by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Last December/January, I caught the worst cough I can remember and I don’t want to go through that ever again. I lost my voice to laryngitis for a few days, the painful, phlegmy coughing kept me and everyone in my household up at night, and it took about three weeks for the nastiness to clear out of my system.
Flu, short for influenza, is a viral illness that tends to flare up in the winter months and to involve many people in the community at the same time. Flu symptoms include: fever (38.3 to 40 degrees Celsius or 101 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit), chills, body aches, headache, pain when you move your eyes, fatigue, weakness, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, etc. It usually lasts for about 10 days and then everything will be back to normal, but the flu can also lead to more serious and dangerous complications for some.
Having a cold or flu or cough is not fun to say the least so I’ve come up with a list of home-spa-inspired suggestions that will help us all stay healthy this season.
20 things you can do to prevent, avoid, or at least minimize the flu this year:
- Immune System: Fortify your immune system and keep up your resistance to infections by eating a healthy and nutritious diet, exercising regularly and getting plenty of good quality sleep year-round.
- Avoid exposure: If you can at all help it, (easier said than done, I know), avoid contact with people who are showing flu symptoms.
- Vitamin C: Take Vitamin C supplements daily, (I like the chewable kind), and eat foods that have a high vitamin C content.
- Vitamin D: Boost your Vitamin D intake during the dark, winter months.
- Echinacea: Take Echinacea capsules or drink Echinacea tea. Echinacea is a popular healing herb that boosts the immune system, has antiviral properties and helps prevent the onset of colds.
- Zinc: Take Zinc Lozenges at the onset of a cold. This mineral is often used to reduce the length and severity of cold symptoms. Foods that contain zinc include: eggs, meat, seafood and whole grains.
- Panax Ginseng: Take Panax Ginseng supplements during the winter and especially at the onset of a cold. You will find Ginseng in products like ColdFX.
- Garlic: Eat fresh garlic (like on toast or in a salad dressing) at the onset of flu symptoms.
- Oil of Oregano: Take drops of oil of oregano to boost your immune system.
- Hydrate: Drink lots of liquids throughout the day. Choose hot tea with lemon and honey, water, orange juice, and apple juice.
- Soup: Eating a bowl of comforting chicken noodle soup may be just the recipe to alleviate your cold symptoms.
- Clean Hands: Wash your hands regularly and keep your hands away from your nose, eyes and mouth. Also, use a tissue or your upper arm when you cough or sneeze.
- Exercise: Sometimes exercising just as you are starting to feel a cold or flu coming on, may be a good idea; however, do not exercise if you have phlegmy congestion below the neck.
- Relax: Managing your stress will go a long way to keep illness at bay.
- Sauna: Sitting in a sauna for a few minutes may help flush out your cold symptoms.
- Room Sprays: Use room sprays made with essential oils like: basil, bay, benzoin, bergamot, black pepper, cajeput, citronella, coriander, eucalyptus, frankincense, ginger, grapefruit, helichrysum, juniper, lavandin, lavender, lemon, lime, marjoram, myrtle, niaouli, orange, oregano, peppermint, petitgrain, pine, rosemary, tea tree, and thyme (wow that’s a long list) to freshen the space, disinfect surfaces, help breathing and foster sleep.
- Stop smoking: You may think now isn’t the time to quit smoking altogether, but many years ago, my father went off on a fishing trip and came home with the most miserable cold and after that, he never smoked his pipe again. Quitting smoking will only increase your health in the long run.
- Flu Shot: Consider getting a flu shot early in the season.
- Stay Home: If you’re feeling sick, stay home and rest. Your co-workers and the people that you would otherwise meet when you walk down the street, would appreciate it.
- Sleep: Get lots of rest and do your best to sleep well at night.
I hope these suggestions and recommendations help keep you and your family healthy this winter. If you have any other ideas, please leave a comment and share your wisdom.
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
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
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.
