November 28, 2010

What is Cyber Monday?

Tomorrow, November 29th, is Cyber Monday. What's that, you ask? Why it's the internet version of Black Friday, only this time there's NO lines, NO traffic and NO insanity! Just great savings on awesome gifts for every deserving boy and girl on your list! 24 hours - FREE shipping (in USA) - FREE gift wrapping - FREE gifts for you! Just use code CYBER10 at check-0ut to receive your discount. What's not to love?! Need more info? Click Here and then Go! Go! GO!

November 11, 2010

Giving Thanks

For those of us residing in the USA, Thanksgiving Day is right around the bend. How did it get here so fast? If you're having family and friends over for the big feast you'll no doubt be anxiously going over the details to make sure everything is ready so you can avoid last minute panic attacks.

Here are a few suggestions to keep you sane this season:
  • Make a list (and check it four times!) of the food you will need to purchase to feed your crowd and then some. No one wants to run out of food on Thanksgiving Day!

  • Buy your turkey(s) frozen in advance and make sure you take them out of the freezer and put into the fridge with enough time to fully thaw before the big T day. (Don't ask me how I know this...)

  • Do you have football fans coming over? Don't fight it - they're going to want to watch the games all day long. Make sure the cable/satellite/whatever-you-use is working correctly, cordon off an area for their viewing pleasure (preferably one with doors to shut so their exuberant cheering or booing can be somewhat muted) and make sure you have finger foods for them to munch on in the hours before the big event. Trust me on this.

  • Purchase beverages including bottled water, wine and/or beer, coffee, and cider to have on hand for thirsty guests before, during, and after the meal.

  • Check to make sure you have enough seating for your guests. Nothing worse than coming up a chair short (well - running out of food or burning the turkey might qualify). If you need to rent tables or chairs, make sure you call early to reserve what you need and then pick it up the day before.

  • If you're making the pumpkin pies, do NOT forget to add the sugar to the recipe before baking. (Again, don't ask me how I know these things.)

  • If children are in the mix of company this year, having something for them to do besides run rampant around your good china is a very good idea. Set up a game room, crafting area or, if the weather permits, a play area outside. Holiday movies on demand are life savers if they run out of constructive things to occupy their time. If you're renting DVD's, do so early as the good ones will go quickly!

  • If you have any questions - and I do mean ANY - about recipes, decorations or entertaining check out Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving pages.
Above all else, make sure you take some time to reflect on what you are truly thankful for and spend some quality time with your loved ones. Life is too short to waste on family squabbles and hurt feelings. Remember to give of yourself this holiday season. This will not only help those in need, but will lift your spirits and provide a warm fuzzy feeling we're all striving to attain this time of year. Go forth and celebrate!

August 25, 2010

Fact or Fiction - You Decide

For all of you that purchase from independent manufacturers of bath and body products, please weigh in on the proposed "Safe Cosmetics Act 2010". If this proposal goes through as it is written at this time many, MANY small businesses will be forced to close due to the restrictions, testing requirements and fees that will be involved. If nothing else, prices will be forced to go up to cover the costs of the requirements that would be enforced. Read the information, watch the videos both for and against and decide for yourself. If you wish to sign the petition opposing the current proposal and get additional information follow the link below.

May 22, 2010

To Preserve or Not to Preserve...

It seems the whole world is going "green" or at least intimating they are. There is a lot of talk out there about foods, medicines and cosmetic products that contain alleged harmful chemical substances. Some of them do, but not all of what is being labeled as unsafe ingredients actually deserve the bad name. So what is the truth? It really depends on your source of information. Cosmetic chemists, doctors and cosmetic business owners might have different opinions on some ingredients than nature activists and self-proclaimed cosmetic cops. You've heard the saying,"If it's on the internet, it MUST be true!" Not always. You have to make sure your sources are legitimate and not just spewing scary information to get you to purchase a certain product or join their organization.

