by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa Owner
Yesterday, Homespunspa Mobile Spa was invited to give mini mani’s to new mothers at the MotherFest at Mothering Touch. It was a pre-Mother’s Day mini mani marathon for me and Ranjit and the nail polish was flying!
The most popular colour choice? Good ol’ Lucky Lucky Lavender. See if you can spot the bottle in the photo below.
Homespunspa's collection of nail polish colours.
The new mothers brought their babies to the event and had a choice of treating themselves to all kinds of pampering services from Thai Massage to Belly Painting to a Photoshoot. At one point in the afternoon, there must have been at least 60 babies in the store at once. It was truly an honour and a really joyful experience for me to be so close to so many infants at the same time. One was only three weeks old! So cute!
Anyway, back to the question at hand: Does Being Pregnant Make Your Nails Grow Faster?
As each of the women sat in front of me to get their nails filed and polished, I asked many of them, just out of curiosity, if they’re finding a difference in their nails now that they’re pregnant. The surprising answer was “Yes” and most, if not all of them, had noticed how much stronger their nails were and how much faster they grew while they were pregnant. One woman said, “It must be the prenatal vitamins we’re taking.”
Prenatal vitamins are designed to help ensure better health for fetus and mother. These vitamins and supplements contain high concentrations of folic acid, calcium and iron and low amounts of vitamin A. Some brands also include Omega-3’s and DHA.
As it turns outs, it’s not the prenatal vitamins that make the nails grow stronger and faster — it’s the pregnancy hormones that are key. During pregnancy, the woman’s body starts to produce a bigger batch of hormones than usual and these hormones have a number of tasks and responsibilities. For one, they boost circulation and send a constant deluge of vital nutrients to the skin, which in turn makes nails grow faster.
So that answers that.
If you’re a new mom and can’t keep up with trimming your nails during this special time and want a little treat for yourself, please call me, Maria, at Homespunspa. I’d be happy to come to your home and give you your choice of a manicure, pedicure, facial or massage at your convenience. And the beauty of a mobile spa is…you don’t have to worry about getting a babysitter because you’ll be within earshot of your little ones the whole time. And why not invite some friends over and make it a spa party?
Anyway, I’d like to take this moment to wish all of the moms and mother figures out there and especially my own dear mother, a very happy Mother’s Day. Cheers to you!
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 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
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
My Homespunspa Wellness Tour 2012 is starting in just a few days and I’m getting really excited about my trip. But while I’m away, I don’t want to forget about exercising and lose all of the ground I’ve covered in the last several months. And with American Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays coming up, I’m sure many of you will be tempted to let your exercise routine lapse while you’re travelling to different cities to visit family and friends. My advice: Now is not the time to slack off; try to find a way to include regular exercise in your daily routine throughout the festive season and beyond.
And if you need a little extra motivation to get off your butt and move your body, I recently heard the average person consumes 3000 calories on Thanksgiving Day. That’s a lot of delicious food! If you workout regularly, you’ll definitely avoid gaining unnecessary weight and you won’t need to make any New Year’s resolutions come January 1.
“So, how do I stay fit while travelling,” you ask? Well, as much as I’d like to bring my yoga mat, 12-pound weights and treadmill on the road with me, that’s not practical. My personal trainer, Jeanette, however, came up with a brilliant solution: Bring an elastic/ resistance tube and use it. That’s the tip to stay fit on your trip.
She suggested I bring my tube with me on my trip because it’s lightweight and fits in nicely in my suitcase and there are countless strength training exercises I can do with it wherever I go.
Jeanette told me I’ve lost almost 24 inches since May and I’m not about to undo all of that hard work by discontinuing my regular workouts. I plan on running, doing abdominal crunches and push ups and using my resistance tube often.
Before launching into the exercises, make sure you’re wearing proper fitness clothes, have a bottle of water handy and you warm up for 5 minutes to get your heart rate up. Also, remember to cool down and stretch when you’ve finished your tube workout.
Obviously, you’ll need a tube for these exercises. Mine is purple (of course) and has medium resistance. It also has a casing over it to protect me if the tube ever wears thin and suddenly snaps during a workout. I think it cost me around $30 at a local fitness supply store but I don’t remember exactly. I definitely recommend adding one to your home gym.
Of course there are dozens of strength training exercises you can do with a tube but I’m just going to highlight seven. I’m sharing these instructions and illustrations with Jeanette’s permission.
