Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Time for Links

Here's what I've been reading. Hope you enjoy!

Already Pretty shares her thoughts on slips. Love 'em or hate 'em? I kind of hate 'em, but this post may have changed my mind.

Cranky Fitness discusses the frustration of reading New York Times health articles. This post was written before this article was published: Panel Recommends Mammograms at 50, Not 40. Ugh! Now I'm cranky too.

Allure lists the Best Baby Products for Grownups. I'm thinking maybe I'll buy some of that Baby Bee Shampoo and Wash for the whole family.

Dr. Weil has strategies for teeth grinders. I need to work on this. My jaw has been killing me. Anyone else have this problem?

Thank you Alpha Mom for these turkey downloads that my kids can color for Thanksgiving. Maybe this will give me a few moments of piece.

How's your Tuesday been? Mine's a little dreary. Hope to have more energy tomorrow.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

DIY Spa: It's Time to Retreat

I had a great experience last weekend. I went to an all day silent meditation and yoga retreat. It was part of a wellness class that is being offered at my place of work. I know, I'm really lucky to be working some place that has such a great wellness program. I will blog more about that later.

I was little worried about the retreat, which was 7 hours long, although we did talk some in the last hour. I was worried about not being able to talk, about being bored, hungry, sleepy or all three. But actually it was great. We were in a church that was beautiful with lots of windows. The trees were beautiful, and the day was gorgeous. And it turns out that I loved not talking. I really didn't want to stop not talking. It's such a relief not to have to make small talk with people I barely know. But then I am an introvert. It might drive extroverts crazy.

At the end of the day, most of the participants talked about how great it was and wanted to know when the next retreat would be. And I too will sign up for the next opportunity, but I also think we can do our own silent retreat at home anytime we want to. Or anytime we can take a day off of work or get a babysitter to watch the kids.

In fact, I found this great book at the library, called Spiritual Spa. I highly recommend it because it gives a great schedule of meditation, stretching and spa treatments, even menu ideas, that you can do at home.

The key to having an at-home spa day is to have everything set up in advance. You don't want to spend half of your day running errands so you have the right groceries, toiletries, etc. And don't forget to unplug the phone!

So what do you think? Would a day of silence be good for you? Or torture?

There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub. ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Spa Review: Spa of Colonial Williamsburg

Because of my limited budget and because of two little chains tying me to the house (AKA my darling children), I don't get to a lot of spas. But last spring I went to Williamsburg, VA on a business trip and so I booked myself a massage at the Spa of Colonial Williamsburg. I chose the WIFI massage. Here's the description:

"Step back in time and enjoy a true getaway from technology! Our WiFi massage soothes and treats points of wireless sensitivity and overuse. This full-body massage includes a focus on your hands, arms, neck, and shoulders. A soothing eye treatment relieves eye strain."

First, the facility was beautiful, both the buildings and the grounds. It's definitely easier to relax when you are in such a peaceful environment, and this spa is actually in the historical section of Williamsburg, which contributed a lot to the atmosphere.

The massage was great. I like my massage to be almost painful (so I feel like I'm getting something for my money), and the therapist (I wish I remembered her name) used great firm pressure. There was also some great aromatherapy touches, including the use of some herbal tea that smelled delicious.

I wish I had a chance to use some of the other facilities, such as the steam room or the whirlpool. They also had a really nice boutique, but I refrained from buying anything.

My only complaint (and this is not exactly about my massage) is that the signature scent used by the spa and the hotels in the Colonial Williamsburg resort, where I was staying, had a very strong lemongrass smell. I kept walking around the hotel wondering why so many people were wearing the same perfume. Turned out it was the smell from the complimentary bath products in the room that were created especially for the resort. I'm not super sensitive to smells, but it was way too strong for me. I would recommend that they make a fragrance adjustement to their freebees.