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 and esthetician
What makes a woman whole? I’ve never asked myself this question before but when Women of Acumen, an organization that helps women reach their goals, put a call out for women bloggers who blog about women’s issues to answer this question, I signed up to play. Specifically, they asked: “What’s your definition of a whole woman and how could a firm understanding of your expertise help women nationwide feel a sense of wholeness within?”
The more I think about it, the more I think this topic is right up my alley. As a beauty blogger, esthetician and a lover of all things spa, I feel I have a few things to add to this conversation.
Running on a Full Tank
In my opinion, whole women always run on a full tank of fuel and never on empty. Don’t you love it when you’re driving in your car and you know your gas tank is completely full? On a full tank, you know you’re going to get wherever you need to go and there’s nothing to worry about and you feel a sense of freedom. You feel happy and the other drivers on the road are being courteous and patient, too.
At 3/4 of a tank, you’re still humming along. Then things start to change once you see the needle on the gauge dip under the halfway mark. You start looking at gas prices and you’re wondering if the price will go up or down by 2 cents or 10 cents by the end of the day. And then you start feeling a little stressed because you’re playing the gas game. Maybe tomorrow the gas prices will be cheaper? Maybe you can hold out for another day?
Then your gas tank hits the 1/4 mark. How many more trips can you make before you’re empty? How much longer can you run on fumes? Do you like living on the edge? Some people do. I don’t.
Anyway, this car and gas story is really about how full your own fuel tank is in your own life. Instead of gas though, a whole woman fills her tank up with a combination of four key ingredients: Exercise, Nutrition, Skin Care and Sleep.
Homespunspa Recipe for Feeling a Sense of Wholeness Within
- 1/4 cup Exercise
- 1/4 cup Nutrition
- 1/4 cup Skin Care
- 1/4 cup Sleep
Method: Fill your tank up with equal parts of exercise, nutrition, skin care and sleep on a daily basis.
In order to make wellness and wholeness a priority, it’s important to pay attention to how much exercise you do, what you feed your body, what your skin is showing and how much sleep you’re getting. And all of these concepts work together to create optimum health. Moreover, if one is neglected, then the others will also be depleted and therefore, you won’t feel your best. Like, for example, if you’re eating a lot of sugary and processed foods, then acne will show up on your face and body. Likewise, if you’re not burning the calories you consume, then your sleep may suffer because you’ll have too much left over energy at the end of the day.
The philosophy of Homespunspa has always been based on these four principles. Below is a graphic that shows what Homespunspa is all about. H is for Holistic, O is for Omega-3, M is for Massage, E is for Esthetics, S is for Sleep, P is for Positivity, U is for Unwind, N is for Nutrition, S is for Sports, P is for Pedicures, and A is for Aroma. Together, the first letters of each word spell “Homespunspa.”
Flower with Holistic, Omega-3, Massage, Esthetics, Sleep, Positivity, Unwind, Nutrition, Sports, Pedicure, Aroma on the petals. The 1st letters of each word spell Homespunspa.
Once you fill your tank up with optimum fuel and keep it topped up, then you’re firing on all cylinders, then you’re really cooking with gas (as my father used to say) and that’s when the magic really starts to happen. Your life will improve significantly.
You’ll be working from a place of empowerment rather than from a place of desperation and your dreams will definitely start coming true.
And the best part is, you’re in a really good position to help others. As people start noticing your attitude and the glow on your face, they’ll ask you, what’s your secret, what have you been doing? Be sure to share your wisdom and be as supportive and encouraging as you can to the people around you. Because your tank is full and you’ve taken care of your own needs first, you’ll be able to give back generously from the overflow of your resources. Scraping the bottom of the barrel will not be an option. It’s win-win for everybody.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
When my family was living in Hawaii, we had the luxury of having real bananas growing in our yard right outside the kitchen door. At the time, I didn’t think I liked bananas at all (hard to believe, I know) until my father coaxed me into trying one. I remember how we chose a small, greenish-yellow banana together and then we sat down and peeled it ribbon by ribbon and then I tasted it and it was good. Now I think bananas are really awesome.