1) Elastic Double Overhead Press: Stand on the tube and hold the elastic in both hands with your arms at each side and your elbows bent. Push your arms over your head, keeping your elbows no higher than your ears. Return to the starting position. Do 12 reps and 2 sets. Maintain good posture and wrist alignment and exhale while pushing your arms up and inhale while bringing them back down.
2) Elastic Double Lateral Raise: Stand on the tube and hold the handles in both hands with your arms at your sides and palms facing forward. Lift arms to shoulder level, keeping your elbows straight, then lower and repeat. Do 12 reps and 2 sets. Exhale while lifting your arms and inhale while lowering them. Maintain good posture, abdominal contraction and wrist alignment.
3) Elastic Bent Over Crossed Row: Stand on the tube with feet hip-width apart. Take the end of the tube that is under your left foot with your right hand and the end that is under your right foot with your left hand making a criss-cross with your wrists. (I have to think about this every time). Bend your knees slightly and tilt forward from the hips. Pull up the elastic and raise your hands toward your waistline then return to start. Do 12 reps and 2 sets. Exhale when pulling the tube back and bending the elbow and inhale while straightening the elbow. Keep wrist aligned, abs contracted, and spine neutral.
4) Elastic Single Biceps Curl: Stand on the tube with feet outside hip-width apart. Grab the handle with palm facing forward, keeping your arm extended. Pull up while bending at the elbow and then return to start. Do 12 reps and 2 sets with each arm. Exhale as you pull the elastic and inhale on the return. Maintain good posture and keep the abs engaged and watch your wrist alignment.
5) Lateral Biceps Curl with Elastic (External Rotation): Stand on the tube with feet hip-width apart. Grasp handles. Arms are at each side and palms are facing away from the hips. Bend elbows and pull the tube until the hand reaches the shoulder. Lower the hand and repeat. Do 12 reps and 2 sets. Exhale when bending and inhale while extending the elbow. Maintain a space between the elbow and the side of the trunk, keep abs contracted and wrists in neutral position.
6) Elastic Trunk Sidebend: Stand on the tube with your right foot and hold the other end with your right hand. Bend to the left, keeping the elbow straight. Return to start. Repeat 12 times. Switch sides and repeat, bending to the right. (I just figured out I’ve been doing this one without following the instructions and bending the wrong way… oh well). Do 12 reps and 2 sets each side. Exhale when bending the trunk and inhale when straightening the trunk. Maintain good posture and keep abs contracted.
7) Standing Hip Abduction with Tube (Outer Thigh): Stand on tube with both feet together. Place your weight on your left leg. Keep your knee straight and raise your right leg to the side. Return to the starting position. Repeat 12 times. Switch sides and repeat with your left leg. Do 12 more reps and 2 sets each side. Exhale as you abduct your leg and inhale as you lower it. Maintain good posture and keep your ankle aligned in neutral.
I hope you get a chance to try out these tube exercises. I’m sure they’ll keep me busy and fit in the coming weeks. Let me know how things go and I’ll keep you posted on my progress during my Homespunspa Wellness Tour 2012. And thanks Jeanette for your great idea!
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
I’ve come up with a genius (if I do say so myself) idea on how to manage stress and I really want to share it with as many people as I can. I call it “stone throwing on the beach” and I highly recommend it to anyone who is feeling down and stressed and needs a pick-me-up.
So yesterday, I was feeling irritable and annoyed and in a moment of frustration, I threw a plastic dish scrubber down the stairs. That felt pretty good so I thought I’d throw a box of SOS pads down the stairs, also. It occurred to me that I should go and play some tennis or something to release more of my pent up negativity but I couldn’t think of anybody who would be available to play with me on short notice.
And then the light bulb above my head switched on and I thought of going to the beach just to throw stones into the ocean. Then I noticed (just from that insight) that my energy shifted and I started feeling better. I knew this was a good idea and I couldn’t wait to try my little experiment.
Lucky for me, I live on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so there are several beaches around here for me to choose from. I wanted a beach that was more rocky than sandy (for once) so I picked one in Sidney, BC. (If you don’t leave near the ocean, maybe you can go to a lake instead and try to count how many skips your flat stones make across the placid water).
