Happy Garlic Day!

Posted by Maria on April 19, 2017 under Aromatherapy, Ayurveda & Elemental Nature, Bath and Body, Esthetics School, Face, Feet, Hair, Hands and Nails, Home spa, Homespunspa, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way book, Ingredients, Newspapers and Newsworthy, Nutrition, Self-Care, Skin Care, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized, Weight Management, Wellness | Be the First to Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

When you think of a spa, you probably don’t think about garlic at the same time, but did you know that garlic is actually a supernatural spa ingredient?

In honour of National Garlic Day on April 19th, here’s a quick snapshot about how garlic is used in cosmetics and how it can be used in the home spa.

GARLIC (Allium sativum):

  • Home spa recipes: extracts, baths, lotions. Garlic among the roses.
  • Role in cosmetic formulation: skin conditioning, masking.
  • Baths: Add whole cloves with their peel to bathwater for antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, and to treat ACNE scars.
  • Body: Add extract to a lotion to rub Rheumatic pain and to disinfect insect bites.
  • Feet: Apply to feet to heal corns and bunyans.
  • Food: Eat for flavour and nutrition and to help with colds, flu, asthma, bronchitis, fatigue, digestive problems, high blood pressure, vericose veins, Rheumatism, and to support healthy cholesterol levels.
  • Balances: Root (1st) and Third Eye (6th) chakras plus reduces Vata (Infinity/Air), Increases Pitta (Fire), Reduces Kapha (Water/Earth).
  • Find in: Healthfood stores, grocery stores, markets, wellness centres, pharmacies, cosmetics, food products, medications/supplements, gardens.
  • Caution: Garlic’s odour may be overpowering to the people around you.

Here’s a quote that talks about the aromatherapy side of garlic:

“I could smell garlic, butter, and wine – the world’s most delicious flavor combination. It made me feel warm, like the first few sips of wine always do,”
~ Sarah Jio, The Violets of March

So as you can see, even though it’s known as the “smelly rose,” garlic is still loved by millions around the world and has been regarded as both a food and a remedy since ancient times.

Here’s a Calendar of Wellness & Health Awareness Days in 2016

Posted by Maria on February 1, 2016 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Aromatherapy, Ayurveda & Elemental Nature, Bath and Body, Books, Magazines, Music, Creating Wellness ebook, Dating, Dear Homespunspa, Energy Healing, Esthetics School, Face, Facials, Fashion, Feet, Fitness, Gift Ideas, Green Living, Hair, Hands and Nails, Home spa, Homespunspa, Homespunspa Wellness Tour, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way book, Humour, Ingredients, Life Coaching, Manicures, Massages, Meditation, Mobile Spa, Newspapers and Newsworthy, Nutrition, Pedicures, Pets, Photo gallery, Pop-Psychology, Recipes, Seasonal, Self-Care, Skin Care, Sleep, Spa Party, Spa Review, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Spirituality, Stress Management and Relaxation, Supernatural Spa on VoiceAmerica, TV Shows & Movies, Travel, Uncategorized, Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, Weight Management, Wellness, Yoga | Read the First Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Wellness Coach

Here’s a calendar of Wellness and Health Awareness Days, Weeks, and Months for Canadians in 2016. Hopefully, these health promotion days will inspire you to practice self-care throughout the seasons. (For a deeper look at why self-care is so important, please read my blog post “Is Self-Care Selfish?”

On occasion, I’ve also included links to blog posts I’ve written about practicing on-going self-care that tie into these events and to my Homespunspa Mobile Spa and wellness coaching services. I’ve just realized how much writing I’ve been doing over the last few years! :)

As I’m compiling this list, I’m counting my blessings and I’m really grateful for my good health. With these special days and holidays as door openers, there are literally hundreds of ways we can all reach out to the people around us and celebrate life together.

Please visit Health Canada for active links to the websites of the health-related organizations. Also, if any of these organizations resonate strongly with you, consider volunteering, donating money, or participating in their events. As you can see, there are lots of needs to fill in this world, so help where you can (especially if you’re looking for your life’s purpose) to make the world a better place for all of us.

P.S. #1: As you read this list, you might find yourself saying, “There’s a day for that?” more than once. To answer your question, yes, yes, there is. Thank you to all of the creative and caring people out there who have worked so hard to make these dates official on local, national, and international calendars.

