by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
“Have you ever been to sea, Billy?”
“No, Captain, Highliner.”
“Well, sometimes the waves get so high, you can’t eat your dinner…”
Does anyone remember that commercial for Highliner Fish and Chips from the late 1970’s? (Go ahead and YouTube it, it still holds up). Somehow and for some odd reason, I committed that little conversation to my memory. Maybe I liked it because my father was an officer in the navy and he spent a lot of time on the high seas during those years and the sailor reminded me of him. The ad campaign was also launched around the same time as “the Love Boat,” (my favourite tv show at that time), was on the air.
Anyway, because of these three little memories, let’s just say, going on a cruise has been a dream of mine for over 30 years. Well, that dream finally came true last month in June when I went on a cruise to Alaska with my mom.
We went on the Celebrity Century as part of a modern-day pilgrimage with our church (yeah, I know, you’re asking yourself, what kind of church do you belong to, Maria, and can I sign up? and throughout the cruise, I experienced a lot of inspiring moments that made me feel more happy and alive. I went zip-lining on the longest ziprider in the world at Icy Strait Point (Hoonah, Alaska), I saw the AWESOME Hubbard Glacier, and I danced with an officer, wearing my favourite silver disco shoes, in the “Dancing with the Stripes” contest.
Hubbard Glacier on June 13, 2012
I also ate a lot of delicious food. Yes, when you go on a cruise, expect to eat a lot because every dish looks so good and you feel like you have to try everything. One night during his show, the comedian even joked, “I won’t keep you folks much longer because I know you have to go to the dining room again and eat soon…” We all laughed because it was true.
All of this delicious food meant I had to have a game plan. I didn’t want to go home heavier. I decided to take the stairs whenever possible and going up 7 decks at a time made a difference. Also, my personal trainer said, “Take advantage of all of their state-of-the-art fitness equipment” and I’m proud to say that I did, but I must say, running on a treadmill on a choppy ocean is way more challenging than you might expect and you get a double workout with all of that extra balancing and compensating you have to do. Don’t believe me? Try running on sea legs for yourself and let me know what you think.
And, of course, as an esthetician, I had to sign up for at least one spa treatment while I was cruising. As we boarded the ship, we were handed a flute of champagne and were told the spa was offering free hot stone massages all afternoon and a tour of the spa facilities and after eating our first lunch, we headed straight to the Aqua Spa.
If you’d like to hear my review of the Century’s Aqua Spa and the spa treatment I signed up for, please read the blog post, “Have you ever Spa’d at Sea? Part 2″.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Growing up in a Ukrainian-speaking household, we used the word “Shlaf-frock” for bathrobe or housecoat. Up until about 5 minutes ago when I used Google Translate, I always thought the Ukrainians borrowed this lovely word from the Germans because I knew “Schlaf” meant “sleep” in German and I believed “frock” meant dress. I thought it was a clever word and I always got a warm and fuzzy feeling every time I said it.
Well, as it turns out, I have been wrong on a few counts all of these years. First, the Ukrainians took the word “szlafrok” from the Polish language and on top of that, Ukrainians in Ukraine (according to my friend) don’t even know that word at all anymore — they use “hhalat,” as do the Russians — and “szla” doesn’t mean sleep in Polish — it means “precious.” Confused yet? I am.
Regardless of my befuddled etymology, I’m still sticking with good old Shlaf-frock because it’s fun to say.
And did you know that putting on a bathrobe is one of the most relaxing things you can do at the end of a long and stressful day? Don’t believe me? I invite you to go and put your bathrobe on right now and see for yourself. Just take it off the hook on your bathroom door, drape it over your shoulders, stick your arms in and tie the belt in a loose bow. Go on. I’ll wait.
There you are!
Well? How do you feel now? Better? I thought so.
There’s something about a bathrobe that lets your body know that it’s time to relax and unwind and get ready for a good night’s sleep.
It’s no wonder that bathrobes are a big feature in all of the spas. Where else are you encouraged to walk around in your bathrobe and slippers in the middle of the day?
