by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Here’s a natural home spa recipe for those of you who’d like to have honey sweet, super smooth and petal soft lips tonight and every night. Nobody likes chapped lips and they’re easy enough to get, especially in winter. They’re also easy enough to fix. I hope you enjoy this recipe and the pun in my graphic.
Homemade Berry Exfoliator for Smoother and Softer Lips
1 fresh Strawberry, mashed — can be used regularly as a teeth whitener and can be added to facials for its cleansing properties.
2 fresh Raspberries, mashed — berries have high concentrations of antioxidants which help fight free radicals.
1 TB Brown Sugar — makes a sweet alternative to salt in exfoliating scrubs.
1 TB Honey — this natural moisturizer is ideal for treating chapped lips.
1 Vitamin E capsule — moisturizes and conditions skin.
Method: Mash the strawberry and raspberries into a fine pulp. You can also substitute strawberry and raspberry jams for the fresh fruit, if you’d like. Break the Vitamin E capsule and pour the contents into the berries. Stir in the rest of the ingredients to make a soupy paste.
Manner: Apply the Berry Exfoliator with your fingers or a toothbrush to your lips. Gently rub the scrub in a circular motion on your lips for at least a minute. Rinse off with a moistened face cloth. Voila! Now top your lips off with a little lip gloss and you’re ready for a night of romance.
Storage: Mix as needed. This recipe will make more than enough for one application but will not store well.
Post a comment and let me know what you think of this home spa recipe. And for more natural, homemade, home spa recipe ideas, buy a copy of my book, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way, available exclusively on this website for $24 CAD plus shipping.
By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
It’s Friday and you’re going out on the town tonight. Maybe you have a hot date. Why not give yourself a quick home spa manicure and get some housecleaning done too?
In my last post, Dishwashing — Good Clean Fun, I mentioned that I would write a post on manicures at a later date. Well, here it is.
As some of you know, I have written a book called, How To Throw a Home Spa Pajama Party the Homespunspa Way and I have a whole chapter dedicated to manicures.
I think taking care of our hands is important because they really work hard for us. They are our primary envoys and ambassadors which we send out to investigate and influence our physical world. And like diplomats, we need to treat them like V.I.P.’s with the best of the best. And like diplomats, they need to be polished and well-groomed even during the toughest of negotiations.
Steps to a home spa manicure
The housekeeping part is optional, of course, and happens at the beginning of this process because no one wants to accidentally wreck their freshly painted nails.
Step 1: Soak your nails — While washing dishes, your nails and cuticles will soften and the dirt under your nails will loosen. This part will set the stage for the rest of the manicure.
Step 2: Exfoliate your hands — If you don’t have time for this step tonight, you can skip it. Here is a recipe for a quick scrub for your hands:
Milk and Sugar Scrub
- 1/4 Sugar (white or brown) — Brown and white sugar granules are abrasive and make sweet alternatives to salt in exfoliating scrubs.
- 2 TB Safflower Oil — Excellent carrier oil in massage and has conditioning properties that promote healthy skin and hair.
- 2 TB Evaporated or Fresh Milk — Moisturizes, nourishes and softens skin.
Method: In a bowl, mix together the sugar, safflower oil and milk into a creamy consistency.
Manner: Gently massage the mixture all over your hands to exfoliate dry skin and increase circulation. Rinse with warm water.
Storage/Shelf Life: Pour any left over mixture into a sterilized jar. Store in refrigerator for a couple of days. Discard if fresh milk sours.
Step 3: Clean your nails — By now, you should probably feel how soft your hands are. After you have rinsed the scrub from your hands, take a moment to clean under the nail tips with an orange stick or similar tool.
Step 4A: Shape your nails –Using nail clippers, cut your nails. For a rounded tip, cut both sides of the nail on the diagonal and trim the point off the top. Then, you can use a fine emery board to soften the edges but make sure you use long, sweeping strokes in the same direction to avoid possible splintering.
