by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Are you planning to celebrate a special occasion soon, like a birthday party, bridal shower, wedding, anniversary or seasonal holiday and would like to do something fun and unique for your bff’s?
How about hosting a spa party?
If a spa party sounds like a great idea to you, here’s a checklist that will help make the job easier:
- Pick a date & time: Choose a date that works for most, if not all of your guests. Spa parties usually last no more than 3 hours, so if you have plans before or after your spa party, (like dinner at a restaurant or a golf game or a night on the town) pick a time that gives you some wiggle room. There’s no point in adding stress to your special spa day by rushing to the next event.
- Pick a venue: Spa parties can be held virtually anywhere like a hotel room or office but oftentimes your home is best. Just make sure you have enough open space to accommodate your party guests and anyone else you may have hired (like caterers, massage therapists, yoga instructors) to help you with your party.
- Decide on a party budget: I know, “budget” and “party” don’t sound good together but it’s a good idea to know what you want to spend ahead of time and stay in that ballpark. Overspending on impulse purchases will dampen your fun in the long run and having a budget will keep you on track.
- Send invitations: Nowadays, you can either send your invitations electronically like through email or you can create an event on Facebook or you can hand deliver your invitations door to door. It’s up to you. On your invitations, make sure you ask your guests which types of spa services they’d prefer and let your guests know to bring things like: flip flops, if they’re getting a pedicure; pj’s; bathrobes; a bathing suit for the hot tub; a potluck item to share or cash, if you want them to pay for their own spa services and tip.
- Get a head count: Now that you have your guest list and everyone has said “Yes, I’ll be there with bells on,” know how many guests will be attending your spa party.
- Hire a local mobile spa company like Homespunspa: Mobile spa companies are popping up all over the place and I’m sure there’s a good one in your city. And if you happen to live in Victoria, BC, then please call or email Homespunspa Mobile Spa. We’d be thrilled to help make your spa party extra special and stress-free.
- Choose spa services to offer at your party: Mobile spas can deliver all kinds of spa services like manicures, pedicures, facials and massages to your guests. At Homespunspa, we have designed a mini menu of 30-minute spa treatments for spa parties which lets guests get pampered and still participate in the party.
- Prepare spa snacks and beverages: Of course, what’s a spa party without food and drinks? I recommend serving crispy kale chips and refreshing cucumber water.
- Create your spa music playlist: I’ve been collecting spa music for over 20 years, long before I became a lover of all things spa and an esthetician, and I love, love, love the Homespunspa playlist. Regardless of whether you want something quiet and relaxing or something more pop and upbeat in the background, having music will add whole nother dimension to your spa party.
- Design your spa space: It’s time to create a spa environment. First move your furniture and make room for the different spa stations. You want to create a space that allows for people to move around freely. You might also like to create some private areas for the quieter spa treatments. And don’t forget to vapourize some essential oils into the air to enhance the spa mood.
- Decorate your space: If you can swing it, try adding some spa-chic elements, like a water feature, a low-burning fire in the fire place, smooth stones with inspiring words painted on them, lit candles of all sizes, throw pillows, plushy white towels folded just so, waffle bathrobes with slippers, and leafy tropical plants with big flowers to your décor.
- What about pets and other family members? I love family pets, especially cats, but sometimes they may not be the ideal guests at your spa party. Figure out what to do with your pets ahead of time so they don’t cause a distraction. And if there are family members or roommates that will not be participating in the spa party, (like husbands during a bridal shower) give them lots of notice so they can make alternate plans.
- Decide if there will be games and/or craft activities during the party: Some people like to play spa games while others like to encourage everyone to do a short craft project during their parties. If you want to do some spa-themed crafts and use essential oils, find some home spa recipes and try making your own perfumes, massage oil blends or bath salts. These activities are completely optional but if people are up for it, they might add some fun to the spa party.
- Collect and package party favours: Once the spa party starts winding down and everyone has received their pampering spa treatments, you might want to send your guests home with some party favours (or a loot bag, as I like to say). You can keep it simple, like a bottle of nail polish, or go all out with travel-sized shampoos, conditioners, lotions, lip balms, eye shadows, soaps, candles, assorted tea bags, packets of chocolate covered almonds, costume jewellery…whatever you want. You can always ask your mobile spa ahead of time if they’d also like to contribute some free product samples or coupons to the party favour bags.
- Clean up: Your spa party was a success and you can rest assured your friends had a good time. Once the mobile spa leaves and takes all of their equipment and supplies with them, clean up will be a snap. You may even like the furniture the way it is and not feel the need to move it back.