The History of Bathrobes
Funnily enough, bathrobes can be traced all the way back to the togas of ancient Rome. In the days of yore before indoor plumbing caught on, it was customary for people to head to the local bathhouses to get wet and clean. I guess bathing suits hadn’t been invented yet and they needed something that could maintain some semblance of modesty in a public space and be slipped on and off easily at poolside.
Time travel to Asia in the 1800’s and you’ll see a resemblance between the silk kimono and our stylish bathrobes of today.
Bathrobes make excellent gifts any time of year
If you’re looking for gift ideas for friends and family, why not wrap your loved ones in bathrobes this season. Summer or winter, rain or shine, young or old, man or woman — everyone likes a nice bathrobe to wear morning or night.
Bathrobes are unique in the world of fashion because they are equally regal and luxurious on the one hand (maybe that’s why the Polish call them “precious”) and cozy and informal on the other.
When you picture a bathrobe, do you see a white, thick one made of terry cloth or do you remember the loud orange velour one with the busy jungle pattern from your high school days or maybe you had a pink fuzzy one with flower appliqués? I personally have a soft spot for tacky and ugly bathrobes because those bathrobes are the ones that are most loved by the people who wear them.
I had a red, wool plaid one in high school which wasn’t very practical but it looked nice and made me feel like I was living in LL Beanland. I also had a thin peach one that became thinner and thinner every time I washed it. Later, I had a white terry towel one with a pink collar. Now I have a purple polar fleece polyester knit that my mom made for me. Of course I also have a lots of waffle ones for my spa guests to wear during our Homespunspa Mobile Spa appointments.
In any case, regardless of everyone’s tastes and personality, I’m sure there’s a nice bathrobe or shlaf-frock out there for everyone on your list. Just make sure they don’t feel scratchy to the touch and can absorb excess moisture from the skin after a bath, shower or day at the beach. That’s all I ask. Otherwise, go to town.
Oh and please send me pictures of your favourite bathrobes. I would love to add them to this blog post.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Once the socks get stuffed in the drawers and the closed-toed shoes and boots get tossed to the back of the closet, and the bare feet, sandals and strappy stilettos come out for some fun in the sun, most people opt for pedicures at the spa instead of going for a facial. I’d like to suggest that getting a customized facial in the summer is definitely worth the investment also.
Our complexion changes with the seasons and it’s important to adjust your skincare routine to reflect the current environmental conditions. Your skin may have been dry and dehydrated this past winter because of low temperatures and cold winds mixed with heat from furnaces. But now, with the extra sun exposure and heat and increased activity, your skin may be turning more oily, or sensitive or may have more breakouts than usual.
How is a person supposed to keep up with all of these fluctuations and variations? The answer — having a facial. A facial with a professional esthetician will help clear up any outstanding issues you may be having with your skin this summer.
What is a Facial?
A facial treatment is a professional service designed to improve and rejuvenate the skin on the face, neck, shoulders and decolleté. Getting regular facials will definitely and noticeably improve your skin’s appearance and texture.
The Benefits of Getting a Facial
There are many benefits associated with getting a facial and they all come back to managing stress. Stress itself isn’t the bad guy — it’s the amount of stress and the way you deal with it that makes a difference in your life. For example, stress is one of the aggravating factors of acne but if you learn how to reduce the stress in your life with healthy habits such as getting regular facials and eating nutritious food and exercising daily, you will significantly improve the tone of your skin. And you’ll feel so much better.
Getting a facial also gives you a chance to try out a particular skin care product line to see how it behaves on your skin, before you purchase it. I think that’s a wise approach. Ask me which skincare line I use in my Homespunspa facials and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
The benefits of a Facial include:
- Maintaining healthy skin and having radiant-looking skin;
- Correcting certain skin conditions such as overexposure to Ultraviolet Rays from the sun;
- Treating conditions such as dryness, oiliness or redness;
- Deep cleansing and releasing environmental pollution like smog that may be trapped in your pores;
- Exfoliation and Refinement which makes your skin feel smoother and softer;
- Increasing circulation;
- Relaxation of the body and mind through massage and aromatherapy;
- Stimulation of metabolism;
- Looking younger and more beautiful;
- Slowing down premature aging and softening lines and wrinkles;
- Helping clear up blemishes and minor acne;
- Reducing stress;
- Sleeping better at night.