The Stone Throwing Experiment
I arrived in the beach parking lot around 12:50pm. Except for the odd jogger, dog walker, crow and seagull passing by, I basically had the beach all to myself on this really bright and sunny summer afternoon. I went close to the ocean and said I prayer to get myself into a positive frame of mind and then started picking up stones that I thought had a nice shape and size.
My goal was to release and let go of any and all negative emotional blocks that were weighing me down and keeping me from getting ahead in life and living the life of my dreams. Yeah, I know, pretty heavy stuff.
I consider stone throwing a spiritual, emotional and physical exercise and I figured on a symbolic level, that the mighty ocean could absorb and dissolve my burdens.
Every time I bent down and picked up another rock (there were so many to choose from), I thought about a specific limitation that I wanted to get rid of (like the fear of trying new things, or expressing my true feelings, or losing 5 pounds of extra body fat) and then with my left hand (because I’m left handed), I hurled that stone as far as I could into the sea.
Some of my throws dropped into the ocean with a heavy plunk and some hooked far to the right. One of my throws didn’t even make it into the water and shattered into several pieces on the beach instead. I threw that one with my right hand and realized that the belief that I was thinking about at the time needed a few more rock throws to clear and a little more work.
Some of my throws were just beautiful and I could see the stone spinning like a flying saucer as it arced into the waves. In that case, I said to myself, “That was a good one.”
I had the song, “Walk on the Ocean” by Toad the Wet Sprocket replaying in my mind. I felt all kinds of emotions that I wasn’t expecting as I launched more and more rocks into the sea. There were a few moments of sadness in the mix but they didn’t last. Most of the time, I felt really joyful. I was having fun and I didn’t care who saw me. I’m sure they were wondering, “What is she doing?”
I don’t know how many rocks I ended up throwing into the ocean — maybe 50, maybe 100, I’ll never know because I lost count after 4, but eventually, I looked at my watch and to my surprise it was 1:50pm. I had been stone throwing for an hour! I knew at that point, it was time to go home.
Did my stone throwing experiment work?
Yes, I think so. I felt really good and dare I say, lighter than I had before. I didn’t have the energy to do much else later that day but I didn’t really care. I just relaxed. And that night, I slept like a rock.
Today, my arms and shoulders feel a little stiff. Earlier this morning, I had a chat with my personal trainer on Skype and the first thing she said to me was, “You’re looking really good today” (which she has never said to me in that particular tone before as far as I can recall) and she noticed that I had more confidence than usual. I told her about how I went to the beach to throw stones into the ocean and she thought my idea was “brilliant” and she had never heard of anyone doing that before. She said she’ll certainly recommend the idea to her other clients because it’s a physical activity and it lets you get back to nature. She also said, it was exactly what my body needed to do that day and she was glad I listened to it. I genuinely think she saw a positive difference in me and because of her feedback, I do believe this little idea has some therapeutic value. And it’s free so why not try it for yourself. It’s time to let go of your blocks and get on with your life.
Please leave a comment and let me know your experience with throwing stones into the sea. Here’s to letting go.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
As you may recall from my blog post, “Have you ever Spa’d at Sea? Part 1,” I went on a cruise to Alaska with my mom in June of 2012. It was a wonderful experience and a dream come true for me.
Here is the much anticipated, “Have you ever Spa’d at Sea? Part 2″ and today I’m going to blog about my visit to the Celebrity Century Cruise Ship’s, AquaSpa.
Homespunspa is a mobile spa, but a spa on a cruise ship takes “mobile” to a whole new level. Not only were we travelling at sea while I was getting my detox treatment, we had hit a major storm, with no end in sight, and things got pretty rocky for a while.
Images of the Aquaspa on the Celebrity Century Cruise Ship.
I don’t remember hearing any mention of a spa on the Love Boat in 1979 but I’m sure they must have had at least a hair salon on board. Nowadays, spas are a big part of the cruise experience and as an esthetician and lover all of all things spa, I needed to go “undercover” and do some “research.”
We were treated to a complimentary hot stone shoulder massage and tour of the spa and fitness facilities on the first day of our cruise. I didn’t realize how much tension I carried in my shoulders until I sat down for my mini hot stone massage. I wouldn’t give my free massage a 10 out of 10 because I felt like the spa therapist was spending way more time on my left shoulder than on my right and I noticed that although she started my massage after her co-worker started my mother’s massage, she finished my massage sooner. I’m just saying…
I briefly considered getting a full Aroma Stone Therapy Massage but I’m familiar with hot stones and wanted to learn something new. I was also tempted to get the Elemis Aroma Spa Seaweed Massage because I think seaweed is one of our planet’s most valuable treasures. Ultimately, I decided to go for the Ionithermie Treatment to firm, tone and detoxify my body.