P.S. #2: I’d really love it if you’d share these blog posts via social media with your friends, family, co-workers, and clients. Thank you in advance.

P.S. #3: If you know of a special health- and wellness-related day, week, or month that I haven’t mentioned, please leave a comment and let us know about it and I’ll update the list.

P.S. #4: If you have a wellness blog like mine, here’s a editorial calendar with tons of ideas of what you can write about over the course of the year. You’re welcome!

Wellness Oasis12 Months of Wellness and Health Awareness Days

In January, we have…

  • Alzheimer Awareness Month
  • Birthflowers of the Month include: Carnation, Snowdrop
  • Birthstones of the Month include: Emerald, Garnet, Rose Quartz
  • Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
  • Hot Tea Month (Tea Association of Canada) — Please see my blog post, “Less Caffeine is a Sleeper’s Dream.”
  • Human Trafficking Awareness Month
  • National Bath Safety Month (U.S.)
  • National Blood Donor Month
  • National Hobby Month (U.S.)
  • National Oatmeal Month (U.S.) — Please read my blog post, “Orange, Coconut & Cinnamon Cookie Recipe”
  • National Soup Month (U.S.)
  • National Train Your Dog Month (U.S.)
  • Walk Your Pet Month — Please read my blog post, “Highlights from my dog-sitting retreat to White Rock.”
  • New Year’s Day on January 1st — Please read my blog post, “Happy New Rear!”
  • Polar Bear Swim on January 1st
  • World Hypnotism Day on January 4th — Please read my blog post, “What is a Holistic Practioner?”
  • Clean Off Your Desk Day on January 11th
  • Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11th
  • National Rubber Ducky Day (U.S.) on January 13th
  • National Dress Up Your Pet Day (U.S.) on January 14th
  • SHE Day (600 Women talk business and leadership in Winnipeg, MB) on January 15th
  • Colour Days!!! Rainbow Day (let these colours inspire you throughout the day) (public Facebook Group) on January 17th
  • Ditch Your New Year’s Resolutions Day on January 17th — Please read my blog post, “Remember Your New Year’s Resolutions?”
  • National Non-Smoking Week from January 17th to January 23rd — Please see my blog post, “Is 2016 Your Year to Quit Smoking?”
  • National Popcorn Day (U.S.) on January 19th
  • Weedless Wednesday on January 20th
  • National Hugging Day on January 21st
  • National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day (U.S.) on January 22nd
  • Change a Pet’s Life Day on January 24th
  • Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day on January 25th
  • Family Literacy Day on January 27th — Please buy my Creating Wellness ebook on Amazon and read my blog post, “Sharing a Tip from my Creating Wellness Ebook on how to Sleep Better.”
  • International Lego Day on January 28th
  • Women’s Right to Vote in Canada 100th Anniversary on January 28th.

In February, we have…

  • Birthflowers of the Month include: Primrose, Violet
  • Birthstones of the Month include: Amethyst, Bloodstone, Moonstone, Onyx — Please read my blog post, “Cheers to the Chi Machine.”
  • Heart Health Month
  • National Cherry Month (U.S.) — Please read my blog post, “Top off your day with a cherry.”
  • Psychology Month — Please read my blog post, “How to feel a sense of wholeness within.”
  • Eating Disorders Awareness Week from February 1st to February 7th
  • Groundhog Day on February 2nd
  • Winter Walk Day on February 3rd — Please read my blog post, “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.”
  • World Cancer Day on February 4th
  • International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation on February 6th
  • White Cane Week (for the blind and vision-impaired community) from February 7th to February 13th
  • Chinese New Year Day of the Red Monkey Year on February 8th
  • Family Day in BC on February 8th
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Day on February 12th
  • Valentine’s Day on February 14th — Please read my blog post, “Tips for Lips.”
  • International Flirting Week from February 14th to February 20th
  • Family Day in AB, SK, ON on February 15th
  • Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show on February 15th and February 16th — Please read my blog post, “Highlights from my dog-sitting retreat to White Rock.”
  • Colour Days!!! Pink Day (let this colour inspire you throughout the day) (public Facebook Group) on February 17th
  • Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17th
  • Love your Pet Day on February 20th
  • Walking the Dog Day on February 22nd
  • Tennis Day on February 23rd
  • Pink Shirt Day (anti-bullying movement) on February 24th
  • Oscar Sunday on February 28th — Please see my blog post, “SPARTY! So Glamourous!”
  • Floral Design Day on February 28th
  • National Science Day on February 28th
  • Leap Day on February 29th