I hope this checklist for a successful spa party helps you plan the best spa party ever. And I hope you include Homespunspa in your next spa party. Please leave a comment if you have anything to add and please share this with your friends if you have a spa party in the works right now.
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
For my first blog post of 2012, I thought I’d take Homespunspa to the streets, as they say, and see how my friends would respond to this question: “How do you relax and manage stress?”
I was looking for some wholesome ideas that anybody can do on a regular basis and my friends did not disappoint. I think folding these tips into the day will keep the stress at bay.
Here are 17 cheap and cheerful and easy ways to relax and manage stress:
"Help, I'm stressed." Illustration by Lindsey Henderson www.intown-creative.com.
1) Managing stress is a biggie for me as I have Crohn’s Disease, a chronic illness that can be aggravated by stress. The first step was recognizing my reactions to stress: why am I reaching for that cookie/candy/ additional glass of wine or heading out for some “retail therapy”? I’ve become wiser with age and those are no longer how I react. These days when stressed, I get physical by going for a long, brisk walk outside. Walking, plus the sunshine, fresh air and being out in the natural environment, all contribute to de-stressing for me. I hope this helps and Happy New Year! — Leslie
2) “I draw.” — Lindsey Henderson www.intown-creative.com. (Lindsey drew the charming illustration for this blog post and I’m so impressed! Thank you, so much, Lindsey!)
3) “Yoga. And laughter ” — Katie
4) “Playing with my cats after a hard day reduces the stress levels.” — Kelvin
5) “Hey friend, I am a huge bath person, I love to have a lovely smelling bath, sometimes bubbles, candles, music, maybe wine or a book..it is my favourite.” — Rebecca
6) “Put the kids to bed and do the laundry, watch the sunrise with a cup of coffee in hand (hoping the kids don’t get up before I am done).” — Lilia
7) “oooh, tough one! I do like putting my feet up and doing something mindless like knitting and watching a silly movie. I also think a brisk walk outdoors with a walking partner is very cleansing. Going to the gym and doing aqua zumba is great, too. Oh, and I forgot to mention the best destressing strategy…tea with a friend!” — anonymous
“My new year’s resolution is to go through my closets and boxes and discard or organize everything I own. Must say even getting through one drawer lessens my stress.” — anonymous
9) “Putting some seeds in the yellow bird feeder on my back deck. The birds are such a joy! I can just watch them all day!” — Motria
10) “Watering the garden on a summer evening.” — Yaro (posthumously)
11) “When all else fails, I water the house plants. At least I’m doing something positive instead of just stewing in my own juices.” — Alex
12) “My favorite way to relax is reading. I love a good book or any book. I read every night. I manage stress by staying calm and trying not to let my mind control my body. If I stay calm, I can be more objective and see things clearly and find less stressful solutions to situations. I’d rather be a problem solver than be stressed out!” — Liz
13) “My daughter wasn’t much of a talker when she was growing up and one day when she was going through a rough time at school, she came home and started baking bread. There she was in the kitchen, mixing the dough and kneading it and baking it in the oven. I think there was something therapeutic about that for her and after a while, she opened up to me and told me what was going on. From then on, I knew baking bread was her way of dealing with stress and also telling me she needs to talk.” — Elsie
14) “A nice long walk, pet your pet, a hot bath, bang on my drum set, yoga breathing, watch nature and take pictures of it.” — Diana
15) “Am I the only one that watches TV to relax??? I just need something mindless so that’s what I do. I think Jazzercise is a great stress-buster!!” — Debbie
16) “I love to ride my bike, drink a cup of tea, read my Bible, of course, sex. ” — Suzanne
17) “Invite some friends over for a home spa pajama party.” — Maria
So there’s the list of 17 easy ways to relax and manage stress. Kelvin’s is my favourite — because I love cats — and we can learn a thing or two about relaxing from our pets. I think “taking a walk” is probably the most popular stress-busting activity on this list and funnily enough, I found myself taking that advice this afternoon by walking through my neighbourhood while it was sunny. I’m so glad I did because I do feel better.
How about you? Would you like to add your 2 cents? How do you relax and manage stress? Please leave a comment and I’ll make sure it gets added to the list. Thanks especially to Lindsey for drawing such a great illustration for this blog post and thanks to everyone for participating!
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
My friend, neighbour and high school classmate used to joke with me about the smell in my house. She said that if she was blindfolded and taken all over the world on a wild goose chase and then dropped back into my house on Trombone Court in Vienna, Virginia, she’d know exactly where she was just by the smell alone. Of course, I could say the same thing about her house, too.
