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.

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