What to expect from a Facial
When you come to a spa for a facial, you’ll be asked to fill out a confidential questionnaire and change into a gown and remove your jewellery and socks and shoes. You may also get a foot soak. Then you’ll lie down on a facial bed. You and your esthetician will talk about your needs and concerns and then both of you will determine the best course of action for your skin.
Steps in a Facial
- Make up removal and Cleansing;
- Skin Analysis;
- Refinement Masque (Exfoliation);
- Skin Balancing;
- Hand, Foot, Neck, Shoulder and Facial Massages;
- Treatment Masque & Serums; and
- Moisturization and Sun Protection.
You may also receive extra services like: detoxification massage, pressure point massage, attention around your eyes, extractions, or make up application, etc. On top of all of that, you’ll also learn a lot about your own skin and how to take care of it and which products and services will benefit you the most.
Homespunspa July, August and September Special on Facials
I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but our summer in the Pacific Northwest has been slow in coming this year. Regardless, if you’re at all curious about how a facial works, Homespunspa is offering a 25% discount on all facials if you book your appointment before the autumnal equinox (September 23, 2011) and if you mention the code “summer” at the time of booking. Feel free to visit www.homespunspa.com and the mobile services menu page for a full list of services and prices. To make an appointment, follow the links on the reservations page.
I love giving facials because I like to help people relax and feel good about themselves. I also love seeing the “after” smiles my customers make when they first look at themselves in the mirror after they experience a 60 or 90 minute facial with me. I really think you’ll be pleased with your results, too.
Have a fun summer!
P.S. Remember to apply your sun protection often.
by Maria Koropecky
*** SCHOOL PROJECT ***
One week down, 28 to go and if this first week was any indication of the pace, my esthetics training is going to fly by.
I’m so excited to be at the Aveda Institute. I feel like this school is a great fit for my values and my personality because it goes far beyond superficial beauty and promotes green living and wellness.
This whole experience is reminding me of the time in my life when I was 10 years old when my family was living in Hawaii. Looking back on my life, I think this is where my interest in esthetics started, but it took me 30 years to connect the dots and notice the influence.
One of my classmates, Cari, started modeling with an agency called Barbazon and she invited three 20-something models to come to our school to talk about modeling as a career choice. I remember they used the word “blemish” a lot and someone finally raised their hand and asked, “What’s a blemish?” “A pimple,” they replied. “A pimple.” Oh.
From that talk, I really wanted to get into modeling too but that was a bit of a long-shot because there was nothing about me that said, “modelesque.” To put it mildly, I was quite a heavy, plain and shy girl.
But in my mother’s wisdom, she encouraged me anyway and found a class and signed me up. Every Saturday morning, I went to the Ala Moana Shopping Centre and learned how to walk runway style, how to stand with a smile as if in a beauty pageant, how to do my nails, style my hair and apply makeup etc, etc. My teacher’s name was Sonia C. Lugmao and I can still picture her sunny smile in my mind to this day. Our class also went to lunch to fancy restaurants in Honolulu and that’s where I was introduced to a classic French Onion Soup and yummy chocolate moose. It was a lovely class.
It also occurred to me this week that there are a couple of other similarities between my life as a 10 year old and my life as a 40 year old. I lived on an island in the Pacific then and I live on an island in the Pacific now. Also, after I graduated from my beauty class, I got into the habit of curling my hair every morning before school like Farah Fawcett. I coated the curls with a thick layer of hairspray on purpose so I could grab some hair at random and break the crispy glue over the course of the day. These days, I’m using a flat iron in the mornings to achieve a trendy look but I haven’t used hairspray in years. Also, in Hawaii, I went to a private Catholic school and we had to wear a uniform of a white shirt with the school’s crest and green striped skirt. At Aveda, we also have to wear only solid black and/or white clothes and eventually, once we get on the clinic floor, we’ll be getting an Aveda t-shirt and lab coat. Another uniform.