Despite the lemongrass debacle, I would definitely give the Spa of Colonial Williamsburg an A. Check it out if you have a chance.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Natural Beauty Enhanced: Vapour Organic Beauty

I'm pretty skeptical about "natural" beauty products. First, nature isn't always a good thing. Things that people are allergic to, like peanuts and pollen, are natural. And it turns out that a lot of things that are put in "natural" products, like peppermint oil, are skin irritants. Second, just look at the list of ingredients on some of these products. They don't look very natural. But they get away with saying they are natural because they were derived from something natural. Of course, they skip the fact that it took chemicals to turn the natural ingredient into something you would want to put on your skin or hair. And last, an awful lot of this emphasis on "natural" doesn't seem like very good science. They try to scare us about certain chemicals, based on very little evidence, and then they say that some natural ingredient will solve all your problems, again based on very little evidence. See Paula Begoun for more on this subject.

All of that being said, I do like to support companies that are environmentally aware and I think that there are probably some "natural" products that are better for the environment and for us. There is a new line out called Vapour Organic Beauty that I would love to try out. The products look really interesting , the packaging is very sleek and they even have some credibility behind their nature-y claims. The USDA has certifed their Lux Organic Lip Conditioner, so we know that it is actually made of organic ingredients. In fact, sll the products are at least 70% organic.

But the important question is does it work? Let me know if you have tried out any of these products. I plan to try out a few myself, and I will let you know.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Comfy Duds: Clothes for Travel

I love to think about traveling. I like to think I'm a good packer, and I can spend a lot of time thinking about what I'm going to pack and what I need to buy for a trip and how organized I'm going to be. But the truth is I often wait until the last minute to do the actual packing, and I don't really do such a great job after all.

Also I have the "rule of one" when I travel. This means that I will always forget one important thing. No matter how much planning and expert packing, I must forget one thing that will cause me annoyance throughout the trip.

With all of that in mind, I am starting to think about traveling at Thanksgiving. We always go see my mother-in-law. It will be a quick trip and we will fly. Oh, and this is very important, I have two sons. They are 3 and 6. So I am always struggling to find something cute to wear while traveling that is also practical and comfortable. You can check out Star's Airport Style for ideas about what I probably won't be wearing.

So what should I wear? I generally try to steer clear of the tunic and leggings look, but I'm wondering if this would be just the occasion for leggings. I know, Tim Gunn would say no.

I've also been dying to buy these jean-styled yoga pants. Could I get away with these at the airport? (Sorry, Tim. Please don't have a heart attack).

Or should I just tough it out and wear a pair of jeans? I guess they aren't that uncomfortable.

Any suggestions?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Moments of Zen: The Mystical Arts of Tibet

Tibetan monks making a temporary "Sand-Ma...Image via Wikipedia

Today through Thursday there are Tibetan monks, sponsored by Richard Gere, in my place of work. I bet you didn't think it would be cool to work in an academic library, like I do. But it turns out there are a lot of cool things that go on here and this is one of them.

So you may be curious about what they are doing and why they are here for several days. They are sand painting. To learn more about this, you can visit their Web site.

But basically, they painstakingly place millions of grains of colored sand onto a table using a metal funnel to create a beautiful pattern called a mandala. The mandala is used as a tool for re-consecrating the earth and its inhabitants.

On Thursday, they will destroy the painting and share the sand with the audience. I really want to get some of that sand. It seems like it would carry some very good karma.

Anyway, I just thought some of you might be interested in this. If there is no mandala sand painting going on near you, check out on YouTube.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Martha Monday: Grilled Vanilla Peaches

Weinbergpfirsiche - vineyard peachesImage via Wikipedia

I had a great weekend because I got to see Julie and Julia. I've been dying to see this movie because I read Julia Child's My Life in France, and I loved it. Also, I'm sort of obsessed with Martha Stewart the way that Julie, the blogger in the movie is obsessed with Julia Child. I really have nothing insightful to say about this movie, but I loved it and everyone should go see it.

Because I love Martha Stewart, I have been a faithful readier of the Martha and Me blog. MarthaAndMe has just started a weekly joint venture called Martha Monday. This is how she describes it: "Each week we will cook, craft, or do a Martha project together on Monday, with the goal being to add a little Martha to our lives." I jumped on this right away because I love doing all things Martha, and it's so great to have some like-minded crazy people to connect with on the Internets.

