What’s on your Christmas wishlist — how about a home spa book?

Posted by Maria on November 28, 2009 under Aromatherapy, Books, Magazines, Music, Gift Ideas, Home spa, Ingredients, Pets, Sponsors, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized | 2 Comments to Read

By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Books, books and more books. Someone asked me if I was an “information junkie” the other day and I had to raise my hand and say “yes.” I love books.

In this post, I would like to recommend five fabulous home spa books that I have in my own library that you can get online through Amazon. Shopping online is a less stressful way of getting all of your Christmas shopping done because you don’t have to fight the weather and the crowds. You just have to be organized and get it done early enough to have things shipped on time.

Book recommendation #1: Home Spa

My mother gave me a book simply called Home Spa by Anne Harding and Janice Biehn. I was delighted when I read the names of the authors because I went to school with one of them. Janice and I worked on the student newspaper together. The authors talk about how to remedy stress with nutrition, exercise, massage, aromatherapy, skincare and show you how to organize your own day at the home spa. It’s an excellent reference.

Book recommendation #2: Fragrant Herbal

Crabtree and Evelyn’s Fragrant Herbal, Enhancing Your Life with Aromatic Herbs and Essential Oils by Lesley Bremness is one of my favourite home spa books. I can remember when I first discovered the Crabtree and Evelyn store when I was in high school. I couldn’t get enough of the peach and apricot bubble bath. My sister-in-law gave me this book for Christmas many years ago and it has been my go-to book for inspiration ever since because flipping through the pages whisks me off to an English garden. It’s a definite “must have” in your library.

Book recommendation #3: Herbal Teas

Herbal Teas, 101 Nourishing Blends for Daily Health & Vitality by Kathleen Brown and Jeanine Pollack is a book I refer to again and again. Not only do they give unique recipes, they summarize the health benefits of all of the plants involved. My favourite recipe is the Anxiety B-Gone Tea because of the lemon verbena.

Book recommendation #4: Making Natural Liquid Soaps

Learning how to make soap, especially liquid soap, is on my to-do list. I recently bought Making Natural Liquid Soaps by Catherine Failor and can’t wait to dive in. Wouldn’t it be great to learn how to make your own herbal shower gels, conditioning shampoos, moisturizing hand soaps and luxurious bubble baths? There’s even a chapter on dog shampoos!

Book recommendation #5: The Herbal Home Spa

The Herbal Home Spa, Naturally Refreshing Wraps, Rubs, Lotions, Masks, Oils, and Scrubs by Greta Breedlove is one of several in a series by different authors from Storey Books, including the Essential Oils Book, the Herbal Home Remedy, Natural BabyCare, The Natural Soap Book, Milk-Based Soaps and the Herbal Body Book. I’ve learned a lot from these books over the years.

If you would like to see more home spa books, music cd’s or videos, browse through my Amazon store. If you can’t click through from here, try going to my Fantastic Gifts Ideas page on my website, www.homespunspa.com and click on the Amazon Store link, under Accessories, to the right. Of course, you can always go straight to Amazon through my affiliate link located on the sidebar of this blog and do a search that way. There are many books to choose from on this topic and I’m confident you’ll find something of interest. Happy shopping!

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


  • 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!


A Trip to the Dentist Opened My Eyes

Posted by Maria on November 23, 2009 under Pop-Psychology, Self-Care, Sleep, Uncategorized, Wellness | 7 Comments to Read

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

sc001217a2Sink your teeth into this: A naturopath told me once, if you keep your mouth, gums and teeth healthy, your body will thank you later. But if they’re unhealthy and you’re constantly swallowing traces of debris that have been lingering in your mouth, you could be making yourself ill.

Keeping this nugget in mind, a few weeks ago, I went to the dentist for a regular check up and cleaning. My dentist touched a nerve and the pain shot all the way down to my toes. I had to come back a few weeks later to get a filling.

Getting the filling wasn’t so bad. At least my dentist has a TV for me to watch.

