by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Homespunspa is proudly committed to Earth Hour.
It’s Earth Hour tonight, on Saturday March 27th, 2010 from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is asking everyone on the planet to turn their lights off for one whole hour to take a stand against climate change.
Are you looking for a green activity to do by candle light? How about having a home spa pajama party and giving yourself a clay and cocoa facial? I think this Homespunspa idea is the perfect way to mark Earth Hour because it’s green and relaxing all at the same time. And it’s no accident that I’m highlighting clay and cocoa in this recipe. To me, these ingredients are the home spa epitome of “earthiness” because clay is loaded with treasures like magnesium, calcium, iron, aluminum, sodium, potassium and silica and cocoa is the colour of dirt.
So invite some friends over for an Earth Hour home spa get together. Have them bring their favourite pajamas and sleeping bags. Get the candles and flashlights ready and mix the dry ingredients of this recipe together ahead of time. Goopy green faces are always good for a laugh or two and this might be the beginning of a great annual event for you and your sistas.
Cocoa & Clay Earth Hour Facial
- 1/4 cup green French Clay — is a key spa ingredient because it helps remove surface dirt and dead cells from skin and the experience of resting while topped in mud diffuses tension in a most pleasant way.
- 2 TB cocoa powder — chocolate lovers will be pleased to learn that a facial made with cocoa will not only reduce tension, it will also soften dry skin.
- 1 TB orrisroot powder — used to fix scents in herbal preparations and for mild fragrance.
- 1 TB dried calendula flower petals, powdered or chopped fine — use in facials for all skin types to clean pores, balance pH, heal capillaries, relax facial expression and destress.
- 12 drops carrot seed essential oil — is valued for its relaxing, restoring and nourishing properties. It refreshes and firms mature skin by detoxifying pores as well as by stimulating cell renewal and skin elasticity.
- 1 TB sweet almond oil — is a very popular ingredient in natural skincare because it has moisturizing, softening, soothing and skin conditioning properties.
- 1/4 cup water — extends recipe volume and provides a base to blend ingredients.
- 1 cucumber, cut into 2 round slices per person — known as a remedy for puffy eyes, but also has cleansing, moisturizing, softening, toning and pH-balancing properties.
- Combine green French clay, cocoa, orrisroot and calendula in a bowl and set aside until you’re ready to start your facial.
- A few minutes before Earth Hour starts (around 8:20 pm), dilute 12 drops of carrot seed essential oil in 1 tablespoon of sweet almond oil in a small glass jar with a secure lid. (You can substitute ingredients and use your choice of essential oils and carrier oil). Shake to blend. Pour over clay and mix in.
- Start with a 1/4 cup of water and slowly add enough liquid to make a spreadable paste.
- Lay a towel over a pillow where you plan to lie down. Light the candles.
- Remove make-up and rinse your face with water.
- Turn the lights off.
- Spread about a tablespoon of the wet paste onto your face and neck, avoiding the area around the eyes. Smooth with your fingers.
- Lie back and place the cucumber on your eyes. Leave the clay on for 10 to 20 minutes. It will start to dry and harden but it doesn’t need to harden completely to be effective. Enjoy the nocturnal silence.
- Rinse off the crusty mask with plenty of cool-warm water and pat dry.
Storage: Store any leftover dry ingredients in a jar or bag. Will last indefinitely.
Enjoy your Earth Hour!
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Did you know that in 1993, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 22 as the World Day for Water? I didn’t. I just found out from Dr. Phil that March 21st to 27th, 2010 is World Water Week and the funny thing is, I was already going to write about water on this post anyway. There must be something in the air.
Everyone knows that water is the universal spa ingredient. It works on the inside of your body as something you can drink and it works on the outside as something you can bathe or swim in.
But today I want to write about bottled water and how I don’t recommend it for your home spa or your home gym. I must admit though that I am guilty of buying bottled water on a regular basis. I buy it mostly for my dance classes because it’s a convenient way for me to hydrate myself while I’m exercising and I also like to have some on hand for my earthquake emergency kit.
But last year, one of my co-workers forwarded this PowerPoint presentation to all staff in my office and it really opened my eyes: water-disaster1. What a wake up call. From watching this slideshow, I was shocked to learn the financial, health and environmental costs associated with bottled water:
- Financial: Apparently, the average U.S. citizen spends over $400 a year on bottled water. As someone who is about to become a student again, I need to save money wherever I can.