Anyway, this Monday's project was to make Grilled Vanilla Peaches, page 78 of Martha Stewart Living August issue (keep watching the Web site if you want the recipe). I made them last night, and they were delicious. (Since I'm new to this I forgot to take a picture.) This is a great healthy-ish dessert idea. You just peel and halve some peaches. Brush them with a nice vanilla and cinnamon mixture. Stick them in a foil packet and cook them on the grill for 15 minutes. Then voila! you have a great topping for vanilla ice cream. Or if you were being super healthy. you could go for some frozen yogurt of even eat them plain. It was sort of like having peach pie without the crust (and the work). My whole family (I have a 3-year old and a 6-year old and a husband) thought it was "delicious!" So far this Martha Monday thing is working out great. Can't wait to see what's up for next week.

You may be wondering what this has to do with A Spa Life. I believe that good food is an important component to having a full and healthy life. And I believe that cooking at home is one of the best ways to enjoy great food. We can't always be at a great restaurant and most of us don't have personal chefs, but we can all enjoy simple, delicious recipes at home. And instead of waiting until we can make it to the spa, we can enjoy great healthy, spa food at home (with occasional indulgences). I will be blogging about healthy recipes (and my idea of healthy is pretty broad) from time to time, and I would love it if you would share some of your favorite recipes.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Comfy Duds: Weekend Wear

I was recently having some real issues with being comfortable but stylish during my down time. I have my work wardrobe under control. And I have some cheapo workout clothes from Target that seem to do the trick (although I would love to upgrade), and I have even found pajamas that are cute and comfortable (thank you Garnet Hill). But on the weekends, I really struggle with clothes that I can run errands in and maybe even leave on while I'm hanging out with the fam.

But I finally came up with a solution, and it involves an overall change in my philosophy of clothes. This philosophy consisted of wearing pants almost all of the time. For some reason I decided that pants, jeans or capris (almost never shorts, oh the horror!) were comfortable and dresses and skirts were not comfortable, but good for wearing to work or dressy occasions. But due to the fact that I can never find pants that fit exactly the way I want, I finally decided that this philosophy of dressing was completely delusional. So now I am all about the skirts.

Really, I don't know what took me so long. It is much easier to find skirts that fit. You don't have to worry about hemming a skirt so that it will go with one particular heel height, and you don't have to worry about a few pounds lost or (more likely) gained. One thing that helped spark this revelation was reading a blogger (sorry, I don't know wear) discuss her love of skirts. She stated that she can do anything in a skirt that she can in pants, except a cartwheel. Read Already Pretty's Pant Rant for some more skirt love.

So I have solved my what to wear on the weekend problem with knit skirts. I have two tiered knit skirts in both black and brown from Ann Taylor Loft that I got several seasons ago. And lucky for me, tiered skirts are still in style. I also bought this knit skirt by Velvet. It is sooo comfortable and sooo swingy. And if I want to step it up a notch on the weekends, like go to a restaurant that involves being served by a waitress (it does happen occasionally), I can switch to a knit dress (I know, I'm living on the edge) or a more structured skirt.

Moral of the Story: Skirts=Comfy Duds

Monday, June 15, 2009


Flower bowl in a SpaImage by BadrNaseem via Flickr

Welcome, to A Spa Life. This blog is all about rest, relaxation and pampering. It's not about rest and relaxation so that we can be better workers or parents or just people. If you, like me, are lazy enough to think that the reason we work is so we can relax, not the other way around, this is the blog for you. There will be posts on comfy (but stylish) clothes, simple beauty, at-home spa ideas, lazy recreation and, on a slightly more serous note, yoga, meditation and a tiny bit of spirituality. I will also provide spa reviews on the rare occasion I get to visit a real one. But hopefully, you all can help out with your own spa reviews to share.

Please join in the conversation and let me know what you would like to hear about. So everyone, let's get ready and relax!

I was so excited (and a little jealous) to see the spas posted at elements of style today. They all look gorgeous. I will put these on my wish list for when I win the lottery. I know, I know, you actually have to buy lottery tickets for that to happen. Anyway, enjoy and don't drool all over your computer! It's bad for your keyboard.

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