In March, we have…

In April, we have…

In May, we have…

  • Birthflowers of the Month include: Hawthorne, Lily of the Valley
  • Birthstones of the Month include: Agate, Beryl, Chrysoprase, Emerald, Saffier
  • Celiac Awareness Month — Please read my blog post, “How to get rid of rash under breasts.”
  • Cystic Fibrosis Month
  • Food Allergy Awareness Month — Please see my blog post, “Can’t Have your Dairy and Yogurt Too?”
  • Foot Health Awareness Month — Please read my blog post, “It’s Footbath Friday.”
  • Hepatitis Awareness Month
  • Huntington’s Disease Awareness Month
  • MedicAlert Month
  • Multiple Sclerosis Month
  • National Hemochromatosis Awareness Month (Iron Overload)
  • National Pet Month (U.S.)
  • National Physiotherapy Month
  • National Skin Cancer Awareness Month (U.S.) — Please read my blog post, “Mountains or Molehills?”
  • Speech and Hearing Awareness Month
  • Vision Health Month
  • Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanups from March 1st to July 31st — Please read my blog post, “Clean Up Crew Heads to Gonzales Bay Beach.”
  • Executive Coaching Day on May 1st
  • Lyme Disease Awareness Day on May 1st
  • National Hospice Palliative Care Week from May 1st to May 7th
  • National Pet Week (U.S.) from May 1st to May 7th
  • Olympic Torch Relay for the Rio 2016 Games begins in Brasilia on May 3rd — Please see my blog post, “Olympics Day 1 and Homespunspa Was There!”
  • Walk So Kids Can Talk (event for Kids Help Phone) on May 3rd
  • World Asthma Day on May 3rd
  • World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd — Please read my blog post, “Homespunspa is Featured in Spa Life Magazine.”
  • May the Fourth Be With You Day (National Star Wars Day) on May 4th
  • Melanoma Monday on May 4th — Please read my blog post, “Mountains or Molehills?”
  • National Orange Juice Day on May 4th — Please read my blog post, “Put your feet up — home spa masque recipe for your good ol’ feet.”
  • Cinco de Mayo on May 5th
  • National Day of Prayer (U.S.) on May 5th
  • Save Lives: Clean Your Hands (WHO’s global annual call to action for health workers) on May 5th — Please read my blog post, “Washing Dishes — Good Clean Fun.”
  • World Pulmonary Hypertension Day on May 5th — Please read my blog post, “Do you have Insomnia?”
  • International No Diet Day on May 6th
  • National Tourist Appreciation Day (U.S.) on May 6th
  • Space Day on May 6th
  • HerbDay on May 7th — Please read my blog post, “Sage: A Scent for the Season.”
  • Join Hands Day (dedicated to bringing a union between the older & younger generations) on May 7th — Please read my blog post, “We Love Referrals! :)
  • National Babysitters’ Day (U.S.) on May 7th
  • World Labyrinth Day on May 7th — Please read my blog post, “Find Peace of Mind As You Walk a Labyrinth.”
  • Mental Health Week from May 2nd to May 8th — Please read my blog post, “There’s no crying in baseball.”
  • Mother’s Day on May 8th — Please read my blog post, “Give the Gift of Homespunspa Mobile Spa this Mother’s Day.”
  • White Lotus Day (encouraging meditation) on May 8th
  • World Red Cross Day on May 8th
  • Naturopathic Medicine Week from May 9th to May 15th — Please read my blog post, “I’m going on a Wellness Tour.”
  • National Nursing Week from May 9th to May 16th
  • Sun Awareness Week (U.K.) from May 9th to May 16th — Please read my blog post, “Ask Maria about Aveda.”
  • International Awareness Day for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Fibromyalgia and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity on May 12th
  • International Nursing Day on May 12th
  • International Hummus Day on May 13th
  • Friday the 13th on May 13th, 2016 — Please see my blog post, “Are you a Superstitious Sleeper?”
  • International Migratory Bird Day on May 14th
  • International Coaching Week (ICW) (International Coaching Federation) from May 16th to May 22nd — Please read my blog post, “How to use the Acceptance Factor to Shift Subconscious Beliefs.”
  • Colour Days!!! Turquoise/Teal Day (let this colour inspire you throughout the day) (public Facebook Group) on May 17th
  • International Day Against Homophobia on May 17th
  • World Hypertension Day on May 17th
  • International Museum Day on May 18th
  • World Autoimmune Arthritis Day on May 20th
  • National Learn to Swim Day on May 21st
  • World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development on May 21st
  • Paramedic Services Week from May 22nd to May 28th
  • Victoria Day on May 23rd — Please read my blog post, “Victoria is the Fashion Capital of Canada.”
  • Sunscreen Day on May 27th
  • Amnesty International Day on May 28th
  • International Jazz Day on May 28th
  • National Multiple Births Awareness Day on May 28th
  • World No-Tobacco Day on May 31st
  • Bike to Work Week BC from May 30th to June 5th