Here is the write up on the spa menu: “An extraordinary treatment, developed by a French medical physician, proven to detoxify and visibly reduce the appearance of cellulite, stretch marks and guaranteed 1 to 8 inch reduction on the body after one single treatment…” One to 8 inches off my waist — I’ll take it! “Using active Red Algae and rich marine clay combined with gentle stimulation targeting the stomach, thighs, arms and abdomen.” Red Algae and marine clay? There’s my seaweed, sign me up!”
When I met with the spa therapist, I told her I was an esthetician and I wanted to learn about the Ionithermie treatment for myself and for my spa clientele. I told her I work out regularly and had lost 40 pounds a couple of years ago but have gained a lot of it back and would like to focus on my tummy. I also thought it might be a nice treatment to add to my mobile spa menu for my own customers. She said she would tell me as much as she could without revealing trade secrets.
She drew a diagram of a cell with arrows and told me how we are exposed to 40,000 toxins a day and these toxins interfere with maintaining a healthy body weight on a cellular level if they’re not dealt with efficiently. She recommended Ionithermie as a detox program but emphasized that people only need to detox once every 5 years to stay healthy.
My Ionithermie Appointment:
So there I was standing in the middle of the spa treatment room wearing a pair of disposable undies and a towel while a storm was brewing outside on the open sea. I was feeling uncomfortable because I’m a modest person, to put it mildly. My esthetician started by measuring my midriff, upper waist, natural waist, lower waist and upper hip. Then the spa therapist applied a cleanser to my tummy. Then she whipped up a big bowl of blue clay that was made with Algae, Ivy, Kelp and Guarana extract and that’s when things started to get interesting. She placed a tray on the bed and then poured the clay into the pan and spread it around as if she was icing a birthday cake. Then she strategically placed some electrodes in the clay and covered everything with something like a cheesecloth.
She told me to lie down with my back on the clay tray and then she placed the other ends of the electrodes near my belly button. She turned on the machine to see how strong a signal I could take. It felt like two centipedes were running across my stomach and then it felt like two thumbs were pressing on my tummy. So that’s what they meant by “gentle stimulation.” After a few minutes, it also felt like hands were pulling the skin on my abdomen to my left as if kneading dough. These odd sensations would repeat every 30 seconds for 30 minutes with an increase in intensity as the minutes clicked by and as more waves crashed against the side of the ship.
Once I was fully committed and couldn’t go anywhere in a quick hurry, I thought to myself, THIS IS SO WEIRD. Here I am on a cruise on my birthday, in my birthday suit, covered in clay and agreeing to have an electrical current zip through my body in the middle of a raging storm in the north Pacific Ocean. How did I get here?
After my treatment, I was re-measured and all in all I lost 2 and 3/4 inches off my waist in one session and this made me happy. Also, when I got home and was weighed by my personal trainer, I only managed to gain 1 pound during my cruise which also made me happy.
My Recommendations on a Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high):
- Would I recommend the AquaSpa on the Celebrity Century? — Yes (8)
- Would I recommend the Ionithermie Treatment? — Yes (7)
- Would I recommend the esthetician who administered the Ionithermie Treatment on the Celebrity Century? — Yes (8)
A little note on price:
It says on the spa menu that one session of Ionithermie is $159 US. However, when I received the printed statement in my cabin later that day, they added another $30 as some sort of a spa service charge to the total. There was no mention of any extra charges on spa treatments anywhere (not in the fine print, not when I booked my appointment). I was not impressed when I got the final bill and for that, the spa got dinged a point on my recommendations scale.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
“Have you ever been to sea, Billy?”
“No, Captain, Highliner.”
“Well, sometimes the waves get so high, you can’t eat your dinner…”
Does anyone remember that commercial for Highliner Fish and Chips from the late 1970’s? (Go ahead and YouTube it, it still holds up). Somehow and for some odd reason, I committed that little conversation to my memory. Maybe I liked it because my father was an officer in the navy and he spent a lot of time on the high seas during those years and the sailor reminded me of him. The ad campaign was also launched around the same time as “the Love Boat,” (my favourite tv show at that time), was on the air.