Step 4B: Shape your cuticles — Here is a quick recipe for cuticle oil:
Lemongrass and Rosemary Cuticle Oil
- 2 TB Olive Oil — Calms, soothes, nourishes, cleans, softens and moisturizes skin. This heavy, fragrant and stable oil can be used as a base in massage oils and moisturizing creams.
- 2 drops Rosemary Essential Oil — Lifts depression, erases fatigue and relaxes stiff muscles.
- 3 drops Lemongrass Essential Oil — Strong anti-bacterial properties and is useful for treating problem skin and acne.
Method: Add the drops of essential oils into a tiny, sterilized glass bottle. Roll the mixture around the bottle to blend. Carefully pour the olive oil up to the bottle’s shoulder. Replace the lid and roll again to compound the oils.
Manner: Dot each nail with the cuticle oil and rub in using the ball of your thumb. With an orange stick or similar tool or your thumbnail from your other hand, gently push the cuticles back to expose the lunula (whitish half-moon arc) at the base. Without using scissors, gently peel away any thin bits of extra skin. You should have a nice clean edge defining the area between your nail and your skin, the nail folds.
Storage/Shelf-Life: Label and date the mixture. Keep the bottle tightly closed and store in a cool, dark place for a year or so.
Steps 5 and 6: Massaging and Moisturizing — Make it a routine to massage your hands with moisturizer or massage oil daily. You can use the cuticle oil for this step also, if you’d like. Here are steps to a moisturizing hand massage:
- Apply moisturizing cream.
- Stroke down from your wrist to your knuckle.
- Squeeze between each finger with the thumb and index finger of the other hand.
- Massage between and along each finger with firm circular movements.
- Scissor each finger with the first and second fingers of the other hand, pulling firmly and gently from the base to the tips.
- Massage the palm of one hand with the thumb of the other, using a circular motion.
- Using firm, upward movements, stroke excess oil from the palm to the elbow. Lift the hand away at the end of each stroke.
- Massage the forearm from the wrist to below the elbow with more thumb circles.
Step 7: Buff your nails — With a nail buffing tool or chamois cloth, buff your nails until you notice a natural, healthy-looking sheen. Buffing is just applying some friction to the top of the nail and the cut edges to clean up any residue and to prepare the surface for nail polish. Buffing your nails helps boost circulation, even out ridges and seal nail tips. If you would like to add extra shine, dust your nails with some cornstarch before you begin the buffing step.
Step 8: Painting your nails — Starting with your non-writing hand and working from the pinky to the thumb, apply a clear, protein-enriched base coat of enamel to each nail on your writing hand. Have your hand lie flat on a solid surface and place the wet brush of clear base on the lunula of each nail and drag it evenly toward the tip — painting evenly from the left of the nail, then over to the right, then down the middle.
After the clear base coat has dried, (takes about 10 minites) apply a coat of polish in a colour that flatters your skin tone. Take your time and be careful not to let the polish spread across the nail folds (ridges that join your nail to your fingertip’s skin). If you happen to colour outside the lines, it’s no big deal, just clean it up with a hint of acetone-free nail polish remover.
Wait at least 10 minutes and after the first coat has completely dried, then apply a second coat of colour to each nail. After 10 more minutes, you can paint a final clear coat to add shine and have an extra layer of protection against chipping.
There it is, a home spa manicure. If you try any of these recipes, let me know how it worked out.
By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
On this third Friday the 13th of 2009, I’m thinking about my own superstitions, particularly, though not exclusively, the ones that revolve around sleep.
I don’t normally consider myself a superstitious person, but now that I think about it, I do have some superstitious habits.
My top 13 superstitions
- Friday the 13th — When I was in high school, we had one of those years where there were three Friday the 13th’s and one of those days happened to have the bonus of a full moon. I remember on the night of the harvest moon, I signed up to take photos of the basketball game for the yearbook and my friends and I decided to go to the game dressed in our school colours — very unflattering green and gold. I teased my hair up big, put green dots on my face and wore my father’s trenchcoat – yeah, it’s a wonder I’m still single. Anyway, I went down to the court and stood waiting with my Yashika camera behind the net hoping to get a great shot of 2 points for our team. The players were all at the other end of the court for the longest time and all of a sudden they started heading back towards me. One of the players saw me open near the net and hurled the ball in my direction. I didn’t know what to do because I had my camera in my hands and the ball bounced past me. I can still hear the sound of the horn that ended the play. It was very embarrassing, me in my trench coat and green face in front of all of my classmates. But I can laugh about it now. Maybe that’s why I don’t like to cover sports as a journalist.