This observation leads me to think about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. You know how Santa says, “Rudolph, with your nose so bright…won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” Maybe, Rudolph’s Marachino cherry nose is more than just a light bulb. Maybe, Rudolph’s nose is more like a highly-tuned, GIS, infrared, gizmo that homes in on unique household smells and that’s how he helps Santa get his job done so well each year while everyone else is sleeping.
Either way, at the end of the day, the nose is the star of the show and I’d like to invite you to pay attention to all of the aromas that are surrounding you at this time of year. This is an aromatherapy lover’s dreamtime! When you walk into someone’s house to celebrate the season, take a moment to stop amidst the flurry of activity and close your eyes and breathe deeply. What are you smelling? Turkey and stuffing roasting in the oven? What else? Try to catch a whiff of a single ingredient on the holiday menu. In my house, you’re likely to smell onions caramelizing on the stove top, which is home sweet home for me.
Do you have any favourite Christmas scents? What are they? If you were to smell them right now, would they transport you straight back into your childhood? Which smells tell you that you’re home at last?
Top 7 Christmas-themed Aromas, Tastes & Essential Oils
Here’s a list of the aromas and tastes I associate with the Christmas holidays. Some are cool and refreshing like a snowy, winter’s day and others are warm and cozy like a country cottage.
- Citrus Family: Mandarin, Orange, Pomegranate, Cranberry
- Mint Family: Peppermint, Spearmint, Wintergreen
- Spice Family: Cinnamon, Clove, Allspice, Nutmeg, Cardamon, Ginger, Star Anise
- Sweet Family: Vanilla, Chocolate, Cream, Sugar
- Nut Family: Hazelnut, Walnut, Almond, Macadamia
- Woodsy Family: Pine, Spruce, Cypress, Fir, Juniper Berry, Cedar, Sandalwood
- Biblical Family: Frankincense, Myrrh
Everybody knows that smells awaken deep memories and I hope everyone will create lots of happy moments with their loved ones this Christmas to replay with fondness in future Christmases, year after year.
Wishing you a very aromatic and fragrant Christmas with lots of sugar and spice and everything nice, Maria of Homespunspa.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
The Olympics are here! The Olympics are here!
Yesterday, while I was in the midst of running on the treadmill (24 minutes non-stop — a new record for me), I was chatting with my personal trainer and she was telling me her plans for re-decorating her studio. I was surprised to hear that she has been planning to install a tv near the treadmill for quite some time.
I suggested now is the perfect time to set up her tv because in the past, I’ve found watching the Olympics while exercising myself to be a lot of fun. It just gives you an extra boost of energy and somehow you end up increasing your speed and your enthusiasm. She agreed wholeheartedly and said “It’s a great motivator” and “thanks for the reminder!”
Here I am after one of my workouts with my trainer.
If you’d like to add a home gym to your home spa, here are my suggestions. Start small and build as you can. And don’t just admire it, use it!
- Dedicate Space: Where will you workout? Do you have access to a spare room or is your living room multi-purpose like mine is? If you’re going to be setting up shop in your living room (I don’t recommend your bedroom because the equipment and the activity will interfere with your sleeping environment), then you’ll want to choose equipment that you can store and access easily. I have a treadmill that folds and stands upright against a wall and that works for me. I keep it next to the tv so when it’s time for a walk/run, I just move the coffee table and extend the platform and I’m off to the races.
- Big Equipment: I’ve already mentioned a treadmill because that’s what I use. I highly recommend getting one. They can be quite expensive and keep in mind that the cheaper ones will be noisy (which will annoy the rest of your household) and will not have a lot of extra bells and whistles, like built in heart-rate monitors or a cushy running base, but even a cheap one is good to have. If you prefer some other equipment or have a lot of extra room, you can look into buying an elliptical trainer, a stairmaster, a stationary bike, a rowing machine or a strength-training machine. You might even consider installing a pole which will work your abs like nothing else once you get past the hanging upsidedown part. Your home gym will be really high end if you also have access tennis courts and swimming pools and saunas. I have a friend you had a squash/basketball court in his house which was really cool, I always thought.