Everyone knows Hawaii is lush and beautiful beyond measure. We were blessed to have all kinds of plants growing near our house, like a generous lime tree (I didn’t appreciate my mother’s freshly-squeezed, no sugar added lime juice then but I sure would now), a leafy banana plant, and an orange Bougainvillea hedge near the pool. And juicy mangoes fell into our yard from the neighbour’s side. Everything was free for the plucking. Also in those days, taking care of the environment was not a concern for most of us but signs of pollution and a changing climate were starting to show up and be noticed. My first clue that something was out of whack was from the Plumeria tree. We had one on our property and the Hawaiians use the fragrant flower with loopy white petals for leis. Unfortunately, our tree was infested with tiny, gnat-like white flies that made the leaves and flowers sticky. Now, environmental stewardship and appreciation are part of my lifestyle.
It’s funny how our life paths unfold. As much as I’d like to write some more on this post, I have to get back to my studying — we have a quiz tomorrow.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
*** SCHOOL PROJECT ***
I have a big announcement to make. I believe we intuitively lead ourselves where we need to go and after careful soul-searching, I’ve decided to go back to school. Starting in April 2010, I’ll be a full-time student at the Aveda Institute here in Victoria in the Esthiology program. Now all I need to do is learn how to pronounce, “Esthiology” and I’ll be good to go.
I’m really excited about this and it has been a long time coming.
The History of Homespunspa
The concept of my business, Homespunspa, was sprung from a sleep-over in January 1999 — eleven years ago! I was house-sitting for friends of the family in Sidney, BC and the water-front property on the edge of Vancouver Island was the perfect setting for a slumber party and a spa weekend retreat.
There were only four of us at the first, unofficial homespun spa night pajama party in Sidney. I invited my friends Mandy, Nicole and Lehna and we had been planning the event for a couple of weeks — we even had our dinner menu type up. Everyone was in charge of bringing a few things — “I’ve got the mayonnaise,”…”I’ll bring the cucumber,”…”I have some funky nail polish colours.” Lehna printed off some recipes from the Internet (the original recipe book has some interesting stains on it) and that’s what we used to devise our treatments.
The girls showed up on Saturday around tea time with sleeping bags, beloved pajamas, bags of food and manicure sets. And it was a great success. We started off the evening by making and eating an elaborate dinner and then afterwards, we fanned into the kitchen and picked home spa recipes to try. How can you not enjoy having egg goop combed through your hair? We talked and laughed and painted our nails.
And once we were tucked into our sleeping bags on the living room floor, I’m pretty sure I fell asleep, thinking to myself, “there has to be a way of turning this into a business.” And the word, “Homespunspa,” just came to me.
In November 2000, I registered www.homespunspa.com and in 2001 I signed up for some self-employment and business training.
In 2004, 2005 and 2006 I taught home spa classes at Commonwealth Place, a local community centre.
In 2005 and 2006, I researched, wrote and self-published my book, “How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way.” I plan on using my new knowledge from school to update the book and eventually turn that information into an e-book. I’m open to hear from publishers who would like to formally publish my work, so if you know of anyone, please introduce us.
In January 2009, I launched my Homespunspa Ewesletter blog and I have been posting more-or-less weekly ever since.
In January 2010, I enrolled in school. Now you’re up to date.
The Aveda Institute
Since I have been contributing to the spa industry in my own way for almost 10 years, I think it’s time I get proper certification. This way I can actually offer spa services like manicures, pedicures, facials, and massage to customers rather than just providing information.
Attending classes (1000 hours’ worth) will expand my knowledge tremendously. And this is not fluff. We’re going to be learning about Anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry and Aromatherapy. And of course we’ll learn all kinds of techniques — hands on — like waxing (yikes ;>) tinting, exfoliation and make up application.
I plan on using these lessons as fodder for my blog and if you’re interested in hearing more about my studies, check back often. I’m sure I’ll have lots of fun stories to tell.
I took Homespunspa (read yours truly) on a road trip to Whistler, British Columbia last weekend.
Whistler will be the home of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and is a wonderful outdoor playground and a perfect location for a summer spa weekend retreat.
I could not have picked a better weekend weather-wise. We were experiencing the best stretch of weather I have seen in these parts in years — clear blue skies and sunshine all the way!