Here are 10 excuses to eat more bananas:
- Quick energy boost: the sugar and fiber in bananas will boost your energy for your high-intensity workout.
- Help digestion: the fiber in bananas will help with digestion and constipation and over time will help manage your weight.
- Improve your mood: eating a banana will simultaneously help calm your nerves and lift your spirits.
- Relax: bananas contain tryptophan which your brain converts to serotonin which in turn will help you relax.
- Brighten Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): As we head into the gray, winter months, the tryptophan in bananas will help prevent SAD symptoms from emerging.
- Reduce PMS: The high levels of Vitamin B6 in bananas will help manage your monthly PMS symptoms.
- Reduce restless leg syndrome (RLS) and sleep better: If you have RLS and involuntary muscle twitching, it could mean that you have a definciency in Vitamin B6. If that’s the case, eat more bananas for their Vitamin B6 and see if your sleep improves.
- Increase your iron intake: Bananas are a good, vegetarian source of iron. Get more iron in your diet to prevent anemia.
- Lower your blood pressure and risk of stroke: Bananas are high in potassium and low in sodium, so they are great to add to your daily diet to manage stress and lower your blood pressure which will reduce your risk of having a stroke.
- Quit smoking cigarettes: If you’re trying to quit smoking, the Vitamins B6, B12 & C, plus the potassium and magnesium in bananas will help your body deal with nicotine withdrawal.
Today, I’ve decided to profile bananas in my blog and offer two home spa recipes. The first recipe is for a banana bread. When I made this recipe for a breakfast starter at the Beacon Inn, one gentleman said, “Your banana bread is outstanding” and another gentleman from Denmark said, “this is excellent and I should know because I bake for a living — when I come back, I hope you’ll give me the recipe.” Well, here it is. It’s from Company’s Coming, Muffins and More, by Jean Paré, published in 1983, page 40.
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup (3 medium) mashed, very ripe bananas
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
Method: In one mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add mashed bananas (if they’re frozen, defrost them in the microwave first to make things easier). Add vanilla. In a second bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and walnuts, making sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Add this dry mix to the banana mixture and stir only to moisten. Transfer the batter to a greased 9×5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about an hour. Test with a toothpick or skewer and if it comes out clean, the banana bread is ready. Let stand for 10 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and place it on a cake rack to cool.
The second recipe is for Peanut butter and Banana Lip Balm. It’s one of my original recipes. Peanut butter and bananas are a classic flavour combination and this lip balm really feels good on the lips.
Peanut Butter and Banana Lip Balm
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa
Try making some peanut butter and banana lip balm today.
- 1/2 banana, chopped in 3-4 chunks — moisturizing for all skin types.
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar — to achieve glowing skin, add sugar crystals to exfoliating scrubs.
- 1/3 cup water — extends recipe volume and provides a base to blend ingredients.
- 1 TB smooth peanut butter — provides a creamy yet solid base for cosmetics and is loaded with skin-loving Vitamin E and other antioxidants.
- 1 TB beeswax — mostly used for its scent and to thicken cosmetics.
- 1 TB almond oil — good for normal, dry and mature skin. Has cleansing, moisturizing and conditioning properties.
- 1/4 tsp honey — antiseptic, cleansing and ideal for treating chapped lips and wrinkles.
- 1 Vitamin E capsule — good for skin and acts as a preservative.
- Wash your containers in hot soapy water and dry thoroughly. If you’d like to buy some containers for lip balm, please go to the containers page on Homespunspa.com.
- To make a simple syrup with sugar, water and bananas, melt equal parts of sugar and water over low heat on a stove top. Add large pieces of banana and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Let the syrup simmer over low heat to infuse the banana flavour into the syrup.
- Meanwhile, in a separate pan, melt the smooth peanut butter, beeswax, almond oil (or peanut oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil, etc. — almond oil is what I had on hand today) and honey over low heat. Stir until smooth.