- Handy Equipment: There’s a ton of great equipment that you can use in your home gym. Start with a yoga mat for your stretches. Hand-held weights are useful to have — start with low weights (two each of 1-, 2-, 3- & 5-pounders) and work your way up to 7’s, 8’s, 10’s, 12’s, 15’s, and 20-pluses. There are also adjustable weights you can strap on to your legs. For more resistance, get some tubes or bands that come in green, red, pink and purple depending on their strength. Suzanne Summers’ Thigh Master is still a winner. There are also inflatable pilates balls that are very versatile but only buy the ones that say “anti-burst.” You can also buy a mini trampoline or a low-tech jump rope that will really save space. I also have a plastic step from the 90’s which I’m planning to use again one of these days. Remember to use the built-in stairs in your house, too. My trainer has a Bosu (that half-ball in the picture) and last week on the Biggest Loser, I saw an Olympic athlete balance on one foot while doing the hoola-hoop on one. It looked fun and hard to do at the same time. I wonder if you can buy those speed skating gliding strips that they also used on the Biggest Loser for home use? My trainer told me that those are way harder than they look and are great for building endurance.
- Extra Features: To make your home gym more enjoyable, design it with care. If it’s a dark and dingy room in your basement, you won’t use it. To brighten things up, install a large, full-length mirror so you can see your form while you’re working out. Also, having a tv within sight that plays your favourite workout videos will add variety to your exercise routine. A stereo is also good to have. I have a few playlists on my iPod that I listen to while running. Also hanging posters with inspiring quotes and photos of fit people also help with motivation. And have a place for your bottle of water. Remember also to plug in some fans to circulate air. Even though I always seem to forget this, have a clean towel handy. You might also like to buy tools like heart-rate monitors and pedometres to track your progress.
- A note on safety: Make sure your home gym will give you an effective workout and will also be a safe environment for you. I advise getting pets and small children out of the room while you’re exercising. Also, make sure the room is clean and uncluttered and there aren’t any tripping hazards or electrical overload concerns with your equipment. Read the safety manuals and use the equipment as intended. Clean your equipment regularly with disinfectant wipes, especially if many people are using the facilities.
I hope you use your home gym for many years to come. Invite your friends and workout buddies over from time to time so they can enjoy your gym too. Leave a comment and tell us about your home gym. And have fun working out while watching the Olympics — that’s what I’ll be doing for sure.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
How do you like your eggs? Your answer may say a little something about your lifestyle, attitude and your sleep.
Today I thought I’d lighten things up with a cheaky eggspose and write about eggs and bring some yokey yellow to the January blues.
Without further adieu, let’s get cracking. Here is a list of a dozen egg dishes for you to eggsplore.
If you prefer your eggs:
- Poached – The word “coddled” comes to mind. So does “soft-in-the-middle” like in Paul Simon’s song, “You can call me Al.” Life is easy for you. You have a gentle nature and rarely lose your temper. You’re a regular at the local day spa because you love the mani’s and pedi’s. And breaking a nail means you’ve over-eggzerted yourself. But before you get spoiled from all of this pampering, I suggest turning the tables and returning the favour to someone else. Maybe open your own spa?
- Egg-Salad Sandwich – What could be better than boiled eggs mixed with mayo, celery, and green onion nestled between two pieces of white bread? The mayo, which adds extra eggy goodness, binds all of the ingredients together making sure everyone is together and tucked in under the covers. There’s lots of eggstra stuff on the bed like pillows and pets, but you don’t mind, the more the merrier. Your happy family is snug as a bug in a rug.
- Sunny-Side-Up – Obviously, you’re the glass is half-full type. Your positive attitude makes sleeping at night a breeze. You enjoy fun-filled flying dreams and haven’t had a nightmare in ages. You wake up refreshed and optimistic. However, since fast-frying is the quickest way to cook an egg and you have no time for fussing with any extra techniques, the down-side is, you may be a little impatient.
- Hard Boiled – I hate to break it to you but you’re a bit of a curmudgeon. You’re a stubborn yet immensely practical know-it-all. You sleep like a rock on the firmest mattress between crisp, clean, ironed, white, 5-star-hotel sheets. Maybe you should consider learning some new relaxation techniques and get a massage every now and then.
- Omelette – I recently watched the late Julia Child make omelettes on tv and it was hilarious. She jokingly said she’d give the one with the liver to her mother-in-law. With all of the egg flips, the omelette station that she set up was a circus act and that’s why I think the omelette lovers are the comedy geniuses of this group. Underneath that sophisticated and harmless poker face, you have a keen sense of humour and are full of surprises. And you like to watch the late night talk shows to put yourself in a funny state of mind before hitting the hay.
- Soufflee – When you show up, people are very happy to see you and when you go to the spa, for eggsample, you get the deluxe, Hollywood celebrity treatment. But you’re also what they call “high-maintenance” and are an eggstremely light sleeper. People have to tippy-toe around you day and night. Any uneggspected noise will wake you up and your sleep will be wrecked till morning. Just remember, if you lighten up, the rest is easy.