The problem was, after the numbness wore off, the pain on the left side of my mouth continued, particularly in the evening hours. Occasionally, it would wake me up in the middle of the night. I couldn’t understand why the pain seemed to come from the whole side of my mouth and not just the upper part where the work was done. I also noticed, if I breathed with my mouth open, I could feel the cool breeze on my teeth.

I finally bit the bullet and called my dentist to make another appointment. I could only put up with the pain for so long.

The dentist had a look under the hood and deduced it was an issue with how my teeth were lining up together on the bite after the filling was installed. He proceeded to file down my teeth. It was unpleasant but not painful. I was picturing one of those electric sanding tools you use when you’re about to paint furniture, but that wasn’t the case. First the hygienist did some work and she had a soft touch compared to the experience-laden hands of my dentist. But when either of them hit my nerve, I instantly swatted their hands away from my face. It’s funny how a purely instinctive reaction kicks in to avoid pain. The brain works in mysterious ways.

Anyway, as it turned out, my dentist explained what happened. After I had the filling, my bite was misaligned, so my brain said, “I’ll fix this” and I ended up grinding my teeth at night in a futile effort to even things out. That grinding prevented me from getting a full night’s sleep and it also caused sensitivity in my teeth. Fascinating, I know. Like I said, the brain works in mysterious ways.

I was really shocked to hear that I grind my teeth. I know I’ve been stressed lately but I didn’t realize I was grinding my teeth to release some of my tension.

The formal word for tooth grinding is Bruxism and it’s a big deal. One of my former co-workers grinded her teeth at night and suffered from the worst cluster headaches, preventing her from going to work on some days. She was diagnosed with Bruxism and had to get a special mouth guard.

My point is, if you have a problem with tooth sensitivity or tooth grinding, talk to your dentist about your bite. They can tell at a glance if you’ve been griding your teeth. Maybe using Sensodyne toothpaste for the rest of your life isn’t the only answer.

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


  • 1/4 Sugar (white or brown) — Brown and white sugar granules are abrasive and make sweet alternatives to salt in exfoliating scrubs.
  • 2 TB Safflower Oil — Excellent carrier oil in massage and has conditioning properties that promote healthy skin and hair.
  • 2 TB Evaporated or Fresh Milk — Moisturizes, nourishes and softens skin.

Method: In a bowl, mix together the sugar, safflower oil and milk into a creamy consistency.

Manner: Gently massage the mixture all over your hands to exfoliate dry skin and increase circulation. Rinse with warm water.

Storage/Shelf Life: Pour any left over mixture into a sterilized jar. Store in refrigerator for a couple of days. Discard if fresh milk sours.

Step 3: Clean your nails — By now, you should probably feel how soft your hands are. After you have rinsed the scrub from your hands, take a moment to clean under the nail tips with an orange stick or similar tool.

Step 4A: Shape your nails –Using nail clippers, cut your nails. For a rounded tip, cut both sides of the nail on the diagonal and trim the point off the top. Then, you can use a fine emery board to soften the edges but make sure you use long, sweeping strokes in the same direction to avoid possible splintering.

Step 4B: Shape your cuticles — Here is a quick recipe for cuticle oil:

Lemongrass and Rosemary Cuticle Oil


  • 2 TB Olive Oil — Calms, soothes, nourishes, cleans, softens and moisturizes skin. This heavy, fragrant and stable oil can be used as a base in massage oils and moisturizing creams.
  • 2 drops Rosemary Essential Oil — Lifts depression, erases fatigue and relaxes stiff muscles.
  • 3 drops Lemongrass Essential Oil — Strong anti-bacterial properties and is useful for treating problem skin and acne.

Method: Add the drops of essential oils into a tiny, sterilized glass bottle. Roll the mixture around the bottle to blend. Carefully pour the olive oil up to the bottle’s shoulder. Replace the lid and roll again to compound the oils.

Manner: Dot each nail with the cuticle oil and rub in using the ball of your thumb. With an orange stick or similar tool or your thumbnail from your other hand, gently push the cuticles back to expose the lunula (whitish half-moon arc) at the base. Without using scissors, gently peel away any thin bits of extra skin. You should have a nice clean edge defining the area between your nail and your skin, the nail folds.

