Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's All About the Nails

There was a time in my life, mainly college, when I did not believe in painting my nails. It seemed like a big waste of time, and I figured it was completely useless when it came to attracting co-eds. As I matured (a little), I realized that keeping my nails well-manicured was actually kind of fun and did add to the overall effect of being a well-groomed professional. Recently, thanks to a lot of the great nail blogs out there, I've become a little obsessed with all of the fun nail colors. I dress in a fairly conservative, classic manner, and I don't play around much with makeup. But I love changing nail colors. I even like to play around with blues and greens and purples, although I save those primarily for my toes. Judging from my husband's reaction, I still don't think colorful nails are a big turn on for the guys. But I think it's a chance for us girls to have a little fun, maybe even be a little wild or adventurous. So today, I thought I'd share some of the shades I will be trying out the fall.

Chanel's Paradoxal is the must-have color of the season. I already got my hands on some, but haven't actually put it on my nails. It looks pretty purple, but reviewers are saying that it's a greige with a purple tint and a little bit of shimmer. I think this is color just screams fall, and I can't wait to try it out.
I've been eying this China Glaze teal that's called Shower Together for awhile. I love blue/green colors, and I've been wearing the China Glaze For Audrey, which is a light turquoise, this summer. Again this is a great fall shade, and even though my toes won't get as much air time with this color on my feet I will enjoy looking at my gorgeous pedicure every time I go to yoga class.
I'm always looking for a good neutral nail polish that I can put on in a hurry and won't clash with my outfit or my toes. The other day on the Beauty Counter I read that Gisele wears OPI Bubble Bath, so I decided to give it a try. It's very sheer similar to Essie's Mademoiselle. It's pretty nice if not exciting. I'm not sure what I'm looking for. I used to love Essie's Ballet Slippers, but then I kind of got tired of that whitish nail look. So if you have any suggestions for a great everyday nail polish drop me a line.

If you love nail polish or think you could start, check out All Lacquered Up. If you really don't want to get hooked on the latest polish colors, stay away!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Little Slice of Relaxation in the Middle of My Family Vacation

For those of you who don't have kids, you probably think of vacation as a time to relax. For those of with kids, vacation can be as much work (or more) than our actual jobs. I love my kids, but they can be a real handful. And when we're all holed up together for hours in the minivan and then in a hotel room, it can be almost too much togetherness. So I was really excited to find out that there was easy spa access on my most recent family vacation.

We went to the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, KS. It's a super fun hotel and huge indoor/outdoor water park. The kids, of course, had a blast, and I enjoyed a few trips down the Triple Twist water slide myself. But my mom and I did manage to sneak in pedicures at the on-site Elements Spa Salon. It was a small, but nice little Aveda Concept spa, that offered facials, mani/pedis and massages. (I wish I had scheduled in a massage after running after my kids all day, although I did sneak in some time at the adults-only hot tub in the water park.) There was a small relaxation room for waiting. I was offered water, but they didn't have tea or snacks available. My nail technician did a good job on the pedicure. My feet felt super smooth and my polish looked great. (I went with OPI Strawberry Margarita.) They carried mainly OPI. I think I saw one Essie polish.

They also have a Scoop Kids Spa for 4-12 year olds. I have boys, so I really don't know what to think about the whole kids spa thing. For pre-school and even young elementary kids it seems a little weird to me, but I can't really explain why. And I have to admit that I have painted my 4-year old son's nails quite a bit. He thinks it looks cool, and he really doesn't think of it as being a girl thing. He go for the blue or green polishes though.

Anyway, I would definitely give my experience a thumbs up.I think it's great that the Great Wolf Lodge provides a place to take a break amidst all of the buzz and craziness of the family activities. And next time I will make sure to schedule a massage!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My New Favorite Hand Cream: love + toast

I don't have a lot of time to post this week. Going on a short trip with the fam, and somehow I have managed to misplace my swimsuit. Maddening!