One of the hottest and most belabored topics is preservation of cosmetic and personal care products. There are numerous preservatives on the market ranging from parabens to essential oil mixes that claim to protect products from mold, yeast and fungi, among other things. Many of them work, some of them not so much. There are also a lot of cosmetic and personal care companies that make preservative-free claims. Some of them are telling the truth, the others, well, not so much.

One thing that remains a hard and fast rule is that water-based products or those that are likely to be exposed to water/moisture/humidity that are not properly preserved will eventually become hosts to any number of microorganisms that thrive in that environment. I prefer to use products that have been adequately preserved with tested, tried and true preservatives that will protect my products and my customers from being contaminated with say Staphylococcus. Yuck! Okay, so that's an extreme example, but the possibilities of contamination are many and varied and I'm pretty sure you wouldn't want to use products with "stuff" growing in them, I know I don't.

There are many new preservative systems popping up in the industry and hopefully some day we will find a way to preserve personal care products with completely natural ingredients. Scientists are working on it as we speak! The microbes have had a few zillion years to get really good at what they do. In the meantime we will use proper preservation techniques, good manufacturing practices and packaging that helps to maintain product integrity to ensure you get all the good stuff out of our spa and bath treats, and none of the bad!

April 14, 2010

"M" is for Mother

Mother's Day is a very important and traditional holiday. Really. It is! Well I think it is because I just happen to be a mother. The good kind. I believe Mother's Day should be every day or at least once a week, but that's just me. At this point in my life my expectations for Mother's Day bliss are pretty minimal. My children are all grown and mostly out of the house with their own lives and busy schedules so I don't expect them to make a big deal out of it. A little deal would be nice.

What do you do for your mom on Mother's Day? Flowers? Candy? A card? Come on. You can do better than that! Nothing says "I love you" more than a unique, well thought out gift - money is not the object here. I remember when the kids were younger we spent the day in the yard making a garden. It was one of the best gifts I have ever received. If you're stumped for original ideas, here are a few to help spark your creativity.
  • Is your mother into arts and crafts? Find out what her current fave hobby is and make her a basket of supplies. For instance: a sewing fan would love to receive multiple colors of thread, cute buttons, gift cards to their favorite fabric store and perhaps a few sewing magazines that include projects, ideas and industry news. You could even pack these supplies and more into a sewing basket. They come in all shapes and sizes so you're sure to find one to suit Mom's fancy.

  • Your mom is a budding chef? How about registering for a culinary class at your local Wholefoods Market (or similar establishment in your area) and go with her. She'll not only learn some new techniques, she will get to share her love for cooking with you.

  • Get the gardening mom everything she needs for a kitchen herb garden. Herbs are super easy to grow and can be used in the kitchen and for all sorts of craft projects. She can grow them on her kitchen windowsill, the back porch or in a garden plot. Plants to start her out: parsley, rosemary, thyme, mint and dill. Need a little inspiration? Check out this herb guide for tips on herbs to grow, flavors and uses.
Each mother is unique and deserves something special to show her she is appreciated and loved. It really isn't about expensive or lavish gifts. Personally I prefer gifts from the heart that are thoughtful and meaningful. I bet your mom feels the same way.

January 29, 2010

The Truth About Bath Salts

We've all heard that too much salt in our diet can be a bad thing. A little for seasoning (unless you have been restricted by your doctor) is a good thing as many salts contain trace minerals like calcium and iron. My Nana used to say, "Moderation in all things and you'll live a long life." When it comes to using salts for bath therapy, I believe more is better.

Why use salt in your bath? Some benefits include soothing stressed muscles, easing the symptoms of skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema and helping to draw out toxins. Think natural healing mineral baths or hot springs that people flock to for help with any number of ailments. Not to mention the soothing aromatherapy effects of soaking in a scented salt bath. Salts change the osmotic balance of the water so that less water is absorbed by the skin through osmosis, thus reducing the pruning effect you might experience after soaking in the bath and effectively softening the skin.