Storage/Shelf-Life: Label and date the mixture. Keep the bottle tightly closed and store in a cool, dark place for a year or so.

Steps 5 and 6: Massaging and Moisturizing — Make it a routine to massage your hands with moisturizer or massage oil daily. You can use the cuticle oil for this step also, if you’d like. Here are steps to a moisturizing hand massage:

  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.

Washing Dishes – Good Clean Fun

Posted by Maria on November 18, 2009 under Aromatherapy, Green Living, Home spa, Homespunspa, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way book, Ingredients, Manicures, Pets, Photo gallery, Pop-Psychology, Self-Care, Sleep, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized | 9 Comments to Read

By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Here I am washing dishes (circa early 1970's).

Here I am washing dishes (circa early 1970's).

Which do you think is greener — washing your dishes by hand or with an automatic dishwasher?

I was surprised to learn from my online research that it is marginally better for your purse and the environment to wash your dishes with an automatic dishwasher than it is to wash them by hand.

I said “marginally” because there are a lot of variable factors involved in the final tallies, like whether or not you fill the dishwasher to capacity every load, how you heat your water, whether or not you rinse your dishes first, what kind of soap you use, how new and efficient the appliance is, how new and efficient you are;> etc. etc.

Given that I don’t have a dishwasher appliance in my home, I have to wash dishes the old fashioned way. It says “Chief, Cook and Bottle Washer” on my business card, by the way. Of course if I had the option, I would choose to use an automatic dishwasher in my quest to live a greener life but hand-washing dishes has its benefits too.

In defense of hand washing dishes

Communication — Back in the days when I was living in my first apartment on Piccadilly Street, one my friends mentioned a study that she had read that talked about washing dishes. She said that the study concluded that if two people, like say a mother and a daughter or a husband and a wife, were having a hard time getting along or if there was a difficult subject that needed discussing, washing dishes together was a good way to get the conversation going. Sometimes it’s hard to look someone square in the eye and tell them what you really think and feel. If you’re busy doing a mindless task and so is the other person and are not posed in a confrontational stance and neither is the other person, and you’re working to achieve a common goal like cleaning the kitchen, it sets the stage for lots of deep and interesting talks.

You’re soaking in it — Remember good ol’ Madge, the manicurist, from the Palmolive commercial? (I believe that’s an almost empty bottle of Palmolive on the window sill in the above picture). Washing dishes by hand is a great home spa trick. It’s like a bubble bath for your hands! If you don’t have the time or money to go and get your nails done on a regular basis, try adding a little home spa treatment into your daily routine. Think of washing dishes as “me time.” Let your mind wander as you go about your tasks. Appreciate the quiet time. Play with the soapy water. Afterwards, grab yourself a cup of tea and give yourself a manicure — more on that at a later post.

Aromatherapy — I can’t say I’m entirely convinced about this one but I did buy my latest bottle of Dawn botanicals dishwashing liquid because it said “soothing relaxant” on the label and because the colour was purple.

One more chance to wash your hands — There has been a lot of talk about washing your hands often to reduce your chances of catching the flu and getting sick. I think I have managed to dodge the H1N1 Swine Flu bullet this year because I hand wash my dishes and therefore wash my hands daily. Something to think about.

Sense of Accomplishment — After a little elbow grease, it’s a nice feeling to see a clean and tidy kitchen. There is a rich reward in getting the job done with your own two hands.

Over to you — Do you wash your dishes by hand or appliance? Which do you think is better? Feel free to comment.

Are you a superstitious sleeper?

Posted by Maria on November 13, 2009 under Dating, Pets, Pop-Psychology, Sleep, TV Shows & Movies, Uncategorized | 2 Comments to Read

By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

On this third Friday the 13th of 2009, I’m thinking about my own superstitions, particularly, though not exclusively, the ones that revolve around sleep.

I don’t normally consider myself a superstitious person, but now that I think about it, I do have some superstitious habits.