- Wedding dress — Being seen by your fiancé in your wedding dress before you walk down the aisle is not a good idea. Not that I’ve experienced this myself, but I hate it when I see women bring their fiancés to help them pick out their dress on the tv show, “Say Yes to the Dress.” It just takes away from the oomph factor when you finally do make your first appearance at the beginning of the wedding ceremony. You want to see your man’s jaw drop and if he sees you all gussied up in white before the big day, that’s just not going to happen.
- Ladders – I don’t as a rule walk under ladders, but not because I think it will bring me bad luck. I just don’t want something like a can of paint falling on top of me.
- Aaah Chooo – I like to say God Bless you when somebody sneezes.
- Itchy palms = buy a lottery ticket — One of my co-workers told me this little nugget. Apparently, if your palm is itchy, you’re due for some lottery winnings. Ch-ching!
- Last drop of wine — Some people think you should not take the last of anything in general and according to my friend from school, don’t pour yourself the last drop of wine from the bottle, unless you want to get pregnant.
- Stir with a knife, stir up strife — I made a point of doing this after my friend mentioned this to me one day. It makes sense to use the proper tools for the job even for something as simple as adding a drop of cream to your morning coffee. He also said, “if you’re going to be adding milk or sugar to your coffee or tea, pour the brew in first and then add the other stuff.”
- You’ve made your bed, now lie in it — When I was younger, I wondered why my parents insisted that I make my bed every day. What a waste of time, I thought. I have since learned there’s something pleasing about arranging and layering sheets and pillows and throw-blankets the way I like and then coming home and falling into bed after a long, active, fun-in-the-sun day. Now I like to make my bed every morning and I feel that if I don’t for some reason get around to it, I won’t sleep as well.
- Don’t sleep with your pj’s inside out — I got this one from my mother when I was six. She strongly suggested that I not go to bed with my nighty on inside out or backwards because it would give me nightmares. I’ve never tested this theory, but if I see my nightshirt is on wrong, I’d probably do a quick change and fix it.
- Don’t sleep with your closet doors open — I think that’s a boogie man thing. Somehow I’ve always figured the boogie man can’t open the closet doors from the inside.
- Which side of the bed do you sleep on? — I sleep on the side of the bed closest to the door and for the last several years, that has been the right side of the bed (if you’re sitting up in bed, facing the foot). I like being able to face the door when I sleep. I don’t think that’s a superstition, per se, that’s just how I like to do things.
- North, East, West, South (News) — The reviews are mixed on the question of geography. In my research, I’ve read that having your head in the northern quadrant of the room, which is where I sleep, is optimal for good health and good luck. I’ve also read that it’s bad luck to have your head pointing north and people who sleep there will have a short life. If you know anything about Feng Shui, please pass on your knowledge on this topic. I’m curious.
- If a black cat crosses your path — This is one superstition that I’m so glad I don’t claim for myself. My Charlie is a black cat through and through and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My dear familiar can cross my path any day. And I like it when he sleeps at the foot of my bed at night and wakes me up first thing in the morning to let him outside. He makes me smile.
Now it’s your turn: Do you follow any superstitions, especially before going to bed or when you first wake up? Please leave a comment. Thanks.
By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
I had the chance to mix and mingle with local off-duty firemen on Thursday night at the 2010 Greater Victoria Firefighter Calendar launch party charity event.
The cocktail party was held at the Bard and Banker – a space that used to be this massive year-round Christmas store on Government Street. Now it’s a pub with a floor-length bar and elaborate staircases bridging two open-concept floors. There’s even a balcony that doubles as a stage for live bands and such. Not a Christmas ornament in sight anymore.