Anyway, because of these three little memories, let’s just say, going on a cruise has been a dream of mine for over 30 years. Well, that dream finally came true last month in June when I went on a cruise to Alaska with my mom.
We went on the Celebrity Century as part of a modern-day pilgrimage with our church (yeah, I know, you’re asking yourself, what kind of church do you belong to, Maria, and can I sign up? and throughout the cruise, I experienced a lot of inspiring moments that made me feel more happy and alive. I went zip-lining on the longest ziprider in the world at Icy Strait Point (Hoonah, Alaska), I saw the AWESOME Hubbard Glacier, and I danced with an officer, wearing my favourite silver disco shoes, in the “Dancing with the Stripes” contest.
Hubbard Glacier on June 13, 2012
I also ate a lot of delicious food. Yes, when you go on a cruise, expect to eat a lot because every dish looks so good and you feel like you have to try everything. One night during his show, the comedian even joked, “I won’t keep you folks much longer because I know you have to go to the dining room again and eat soon…” We all laughed because it was true.
All of this delicious food meant I had to have a game plan. I didn’t want to go home heavier. I decided to take the stairs whenever possible and going up 7 decks at a time made a difference. Also, my personal trainer said, “Take advantage of all of their state-of-the-art fitness equipment” and I’m proud to say that I did, but I must say, running on a treadmill on a choppy ocean is way more challenging than you might expect and you get a double workout with all of that extra balancing and compensating you have to do. Don’t believe me? Try running on sea legs for yourself and let me know what you think.
And, of course, as an esthetician, I had to sign up for at least one spa treatment while I was cruising. As we boarded the ship, we were handed a flute of champagne and were told the spa was offering free hot stone massages all afternoon and a tour of the spa facilities and after eating our first lunch, we headed straight to the Aqua Spa.
If you’d like to hear my review of the Century’s Aqua Spa and the spa treatment I signed up for, please read the blog post, “Have you ever Spa’d at Sea? Part 2″.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
When I tasted kale chips for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised. Kale chips have a light and crispy texture like potato chips (which I love) but are 10 times more flavourful and satisfying. One kale chip goes a long way. Kale chips are now officially added to my spa snack recipe book.
Kale is from the cabbage family and is related to broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and Brussels sprouts. Nutritionally, kale is very rich in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein and calcium. People all over the world have been eating kale since at least the middle ages. I highly recommend adding kale to your weekly menu to maintain your health and wellness.
Here’s a recipe for Kale Chips that my mother got from a friend’s daughter, who is a chef. When roasted, kale develops a very hearty, earthy and complex flavour and although it may not appeal to everyone, if you like it, eat it.
Kale Chips, my new favourite spa snack.
- 1 bunch Black Kale (Lacinato)
- 1 TB Olive Oil
- 1/4-1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder (optional)
Step 3: Cut out the stems of each leaf of kale.
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Choose fresh Lacinato or Black Kale over other varieties of kale because the flatter leaves will roast better. You can also try this recipe with seaweed or Swiss Chard and then let me know how it goes.
3. Cut out the rib/stem out of each leaf of kale. You can set the stems aside and use them in a vegetable stock, if you wish.
4. Rinse the leaves and dry them in a salad spinner. Place the leaves on 2 baking sheets.
Steps 5 & 6: Massage in the olive oil and salt and arrange on baking tray.
5. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Gently massage in the oil and salt and make sure each leaf is coated evenly.
6. Bonus step: While you’re there and have olive oil and sea salt on your hands (and this was my mother’s idea) give your hands a quick massage, too. Then rinse your hands with warm water. Your hands will feel softer after this impromptu spa treatment, I promise.
7. You can also go ahead and sprinkle on some garlic powder at this time, if you wish. I like the garlic, myself, but it really doesn’t make that much difference.
8. Arrange the kale leaves so they are lying flat and are not overlapping each other. Put the baking trays in the oven and roast at a low temperature for 1 hour.
Kale chips straight out of the oven.
9. When the timer goes off, remove the kale from the oven. After an hour, the leaves will have lost their moisture and will reduce in size and will become more brown. Go ahead and taste a healthy kale chip. What do you think? Different, isn’t it? But good, in its own way. Right?
Try serving kale chips to your friends during your next home spa party and see what they say. I’d be curious to know if they like the strong flavour or not. If nothing else, it will make for an interesting conversation. Here’s to your good health!