My top 13 superstitions

  1. Friday the 13th — When I was in high school, we had one of those years where there were three Friday the 13th’s and one of those days happened to have the bonus of a full moon. I remember on the night of the harvest moon, I signed up to take photos of the basketball game for the yearbook and my friends and I decided to go to the game dressed in our school colours — very unflattering green and gold. I teased my hair up big, put green dots on my face and wore my father’s trenchcoat – yeah, it’s a wonder I’m still single. Anyway, I went down to the court and stood waiting with my Yashika camera behind the net hoping to get a great shot of 2 points for our team. The players were all at the other end of the court for the longest time and all of a sudden they started heading back towards me. One of the players saw me open near the net and hurled the ball in my direction. I didn’t know what to do because I had my camera in my hands and the ball bounced past me. I can still hear the sound of the horn that ended the play. It was very embarrassing, me in my trench coat and green face in front of all of my classmates. But I can laugh about it now. Maybe that’s why I don’t like to cover sports as a journalist.
  2. Wedding dress — Being seen by your fiancĂ© in your wedding dress before you walk down the aisle is not a good idea. Not that I’ve experienced this myself, but I hate it when I see women bring their fiancĂ©s to help them pick out their dress on the tv show, “Say Yes to the Dress.” It just takes away from the oomph factor when you finally do make your first appearance at the beginning of the wedding ceremony. You want to see your man’s jaw drop and if he sees you all gussied up in white before the big day, that’s just not going to happen.
  3. Ladders – I don’t as a rule walk under ladders, but not because I think it will bring me bad luck. I just don’t want something like a can of paint falling on top of me.
  4. Aaah Chooo – I like to say God Bless you when somebody sneezes.
  5. Itchy palms = buy a lottery ticket — One of my co-workers told me this little nugget. Apparently, if your palm is itchy, you’re due for some lottery winnings. Ch-ching!
  6. Last drop of wine — Some people think you should not take the last of anything in general and according to my friend from school, don’t pour yourself the last drop of wine from the bottle, unless you want to get pregnant.
  7. Stir with a knife, stir up strife — I made a point of doing this after my friend mentioned this to me one day. It makes sense to use the proper tools for the job even for something as simple as adding a drop of cream to your morning coffee. He also said, “if you’re going to be adding milk or sugar to your coffee or tea, pour the brew in first and then add the other stuff.”
  8. You’ve made your bed, now lie in it — When I was younger, I wondered why my parents insisted that I make my bed every day. What a waste of time, I thought. I have since learned there’s something pleasing about arranging and layering sheets and pillows and throw-blankets the way I like and then coming home and falling into bed after a long, active, fun-in-the-sun day. Now I like to make my bed every morning and I feel that if I don’t for some reason get around to it, I won’t sleep as well.
  9. Don’t sleep with your pj’s inside out — I got this one from my mother when I was six. She strongly suggested that I not go to bed with my nighty on inside out or backwards because it would give me nightmares. I’ve never tested this theory, but if I see my nightshirt is on wrong, I’d probably do a quick change and fix it.
  10. Don’t sleep with your closet doors open — I think that’s a boogie man thing. Somehow I’ve always figured the boogie man can’t open the closet doors from the inside.
  11. Which side of the bed do you sleep on? — I sleep on the side of the bed closest to the door and for the last several years, that has been the right side of the bed (if you’re sitting up in bed, facing the foot). I like being able to face the door when I sleep. I don’t think that’s a superstition, per se, that’s just how I like to do things.
  12. North, East, West, South (News) — The reviews are mixed on the question of geography. In my research, I’ve read that having your head in the northern quadrant of the room, which is where I sleep, is optimal for good health and good luck. I’ve also read that it’s bad luck to have your head pointing north and people who sleep there will have a short life. If you know anything about Feng Shui, please pass on your knowledge on this topic. I’m curious.
  13. If a black cat crosses your path — This is one superstition that I’m f11800242so glad I don’t claim for myself. My Charlie is a black cat through and through and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My dear familiar can cross my path any day. And I like it when he sleeps at the foot of my bed at night and wakes me up first thing in the morning to let him outside. He makes me smile.