- Strain out the bananas from the liquid sugar and set them aside. Add 1 TB of the banana-flavoured syrup into the peanut butter mixture. Turn the heat off but keep the pan on the heated element. Keep stirring. Add the contents of the Vitamin E capsule.
- Pour the mixture into your containers. The lip balm will harden within a few minutes.
Manner: Apply the peanut butter and banana lip balm to your lips as needed.
Storage: Your lip balm should last up to 6 months.
Warning: Do not make or wear this recipe if you or someone you know has peanut allergies. Discard your batch if it starts getting sticky or tasting rancid.
As always, let me know what you think. I would love to post your comments on my blog.
P.S. Pour the left over bananas and sugar syrup over ice cream and use the syrup in cocktails to add another layer of flavour. And I just thought of something else: use the banana flavoured syrup in a lip gloss!
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Do you have more peaches right now than you know what to do with? I do. I must have at least 30 on hand and I have to get to them quick before they go bad. Sure, I can make jams, cobblers and salsas but I think I’m going to use at least one of them in a home spa recipe this weekend, especially since it’s a long weekend and the last one of the summer.
See, I told you I had a lot of peaches. Photo by Maria Koropecky
Peaches originated in China several thousands of years ago and were glorified as fruits of immortality. Because peaches are packed with moisture, vitamins and minerals, they help keep your skin looking young and healthy. If you keep using peaches in your home spa recipes, you’ll notice more elasticity in your skin and you’ll find an improvement in the tone and texture as well. As an added bonus, peaches soothe and cleanse inflamed and blotchy skin, which is good to know if you get a sunburn anytime soon.
And of course eating peaches on a regular basis will help with your digestion and will flush out the system of toxins. Here’s a recipe for a refreshing peach smoothie — perfect for breakfast or as a snack.
- 1 peach, peeled, pitted and chopped — Succulent peaches are brimming with Vitamins A & C which revitalize the skin from the inside and on the surface.
- 1/2 cup plain, 0% yogurt — Cleanses, tones and moisturizes skin and leaves all skin types feeling smooth.
- 1 cup ice cubes — Extends recipe volume and adds a cooling element.
- 1 cup Perrier water — Drinking water hydrates skin and lubricates joints and muscles.
Method: Place the ingredients in a blender and blend into a healthy, smooth, but not too thick, beverage.
Peaches and Cream Shower Sachet
If you’ve ever poured boiling water over peaches to make it easier to release their skin, then you know how fragrant and perfumy peaches can be. No need for fancy equipment here, this is low-tech aromatherapy at it’s finest.
- 1 peach, pitted and roughly chopped — Succulent peaches are brimming with Vitamins A & C which revitalize the skin. Meanwhile the natural AHA’s have a cleansing and exfoliating effect.
- 1 TB cream — moisturizes, nourishes and softens skin.
- 1 TB coconut oil, fractionated — liquid at room temperature, this oil has a light, non-greasy feel and has emulsifying properties.
- 1 tsp ginger, grated — is an ideal addition to bathwater because it’s warming qualities stimulate circulation, which increases blood flow, which helps the body detoxify.
- 1/2 cup brown sugar — sugar granules are mildly abrasive and make sweet alternatives to salt in exfoliating scrubs.
You will also need:
- a blender or a mortar and pestle
- a piece of cheesecloth (or very thin and loosely woven piece of cotton or linen), at least 8″ by 8″
- a piece of ribbon, about 48″ or 2 feet long
Method: Set the brown sugar aside in a bowl. Place the peach, cream, fractionated coconut oil and ginger in a blender (or mortar and pestle) and mix into a pulp. Pour over the brown sugar and stir to combine. You should have a thick scrub. Place the scrub in the center of your cheesecloth and then tie into a bundle with a ribbon or piece of string, leaving enough slack of ribbon to suspend the sachet from the shower head.
Manner: Hang the sachet from your shower head in the path of flowing water and then reap the benefits. Then, remove the sachet from the shower head and use it to further exfoliate your skin by gently massaging it over your shoulders, arms, torso, legs and feet. Rinse your skin and pat it dry. Drink a glass of water after any spa treatments that involve detoxification.