In June, we have…

In July, we have…

  • Birthflowers of the Month include: Delphinium, Larkspur, Water Lily
  • Birthstones of the Month include: Carnelian, Ruby
  • National Blueberry Month (U.S.)
  • Personal Health Month — Please see my blog post, “Stay Cool as a Cucumber this Summer.”
  • Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanups from March 1st to July 31st — Please read my blog post, “Clean Up Crew Heads to Gonzales Bay Beach.”
  • Canada Day on July 1st — Please read my blog post, “My Pick for the #1 Spa Ingredient Native to Canada (2014)”
  • Independence Day (U.S.) on July 4th
  • International Kissing Day on July 6th
  • World Chocolate Day on July 7th
  • World Population Day on July 11th
  • National Nude Day on July 14th
  • Colour Days!!! Blue Day (let this colour inspire you throughout the day) (public Facebook Group) on July 17th
  • Cousins Day on July 24th
  • International Self-Care Day (ISF) on July 24th — Please read my blog post, “Is Self-Care Selfish?”
  • Parents Day on July 24th
  • Aunt and Uncle Day on July 26th
  • World Hepatitis Day on July 28th
  • Color Me Rad 5K Run (Vancouver) on July 30th
  • International Day of Friendship on July 30th — Please see my blog post, “Checklist for a Successful Spa Party.”

In August, we have…

In September, we have…

In October, we have…

In November, we have…

In December, we have…

Kale Chips, My New Favourite Spa Snack

Posted by Maria on May 5, 2012 under Green Living, Hands and Nails, Home spa, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way book, Ingredients, Manicures, Massages, Nutrition, Photo gallery, Recipes, Skin Care, Spa Party, Uncategorized, Weight Management, Wellness | 2 Comments to Read

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.

Kale Chips

  • 1 bunch Black Kale (Lacinato)
  • 1 TB Olive Oil
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder (optional)

Method:

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!

Mani & Pedi Pledge Drive Update!

Posted by Maria on May 5, 2011 under Fitness, Hands and Nails, Manicures, Mobile Spa, Newspapers and Newsworthy, Pedicures, Photo gallery, Uncategorized | Read the First Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

As many of you know, in the month of April, 2011, I had the idea of giving manicures and pedicures by donation to raise funds for the people hurt by the earthquake and tsunami that shook Japan in March. I am truly inspired by all of the people who supported my idea and together we raised $355. I hope the money we raised will contribute to the Red Cross’ Relief efforts and that the people of Japan will be comforted by knowing that strangers from other lands care.

I chose this photo of chartreuse flowers to accompany this blog post because to me it says “vibrant,” “hope” and a “fresh start” and somehow, spring will come again.

I would like to thank the Red Cross for your hard work. The world is a better place by having you here.

And thank you to everyone who participated in the Homespunspa Mani & Pedi Pledge Drive, especially to Donna, my Jazzercise instructor, who helped spread the word. I really enjoyed spending time with each of the women who signed up for an appointment. And as an added bonus, I had a chance to get to know people a little bit better and to also strengthen my own community at a grass roots level. It’s win, win, win!

Mani & Pedi Pledge Drive for Earthquake Relief

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

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your generosity.

See you in April.

