium and 6% Iron.

Sounded good to me.

I couldn’t wait to taste it so I bought the coconut yogurt and tried some as soon as I got home.

Another pleasant surprise! Coconut yogurt tastes really good. Although I’m not a Top Chef Canada judge, I really think So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk is a winner. It’s really thick, rich, creamy and smooth. It’s even thicker than no-fat Greek yogurt. The taste of the coconut is strong but it isn’t overly sweet. And this brand comes in different flavours but I’m happy with the plain. Unfortunately, it’s a bit on the expensive side. When compared to regular yogurt, the coconut yogurt container is smaller and costs as much, if not more. I may not have it everyday but I’ll have it often enough.

So far I’m on week two of the Virgin diet. I can’t say I’ve seen any difference at this point in terms of my weight and my skin but I’m pretty sure I’ll see a slight improvement at the 3-week mark. I’ll keep you posted. Finding the coconut yogurt was definitely the highlight of this entire exercise.

Have you tried to tried coconut yogurt? Did you like it? Please leave a comment.

Have you tried to avoid certain foods to see if you have issues with them? Have you read the Virgin Diet book and are thinking about taking a vacation from soy, peanuts, sugar, eggs, corn, dairy, and gluten? If so, let me know.

Till next time, Maria

Mani & Pedi Pledge Drive for Earthquake Relief

Posted by Maria on April 7, 2011 under Feet, Gift Ideas, Hands and Nails, Manicures, Mobile Spa, Newspapers and Newsworthy, Pedicures, Photo gallery, Sponsors, Uncategorized | 12 Comments to Read

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Walking on the beach.For the month of April, 2011, I am offering mobile mani’s and pedi’s by donation and the proceeds will be given to the Canadian Red Cross.

The cost of the manicure or pedicure is up to you. My goal is to raise at least $500.

The idea for this mani and pedi pledge drive came to me in bits and pieces. For the last couple of months, I’ve been having a hard time coping with day to day life and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan didn’t help. My anxiety was getting the better of me. Then I had a really bad day at work. It all started with a bad smell and got worse from there. It’s a long story that I won’t get into but as a result, I was consumed with self-doubt and I didn’t know what to do next. I had to ask myself, “Do I give up and quit everything that I have been working towards or do I (as the old song goes) pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again?” Between you and me, I wasn’t sure which way that coin would land. Thankfully, there were a lot of people (friends and strangers) who showed me tremendous kindness during that rough patch and I will forever be grateful.

Then I volunteered to give my friend a pedi for her birthday. I went to her house on Saturday morning and gave her a birthday pedicure. She chose OPI’s Austin-tatious Turquoise and it looked really good. She was so happy and said, “What a great thing to be able to do for people.” At that moment I realized I do have something to offer the world. It felt really good to do something nice for someone else without any expectation of a return and it took me out of my woe-is-me headspace long enough to shift focus to the bigger picture.

I had to be reminded that what I’ve been going through doesn’t compare with what others are experiencing around the world. Something clicked and now I am hoping to pay the kindness I received forward and help people work through their challenges one step at a time, whether it’s dealing with the aftermath of an earthquake in Japan or with something more personal on a smaller scale closer to home. We’re all connected.

If you’d like to participate in this charity fundraising event for the Red Cross and Earthquake Relief for Japan, please post a comment on this blog or send me an email. I’d be happy to book an appointment with you. As an added bonus, Homespunspa is mobile, so I’ll come to your house. Feel free to check out the nail polish colours on the OPI website and let me know which ones you prefer and I’ll make sure I’ll have those colours available when it comes to polish time.

Thank you for your generosity.

See you in April.

Take your iPod to the Spa

Posted by Maria on February 26, 2010 under Aromatherapy, Books, Magazines, Music, Gift Ideas, Meditation, Photo gallery, Pop-Psychology, Sleep, Sponsors, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized, Wellness | Read the First Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

I love my iPod. Admittedly, when I found out my new car had an iPod jack on the dash, I was sold. I have access to 14.2 days of music and a playlist for every mood.

According to Spa Finder, the Global Spa & Wellness Directory, “high tech” is one of the top spa trends in 2010. Apparently, some people are gravitating to spas that allow them to listen to their iPod while getting a massage.

At first blush, the idea of using techno gadgets in a natural spa setting sounded a little counter-intuitive to me, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized technology and gadgets may have a place in spa land.

Originally, I was concerned that the relationship between the customer and the massage therapist, would be compromised because a big part of going to a spa and getting a spa treatment is interacting with the people who work there and not tuning them out. But some people aren’t chatty and don’t want to engage in small talk. Personally, I never want to chit chat during a massage and I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I always close my eyes and listen to the music when I get my hair washed at the hair salon. For those five minutes, I just want to relax and soak it all in.

I guess it all depends on the treatment you’re getting. Like if you’re getting a face-to-face, hands on manicure or pedicure then maybe leave your iPod at home. And by all means, don’t even think about your Blackberry or cell phone. Texting is a sure fire way to wreck a fresh manicure. And this is your time to relax. The outside world can wait.