It was a girls’ night out and we had a blast. What a great way to vent a little steam from the ups and downs of everyday life. We got there super early to get good seats and that was smart planning because we had a bird’s eye view of everything and first glance of the firefighters from the 2010 calendar as they entered the room. It was like being at a fashion show and sitting right on the catwalk. Speaking of cats, yes, the cougars were out, but we behaved ourselves :> more or less.
We each got our own copy of the calendar and a free drink ticket included in the steep-but-worth-it ticket price. I was drinking non-alcoholic mojitos because I was the designated driver.
There were so many handsome men in the room, it was hard to know where to look next. While we were waiting for the firefighters to be introduced one by one and month by month, some other firefighters from past and future calendars served us appetizers of pepperoni and bacon pizza, fish-and-chips-style halibut (I so wanted to say out loud, that I came here for the halibut, but I kept that oldie to myself) and oysters on the half shell – which I was not interested in sampling at all.
I could not however resist getting my picture taken with the oysters and Firefighter Troy who made the evening a lot more fun for us in general. Isn’t Troy the best name for a firefighter? Straight out of central casting… I love a man in uniform. Troy was Mr. January, 2009.
Once the firefighters were introduced, they came around to each table to sign their page on the calendar. It was a good icebreaker. They always asked if we wanted the note to be on the spicy side – the pun possibilities are endless – but I always asked for mild. My friends, on the other hand, always insisted on a little heat.
It was fun to see the calendar photos side by side with the real men. Some were very recognizable and others weren’t and some were way hotter in person than you would expect.
My favourite out of all of the 2010 firefighters was Vince. Notice he wrote, “Happy Birthday.” The first three people who can tell me in a comment which month he signed, will get a free recipe emailed to them from my book, How to Throw a Home Spa Pajama Party, the Homespunspa way, perfect for your next girls’ night with your friends.
If you want to get your own copy of Victoria, British Columbia’s 2010 Firefighter calendar, please copy and paste this link in your browser and click on “Where to buy:” http://www.greatervictoriafirefighters.com/calendar.htm.
I didn’t come home till after midnight, well past my bedtime, but it was worth it. Thanks to all of the firefighters for all of your hard work. We appreciate it.
****What Not to Wear spoil alert****
In an effort to cling to the vestiges of my youth as they slip through my fingers like sand, I went to my hair appointment with a colourful idea. I wanted to add some pink.
I personally think that getting your hair done is one of the best ways to manage stress. I particularly love getting my hair washed.
I had been toying with the pink idea for a while. I thought about it during my last appointment with Richard as I was flipping through some hairstyle books. There’s lots of stuff being done these days with deep blues and vibrant reds. I couldn’t decide between pink and purple. Purple has always been my favourite colour but pink seems more flattering with blonde.
At first Richard wasn’t so keen on the idea. He has been a hairstylist for over 20 years and knows a thing or two about people, their attachment to their hair and the concept of change. He knows when to green light an idea and when not to. He tested me with some questions like, Why do you want to do this? — Because I’m turning 40 in a couple of days and I want to do something youthful?
He showed me all of his colour samples and the tube of “Pretty Flamingo” and said I had an hour to think about it. Should I or shouldn’t I? What will my cat think? What will my mother say? How will my forestry co-workers react? I was thinking, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea afterall and was talking myself out of it.
As Richard was cutting my hair, I was telling him about Friday night’s episode of What Not To Wear where they literally roped Jessie, a 52-year-old woman from Texas, into a make-over. They caught up to her at the South Fork Ranch, home of Dallas, the 80’s tv show and she was wearing an animal print dress, a leather coat, rhinestones and pumps. She was nominated by her 34 year-old daughter with long blonde, big Texas hair, who was going to be moving out of her mother’s house soon. Apparently, the mother was divorced and single and the mother and daughter would hang out together to meet men, though the men would always pick the daughter.
Jessie admitted that her feelings were really hurt after being nominated for the show. But I guess a $5000 shopping spree in New York City didn’t sound so bad.