Pick Purple Polish for your New Year’s Eve Party

Posted by Maria on December 28, 2010 under Esthetics School, Fashion, Feet, Hands and Nails, Home spa, Manicures, Pedicures, Photo gallery, Spa Party, Uncategorized | 3 Comments to Read

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

I don’t know about you but I always feel naked if I go to a formal party and my nails aren’t done. New Year’s Eve is coming up quickly but there’s still time to polish up your look and paint your nails. May I suggest something in the purple family? It’s one of the hottest colour trends in fashion these days and it also happens to be my favourite colour, too.

Manicured hand with 5 kinds of purple.
And why not pair purple with the one of the other hot trends of 2010? How about glam-gliding your way into 2011 with shiny and glittery metallics or rich and luxy gem stones? From pinky to thumb on the above graphic, here are my colour choices from OPI.

  1. Rumple’s Wiggin’ — For some odd reason, neutrals — and particularly grays — are hugely popular this season. Wear big fat rings with this one.
  2. Funky Dunky — This lovely colour was inspired by the Shrek movie.
  3. Show It & Glow It — Glam it up with glitter. Who cares if the speckled polish doesn’t come off easily. Worry about that next year.
  4. Royal Rajah Ruby — This jewel tone will make you feel like a dancing queen as you ring in the new year.
  5. Siberian Nights — At first glance, you might think this polish is black, but it’s actually a very, very, deep, deep purple. Next to candle light, this colour really rocks.

When I was in school, we used OPI for all of our manicures and pedicures and that’s why I’m recommending this brand in my blog today. Everybody always laughs out loud when they hear the names of the colours they choose.

Helping someone decide on a nail colour reminds me of one of my appointments last summer when I was learning how to do pedicures in school. The woman, let’s call her Wanda, was going to a wedding on the weekend and wanted a colour that would work at a formal party and would go with her dress. As we looked through the basket of polishes, I suggested a lovely black one with shiny, silver specks. I had seen the celebrities wear black nail polish and I thought it would be perfect. Wanda agreed. I was so proud and I think she went home happy. My teacher gave me a good mark but asked, “Why on earth did she pick that colour? It’s like the hottest day of the year and this one, how it got back into the basket I’ll never know, was a part of a special holiday collection from last Christmas.”

Oh. Nail polish colours are seasonal. Lesson learned.

Happy New Year Everybody!

Three Wise Home Spa Gifts: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

Posted by Maria on December 21, 2009 under Aromatherapy, Bath and Body, Books, Magazines, Music, Gift Ideas, Hands and Nails, Home spa, Homespunspa, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way book, Ingredients, Photo gallery, Recipes, Self-Care, Sleep, Spirituality, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized | 5 Comments to Read

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Winter Solstice is here. Today, December 21st, is the shortest day in terms of day light hours of the year. The sun will set in these parts at 4:17 pm and the day is already gray and overcast to begin with. On the bright side, the days are going to start getting longer again for the next six months starting tomorrow.

It seems like only yesterday I was writing about Summer Solstice and talking with my Swedish friends about how they sleep in broad daylight. I suspect they’re not having too much trouble in that regard these days.

My version of the star of wonder -- it's actually a photo I took of a lunar eclipse in March 2007.

My version of the star of wonder -- it's actually a photo I took of a lunar eclipse in March 2007.

All of this talk about astronomy is leading me to think about the night sky and how the three Wise Men followed the brightest star that would eventually lead them to the baby Jesus so they could deliver their gifts. If you want a refresher on the story, here are the words to the Christmas carol, We Three Kings of Orient Are, words and music by John H. Hopkins.

We Three Kings of Orient Are

(1) We Three Kings of Orient Are,
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

(chorus)

O, star of wonder
star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright.
Westward leading still proceeding,
Guide us to Thy perfect light.

(2) Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain,
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.
(chorus)

(3) Frankincense to offer have I,
Incense owns a Deity nigh.
Prayer and praising, all men raising,
Worship Him, God most high.
(chorus)

(4) Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.
(chorus)

(5) Glorious now behold Him arise,
King and God and sacrifice.
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Earth to heav’n replies.
(chorus)

Back in the days of yore, gold, frankincense and myrrh were considered the creme de la creme of gifts — if you had to shop for a king or queen or royalty of any kind, these presents would have been the way to go. These days, you don’t hear much about frankincense and myrrh, but of course, you still can’t go wrong by giving someone gold, (hint, hint:>).