Anyway, I did want to give a quick review of the love + toast gin blossom hand cream I picked up the other day. I saw this at a local shop and the packaging was so cute that I couldn't resist. And I'm glad I didn't. The scent is great but not overpowering. I have to say that I love a good G&T, so I loved this combination of gin with a nice floral scent. This cream is also nicely moisturizing without being overpowering. Only downside is that it doesn't have any SPF. I really don't know why all hand creams don't have SPF. When I am the ruler of the world, they will! Actually, I've been using my facial moisturizer with SPF on my hands, and I have been using this cream to refresh my feet before I go to yoga class. There are some other great scents, like Sugar Grapefruit and Mandarin Tea, that I'd love to try out too. Also, love + toast supports Girls, Inc., which provides vital educational programs to millions of American girls, particularly those in high-risk, underserved areas. Love that!

OK, now I'm off to buy a new swimsuit. Ugh!

P.S. Thanks to The Simply Luxurious Life for the link to A Spa Life in her newsletter. Make sure and get on her mailing list!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Don't Want No Scrubs

Ok, the title of my post is a little harsh. But when I saw a post on Daily Beauty Reporter about the importance of body scrubs if you want celebrity-style glowing skin, it reminded me that I've been neglecting my exfoliation. Courtney over at Beauty to the People mentioned recently that even though she's a beauty editor, she never uses masks. So I think we all have our beauty steps that we prefer to skip. Mine is the body scrub.

I actually own the Soap & Glory Body Scrub pictured above. And really it's a pretty good scrub. It comes in a super-cute package, has a nice scent and seems to do the job. But I still almost never take the time to use it. I guess I just don't feel like my skin is that desperately in need of being scrubbed, although I am probably wrong about that.

If you do love a good body scrub, which one do you love? Fresh Brown Sugar and Origins Ginger seem to get a lot of press. I do love the smell of the Origins Ginger.

What beauty steps do you read about but never get around to actually doing?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Spa Envy: Umstead Hotel and Spa

I just saw Travel + Leisure's list of the Top 50 Large City Hotels. A bunch of these are in my old stomping grounds and favorite city Chicago. Of course, I haven't stayed at any of these great hotels. I really should work on that!

I'm sure many of these hotels have great spas, but the only one listed as a hotel and spa was Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, North Carolina. It is described as a:

"Tranquil property with art-filled public spaces on 12 wooded acres, minutes from downtown Raleigh. The outdoor pool backed by pin oaks and a three-acre lake resembles an Alpine spa."

I really never have any reason to be in North Carolina, but I may have to go anyway.

Have any of you had a chance to stay at any of the great hotels listed on Travel + Leisure?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bath and Body Deals

Here are some coupons and deals that will help you relax even if you're trying to be a frugalista:

  • Time to Spa has 20% off the entire site with the code SAVE20. They carry some great brands like Bliss, GoSmile and Elemis. 
  • The Body Shop has buy two get one free on their Body Butters. I may get Mango (a classic), Japanese Cherry Blossom (recommended by Vogue), and Love, etc. (just like the name).
  • Check out Crabtree and Evelyn's online outlet. They have up to 75% off some of their great products, including value size lotions and shower gels for $15.
  • Some of the coveted (by me) items currently on sale at Sephora include the Caudalie Spa in a Box, CLEAN Warm Cotton Gift Set, and the Bliss I Like Big Butter and I Cannot Lie Duo.
 If you know of any great deals that I've missed, let me know. Happy bargain hunting!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Peace, Love and Happiness in a Soap

I think we all love the idea of getting a great product and helping out a good cause. So I love the idea behind the new Peace Soap by Kiss My Face. Ten percent of the profits for this line go to the Seeds of Peace organization, which is "dedicated to empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and coexistence."

This soap is similar to Dr. Bronner's because it is a castille soap that is being touted as a multi-purpose cleaner. They actually list 101 uses for the soap on their site, including ideas for body, kitchen, home and outdoor. It is all-natural, vegan, biodegradable and all that jazz. I am also intrigued by the scents, which look a little more exciting than Dr. Bronner's. I am especially interested in the Lemongrass Clary Sage. My husband has a thing for this discontinued (I think) Crabtree and Evelyn verbena and sage body spray that I have, so I'm also checking out sage and/or verbena scented items to use as a replacement for when the body spray runs out.