- Health: Because of temperature changes (which can be extreme) during shipment from the warehouse to the store to you, toxic chemicals from the plastic bottles can leach into the water and therefore into your body once you drink it which can cause serious damage to your health.
- Environmental: Producing cases of bottled water and transporting them by the truck load and then disposing the empties all have a significant (and often unnecessary) impact on the environment.
What really got me was the part about keeping the bottles of water in your car. I’m not doing that anymore.
The case for tap water
What happened to good ol’ tap water? Somewhere along the line we stopped trusting it. But as someone who lives on the west coast of Canada surrounded by majestic mountains, flowing rivers, vibrant lakes and the Pacific Ocean, I am blessed to have lovely, wholesome water delivered straight to my home whenever I want at the twist of my tap. So why am I buying water from France? It’s ridiculous if you think about it and one more point for the 100 mile diet.
You’ll be happy to know that ever since I saw the above presentation on water bottles, I have started bringing a refillable metal container full of tap water to class.
Access to fresh, clean water is a big deal for our planet but we take it for granite (as it’s often pronounced). But I think the tide is turning and people are becoming more and more appreciative of this resource every day. Even my esthetics school has a policy of not allowing bottled water in the classrooms.
If you want to learn more about World Water Day and related events and how you can contribute, check out the UNICEF Tap Project.
And from now on, I pledge to drink tap water instead of bottled water. Right here, right now, I’m going to take a page from Oprah’s handbook and start my own pledge drive.
Homespunspa’s No Bottled Water Pledge
I, ____________, when given the choice between tap water from a healthy source and bottled water, pledge to choose to drink tap water. And, if I happen to buy and drink a commercially-made bottle of water, I will return the bottle for recycling and will get the deposit back. Every lit bit helps. Cheers!
If you would like to sign this pledge with me, please fill in this form below. THANKS!
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
As it tis St. Patrick’s Day today, I thought it would be fun to talk about beer as a home spa ingredient.
Body on Tap Shampoo plus Irish Spring Soap equals Magically Delicious
Before you go out on the town tonight to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, why not get into the spirit with some home brewed spa treatments. If only they still sold Body on Tap Shampoo. It was made with real Budweiser beer! Personally, I’ve never actually used this particular brand because I was underage at the time. I remember the ads from a lot of the shampoos from the 1970’s that don’t exist anymore like, Breck (“and they told two friends and so on and so on…”) and Gee your Hair Smells Terrific and “Squeeze and go from flat to fluffy, squeeze, with Prell Concentrate.” Good times. Good times. Hey, another 1970’s throwback!
With ingredients like green tea and silk amino acids, shampoo has come a long way in 30 years, (how much do you pay for a bottle these days?) but the idea of putting real beer in shampoo isn’t complete flimflam. What may seem like marketing shenanigans to us in 2010 actually has some validity. Not only does beer bring out hair’s natural shine and highlights, it also adds body and volume too. And some people may consider beer’s unmistakable scent as aromatherapy at its finest. So, if you’d like to make your own beer shampoo, here is a recipe.
St. Patrick’s Day Beer Shampoo
- 2 bottles of Guinness beer — adds shine, body, volume and fragrance to hair
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar — astringent vinegar restores the natural pH balance of skin and hair
- 2 TB honey — has moisturizing and antiseptic qualities
- 1/4 cup regular, as unscented as possible, shampoo (optional)
- Pour the beer from one bottle into a glass mug and take a swig.
- Pour the other beer, apple cider vinegar and honey into a saucepan and reduce over medium-high heat to a half cup in volume. Keep your eye on the pan and stir occasionally. Adjust the temperature if necessary. Within 20 minutes, the mixture should start looking like thick syrup.
- Once the liquid reaches the desired consistency, take the pan off the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
- If you want, you can keep this recipe as it is (as a hair rinse) without adding extra soap. You can also combine the beer mixture with pre-made, unscented shampoo and pour the mixture into a recycled shampoo bottle. Make sure to label it so you don’t forget.
- Massage the beer shampoo into wet hair. Lather, rinse and repeat. Follow with a conditioner.
- Tell two friends about this recipe
- The alcohol, honey and shampoo base should act to preserve this recipe without refrigeration for at least a couple of weeks, but you’ll use it up by then, anyhow, right?