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
I’ve just come back home from a 3-day, dog-sitting retreat to White Rock. It was a great mini-vacation and exactly what I needed after a long (for west coast standards) winter. I really needed a change of scene and dog-sitting for Topaz, the high-energy Weimaraner, did the trick.
I took the ferry to the mainland on Tuesday afternoon. But earlier that day at 7am, as I was driving past a park in Sidney, a little bunny rabbit raced across the road about 2 car-lengths ahead of me. All I saw was a cotton tail and I slowed down immediately. Then I saw a big dog, who was off-leash, behind him. The dog didn’t actually cross the street but I could tell that he really, really, really wanted to go. He was looking at the bunny and then looking at his “mother” and then looking at the bunny and was debating about going on the road. His mother, of course, was throwing commands left and right telling him to stay, and somehow he obeyed her. But it was touch and go there for a minute. As I drove past, she just knodded and waved to me in thanks for being a cautious driver. I was thinking to myself, “Is this some sort of foreshadowing of the next 3 days with Topaz?”
As it turned out, Topaz was a lot of fun and did not pull any shenanigans like that, thank goodness.
I arrived in White Rock around 3:30. I stopped at a wine store because I wanted to try a wine that would work well with the theme of my trip. My sister-in-law is originally from Chile and she was the one who invited me to dog-sit for Topaz while she and my brother and their kids and her side of the family went to Whistler. When I buy wine, I like to get a story. I told the wine merchant that I like Merlots and am on a budget and he wisely recommended Eco Balance Carmenere from Chile. On the label it says, “E — Enjoy life to the fullest, C — Care for the world around you, O — Open and share with family and friends.” The wine was delicious and exactly to my taste (with a little bit of spice) and I highly recommend it.
Topaz is so funny when he sleeps. He’s a big dog (s0mewhere around 80 pounds) and takes up a lot of territory. I like watching him arrange his blankets and pillows just so. And once he finally gets comfortable and falls asleep, he starts dreaming. Have you ever seen a Weimaraner run all out in his sleep? It’s fun to watch but hard to sleep next to.
The next morning I fed Topaz and then waited a couple of hours for his breakfast to settle before I took him for a walk. We went to Sunnyside Acres, a lovely forest nearby. He knew exactly where we were going and got more animated the closer we got to the park. And then he got mad at me for missing the turn off. When I finally parked the van, he pushed me out the door and couldn’t wait to get going.
I haven’t walked a dog in years and was a little nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. Topaz lead the way down the forest path while I jogged behind. I was glad he knew his way around the “Chickadee Loop” because it looked all green to me. He probably travelled 5 times the distance that I did from all of his side trips. He’d dart up ahead and then sniff something and then I’d catch up and then he’d come up from behind me and race ahead again. Occasionally, we’d see some other people and they all said how handsome he is. And nobody could pronounce, Weimaraner, by the way.
After about an hour, we managed to find our way back to the parking lot. I was so happy Topaz came when I called him every time I asked. He also let me put him on a leash when we were close to the road. He’s not a big fan of the leash and tries to grab it and effectively walks himself, (which is amusing but counterproductive). Once we were able to run a few feet, we made a great team and I give running with a race dog a big thumbs up! Topaz is so strong and fast and he pulled me along the path which made me fun faster than normal and I could feel the rhythm of our pace.
When we got back home after our first walk, I was feeling pretty tired. I took a shower and then headed to the Semiahmoo Mall to buy some groceries and some lunch. I walked by the Alive Health Food store on my way to the food court and had a nice chat with Shannon who gave me some free samples of Emergen-C, a Vitamin C drink. I love it when I find exactly what I need before I know I need it. I think the Vitamin C gave me the boost I needed for the rest of the day. And for lunch, I had a smoked salmon roll that was made fresh just for me. I felt so healthy.
Aside from walking Topaz, I spent the rest of my retreat researching ingredients for the home spa skin care book I’m writing. Sometimes it’s hard for us writers to find the space to write and I thoroughly appreciated the quiet time during my retreat.
And then on my way home to Victoria, I unexpectedly bumped into an old friend on the ferry. We had a great talk and I think both of us were happy to re-connect. It was one of those fluky “meant to be” moments in life which are always fun. So all in all my 3-day, dog-sitting retreat was a great success and I’m so happy I did it.