Anyway, I'll let you know what I think of the Peace Soap as soon as I can get my hands on some. Let me know if you already have.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Memories of a Spa: Asha SalonSpa

Streets of Woodfield in Schaumburg, IL

I have been meaning to review one of my favorite salon/spas from my Chicago days. But I started thinking about how long it has been since I've been to this salon, and I realized that I can't really review (or recommend) a place that I haven't been to in about 6 years.

But I can share my memories. Anytime I move someplace new (which used to be pretty often), I struggle with finding a new hair stylist. I have very straight hair. And while it seems that this should be the easiest kind of hair to cut, it turns out that it's actually quite difficult. Or at least hair stylists seem to make it difficult. Anyway, after going to lots of expensive salons in the Chicagoland area, I finally found nirvana at Asha SalonSpa at the Streets of Woodfield in Schaumburg. 

I think my stylist was named Angela. (I can't believe I can't remember her name.) She was the best. I could totally trust her advice about such important topics as, hair length, hair color and how to get a baby to sleep through the night. She cut the first bangs I had in years. And they were the best bangs I ever had. But enough about what's her name.

Asha was also a just a great place to have any spa or salon service done. It's an Aveda salon (I know, I'm boring you with all of my praise for Aveda), and they offered all the best perks: cucumber water, hand massages while you wait and aromatherapy neck pillows. I thought the prices were pretty reasonable, considering all of the extras.

We moved from the suburbs of Chicago to our current location, which is a town much smaller than Chicago. In my current town the haircuts are a little cheaper, but there are no perks. And I cannot find anyone who can cut bangs the way that Angela could. I finally just grew them out. (Although in fairness, I have not asked my current hair stylist to try. Maybe this fall, I will see if she is up to the challenge.)

Anyway, if you are in the Chicago area, you might want to check out an Asha SalonSpa. Let me know if you do. I wold love a full report.

P.S. I was just playing around on the Asha website and noticed that they now have a Kids Care room. How cool is that?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Share the Spa

  1. Check out the Summer 2010 Beauty Guide on Style.com. It features a couple of my favorite bloggers, All Lacquered Up and Temptalia.

  2. The Daily Obsession announced that CLEAN perfumes have launched a new bath and body line. You know, I'm all over it!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Which Pajamas Are the Cat's Pajamas?

As a self-proclaimed pajama snob, I hate to admit this, but I am in desperate need of some new summer pajamas. My current nighttime attire: an old, gray cami that falls off of me because it's so stretched out and a pair of Target drawstring pants with pictures of pandas on them. Every time my sister sees these pants, she asks me what I was thinking. I guess I was thinking that pandas are kind of cute, and I'm too broke to buy some nice PJs.

Now, I know that at least half of you out there are wondering what the big deal is. Why don't I just throw on a tee and some sweats and call it a night? But from a young age, when my mom always bought me new pajamas for Christmas, I have been a big fan of real pajamas. I have all sorts of rules about the pajamas that I like, which I'm sure is way too boring (and weird) for me to go in to detail about. But the most important rule is no gowns. Also, I like both the tops and bottoms to be longish. I currently have some very cute Garnet Hill short pajamas, which I would recommend to anyone who wants to wear shorts to bed. Turns out that I don't.

So I'm on the hunt. Please help me out. Here are some options I've come up with, but I'm open to suggestions.

Simply Luxurious blogged about this pair of pajamas seen on Cameron Diaz in The Holiday. I am wary of any pajamas that I might have to iron, but I do like the nice, classic look. I think they would work all year round too, just wear the bottoms with a cami in the summer. But the price ($150!) is a little steep even for this pajama snob. Brooks Brothers has a similar pair, but they are only mildly cheaper at $138.