Types of commonly used bath salts:
  • Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate for body detox, sore muscles and skin ailments)
  • Sea Salt (sodium chloride contains therapeutic trace minerals)
  • Dead Sea Salt (contains a multitude of natural beneficial minerals)
  • Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda softens the water, soothes itchy skin)
  • Sodium Sesquicarbonate (alkalinity source that helps soften water)
There are many types of exotic salts that may be incorporated into salt bath therapy such as:
  • Hawaiian Red Alaea - Rich in trace minerals and iron oxide.
  • Himalayan Pink - Ancient deposits of this crystal salt are mined from deep inside the Himalayan Mountains and provide beneficial amounts of 84 trace elements & iron.
  • Organic Grey Sea Salt - Organic sea salt from the Isle of Noirmoutier undergoes no treatment after harvesting allowing it to keep its essential nutrients.
  • Cyprus Black Sea Salt: Crystal salt pyramids that are mixed with activated charcoal to increase the natural detoxifying properties of the salts.
Bath salts are available on nearly every drug store or grocery shelf these days. Though all products are not created equal and some use more of the fillers than the beneficial salts, most serve the purpose of relaxing and soothing while you bathe. Whether you prefer scented, moisturizing or herbal bath salts your options are fairly limitless.

You can make your own simple bath salt mixture with Epsom salt or sea salt. Just throw a cup or two into warm running bath water and get in when the salts are dissolved. Add some fragrance or essential oil and a few drops of vegetable or nut oil (olive, sunflower and macadamia nut are all good choices). Be careful getting out of your bath if you add oils as the tub can get slippery. For best results it is suggested that you soak for about 20 minutes and use a good lotion or cream after drying off to help retain skin moisture.

January 20, 2010

Spa Therapy

We all need a bit of TLC once in a while and indulging in a bit of spa therapy might just be the ticket to beat the winter blues. If you can afford to go to a spa and partake of their many and varied services, by all means do so. Some spas, like Canyon Ranch, offer everything from manicures to a full week of restorative treatments, nutrition counseling and more. If you feel the need to spa but don't want to spend the money or time try creating a quick in-home spa experience.

What you will need:
scented candles
relaxing music
exfoliant (sugar or salt scrub)
mineral soak, oils or bubble bath
massage oil or moisturizer
cozy bathrobe and towels

Now that you have your accouterments make sure you have at least an hour to yourself without interruption. Turn off your cell phone and tell your family you're not to be disturbed. Pour a glass of wine or get a chilled bottle of mineral water, go into your bathroom and lock the door. Turn your music on low, dim the lights and light a few candles. Spa time!

The first thing I do is run a warm bath with a moisturizing mineral soak or bubble bath so it's ready when I want to step in the tub. While the bath is filling I use this time to exfoliate. I have a separate shower/bath, if you don't you can just wait to run the bath when you're done with your treatment. Step into your shower to moisten your skin and use your selected scrub to buff away dry, dull skin cells from top to bottom using gentle circular motions to help stimulate blood circulation. Don't forget to give special attention to elbows, knees and feet. Rinse the scrub off with warm water.

Time to sink into a scented tub of soothing water and soak for about 20 minutes. That should be enough time to drink your wine or mineral water and let the cares, aches and pains of the day fade away. When you're done with your soak, lightly pat your skin dry and apply your choice of moisturizer. If you're lucky to have someone willing to give you a massage, go for it. If not you can use a gentle kneading motion when you apply your lotion to further relax and rejuvenate your muscles. Use a good foot cream and slip on a pair of cotton spa socks, slide into your warm, cozy robe and you'll be ready to drift off for a well deserved nap or a good night's sleep.

It's easy and inexpensive to treat yourself to a relaxing spa experience. You can add additional treatments like pedicures and manicures, facial steams, face and body masques and hair treatments. Spa days will help you refresh your outlook and relax your body, mind and spirit. It does take some scheduling in our busy lives, but of course, you know you're worth it!