Now it’s your turn: Do you follow any superstitions, especially before going to bed or when you first wake up? Please leave a comment. Thanks.

In Flanders Fields the poppies grow…

Posted by Maria on November 11, 2009 under Books, Magazines, Music, Face, Home spa, Ingredients, Newspapers and Newsworthy, Recipes, Self-Care, Sleep, Uncategorized | 2 Comments to Read

By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Remembrance Day – the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Also known as Poppy day, Armistice Day or Veterans’ Day, it’s a day to remember the fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.

I like the tradition we have in Canada of wearing a poppy on our lapel as an emblem signifying we will not forget the people who have put service before self to give us a better life.

The red flowered Corn poppy is the poppy of wartime remembrance. It is actually a common weed found throughout Europe, and specifically in regions of Belgium and France, also known as Flanders Fields.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

- John McCrae
Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps doctor.
First published in Punch magazine on December 8, 1915.

Because poppies are the flower of the day, I thought I’d offer a home spa recipe using this plant. Poppy flowers and seeds have a long and strong tradition of being associated with sleep. As a home spa ingredient, seeds can be ground into a milky, exfoliating paste which is useful for softening dry, cracking skin and the flowers can be blended in tea for sleeplessness, stress and tension.

When I lived in Belgium many years ago, a gardener asked me what my favourite flower was. “I love poppies,” I said. I had seen the wild, red flowers peppered across the European countryside in fields far and wide and they are quite a vision to behold. That was the day I learned the French word, “Coquelicot.”

I rummaged through my books and found a simple recipe, Lotion au coquelicot, in a book my mother gave me after her last trip to France a few years ago. The book is called, Les secrets de la beaute au naturel, written by Nicole Houques and Henri del Olmo and published in 2000 by Editions du Chene – Hachette Livre.

I’ll translate the “Poppy Lotion” recipe from French as best I can.

Lotion au coquelicot

Les secrets de la beaute au naturel, p 68


  • 60 g of dried poppy petals
  • 1 litre of boiling water


Bring 1 litre of water to a boil and then extinguish the heat source. Throw the petals in the pot and let them infuse into the water for 15 minutes. Filter out the petals and leave the infused water to cool. Pour into a bottle.


Apply the poppy petal infusion to your clean face. This lotion lessens fine lines and softens the skin.

Lotion au coquelicot

Lotion au coquelicot

Pumpkin goes to the Spa – A Home Spa Pumpkin Facial Recipe

Posted by Maria on November 3, 2009 under Aromatherapy, Face, Facials, Green Living, Home spa, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way book, Ingredients, Nutrition, Photo gallery, Recipes, Self-Care, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized | 5 Comments to Read

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Wanna look this relaxed? Photo by Maria Koropecky

Wanna look this relaxed? Photo by Maria Koropecky

Are you wondering what to do with your leftover jack-o-lantern now that Halloween has past?

Last Friday, the 30th, I was invited to a “Carve it Up” pumpkin carving potluck Halloween party and this photo shows my handiwork. (Thank goodness he didn’t end up like some of his buddies cracked open on the pavement). I can’t remember the last time before this that I dabbled with pumpkins — it may have been 20 years ago for all I know — but it all came back to me quickly — just like riding a bike.

It’s a cheap thrill

There’s something to be said about the cool sensation of plunging into a fresh pumpkin and hauling out all of the stringy fibers, seeds and goop with your bare hands. And of course the smell will unlock distant childhood memories too. My inner artist was very content and it was quite a therapeutic experience for me.

Pumpkin’s Fringe Benefits

Pumpkins are an excellent spa ingredient for all kinds of reasons. Pumpkins are a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, as well as Zinc, Alpha and Beta Carotene, Potassium, Magnesium and Iron.