The Pioneer Woman (I know, my choices of pajamas and blogs may be a sign of schizophrenia) blogged about these pajamas. Punjammies are sold by the International Princess Project, which advocates for women who are enslaved in prostitution. The pajamas are made out of Indian Sari fabric by women who were formerly enslaved in prostitution.100% of the proceeds from Punjammies is used to support women who made them. I'm really leaning towards these right now. The pants are sold separately, but they also have some cute organic tees and camis for sale also. These seem a little more hip and fun (read: affordable) than the Frette pajamas. Plus who doesn't love shopping for a cause?

But I do have to say, that I love all things Garnet Hill. And I've been eying these PJs. Aren't they adorable? Blue and brown is one of my favorite color combinations. And they have butterflies. I think that's better than pandas, but I'll have to check with my sis.

So what do you all think? Like any of these? Or do you have other suggestions?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

You Don't Need to Go Any Further Than Your Own Backyard

Now that summer is almost here, the temperatures are warmer and the blooms are making our gardens colorful, I am longing to spend some more quality time outside. Of course, it's a lot of fun and good exercise to get our hands in the dirt and pull some weeds. But we should also take some time to enjoy what we sow. Here are some suggestions for relaxing in your own backyard:
  1. Wake up a little early and go outside when it's still balmy and quiet. This is a great time to do some outside yoga or meditation. If that sounds too ambitious, just take your morning cup of tea or coffee outside and listen to the birds.
  2. Take a nap in a hammock. This is something I've always wanted to do. I don't have a good place to put a hammock in my yard, and I always wondered if I could really fall a sleep in a hammock. But I could definitely relax with a few good books and some lemonade.
  3. Enjoy a backyard fire. If you have a portable fire pit, light it up (it should keep the bugs away). And if you want to be a little decadent, make some s'mores.
We all dream of travel to far away places, but I think we forget to enjoy the beautiful homes, yards and gardens that we have created. So remember to take a few minutes to enjoy your own backyard and let me know your favorite ways to relax at home.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bath and Body Deals

Here are some coupons and deals that will help you relax even if you're trying to be a frugalista:
  • L'Occitane's Summer Sale starts today. There are some great items that are up to 50% off and there is free shipping on orders over $80. Might be time to stock up!
  • Aveda is focusing on the dads. You can get free 2nd day shipping (in time for Father's Day) with the code DADFREE2ND. (I won't tell anyone if you use the code to buy something for yourself.)
  • Makeup and Beauty Blog just reviewed Jouer Bath and Body Oil and Body Butter. If you buy both, you can get a free candle. I haven't tried these products out, but I may have to soon.
  • This week at Sephora, you can get Basil Lemon Body Scrub for $8.50. That's half off!
  • You can get a free Coconut Foot Cream from Burt's Bees if you make a purchase of $35 or more. Great for sandal season.
If you know of any great deals that I've missed, let me know. Happy bargain hunting!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hamman: A Turkish (or French or Moroccan) Delight

 O'Kari Hammam

While playing around on the Internets the other day, I came across this post at Hip Paris Blog about Paris’ Hammam Scene. Turns out hammam are traditional North African or Turkish steam baths.

According to SpaFinder, 2010 is the year of the hamman (I've also seen it spelled haman). Basically, these are public baths (men and women bathe separately) that include a massage and exfoliation.

I'm not sure how I feel about public baths, and they don't seem to have caught on in the U.S. yet. But it sounds like they are a more economical and less chi-chi way to get a nice steam and massage. What do you think? Would you try out a hammam during your travels?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Share the Spa

Here are some relaxing links to help you get the week started out right:

  1. All Lacquered Up recently visited Isola Day Spa at Put-in-Bay, OH.
  2. The Beauty Counter blogs about Lafco's new House & Home candles, which have been designed to complement specific rooms in your house. I really want the Geranium Mint for the patio and the Grass for the laundry room. OK, really I want them all.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What I'm Using Now

This is my monthly update on the bath and body products I'm currently using:

1. L'Occitane Organic Lavender Gel: I have no idea how to pronounce L'Occitane, but I'm a sucker for anything French and anything lavender. So this works on both counts. My sister gave this to me for my birthday (OK, I told her to get it for me), but I think it's a great gift because it is simultaneously practical and luxurious. The scent is great, and it definitely does the job. Not super moisturizing though.