View of mainland BC near Horseshoe Bay from the ferry. Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eye.
I planned a trip to Whistler because I wanted to reward myself for my weight loss. I also wanted to do something special for myself on the edge of my 40th birthday. I called it my “39 and holding road trip.”
I made an appointment at Solaris Spa the week before and that was the highlight of my trip. First I took a yoga class with Colleen at 10:30 am. The poses were more challenging than I was used to and we did some new-to-me stuff — like tilting, turning and twisting on one leg — which kind of reminded me of those tipping duckies that drink water. The space was really lovely with a spectacular view of the snow-covered mountains. Colleen new her yoga inside and out, so to speak, and was a good instructor. It just goes to show no two yoga instructors are alike and you’ll never take the same yoga class twice, even with the same instructor. Colleen also added a chant to her practice, which I enjoyed, but wasn’t exactly sure what to do with.
After the yoga class, I had my first ever mud wrap treatment. At first I had signed up for the thalassa seaweed wrap because I wanted a detoxifying treatment, but Shelly, my spa specialist, suggested I go with the mud instead, which does the same thing, without the unpleasant smell.
This trip was all about stepping out of my comfort zone and this propelled me out of my nest. I soon wondered, what have I gotten myself into? I didn’t know what to expect and I soon found out how messy and involved a mud treatment was. I was so glad I didn’t have to do the laundry there.
First I had to strip down to my skivies. Cringe. I quickly hopped on to the bed that was covered with a heated blanket, a plastic sheet and regular towels and sheets. I thought Shelly did a great job in making me feel at ease. First she exfoliated my skin with some sort of abrasive glove or brush. It just acted to stimulate the skin, preparing it for the mud. I definitely felt the bristling effect, but at the same time, it was quick and painless.
Then she took the dark, coffee ground-brown mud and painted it on my limbs. It was cool to the skin. After that step, she wrapped me up like a burrito in the plastic sheet and heated blanket. It was very relaxing. I just closed my eyes and was glad my nose didn’t start to itch. Meanwhile, Shelly massaged my face and feet.
Shelly warned me about the contrast I’d feel in the air temperature as she unwrapped my cocoon and yes it was noticeable. The hardest part of the whole process was getting out of the warm bed and into the shower to wash off. I had to make my way covered in clay, wearing a bathrobe and flip flops, across the spa lobby and into the Swiss shower room. (That is my only criticism of the whole experience). People just don’t need to see that before lunch.
Anyway, I tried not to take too long in the shower, but the mud doesn’t exactly rinse off that easily, even though it’s water-soluble. Thank goodness for their pipes that it virtually contains no clay.
Moor Mud (also known as therapeutic peat moss) is an organic substance, produced from the natural decomposition of a galaxy of plants, herbs, flowers and grasses, under special conditions, over thousands of years.
Found in moor mud bogs of Europe, moor mud has been used as a spa treatment ingredient since day one. It contains minerals, trace elements, vitamins, amino acids, plant hormones and fatty acids in a molecular form that is easy for human skin to absorb.
Moor mud has an extraordinary ability to heal, nourish and detoxify the body as it promotes circulation, stimulates the immune system, relaxes muscles, relieves pain, breaks down fat cells, reduces cellulite and improves range of motion — perfect for someone like me who is exercising and doing yoga regularly to get fit.
Getting a back massage was the last part of my mud spa treatment. Unfortunately, I took too long in the shower which didn’t leave much time. I chose the mimosa fragrance, as part of my celebration theme, for this stretch. Shelly told me to drink lots of water because some people get dehydration headaches after detox treatments.
All in all I felt so relaxed. What a beautiful morning. Sipping my water, I walked so slowly through the village and forest path. It took me 40 minutes to walk back to my hotel room — a trip that would normally take 10 to 15.
There’s something to be said about getting away on your own to enjoy your own company and not having to deal with other people’s agendas. As much as I wanted to meet people there, I’m so glad I had the luxury of “Me time.” It was worth the trip.
Here's my Moor Mud Treatment in writing. Drop-in yoga class was $20.