Shelf-Life/Storage: Discard the sachet after use. If you have some leftover, the coconut oil will help preserve this mixture, if it’s unused and kept in the fridge, for a week or so.
Enjoy the peach harvest!
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
Alexandra, one of my Homespunspa blog readers, inspired me to come up with this home spa recipe. She asked, “What do you do with the rest of the orange?” after I posted an Orange, Coconut and Cinnamon Cookie recipe which only involved some grated orange peel and no juice nor pulp. That comment got me thinking and this is the recipe I came up with. I hope you enjoy it. And let me know how it turns out — it might get a little messy, but that’s part of the fun. And if you have any questions like Alexandra did, please post them in the comments and I’ll put my thinking cap on to answer them.
Put your feet up — home spa masque recipe for the feet
by Maria Koropecky
There are endless benefits associated with foot treatments. This masque recipe will help with detoxification and relaxation. It’ll also help soften callouses and moisturize dry skin.
Of course, you can apply this recipe yourself to your own feet but I strongly suggest teaming up with a friend on this one. You’ll have a few laughs for sure.
- 1/4 cup Green French Clay — A key spa ingredient which helps remove surface dirt and dead skin cells.
- 1/4 cup Milk — Moisturizes, nourishes and softens the skin.
- 1 TB Honey — Has moisturizing and antiseptic properties.
- 2 TB Orange Juice — Packed with Vitamin C which helps soften skin.
- 1 TB Olive Oil — Calms, soothes, softens, cleanses and moisturizes skin.
- 1 tsp Orange Peel — Makes a useful exfoliating scrub.
- 10 drops Orange Essential Oil — Softens and hydrates skin.
You’ll also need the following things for your foot masque treatment:
- foot bath
- 1 bath towel
- 1 tsp Orange Flower Water — (in a spray bottle) Tones and moisturizes all skin types.
- 2 dark medium sized towels – soaked in hot water and wrung out.
- 2 dark medium sized towels – dry
- 2 plastic bags
- moisturizer for your feet
- Remember that orange that was left over from the cookie recipe? Here is your chance to use it. First grate about a teaspoonful of the zest. Then peel the orange. Taste a couple of the orange segments for a snack. Then put the rest of the segments of the orange into a bowl to catch the juices while you use a mandolin to chop them into a pulp.
- Combine the green French clay, orange juice/pulp and orange zest in a separate mixing bowl to have them ready to go.
- When you’re ready to apply the masque to your feet, gently warm (do not boil) the milk and honey for a couple of minutes on low heat in a saucepan or in the microwave. Stir the warmed milk into the clay mixture.
- Then add the drops of the orange essential oil to the olive oil and then pour the oils over the clay mixture. Stir to combine. You should have the consistency of a loose pancake batter. (Reserve the orange flower water for the treatment).
- Soak your feet in a foot bath for at least 5 minutes. Blot dry with a bath towel. Save the bathwater to re-immerse your feet to remove the masque later.
- If you want to do a full pedicure today, do all of your nail work like clipping, filing and nipping first — but leave your polish application to the very end.
- Place a towel under your feet to catch any drippings.
- Add the warmed milk and honey to the clay mix and prepare your masque. (step 3 above).
- Spray your feet with the orange flower water.
- Scoop some wet clay into your palms and apply the masque quickly, while it’s still warm, to each foot, avoiding the nails.
- Wrap each foot in a towel that has been soaked in hot water and wrung out. Then wrap each foot in a dry towel. Then put each foot in a plastic bag.
- Put your feet up and relax for at least 10 minutes.
- Unwrap the right foot and remove as much product as possible with the damp towel. Repeat with the left foot. Place each foot back in the foot bath to rinse the remainder of the masque. Pat dry with your bath towel.
- Apply moisturizer to each foot.
- Apply nail polish (optional).
For more home spa recipes, buy a copy of my book, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way, available through this website.