2. Aveda Foot Relief: This foot lotion is great because it moisturizes, exfoliates and deodorizes all at the same time. (Not that my feet need deodorizing! OK, maybe a little bit.) I am a strong believer that every day should end with exfoliation of the feet. This will really help you stretch out the time between pedicures.

3. Thoroughly Therapeutic Honey & Grapeseed Oil Hand Creme: I picked this up at my campus bookstore one winter's day when my hands were crying out for some lotion. This lotion works in a pinch, but I can't say it's my favorite. It's OK in the moisturizing department, but the honey fragrance is pretty strong. I don't hate honey, but I just don't want to be smelling it all day long (unlike lavender, see above). Also, my biggest gripe about this lotion is that there is no SPF. Hand lotion must have SPF people! Do you want to walk around with brown spots all over your perfectly manicured paws? I think not. Unfortunately I'm too cheap to just throw this away. By next month I hope to have a nice SPF product to share with you.

4. Aveeno Stress Relief Foaming Bath:You had to know I would be all over this lavender bath soak. But unfortunately it also contains chamomile and ylang-ylang oils. And something (I'm blaming the ylang-ylang) is overpowering the lavender. The first time I used this I decided I hated the scent. I tried again and it started to grow on me. But I doubt I will purchase this again. It does foam up nicely and it's not too drying, but I wouldn't say it's very moisturizing either. With the humidity in these parts, which is already out of control (people, it's only June!), I think this will work for me for now.

5. Olay Quench Advanced Healing Body Lotion: This lotion is a real workhorse. It's moisturizing without being greasy. And it smells like . . . nothing! That's exactly what I want in an everyday body lotion. No crazy scents clashing with my shower gel and/or perfume. I just wish it was in a cooler bottle since I have to have some next to my bed at all times.
So that's it! My go to products for now. What about you? Do you like (or hate) any of these? What have you been using lately to keep clean and supple?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Recommendations Needed for Spa in New Orleans

My sister is headed to New Orleans and is looking for advice about at a nice spa there. I don't really have any, so please respond in the comments if you know of one.

Here are a few that look promising:

Travel and Leisure
magazine calls the Belladonna Day Spa one of the 10 coziest spas in the U.S. (Note to self: visit all of these spas.)

They also mention the Ritz-Carlton Spa in an article about spas that use local ingredients. (I hope that means they serve Hurricanes.)

And the Guerlain Spa in the Roosevelt Hotel also looks promising.

Hope you have a relaxing trip!

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Irony That is the Gaim Living Catalog

So the Gaim Living catalog came in the mail the other day and on the front it says "earth day, savings and solutions." I'm pretty sure the best solution for the Earth is not to print and send catalogs and not to buy a bunch of stuff.

But now that I've gotten that off my chest, there was plenty of stuff in the catalog I wanted. Here are a couple of items that will help the Earth (or at least make me happy).

This solar buddha fountain costs a pretty penny, but wouldn't it make me feel so peaceful when I saw it in my yard?

Again, this rattan meditation chair is way out of my price range, but I just know it would help me maintain a regular mediation practice.

If you too can embrace the irony, then you can sign up right now for a $500 Gaiam Shopping Spree.

Occasional Randomness:Great post at mnmlist: the only thing you can change.

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Best Health Book Ever: Live a Little!

I blogged about this book awhile back when it was mentioned on the New York Times Web site. The thesis of the book sounded pretty good to me, but now that I've had a chance to actually read the book I have to say that I think that every woman (men too, but it is definitely slanted to a female audience) should read this book.

The authors, both doctors make the case that what most of us really want is to be "Pretty Healthy." And if you know the basics about living a healthy life style and are trying to do these thing, (you shouldn't smoke, you should do regular exercise, eat a variety of foods, etc.) then you are probably Pretty Healthy.

They go on to argue, that those of us who become obsessed (not that I would ever do that) with all of the health information floating around are probably making ourselves unnecessarily stressed out. They talk in detail about various diet and exercise studies and why many of them are inconclusive (despite the media hype).