Cheers and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
It’s time to spring forward again. At 2:00 am on the second Sunday in March, we set our clocks ahead one whole hour to go to Daylight Saving Time and therefore magically lose an hour of the day over the course of the night.
I never really understood the concept behind Daylight Saving Time but have accepted this practice as one of the rhythms of the season. If nothing else, it reminds me to flip my mattress.
All of this extra sunshine is great, but there is a bit of a downside to this shift. Apparently, driving to work on the second Monday in March is slightly more dangerous than usual because the time change on the weekend disrupts people’s sleep patterns and causes them to be extra groggy on the road, which contributes to more traffic accidents.
So, I thought I would help people maximize their limited sleep time and reduce crashes by talking about Chamomile today.
With its apple-like scent and taste, Chamomile (which looks more like a Daisy) helps calm the nervous system and is used as a natural sleep remedy. Spanish chamomile is called manzanilla which means “little apple” but the generic name “Chamomile” is derived from the Greeks who referred to this herb as kamai which means “on the ground” and melon which means “apple.” The term “road apples” comes to mind every time I try to remember this, but that’s something totally different.
It’s Saturday Night, Why Am I Drinking Tea?
There are lots of things you can do tonight with Chamomile before you go to bed, to help you get a good night’s sleep in spite of being cheated out of an hour. Here are some tips from my book, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa Way:
- Drink a cup of chamomile tea for sleeplessness, nightmare prevention, depression, anxiety, anger, headaches, indigestion, female issues and shock;
- Place warm tea bags on your eyes to reduce puffiness and dark circles;
- Use chamomile water as a toner in your facial to clean pores, relax facial expression, and de-stress (good for all skin-types);
- Use as a hair rinse to add highlights and gloss, repair damage, encourage hair growth, and for a relaxing fragrance;
- Use chamomile essential oil in foot creams to fight fungus;
- Add to bathwater and soap recipes and take a bath right before bed;
- For extra aromatherapy, spray your bedroom and sheets with comforting chamomile linen water;
- Use the herb in sleep pillows;
- Add chamomile essential oil to massage oil to relax, foster sleep, lift depression, soothe pain, and strengthen breathing.
Enjoy your weekend and may your commutes to and from work be smooth and clear this week. Feel free to add your comments and tips to this post.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
As you may already know, my Homespunspa Ewesletter blog is all about living a home spa lifestyle. To me, “home Spa” is an umbrella term that covers everything from making homemade spa treatments for sleep and beauty to topics like wellness, nutrition, fitness, stress management and green living to name just a few.
Design is another branch of the spa world and designing and decorating a space that encourages people to feel calm and relaxed is one of the pillars of a successful spa. Some spa spaces just have a way of melting stress from a person even before they receive their first spa treatment! With this in mind, I want my home to be my sanctuary, a quiet haven where I can rest and relax and I want it to feel and look more like a spa. I’m doing everything short of installing a water feature — because that would be over the top. Maybe next year.
So, I’m in the throws of a massive spring cleaning campaign. At first I was just going to paint many of my mismatched pieces of furniture a shade of white that most closely resembles cream cheese but now that I’ve pulled that thread, I’m also in the process of cleaning all of the nooks and crannies that I normally gloss over in my regular housekeeping routine. I’m also de-cluttering stuff from my junk drawers. Why I keep half of the trinkets and t-shirts I do, I don’t know.
There’s No Clutter In Spa Land
Every now and then, I watch an episode of Hoarders — to let’s face it — light a fire under my butt to clean up my act — before things get out of hand. While I don’t have “mountain of things” like in the Tracy Chapman song, there is an ever so slight tendency towards pack-ratiness in my family and I must admit I do collect a few odd things. Like when I went through all of my cosmetics, toiletries and medicine cabinet while I was painting my vanity, I found 3 brand new Secrets. Not that kind of secret — I’m hoarding antiperspirant. I can understand having a spare — but three? I also have at least 10 mini shampoos and soaps from hotels that I never plan on using, but like to have, and tons of expired cough, cold and flu medicine, just in case.
