I’ve got the old car blues

Posted by Maria on July 26, 2009 under Ingredients, Newspapers and Newsworthy, Pop-Psychology, Sleep, Stress Management and Relaxation, TV Shows & Movies, Uncategorized | 15 Comments to Read

By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

I’m on a mission to buy a new car. As much as I love my 1990 Ford Taurus wagon, it’s time.

Last week, I had to pick my mom up from the airport and on my way I had to go through one of those drinking and driving checkpoints. As I slowed down and pulled up to the police officer, he took a giant step back, put his hands in the air like he was being arrested and said, “Whoa!” At first I thought it was my garlic breath from dinner but then I realized it was the sound my car was making. It’s rattling. Something is shaking loose and I have no idea what it could be. People are staring at me as I’m driving around town. (At least they’re not pointing and laughing… yet) I’m just praying to get back home safely as I’m clutching my steering wheel.

The car I call the Blue Raul. Notice the missing hubcap. Not bad for 19 years old.

The car I call the Blue Raul. Notice the missing hubcap. Not bad for 19 years old.

The stress of driving around in an old car is one thing but the stress of buying a new car is another. I must admit, I am losing sleep over this.

They say, (whoever “they” are) that buying a new car is one of the most stressful experiences in a person’s life. I guess it’s stressful because cars are a big ticket item and nobody wants to pay more than they have to and then get stuck with a lemon. Have you ever noticed how the temperature goes up a few degrees in a room (air conditioned or not) when people talk about money?

Anytime I think of sales people, I picture “Herb Tarlek” from WKRP in Cincinnati with his checkered polyester jackets and big white belts giving me some slick sales pitch that I somehow can’t resist.

It just seems that salespeople have advantages over people like me. They’re pros in this game and I do this once every 10 years or so, if that. They know the game and they have their strategies. The thing I don’t like is how they size you up the minute they meet you and then decide how they’re going to manipulate you into spending your money, so they can make a living, all the while being “friendly.” I’m not a poker player, never have been, and they can see me a mile away. I’m doing my best not to show my hand. That’s the stress and pressure for me.

If I don’t want the wool pulled over my eyes, I have to come prepared. And I have advantages too. First of all, I can do research on the different car models I’m interested in ahead of time. I can decide how much money I’m willing to spend right now and not let them convince me to spend a penny more. I also have the bad economy on my side (there’s something you don’t hear every day) because generally, most people aren’t buying new vehicles these days.

My accountant also told me, “the best time to buy a new car is at the end of the month (last day is best) because the sales reps have to make their sales quotas and if they don’t want to lose their jobs because they’re not making any sales, they’re much more flexible with price.” And the end of August is even better because it’s the end of the season and they want to get rid of the old models before they bring in the new ones. I don’t know if I can wait till the end of August, so the end of July will have to do.

So yesterday I made an appointment to take my first test drive. I was interested in the Pontiac Vibe. My sales rep didn’t turn out to be Herb Tarlek after all. She didn’t pressure me at all and didn’t make me feel stupid.

I liked driving the Vibe but it had a cigarette smell in it that put me off a bit. My sales rep said they can “Ozonate” the car to get rid of the smell, but I wasn’t so sure. Is that service something they would add to my price or is that something I can use to lower my price? Or is it six and one half dozen of the other?

Then she introduced me to the Chevrolet HHR, a model I had never heard of before. And I haven’t noticed any on the roads. It’s kind of funky looking but it’s growing on me. I liked the ride very much and I thought the dials on the 1940’s style dash board were very elegant. And I liked how I could plug in my iPod. Going from a cassette player to mp3 technology is pretty cool. I especially liked the feature that tells you how many kilometres you have left in your gas tank (as my sales rep said, “Who wouldn’t like that?” — I said, “Me, I like living on the edge”) and another feature that tells you — to the percentage — when you should change your oil. For someone like me who is clueless about car maintenance — this is a huge bonus! Less stress, less stress, less stress.

I said I would have to do some research on this car but I’m strongly considering it. But what kind of name is HHR — just doesn’t roll off the tongue. We’ll see. And the Vibe is still an contender, too.

Today I’m going on more test drives at a different dealership to see what else is out there. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, check out this article about car colours and how they reflect your personality. My current blue car says I’m a communicator. There’s a surprise.


What your car colour reveals about you
Psychology behind choice



“Automakers conduct all sorts of studies to determine which colours consumers will pick when buying a new car, but, sometimes, according to DuPont, psychology, cultural influences and science also play roles in colour preference...”