In this book, Drs. Susan M. Love and Alice D. Domar offer some practical advice (backed up by research) about the range of activities that will (probably) lead to good health. And they make the very valid point, that we are all going to die (even if we run marathons and eat wheat germ every day). So why not just Live a Little!
Daily Randomness: Good post on mnmilst about not buying an iPad. Main point: I don't need one.

Monday, March 29, 2010

No Longer Waiting to Exhale

So, I just got back from a conference trip to Santa Monica, CA. It was good trip. Weather was pretty good. I learned a lot and got in a lot of good networking time. I spent an afternoon at the Getty, which I highly recommend.

But, of course, the highlight of my trip was a visit to the Exhale Spa. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Santa Monica version of Exhale is located at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, which was several blocks from where I was staying. As it turns out the LA Marathon's finishing line was in Santa Monica, and it was wrapping up right when I was trying to get to my spa appointment. There were a ton of people milling around and a lot of barricades up, but I managed to make it to the Fairmont. No rain, nor sleet, nor crazy marathoners will keep me from pampering myself. I did feel a little bad when the folks working at the spa asked me if I ran the marathon. Are you kidding? I woudn't run around the block unless someone was chasing me.

But anyway, I managed to get over my guilt and enjoy my spa visit. The facilities were very nice. The locker rooms included both a dry sauna and a steam room, plus showers and lots of complimentary shampoo, lotion, etc. My massage therapist did a great job. Her name was Sherrie, and she was very nice without being chatty. I hate a chatty massage therapist. I was kind of surprised that she didn't ask me more questions about what I wanted, but I certainly can't complain because she did a very good job. The massage included a heated massage bed, some great aromatherapy and some OK (but kind of weird music.)

All in all it was a good experience. I wish I had time to take in a yoga class and some more spa treatments. Maybe next time.

Have any of you visited an Exhale spa? What did you think? Does Exhale live up to the hype in your humble opinion?
Daily Randomness: It's allergy season here in the Midwest. Ugh! Here's some info from Dr. Weil about allergy tests.
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Philosophy: The Fun Kind

I love philosophy! Not the kind that made your head hurt Freshman year in college. But the kind that you use in the bath and smells yummy! I got this sample box the other day from Sephora. It's called Classic Cookbook, and contains some of my favorite philosophy scents, including Cinnamon Buns.

Now I really should never buy this stuff because it has been known to make me crave things made out of butter and sugar. (Really, I crave that stuff most of the time anyway.) But I love the cute little 2 oz. size, and the fact that it's a three-in-one product that's great for traveling makes it worth it. Plus, it's on sale for $25 (under $6 a piece), a savings of $9. Now which one will I choose to take on my trip next week? What is your favorite philosophy scent?

And if you love philosophy too, you can enter their birthday party game. Enter to win a $1,000 shopping spree or an instant daily prize. I haven't won yet, but I'm going to keep trying.

Daily Randomness:
I want to go to Morocco too! Check out these pictures on Elements of Style.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Meatless Monday

Thanks to my hubbie who redesigned my blog! Doesn't it look good?

At my place of employment, a group of us make vegetarian dishes for each other on Mondays as part of an attempt to be more healthy and nicer to the environment. It's a really good deal because I just cook one dish a month and all of the rest of the Mondays I get a free, home-cooked meal. I definitely recommend you try this idea at your workplace. You can find out more about the Meatless Monday movement here.

Today I made a spinach and feta bread pudding that was really, really yummy. Doesn't it look delicious! Despite the whole milk, heavy cream and egg yolks, I'd say it was pretty healthy because it had spinach in it We also enjoyed lentil/pasta soup, vegan chocolate cake and whole wheat sugar cookies. Not a bad Monday despite the stupid daylight savings thing.

Recessionista alert!!! Bliss Spa is offering their Triple Oxyen Facial Treatment, which is one of their most popular services, for $135 (normally $160) for two weeks only. I don't live anywhere near a Bliss Spa. But hopefully you do and can take advantage of this special offer.