I can understand how hoarders, when confronted with the questions, “stay or go” and “keep or toss” freeze at seemingly useless items. I picked up a broken key chain while I was sorting my things into “like with like” piles and I shutter to say that even after holding it in my hand and recognizing it’s flaws and thinking about it for a minute or two, I kept it. I like to scrapbook and I have a box filled to the brim with things that might eventually look good in a collage. So that’s where it went, probably never to be heard from again, because, surprise, surprise, I don’t scrapbook much these days.
Like Watching Paint Dry
How is the painting going, you ask? Painting furniture is posing it’s own challenges for me. Picking paint colour is one thing. Picking the type of paint is another. (I went with a greener solution — a special primer and acrylic-based paint combo because I didn’t want to fuss with oil-based paint, which is going to be outlawed in 2012, anyway). And then there’s a little thing called patience. I’m discovering I’m not as patient as I think I am. I have to remember that patience is a virtue and painting anything, whether it’s a piece of art or a wall in my basement, can be quite a meditative and zen-like experience. I’m learning I end up doing a better job if I take my time with all of the steps and don’t rush the brush strokes. So far, I’m really happy with the results I’m getting and I think this huge project will be well-worth the effort.
Over to you. Are you in the midst of spring cleaning your homestead? Are you having trouble getting rid of clutter or picking a paint colour? While you’re on a break waiting for the paint to dry, write a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
My mom recently returned from a trip to Dubai, the land of luxury and opulence. I asked her to bring me back some sand as a souvenir because I’m not likely to go there any time soon. Well, she came through with flying colours and brought back two different kinds of sand for me. One was a silky, fine, pale tan sand from the beach and the other was a lovely peppery bronze sand from the desert. (I wish I still had the Bermuda pink sand my late father brought home from one of his navy expeditions in the late 1970’s in my collection, but that stash is long, long gone).
The question is, now what do I do with this new sand? I wanted to put the sand in some sort of container, like a wine bottle, or picture frame or an acrylic box so I could display my exotic treasure. I also wanted the presentation to be somewhat artistic.
Sand is such an interesting subject to contemplate. Sand is timeless and is found on shorelines all over the world and the granules are infinitely unquantifiable. Comedian Steven Wright’s quote comes to mind, “I have the world’s largest seashell collection. You may have seen it, I keep it spread out on beaches all over the world.”
From a spa point of view, dry sand is like the antithesis of wet water, the primary foundation of all spas around the world. Any spa worth its salt is based on the healing powers of water in some way, either historically or geographically. Still, somehow, the powdery and gritty texture of sand belongs in the spa also. Sand and sea are neighbours and they meet each other half way. What’s a breaking wave without a sandy beach?
So, in the spirit of wanting to bring the beach feeling home, I went to Michael’s Crafts to see if I could find a vessel for my sand. After an hour of walking up and down the aisles, I decided I was going to look for something that could serve as a centerpiece on my dinner table for my next home spa party. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking for and then I spotted the answer on the bottom shelf: A 5.9-inch/15-cm glass cylinder with an insert for a candle by a company called Ashland for #13.49 CAD. The vanilla pillar candle was only $3.49 so the whole craft project cost me less than $20. (Of course, that’s not counting the airfare to Dubai to get the sand, but I’m sure you can find some near your house or buy it in a store, if you’re landlocked, for a lot less .
Use this sand and candle centerpiece in your next home spa party.
Notice the contrasting red and tan sands in this home spa craft project.
All you have to do is get some sand and pour it into the big cylinder. If you want, you can get fancy and use different coloured sands and layer them in some sort of pattern. If you stick a toothpick and a removable piece of paper into the sand along the container, you can fill the tunnel with contrasting sand for finer details. The problem is, as I discovered, once you join the sands, it’s difficult, if not impossible to separate them again, so make sure you’re OK with whatever pattern emerges and don’t try to fix it afterward. You can also include rocks and seaweed and shells in your composition.
For added effect, you can float your candle in some water in the smaller insert. Unfortunately, that didn’t work for me this time because the candle kept on capsizing. (A different size and shape would have probably worked better).
Remember, you can also give this quick and easy centerpiece as a hostess gift or you can put it next to your bathtub the next time you take a bath. In my mind, the sand, the water and the candlelight are poetry. It’s like having a mini beach at home (complete with high noon sunshine) and it will definitely add to the ambiance and mystique of your home spa.
Let me know what you think of this home spa craft project. Do you have a favourite beach that you’d like to bring home? Please leave a comment.