Sleep Concierge on Duty

Posted by Maria on July 13, 2009 under Dear Homespunspa, Homespunspa, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way book, Photo gallery, Self-Care, Sleep, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized | 8 Comments to Read

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa Sleep Concierge

Hi. My name is Maria and I am the owner of Homespunspa, a service that specializes in teaching people how to create their own home spa treatments to relax and improve the quality of their lives. My main focus is on stress management, self-care and sleep.

Homespunspa is a services that teaches recipes for sleep and beauty.

Homespunspa is a services that teaches recipes for sleep and beauty.

The concepts of sleep and relaxation have always interested me. As a child, I worried a lot and slept little and have spent my life looking for ways to calm my nerves and sleep through the night.

On my quest to relax, I’ve also learned that establishing a regular sleep pattern in your life is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. Alternatively, the consequences of sleep deprivation can show up in your appearance, quality of life and relationships and be very ugly.

The worst bout of insomnia I had was back in 1996-1997 while I was living in downtown Toronto. I was house-sitting for some people for several months and somehow acquired a terrible mouse problem. It really grossed me out to the point where I was on red alert for any signs or sounds of mice throughout the night. I won’t go into the gory details because I don’t care to think about them. Let’s just say it was awful and I was running ragged. I would even go to work several hours early just to get out of the house.

So I can relate to anyone out there who is experiencing some problem with their sleep. And even though I’m writing this several years later and am living in a different province and I have a cat to protect me from anything rodent, I can still clearly remember the agony I went through during that time in my life.

But I guess everything happens for a reason and maybe, just maybe I had to experience that episode to plant the seeds for Homespunspa. And now I think I have the listening skills and the compassion to help people get through their own insomnia trials.

So, with that said, I am opening up a new category in my blog called, Dear Homespunspa. You can ask me any questions that you might have in regards to getting a better night’s sleep. Just like 5-star hotels have a sleep concierges on duty to help you find the perfect pillow, I can draw on my own (non-medical) expertise to get you back on track to sleeping through the night.

Dear Homespunspa:

To ask me a question about sleeping, snoozing, slumbering, dozing, catching your zzz’s, or whatever you like to call it, you can contact me in several ways.

  • Checking out the rest of my website is a good place to start at: http://www.homespunspa.com;
  • You can also read through the archives of this blog for tips: http://www.homespunspa.com/blog/;
  • You can leave a comment anywhere in the blog;
  • You can buy a copy of my book, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa Way ($24 CAD plus shipping) for unique, sweet-smelling home spa treatment recipes; and
  • You can email me at homespunspa at shaw dot ca.

There’s no reason for you to toss and turn another night. You owe it to yourself to get some answers. Please contact me and maybe we can sort this out. I’m on Pacific Time.

Sweet dreams and sleep tight.

Squeeze some lemon verbena into your home spa

Posted by Maria on July 5, 2009 under Aromatherapy, Green Living, Home spa, Homespunspa, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way book, Ingredients, Photo gallery, Recipes, Self-Care, Sleep, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized, Yoga | 7 Comments to Read

By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

I went to the 5th annual Organic Islands Festival & Sustainability Expo with my friend Faith. What a lovely way to spend a summer’s day.

Held at Glendale Gardens in Victoria, BC, this was not something to rush through. I’m glad we got there at 10:00 am just as the gates were opening because that gave us time to stroll through the whole place and chat with vendors along the way as we nibbled on the free samples made with organic ingredients. We were there under the hot summer sun for 4 hours!

I was mostly looking for ideas and products that would fit in nicely with the Homespunspa philosophy of stress management, self-care and sleep. Although I didn’t find a close match, I realized that meant there would be room for Homespunspa next year. Time to start planning.

As we walked through the gardens, we learned about local yoga classes, shea butter, hemp, agave syrup, juicers, composting, old-growth forests, vegetarian diets, etc., etc., etc. I bought some organic salmon treats for my cat, Charlie — which he gives a thumbs up to — and I gave a couple of dollars to the Green Party of Canada. Faith bought a lovely purple scarf. We each sat in the air chair to test it out and to me, it was like sitting in a space shuttle. Fun, fun, fun.

My favourite moment was when I stumbled upon some lemon verbena. I bought a cutting from certified organic, Echo Valley Farm and was so excited, Faith had to buy one too. Everyone who was in earshot of us wanted to buy their own also, but we took the last two.

The next time you come across a lemon verbena plant, rub the leaves with your thumb and forefinger and you’ll immediately fall in love with the bright, lemon fragrance. It’s a perfect ingredient for a home spa. It’s also, as I learned in my research, Scarlett O’Hara’s mother’s favourite herb.

Organic lemon verbena plant.

Organic lemon verbena plant.

Because it is one my faves too, I have many recipes using lemon verbena in my “How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way” book ($24 CAD plus shipping).