My 1st piece of advice
My advice to anybody who wants to get in better shape — ADOPT A WEIMARANER! If I took Topaz out for an hour run every day, come rain or shine, I’d be in the best shape of my life.
My 2nd piece of advice
If you desperately need a vacation, but are on a budget, offer to dog sit for a family with a nice puppy. Dog-sitting retreats have many built-in rewards. Not only will you get off the couch, you’ll feel better after doing a kindness for another living being.
My 3rd piece of advice
If you ever get the chance, take a walk with a dog through a forest on a sunny spring morning after a rain storm. It’s a positively invigorating and magnificent experience.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Are you planning a spa party? Would you like to add some sparkle to your spa night? Why not add a few spa games to the menu alongside your facials, massages, mani’s and pedi’s?
Homespunspa Mobile Spa is quickly becoming a popular provider of spa services at spa parties all over Victoria, BC and I have lots of ideas on how to make your next spa party extra special and memorable. For more information on our pajama parties, please click here.
Here are some ideas for fun and relaxing spa games to keep your guests entertained and engaged throughout your party.
1) Top of Mind
I found this picture below from my archives. This photo was taken at one of the very first Homespunspa parties many years ago and I can’t for the life of me remember what I had the girls write on their heads. They’re obviously concentrating really hard — maybe they were drawing a map or the house they grew up in or both. The game was designed to help with memory (ironically) and motor skills but all I remember is, they should not have chosen such heavy textbooks to place on their heads.
2) Two Truths and a Lie
Have each guest write 3 facts about themselves on an index card but one of the 3 “facts” will be a lie. Place all of the cards in a basket and as each card is drawn, everybody else has to figure out a) who wrote the card and b) which statement is a lie.
When I first played this game on my second day of esthetics school, I wrote that I lived in Hawaii, I’ve sung live with Michael Buble and am distantly related to Pamela Anderson. Which do you think is false? I fooled most people and it was a great way to get to know my new classmates.
3) What I hate most about housecleaning
Obviously, this game is not appropriate for the tweens and teens, but it’s perfect for a bachelorette party. Have everyone write down their most hated housecleaning chore on an index card and explain the reason why. Everyone should write: “What I hate most about housecleaning is ______________ because _____________________________. Then substitute the question, “What I hate most about sex is…” and then take turns saying your answers out loud.
I played this game at a bridal shower once and my answer was, “cleaning the tub because of all the stretching and reaching.” There were a lot of laughs during that game.
4) Budding Journalist
Choose a bunch of funny photos such as this one below with the 2 cats and then have everyone at the party write witty captions to go along with them.
Write a caption for this goofy pic at your next spa party.
5) The Ha Ha Game
I haven’t played this game since the 80’s at summer camp although I don’t know why because it’s surprisingly ticklish from the inside out. Have all of your guests lie down on the floor. Each person will rest their head on another person’s belly. The first person will say, “Ha.” The second person will say, “Ha, Ha.” The third person will say, “Ha, Ha, Ha” and so on. You won’t get very far down the line because pretty soon everybody will be laughing hysterically for no reason. It’s a gas — laughing gas, that is!
Well, here’s my list of 5 spa party games to get you going. Please write a comment and let me know if you have any other ideas for spa games. I’ll make sure to add them to the list. The possibilities are endless. Cheers, Maria
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Have you ever had a job that wasn’t working out and you knew your days were numbered? I’ve been in that situation many, many times and the last time was back in 2009 when I was working for the provincial government. It was a good job in some respects but it was a hostile work environment also. I won’t go into the why’s and the who’s but I’d often come home quite upset and would waste my evenings and weekends rehashing the drama of the week in my mind. It’s one thing to think about work while you’re at work. It’s another thing to bring it home with you and think about it while you’re not working and not getting paid for it. Am I right?
Because of all of the unpleasantness in the office, I was trying to figure out a way to leave my job gracefully. I kept on going online to check out some schools and courses to upgrade my skills to help me launch a new career. It was my way of escaping reality ever so briefly. I knew there was something more for me but I didn’t know what that was. I had my eye on a massage school that I almost applied to many years before and kept on going back to the website on my lunch hours.
Then on one inspired weekend in August, I got an idea. Why not look at the textbooks of the programs I was interested in to see which subjects appealed to me most? Textbooks are notoriously boring — *hello insomniacs — and if you can read one subject with enthusiasm and pour over the pages as if they were the Legend of the Holy Grail, you know you’re on the right track. So I went to the University bookstore just as classes were starting for the year and found my section: HEALTH.