Have you ever thought about adding gold, frankincense and myrrh to your home spa?

If you want to use frankincense, here is a lovely recipe for a Shower Sachet. Hanging this herbal sachet from your shower head as the water runs will generate a steamy aroma to take care of your mood, skin, hair and breathing passages all at the same time.

Shower Sachet

from the book, How to Throw a Home Spa Pajama Party the Homespunspa Way, by Maria Koropecky, page 78.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp cardamom seeds — Helpful in the home spa as a tension reliever, digestive aid and skin conditioner.
  • 1 tsp thyme — Good for sleep. Adds shine and strength to dark hair.
  • 1 tsp spearmint — Makes a refreshing, aromatic tea which chases away feverish colds, aids digestion, freshens breath and cools skin.
  • 1 tsp sage — Combines with other herbs to induce sleep. Treats normal or damaged hair, giving it extra shine and covers gray stands.
  • 1 tsp Frankincense crystals — Enhance deep breathing and meditation.
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds — Used to tone the scalp and to wash normal hair.
  • 1 tsp yarrow — Used for insomnia, headaches. Improves hair’s manageability. Excellent for oily or problem skin.
  • 1 tsp lemon peel — Can be massaged into temples for headaches or added to bath products for zesty aroma.

Method:  The easiest thing to use for the shower sachet is a pre-made (drawstring included) organza gift bag that you can find in a craft store. Or you can make your own pouch with cheesecloth and some ribbon. Place the herbs in the small bag and secure the opening.

Manner:  Squeeze the bag with your fingers to release the aroma and tie it to the shower head so the water hits it as it runs. Turn on the shower and step inside. The steam from the shower should intensify the aroma of the herbs and your tension will evaporate. Your hair and skin will also benefit from the herbs.

Storage / Shelf-Life:  Shelf-life will last at least 3 months, depending on the freshness of the original ingredients.

And if you want to use myrrh, here is a recipe for an exfoliating scrub. Ground rosehips add delightful red flecks to this purely luxurious recipe and you’ll be surprised by the depth of fragrance coming from the myrrh.

Sugar & Myrrh Massage Scrub for Hands

from the book, How to Throw a Home Spa Pajama Party the Homespunspa Way, by Maria Koropecky, page 56.

  • 1 cup sugar — Granules are abrasive and make sweet alternatives to salt in exfoliating scrubs.
  • 1 TB myrrh gum powder — Rich, exotic, velvety and smoky. It is known to treat dry skin and gum problems.
  • 1 tsp rosehips, ground — Antidepressant and sedative. Add to beauty recipes for scent, colour and for their astringent, anti-inflammatory and wrinkle-reducing properties.
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil — Ideal for massage because it is light, non-greasy, odourless and leaves a satin-smooth finish on skin.

Method:  Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Manner:  Massage mixture on your hands for a minute. Rinse off with warm water.

Storage / Shelf-Life:  Keep leftovers in a sterilized jar in the fridge. Use within 3 months.

So I’ve got the frankincense and myrrh covered, but gold in a home spa treatment, you ask? Yes, it’s possible. Nowadays, you can find edible (food grade) gold leaf to add to your home spa recipes. And gold is not just a pretty face. Gold smooths out wrinkles, draws out impurities, softens skin and reduces puffiness. Gold gets glowing reviews all around. Apparently, Cleopatra, the mother of all home spa beauty secrets, slept with a gold mask on her face every night.

The thing is, I haven’t developed or tested a home spa recipe using gold yet. That’s on my to do list over the holidays. But here’s your chance to contribute a recipe to this blog. If you have a recipe using gold, by all means, post it here. You can leave your golden home spa recipe in a comment and I’ll make sure it appears online. I would really appreciate it. And as always, if you don’t know where you can find any of these ingredients or supplies, ask me and I’ll shed some light on the path for you.

Cranberry Body Lotion Recipe

Posted by Maria on November 26, 2009 under Aromatherapy, Gift Ideas, Green Living, Hands and Nails, Home spa, Homespunspa, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way book, Ingredients, Recipes, Self-Care, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized, Wellness | Read the First Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday of the year because it’s all-inclusive and not restricted to any one group of people and it doesn’t have commercial hype surrounding it. I don’t know why Thanksgiving isn’t more popular outside of America and we’ve been basking in this gravy boat since the mid-1800’s. It’s about celebrating the harvest, being thankful and spending time with your loved ones. And I love the Thanksgiving day dinner menu — turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing and Brussels sprouts and pumpkin pie, etc., etc., etc. This year, as my neighbours south of the border are celebrating Thanksgiving, I’m thinking about cranberries.