Tea made from lemon verbena leaves is mildly relaxing yet refreshing at the same time. Drink a cup for sleeplessness, nervousness, irritability, bronchial and nasal congestion, indigestion, nausea and flavour.

Here is a recipe for Loungey Lemony Tea from page 93 of my book. Drink this bright and cheerful tea to help you manage stress and relax.

Loungey Lemony Tea


  • 2 TB lemongrass — Tones oily skin and leaves hair feeling soft and conditioned. As a tea, it can be taken to diminish headaches, digestive problems and fevers.
  • 1 TB lemon verbena — Tea is mildly sedative. Fragrance lends itself well to baths and is soothing for puffy eyes. Not recommended for pregnant women.
  • 1 TB lemon balm — Calms depression and restlessness. Useful in treating inflamed skin, conditions oily hair.
  • 1 TB oatstraw — Helps manage stress. High in B vitamins, calcium, iron and zinc, tea also nourishes bones, teeth, hair.
  • 2 tsp passionflower — Makes a sedative tea useful for anxiety, insomnia, PMS, tension. Soft on skin in beauty recipes. Use only Passiflora incarnata. Not for pregnant women.
  • 2 tsp rosehips — Anti-depressant and sedative. Can be added to beauty recipes for fragrance and for their astringent, anti-inflammatory and wrinkle-reducing properties.
  • 2 tsp calendula — Good for all skin types. Antiseptic, astringent, cleansing, moisturizing, toning.
  • 2 tsp skullcap — Steep as a relaxing tea to strengthen nerves, soothe headaches, reduce muscle cramps, calm anxiety, help digestion and clear away insomnia.
  • 1 tsp lemon peel — Can be massaged into temples for headaches or added to relaxing tea blends for flavour or to baths for their zesty aroma.

Method: Combine dried herbs and flowers and store in an airtight, light-proof canister.

Manner: Place 1 tablespoon of loose tea in a tea pot. Boil 2 cups of water and pour over herbs. Steep for 5 minutes. Strain out the herbs and pour into cups. It’s also great cold, over ice.

Caution: Prolonged use may cause stomach irritations, photosensitivity and may irritate skin. Not recommended for pregnant women.

In addition to drinking this tea, Loungey Lemon Tea is a great recipe to pour into an aromatherapy bath that will soften your skin and inspire sweet dreams.

For more information on Canada’s largest outdoor green festival, visit, organicislands.ca

Top off your day with a cherry

Posted by Maria on July 1, 2009 under Books, Magazines, Music, Home spa, Homespunspa, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way book, Ingredients, Photo gallery, Recipes, Sleep, Uncategorized, Weight Management | 3 Comments to Read

Happy Birthday Canada!

To celebrate this year, I’m going to go to a cherry stand in my rural neighbourhood and buy a basket full of fresh local cherries.

Locally-grown cherries.

Locally-grown cherries.

They’re totally in season right now and they match our beloved maple leaf Canadian flag. And everybody knows that it’s not a sundae until there’s a cherry on top.

But did you know that cherries are also a wonderful sleep aid? As much as I like having a holiday from my day job in the middle of the week on a Wednesday, it might disrupt my sleep patterns by sleeping in and staying out later. I’m hoping that eating some fresh cherries tonight might help keep me on track.

The secret is melatonin.

Do you ever wonder how your body knows what time it is? As we go about our life, day by day, our body is constantly monitoring the environment and is making infinitesimal calculations and adjustments that we don’t have to consciously think about – thank goodness, because I already have enough on my plate. Studying circadian rhythms is complex and fascinating and sunlight is one of the elements that cues our bodies to function. And sleeping is an important part of that whole process.

Nightfall triggers an increase in the production of melatonin which prepares the body for sleep. Melatonin is a potent antioxidant and hormone produced in the pea-sized pineal gland, which regulates the body’s circadian rhythms and sleep-wake cycles. As people age, melatonin levels decrease and that may account for some insomnia in adults. Of course, living in a world where artificial light is available 24-hours a day, has screwed up our internal clocks to a certain degree also.

Melatonin production is stimulated by darkness to induce sleepiness and low melatonin levels at night will contribute to insomnia or jagged sleep. So, even increasing your melatonin levels slightly at night can improve the quality of your sleep.

Russel J. Reiter, Ph.D. of the University of Texas has been researching the effects of melatonin for 30 years and is co-author with Jo Robinson of the book, Melatonin published in 1996 by Bantam. Dr. Reiter proposes that eating a handful of tart cherries, (a good food source of melatonin) before bedtime, may help increase melatonin levels in the blood, which will promote restful sleep.

So share some cherries with your neighbours as you watch the fireworks tonight in celebration of Canada’s birthday and you will sleep more soundly later. Let me know if you’ve tried this tip and have noticed a difference.

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