Daily Randomness:
I finally saw Definitely, Maybe this weekend. Very cute!
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Weekly Spa Envy: Exhale Santa Monica

So last week I highlighted a spa that I will probably never go to. This week I decided to get realistic and pick out a spa I might actually visit on an upcoming trip.

I am going to Santa Monica in March for a conference. I am hoping to fit in a quick spa visit to Exhale. This is a chain of of 15 spas found primarily in big U.S. cities. Their spa philosophy is "merging the paths of mind and body wellbeing and fulfilling the need for an experience that improves and transforms lives in one environment." I'm up for that.

The spa is located at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, which unfortunately is not where I'm staying. Bu if I manage to sneak in a visit, I will report back.

Daily Randomness: Check out this great blog on Mindful Eating. I'm not very good at it, but maybe if I keep reading this blog I'll get better.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wednesday Wellness: To Travel or Not to Travel

Downtown from the lakefront, Chicago, IL, USAImage via Wikipedia

We all know that it's important to take time away from work. And many people love to travel. I usde to love to travel. But with small kids and a tight budget, we don't travel much. And I find that the less I travel the less I miss it.

The New York Times article How Vacations Affect Your Happiness may explain why. According to the article, a Dutch study about happiness and vacations showed that most of the happiness comes from the anticipation of the trip. And after the trip happiness levels drop quickly.

In the comments for the article many people mentioned they just like some time off to putter around the house. I'm pretty much that way too. In our family we also try to take short trips. We've lived quite a few places, so it's always nice to see the stuff that's close by. A lot of people never do the cool things in their own city or state. And you don't have to get on a plane, which I think is probably the worst thing about traveling.

I haven't completely given up on vacations. Especially not spa trips if I ever get a chance! We're planning a long weekend trip to Chicago (hence the photo) soon. And we hope to get to Disney World in the fall (the things I do for my children). But I'm not going to get too hung up on the fact that I don't get to travel much these days. I will just plan some pretend trips if I'm feeling down!

Daily Randomness: Sticking with the New York Times, check out this interesting article about salt. Is it good or bad? Turns out, they don't really know.
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Monday, February 22, 2010

Comfy Duds Update

So I finally ordered a pair of Athleta Bettona jeans. The bad news is that they were too small, so I am having a hard time deciding if I like them are not. I have to say they are not overwhelming me. The fabric is 88% supplex nylon and 12% lycra spandex. I was hoping for a fabric that was a little more like the knit ponte that I recently bought from J. Jill. (Love!)

Also, the back patch pockets are a little small, and I don't love the metal rivet trim that is supposed to make these look like real jeans (I guess?). OK, so the more I am writing the less I am liking them. I still like the idea of something for the weekends that is dressier than sweats but more comfy jeans. I guess leggings serves that purpose anyway. But let me know if you have any suggestions.

Daily Randomness: So excited to find someone with my same philosophy about food. It seems like most people in this country have gone completely wacko on the subject.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Weekly Spa Envy: One & Only Resort

Okay, this is a little bit of a stretch. But I may as well dream big. And the never ending cold and snowy weather is doing things to my head. So the spa I'm dreaming about this week, is the spa at the One & Only Resort in Cape Town. (See, I told you it was a stretch.)

This spa is located on its "very own lushly landscaped private island." I have nothing more to say.

Daily Randomness: Has anyone been playing around with Google Buzz? I haven't figured it out yet. Let me know if you think it's worth figuring out.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wellness Wednesday: PT to the Rescue, I Hope

Reeve41462Image by otisarchives4 via Flickr

So despite all of my yoga and my occasional foray into Pilates, my lower back has been killing me. My husband got sick of hearing about it, so I went to the doctor. He sent me to the physical therapist, which is what I was hoping for.

So far, so good. She gave me some very specific target stretches and strengthening exercises, which really do seem to be helping (although I'm still early in the process). Even though my back pain was probably pretty minor compared to what many people go through, it was really getting to be an annoyance. I really didn't like the idea of not being able to do things because of my back. I may be middle-aged, but I'm too young to just give up. And I have small children I need to keep up with.