Jessie reluctantly went to New York. She didn’t see anything wrong with what she was wearing in the first place but tried to take in the rules as best she could. No more rhinestones for her, she thought. Admittedly, I think giving up 20-year-old clothes would be hard for me also. I have clothes like t-shirts and socks from my high school days in my drawers too. Why? I don’t know. Do I still wear them? No.
It was obvious Jessie was clinging to the good ol’ days of yesteryear — when things were the way she wanted them — she was young, beautiful, married and living the high life. Unfortunately, things changed and she was resisting big time. There were no smiles. There was no enthusiasm. At first Stacy and Clinton, the show hosts, were their usual joking selves, but they quickly learned she had no sense of humour about this and they reined it in to a more demure level.
When it came to her hair, Nick, the resident hairstylist on What Not to Wear, sat her down in his chair and callously held her hair in a fan above her ears and said something to the effect of, this is going, say good-bye. I think that was the last straw for Jessie. It was the turning point where she lost the rest of her patience and wasn’t going to tolerate this invasion into her life a second longer. That’s when things went southfork and had Nick approached this with a little more finesse, things may have turned out differently.
All in all Nick did a nice job on her hair. He made it more golden, than platinum, and cut her hair into a chin-length bob. I often don’t care for his hairstyles though because he tends to border on mullets — and by that I mean, he straightens the hair near the ears leaving it to lie flat — but in this case the style was quite flattering. She looked younger and better.
I think she used the word “pretty” but her face was saying something else. You could see her disappointed and angry thoughts fermenting under the surface of her skin. She knew if she said anything out loud, she would either say something really awful or she would burst into tears. I’ve been there before in many situations but I’ve never actually watched someone else do it. Cut to commercial.
We’ve all had bad haircuts in our day. I can remember the time I went to a new stylist and as I left the salon, all of the other stylists stopped what they were doing, watched me as I walked past and all had this look on their face that said, “Oh you poor thing.” I can laugh about it now.
When they returned from the ads, Jessie was in the greenroom crying and Carmindy, the make-up artist, came to talk to her. Jessie said, none of the men would like her hair, so Carmindy said she would send someone in to fix things. The fix was blow-drying the hair in a more flippy way.
I happen to know, (by eavesdropping on a conversation between my bus driver and another passenger a few years ago — it was a story about how the bus driver gave up a scholarship with Vidal Sassoon in England to take care of her grandfather), that Nick charges something like $250 or $400 U.S. for an appointment. He’s no slouch. He knows what he’s doing.
Carmindy was treating her with kid gloves and applied her make-up, although I didn’t pay attention to a word. I was watching Jessie’s face as she seethed in anger. She said, “I’ll live with it for a week and see how it goes.”
When she checked in with Stacy and Clinton in her new outfits, new hair and make-up, there were no yahoos. No cheers.
And low and behold, within the month, she had extensions put in and the colour re-platinumized. Talk about kicking a gift horse in the mouth.
She was less than impressed with her tress. I, on the other hand, felt blessed. As you have probably guessed by now, I went ahead with the pink and I’m really happy. What’s the difference between my experience and Jessie’s? First of all, my hair wasn’t drastic on the grand scheme of things and second, I asked for it. Jessie did not. It was my idea in the first place. I have been going through gradual changes over the past several months and am getting used to seeing a different person in the mirror, while her transformation happened all of a sudden and it was too shocking.
My hairstylist Richard said people don’t like change — they think they do, but they don’t. That’s why we find the nearest Starbucks or the Gap and shop there because these places are familiar and predictable. Don’t mess with Texas.
My advice to Jessie is:
1) Smile more and frown less — no quality man would be interested in spending time with a bitter woman with a poor attitude.
2) Hire a personal trainer — if nothing else, it will do wonders for your self-confidence.
3) Appreciate the wisdom you have gained over the years — it will serve you better than your youth and beauty ever did.
Watch What Not To Wear on Friday nights on TLC and check out the fansite at tlc.discovery.com for more comments on this episode.
Can you find the pink? What do you think?