I probably wouldn’t bring my iPod to a massage simply because it’s one more thing to drag around and one more thing to accidentally forget and leave behind. Hello, high tipper. And where are you going to put it while you’re receiving your treatment?

On the other hand, if I were to bring my iPod to the spa, I have a few ideas on what the soundtrack would be. For a spa-like ambiance, I’d pick my aromatherapy playlist, with titles like “Awaken the Senses,” “Eternal Wave,” and “Lavender Mist.” Over the years, I have collected several spa-themed cd’s to help me relax and fall asleep. The (often instrumental) music is gentle and soothing and may have overlapping layers of nature sounds like waves rolling onshore or birds chirping in the trees, for added comfort. I’m actually listening to “Natural Sleep Inducement” right now as I write. Yawn and stretch.

Of course you can’t go wrong with Enya. Her music will whisk you off to the Caribbean in no time.

If, however, world music isn’t your cup of tea, and you prefer white noise or selections that have been specifically designed to help you reach a deep, meditative state, then I recommend Holosync from Centerpointe. I have been listening to their cd’s for years and really enjoy them. Check out Holosync through my banner “Meditate like a Zen Monk at the push of a button” in the sidebar to get your free demo. I think listening to Holosync while getting a massage would be a stellar combination.

More and more, people are bringing their iPods to the spa.

More and more, people are bringing their iPods to the spa. Photo by Maria Koropecky.

What do you think? If given the choice, would you prefer to listen to your iPod while receiving a spa treatment like a massage? Do you think your iPod would enhance your spa experience or would it get in the way? Would you pick a spa that said “thumbs up” to iPods over one that didn’t? Please leave a comment, I’m curious to know your thoughts on this topic. And if you’re a spa tech or massage therapist or an esthetician, I’d like to hear your opinions too.

What’s on your Christmas wishlist — how about a home spa book?

Posted by Maria on November 28, 2009 under Aromatherapy, Books, Magazines, Music, Gift Ideas, Home spa, Ingredients, Pets, Sponsors, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized | 2 Comments to Read

By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Books, books and more books. Someone asked me if I was an “information junkie” the other day and I had to raise my hand and say “yes.” I love books.

In this post, I would like to recommend five fabulous home spa books that I have in my own library that you can get online through Amazon. Shopping online is a less stressful way of getting all of your Christmas shopping done because you don’t have to fight the weather and the crowds. You just have to be organized and get it done early enough to have things shipped on time.

Book recommendation #1: Home Spa

My mother gave me a book simply called Home Spa by Anne Harding and Janice Biehn. I was delighted when I read the names of the authors because I went to school with one of them. Janice and I worked on the student newspaper together. The authors talk about how to remedy stress with nutrition, exercise, massage, aromatherapy, skincare and show you how to organize your own day at the home spa. It’s an excellent reference.

Book recommendation #2: Fragrant Herbal

Crabtree and Evelyn’s Fragrant Herbal, Enhancing Your Life with Aromatic Herbs and Essential Oils by Lesley Bremness is one of my favourite home spa books. I can remember when I first discovered the Crabtree and Evelyn store when I was in high school. I couldn’t get enough of the peach and apricot bubble bath. My sister-in-law gave me this book for Christmas many years ago and it has been my go-to book for inspiration ever since because flipping through the pages whisks me off to an English garden. It’s a definite “must have” in your library.

Book recommendation #3: Herbal Teas

Herbal Teas, 101 Nourishing Blends for Daily Health & Vitality by Kathleen Brown and Jeanine Pollack is a book I refer to again and again. Not only do they give unique recipes, they summarize the health benefits of all of the plants involved. My favourite recipe is the Anxiety B-Gone Tea because of the lemon verbena.

Book recommendation #4: Making Natural Liquid Soaps

Learning how to make soap, especially liquid soap, is on my to-do list. I recently bought Making Natural Liquid Soaps by Catherine Failor and can’t wait to dive in. Wouldn’t it be great to learn how to make your own herbal shower gels, conditioning shampoos, moisturizing hand soaps and luxurious bubble baths? There’s even a chapter on dog shampoos!

Book recommendation #5: The Herbal Home Spa

The Herbal Home Spa, Naturally Refreshing Wraps, Rubs, Lotions, Masks, Oils, and Scrubs by Greta Breedlove is one of several in a series by different authors from Storey Books, including the Essential Oils Book, the Herbal Home Remedy, Natural BabyCare, The Natural Soap Book, Milk-Based Soaps and the Herbal Body Book. I’ve learned a lot from these books over the years.

If you would like to see more home spa books, music cd’s or videos, browse through my Amazon store. If you can’t click through from here, try going to my Fantastic Gifts Ideas page on my website, www.homespunspa.com and click on the Amazon Store link, under Accessories, to the right. Of course, you can always go straight to Amazon through my affiliate link located on the sidebar of this blog and do a search that way. There are many books to choose from on this topic and I’m confident you’ll find something of interest. Happy shopping!

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