Among the dozen or so titles on the shelves, one book in particular jumped into my hands: Spa Bodywork A Guide for Message Therapists by Anne Williams. I loved the green clay masque on the woman’s back on the cover and thought, “I want to know how to do that!” I quickly flipped through the pages and decided to buy the book on the spot even though I wasn’t enrolled in any school. (I still feel a little bit guilty for buying a textbook from another student and I hope there were enough copies for everyone who needed one).
As it turned out, I got layed off from the government job a few short weeks later. But I didn’t end up going to massage school; I went to esthetics school instead. Funny how things work out. But my Spa Bodywork textbook still gets to live on the top shelf and I still give it credit for helping me turn the page and start a new chapter in my life.
Anyway, back to my old job that wasn’t a good fit for me. At that time, I wasn’t in the habit of doing any nurturing or pampering home spa treatments on myself even though I knew a thing or two about the subject. I wish I had been more kind to myself during that stressful time and that’s why I’m writing this post called, “It’s Footbath Friday.”
I’d like to encourage all of the people out there who are working hard at their jobs — especially if they’re not living the dream — to soak their weary feet in a footbath every Friday night. Start tonight. Pour yourself a glass of wine or make yourself a pot of tea and pop some popcorn. Then dip your feet in a lovely, warm and aromatic foot bath and you’ll be well on your way to a better mood. Footbaths are a perfect way to release the negativity from the past week. And then you won’t drag all of that B.S. into your weekend and you’ll be able to start work on the following Monday on a better foot, so to speak. Just relax and pour that tension down the drain and forget about it. Start the weekend fresh.
These days, I’m writing my own ebook and I plan on publishing it in a few months. For my research, I read the chapter on Ayurveda (a subject I became familiar with in esthetics school) in the Spa Bodywork textbook and I found some useful recipes for footbaths that were inspired by the Ayurvedic tradition that I’d like to pass on to you.
Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old, traditional medicine system and philosophy from India that offers keys for creating harmony and balance in life. Many Western spas have adopted elements of Ayurveda into their spa treatments because of the focus on positive life choices, relaxation, exercise, detoxification and spirituality. In a nutshell, Ayurveda is based on the belief that everything in the universe is composed of 5 elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. Specific combinations of the 5 elements form the 3 doshas which are: vata, pitta and kapha. Each individual is made up of a combination of all 5 elements and all 3 doshas and that formula or recipe, for lack of better words, will show up in their body type, mental and emotional disposition, and personality.
You can find out which dosha you favour the most by answering the questions on my Ayurvedic Questionnaire page on my website or Googling Ayurvedic quiz. I recommend Dr. Deepak Chopra’s website and Dosha Quiz for a quick response. Then you’ll know which footbath recipe below will be the most balancing and beneficial for you. Recognizing when you are out of balance and making choices to correct the imbalances will keep you healthy and will keep stress and disease at bay.
Vata Foot Bath (Spa Bodywork page 217) (Infinity and Air elements)
“(Using herbs recognizable to Western therapists). Fill a muslin bag with ½ cup of mixed herbs that include ground ginger, sandalwood, eucalyptus leaf, calamus [a.k.a myrtle grass or sweet grass] and basil. Cover this bag with boiling water and allow it to steep for 20 minutes while it cools. Add cool or hot water as needed to adjust the temperature for the foot soak.”
Pitta Foot Bath (Spa Bodywork page 218) (Fire element)
“Fill a muslin bag with ½ cup of mixed herbs that include chamomile flowers, lavender flowers, peppermint and lemongrass. Cover this bag with boiling water and allow it to steep for 20 minutes while it cools. Add cool or hot water as needed to adjust the temperature for the foot soak.”
Kapha Foot Bath (Spa Bodywork page 220) (Water and Earth elements)
“Fill a muslin bag with ½ cup of mixed herbs that include basil, ground ginger, eucalyptus leaf, and common sage leaf. Cover this bag with boiling water and allow it to steep for 20 minutes while it cools. Add cool or hot water as needed to adjust the temperature for the foot soak.”
Thank you Anne Williams for sharing your wisdom in your Spa Bodywork A Guide for Message Therapists textbook and for inspiring me to follow my bliss. I hope this blog post inspires people to enjoy a Friday night foot bath and to change their circumstances if they don’t match the dream.