Pump-skins can be used in all kinds of spa treatments including: shampoos, shower gels, bubblebaths, soaps, massage, salt and sugar scrubs, manicures, pedicures, enzyme peels and facials. Although mild and gentle, pumpkins are excellent exfoliators and leave your skin feeling pillow soft.

The pumpkin flavour goes well with apples, brown sugar, coconut, cream, ginger, honey, mint, vanilla and yogurt.

Here is a quick and easy home spa pumpkin facial recipe that I developed and tested yesterday. And today my skin feels extra soft and smooth:

Pumpkin Facial

  • 3 TB pumpkin puree (plain and unseasoned) — Loaded with healthy vitamins and minerals, pumpkins exfoliate and soften skin.
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil — Pressed from juicy olives, this lovely fragrant, heavy oil calms, soothes, nourishes, cleans, softens and moisturizes skin.
  • 1 TB maple syrup — helps Maple trees survive Canadian winters and has made its way into the spa world as a skin conditioning treatment.
  • 1 TB plus 1 tsp witch hazel distillate — makes a popular pore-tightening liquid toner for oily and blemished skin because of its astringent, anti-inflammatory, cooling and cleansing properties.
  • 2 tsps cornstarch — lends a silky and luxurious feel to recipes, making skin feel smooth and soft.

To make the boiled pumpkin puree:

  1. Hollow out your pumpkin if you haven’t already. Reserve the seeds for roasting.
  2. Cut the pumpkin into large (1 and a half to 2 or so inches) cubes. (I only ended up using half of my small/medium sized pumpkin which yielded 6 cups of puree).
  3. Throw the chunks into your biggest cooking pot and cover with water like you would potatoes. For a spa recipe, you don’t need to add any seasonings like salt — in this case, the plainer the better. And please don’t add spices like cinnamon or nutmeg to boost the aromatherapy because those spices can really irritate the skin.
  4. Boil, covered, for at least an hour but check at the 30 minute mark. You want the pumpkin pieces to be fork-tender.
  5. Once cooked, remove the pieces from the pot. Cut off the skin and discard. Drop a few pieces at a time in a blender. Add some water from the pot for extra liquid. Blend to an even consistency. Let the orangey puree cool to room temperature before applying it to your skin.

To make the facial:

  1. Mix the pumpkin puree with the olive oil, witch hazel and cornstarch in a small bowl. It should be the consistency of apple sauce. You can substitute another oil, like corn oil, sweet almond oil or sunflower oil for the olive oil if you prefer. You can also add a few drops of your choice of skin-friendly essential oils, like carrot seed essential oil, to this recipe to further customize it to your skin type. The possibilities and combinations are endless.
  1. Drape a towel over a pillow and create a space to put your feet up and relax.
  2. Apply the pumpkin mash to your freshly cleaned face with your fingers, covering everything to the hairline and down your neck, except your eyes and lips. (You can also apply this recipe to your hands, feet, hair and back at another time if you’d like).
  3. Lie down, close your eyes and relax for 10 to 20 minutes. (Note: although this is unlikely, if your skin feels irritated and if you feel uncomfortable soon after applying the recipe, discontinue the treatment early and rinse of the pumpkin from your face. I felt a little mild tingling but I wasn’t concerned).
  4. Rinse the pumpkin from your face with warm water and towel off. It’s a very thin recipe so it shouldn’t clog your plumbing.
  5. Finish your treatment with more Witch Hazel. Apply Witch Hazel with a cotton ball to tone the skin and to remove any excess residue left behind from the treatment.
Storage / Shelf Life

You will have lots of pumpkin puree leftovers. The good news is you can freeze the bounty for another treatment down the road or you can use the puree in baking recipes, like pumpkin loaf.

You can refrigerate the leftover spa treatment mixture and use it within the next 3 days.

Your Turn

What did you do with your Halloween pumpkin? Write a comment and pass on your ideas.

And let me know if you like this recipe. I would love to hear your feedback. And for more recipes like this one, buy a copy of my book, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way available through www.Homespunspa.com.

Follow Homespunspa on Twitter Homespunspa

Promote Your Page Too



November 2009
« Oct   Dec »