Several people have expressed skepticism that there is much you can do for back pain or that physical therapists really work, but my experience has been positive so far. Do any of you have experience with physical therapy? What about pack pain? Do you think it's possible to ever get rid of it? Here's hoping that I'll be back in fighting shape soon.

Daily Randomness: Check out the blog Unhappy Hipsters: It's Lonely in the Modern World. Hilarious!
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Monday, February 15, 2010

In My Humble Opinion: Hip Tranquil Chick

I'm a little behind on writing about Hip Tranquil Chick: A Guide to Life On and Off the Yoga Mat, since the author Kimberly Wilson is currently on tour for her second book, Tranquilista. (Review coming soon.)

But I really wanted to write a little about this book, because it is such a nice combination of yoga, wellness, creativity, style and a little bit of business advice. This book really made me realize that you can combine all of those things. In fact, we do combine all of these things in real life. But often self-help books have a pretty narrow focus.

Kimberly is self-described as a "teacher, writer, do-gooder, entrepreneur, and eco-fashion designer." You can learn more about what she's up to on her blog Tranquility du Jour.

Even though I don't have the same style as Kimberly, I love that she seems so enthusiastic about her life and the things she loves and she makes no apologies. On her blog, she has mentioned several times that her favorite restaurant is Olive Garden. Not a very cool, or yoga-ish, thing to admit.

So go check out this book if you want a light (but serious) read that will get you inspired to take better care of yourself.

Daily randomness: Have you been watching the Olympics? I am loving the skiing and figure skating. Not so much the luge. I am now totally freaked out by it, plus it's a little boring to watch. What is your favorite Winter Olympics sport?
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Cure for the Wintertime Blues: Aveda's Tourmaline Mask

Has your seasonal affective disorder kicked in? Mine has. We know what we're supposed to do when we start to feel the blues (or the mean reds for that matter). We're supposed to eat right, get more sleep, exercise, blah blah blah. But I say what we need is a little bit of pampering and a little alone time to wallow in our sick-of-winter-already state.

So I recommend a hot bath. Throw in some Epsom salts to relax your muscles, and some bath oil so your skin doesn't get dried out. Light a candle and maybe play some relaxing music. My trick for blocking out sound from the rest of the house is to use the exhaust fan as white noise. And then treat your SAD self to a nice facial mask.

I am a big fan of Aveda's Tourmaline Charged Radiance Masque (French spelling is always a good sign). Here's the breakdown:

Packaging: It comes in kind of an icky green colored package, but that fits with the "natural" thing that Aveda is into. But it works well and it's easy to get the right amount of product out. Check out their Web site to read about their Responsible Packaging info. They do try to use a minimum of 80% PCR in their packaging.

Ingredients: The important ingredient here seems to be the tourmaline. But who the heck knows what that is? It's actually a crystal silicate mineral. Ok, that doesn't really help. What is it supposed to do to skin? Aveda claims that it is "one of nature's most energizing minerals—boosts skin's energy, while natural exfoliants help skin gently shed dull, lackluster surface cells—revealing new radiance." Paula Begoun, beauty product reviewer extraordinaire, says that there is no research that shows that tourmaline actually does any of these things, but she also says it won't hurt anything. Paula also states that this is a pretty good moisturizing mask.

Scent: There really isn't one, which is probably just as well because any scent could be problematic for your skin. Add a few drops of essential oil to your bath if you are looking for a little aromatherapy.

Function: I think this mask works great. I don't think it works miracles. But I try to use it once a week, and I have been very happy with the results. My face seems to look a little firmer and clearer after I wear it, and it does not cause breakouts. I recommend wearing it for about 10 mintues. The longer you wear it, the more moisturizing it will be. And don't forget your neck and decollatage when applying.

So I hope you get to take a little time this week to pamper yourself. Do you have any other ideas for keeping your spirits up when temperatures are down?

Daily Randomness: I know I'm late to the party, but my favorite Golden Globes dress was definitely Gennifer Goodwin. I don't know why these actresses don't do more color when they're dressing up. I get the black because that always looks good. But they rarely pull of those pale and nude colors that they seem to gravitate to. What did you guys think? Overall the dresses seemed a little lame.
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