The fourth Thursday of November also marks the beginning of the Christmas holiday season, so I thought I would put together a series of home spa gift ideas and recipes for people to make themselves and give as gifts this year, all on a modest budget. I’m all for hand made and home made Christmas gifts. This recipe is my first post of this series:

Cranberry Body Lotion

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp cocoa butter — Used in skincare for its moisturizing and cleansing properties.
  • 1 tsp coconut oil — Moisturizes skin, conditions hair and the scent can whisk your imagination off to a tropical beach.
  • 1/2 cup apricot kernel oil — A popular carrier oil since it is emollient and nourishing and leaves the skin feeling soft.
  • 1 tsp beeswax — Can be used in many applications around the spa but is most often used for its comforting scent and to thicken cosmetics.
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice — Cranberries are loaded with Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. The juice can be taken internally as a drink or applied externally for healthy skin. Cranberries have anti-bacterial properties which act as a natural preservative in the recipe.
  • 1 tsp aloe vera gel — Soothing, cooling and is an anti-irritant. The gel-like substance is an excellent natural remedy for any skin problem.
  • 1/2 tsp glycerin — A vegetable product which comes out as a clear syrup and is a natural moisturizer which adds body to beauty recipes.
  • 1 tsp honey — A natural humectant, honey has moisturizing and antiseptic qualities. It’s ideal for treating chapped lips and wrinkles.
  • 1 Vitamin E oil capsule — Vitamin E can be found in over-the-counter capsules in pharmacies or in liquid form or in foods like vegetable oils, whole grains, wheatgerm and nuts. It helps prevent scar tissue and may reduce anxiety. It is also widely used as a natural preservative.
  • 5 drops orange essential oil — uplifting orange eases depression, calms anxiety and lulls nervous tension. It also softens and hydrates skin, making it a pleasant addition to bath products.

Method: Melt the cocoa butter and coconut oil in the microwave or in the top pan of a double boiler. Blend in the apricot oil over low heat.

In a separate deep bowl, using an electric hand mixer or wire whisk, mix together the cranberry juice, aloe vera, glycerin, honey and Vitamin E.

To combine the two liquids, drizzle in a small amount of warm oil mixture into the bowl with the cranberry juice and beat or whisk vigorously (as if making an emulsified salad dressing). Continue to drizzle and blend until all of the oil is infused with the juice. Stir in 5 drops of orange essential oil.

Manner: After a lengthy soak in the tub or hot shower, apply the lotion to your body to help the skin retain moisture.

Storage/Shelf Life: Pour into a sterilized container and label. Shake the contents of the bottle as the mixture may have separated since you’ve made it. Will last up to 1 year.

I hope you enjoy making this recipe and get good results. The cranberry juice will add a pink tinge to the lotion and will be festive for this time of year. Make a note to come back to this blog over the next few weeks for more home spa gift ideas and quick and easy recipes.

And please let me know what kinds of recipes you would like me to showcase here. I’m open to suggestions.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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A Home Spa Manicure — It’s like a bubble bath for your hands

Posted by Maria on November 20, 2009 under Dating, Hands and Nails, Home spa, Homespunspa, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way book, Ingredients, Manicures, Recipes, Self-Care, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized, Wellness | 3 Comments to Read

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.

homespunspa-logoAs 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

  • Soaking
  • Exfoliating
  • Cleaning
  • Shaping
  • Massaging
  • Moisturizing
  • Buffing
  • Painting

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Ingredients

  • 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:

  1. Apply moisturizing cream.
  2. Stroke down from your wrist to your knuckle.
  3. Squeeze between each finger with the thumb and index finger of the other hand.
  4. Massage between and along each finger with firm circular movements.
  5. Scissor each finger with the first and second fingers of the other hand, pulling firmly and gently from the base to the tips.
  6. Massage the palm of one hand with the thumb of the other, using a circular motion.
  7. Using firm, upward movements, stroke excess oil from the palm to the elbow. Lift the hand away at the end of each stroke.
  8. 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.

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