- Scrambled – By morning, the sheets and blankets on your bed are disheveled and twisted from all of your kicking and flailing and tossing and turning throughout the night. Your chaotic sleep leads me to think there’s too much stress and drama in your life and you need to go on a vacation to a spa on some tropical island soon. Like now.
- Over-Easy — You start on your back and flip over right before you wake up. You have an easy-going attitude and have more patience than the average bear. You like to sleep in on the weekends and learned the word “snooze button” at an early age. “Just 10 more minutes” is your mantra.
- Free-Range Organic – No pajamas for you. You’re footloose and fancy free. On any given night, you don’t stay on your side of your king-sized bed. You like to travel across the landscape of the bed and maybe even down the hall. A naked sleepwalker? Oh dear :>
- Benedict — I always think of Benedict Arnold, the infamous American traitor, when I see Eggs Benny on the menu. Now I get the connection. You’re a clever pillow and blanket hog and you hide under the cloak of the Hollandaise sauce.
- Quiche – You speak with an accent (maybe a fake one?). You’re pretentious and flaky at the same time, like an actor. You enjoy the finer things in life but are on a limited budget. If that’s the case, home spas are a good way to go.
- Devilled – A party favourite, you get snatched up pretty quick. Whoever heard of left-over devilled eggs? Even if they’re bad they’re good. You have a twinkle in your eye and a prankster nature. You were the one who short-sheeted the beds at summer camp. Your A.D.D. makes it difficult for you to fall asleep for long so you may be prone to taking sleeping pills as a quick fix solution. Try breathing exercises instead. Yeah right.
I hatched this list out of my own imagination so there’s no statistical validity at all. I’m curious if I’ve ruffled any feathers or if I’m on to something here. Have I cracked the case wide open or am I just full of B.S? Let me know what you think.
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!
By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Here I am washing dishes (circa early 1970's).
Which do you think is greener — washing your dishes by hand or with an automatic dishwasher?
I was surprised to learn from my online research that it is marginally better for your purse and the environment to wash your dishes with an automatic dishwasher than it is to wash them by hand.
I said “marginally” because there are a lot of variable factors involved in the final tallies, like whether or not you fill the dishwasher to capacity every load, how you heat your water, whether or not you rinse your dishes first, what kind of soap you use, how new and efficient the appliance is, how new and efficient you are;> etc. etc.
Given that I don’t have a dishwasher appliance in my home, I have to wash dishes the old fashioned way. It says “Chief, Cook and Bottle Washer” on my business card, by the way. Of course if I had the option, I would choose to use an automatic dishwasher in my quest to live a greener life but hand-washing dishes has its benefits too.
In defense of hand washing dishes
Communication — Back in the days when I was living in my first apartment on Piccadilly Street, one my friends mentioned a study that she had read that talked about washing dishes. She said that the study concluded that if two people, like say a mother and a daughter or a husband and a wife, were having a hard time getting along or if there was a difficult subject that needed discussing, washing dishes together was a good way to get the conversation going. Sometimes it’s hard to look someone square in the eye and tell them what you really think and feel. If you’re busy doing a mindless task and so is the other person and are not posed in a confrontational stance and neither is the other person, and you’re working to achieve a common goal like cleaning the kitchen, it sets the stage for lots of deep and interesting talks.
You’re soaking in it — Remember good ol’ Madge, the manicurist, from the Palmolive commercial? (I believe that’s an almost empty bottle of Palmolive on the window sill in the above picture). Washing dishes by hand is a great home spa trick. It’s like a bubble bath for your hands! If you don’t have the time or money to go and get your nails done on a regular basis, try adding a little home spa treatment into your daily routine. Think of washing dishes as “me time.” Let your mind wander as you go about your tasks. Appreciate the quiet time. Play with the soapy water. Afterwards, grab yourself a cup of tea and give yourself a manicure — more on that at a later post.
Aromatherapy — I can’t say I’m entirely convinced about this one but I did buy my latest bottle of Dawn botanicals dishwashing liquid because it said “soothing relaxant” on the label and because the colour was purple.
One more chance to wash your hands — There has been a lot of talk about washing your hands often to reduce your chances of catching the flu and getting sick. I think I have managed to dodge the H1N1 Swine Flu bullet this year because I hand wash my dishes and therefore wash my hands daily. Something to think about.
Sense of Accomplishment — After a little elbow grease, it’s a nice feeling to see a clean and tidy kitchen. There is a rich reward in getting the job done with your own two hands.
Over to you — Do you wash your dishes by hand or appliance? Which do you think is better? Feel free to comment.
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.