Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spa Girl clears the air with the Eucalyptus aromatic...

Eucalyptus oil has become a staple within the Spa industry and with Aromatherapists around the globe for its ability to do everything from healing wounds to solving respiratory problems.  It can also be used for hair care, and its woody-sweet scent is often used as a  household fresher.

Eucalyptus  is a diverse genus of flowering trees (and a few shrubs) in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Members of the genus dominate the tree flora of Australia. There are more than 700 species of Eucalyptus, mostly native to Australia, and a very small number are found in adjacent areas of New Guinea and Indonesia and one, Eucalyptus deglupta, ranges north to the Philippines. Species of Eucalyptus are cultivated throughout the tropics and subtropics including the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East, China and the Indian Subcontinent.

Eucalyptus oil has many applications and is categorized into three broad types according to composition and use: medicinal, perfumery and industrial. The is used as a pharmaceutical, antiseptic, repellent, flavouring, fragrance and for industrial uses. It is also thought to stimulate the immune system, is a good anti-inflammatory and possesses analgesic qualities as a topically applied liniment ingredient. Eucalyptus oil is also used in personal hygiene products for antimicrobial properties in dental care, soaps and over-the-counter products, including cough drops, throat lozenges, chest rubs, toothpastes, mouthwashes and muscle relaxants . It can also be applied to wounds to prevent infection.

As one of nature's best essential oils, it also mixes very nicely with thyme essential oil, rosemary essential oil, marjoram essential oil, lavender essential oil, cedar wood essential oil, frankincense essential oil to enhance your spirits and heal your tribulations. 

A Spa and home essential!

Linen Spray Freshener
1/2 cup Distilled Water
1/2 cup Vodka
10 drops Eucalyptus oil
§Mix ingredients and pour into a spray bottle. Shake before use.

Eucalyptus Freshener Spray
Can be used on carpets & upholstery
2 cups Distilled Water
20 drops Eucalyptus Oil
§Mix and pour into a spray bottle. Shake before each use. Can be used as an air freshener, a carpet or upholstery spray. Test a small area first for fabric discoloration and do not spray on wood surfaces.

More on this diverse essential oil...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spa Girl loves the heavenly blooms of Lavender

Today was a perfect summer day and I visited a friend who has been working very hard on her garden.  To my delight she has been nurturing a wonderful lavender garden.

If you do a little sleuthing there is most likely a lavender farm near you and July is the perfect time to follow your noise, it's harvest time. 

There are so many benefits of this fragrant hardy perennial besides its natural beauty. Native to the Mediterranean region lavender was historically used in ancient Egypt for mummifying bodies. Lavender's use as a bath additive originated in Persia, Greece, and Rome and the herb's name comes from the Latin lavare, which means "to wash."   It is such a natural for spa lovers!

Jennifer Chait writes...

The benefits of lavender, a fragrant flowering herb, have been documented for well over 2000 years. The Egyptians used lavender for mummification purposes. It’s been noted that the Virgin Mary was fond of lavender’s insect repellent qualities. The Romans used lavender to freshen their breath and baths. Middle Age and Renaissance women used dried lavender to repel the plague. And by the 16th century herbalists began to hype the healing qualities of lavender exclaiming that it could treat everything from stomach pain to mental illness. Currently most aromatherapy books and organizations present lavender as one of the most overall useful essential oils to have in your home.

A part of the mint family there are over 50 different species of lavender plants, but the most common are:

Lavendula Augustifolia (English lavender, true lavender, Lavandula officinalis and Lavandula vera)  True lavender is the most versatile of the essential lavender oil extracts. This small plant produces single blueish-purple flowers on each stem, and yields a sweet, fragrant oil. This oil is the most sought after because it has such a wide range of uses including therapeutic, aromatherapy, medicinal (see our articles on lavender oil health benefits and lavender oil uses). True lavender oil is also used for perfumes because of its sweet, delicate aroma. 

Lavandula Latifolia (Commonly known as Spike Lavender, Lavandula Spica)  Spike Lavender plants has small flowers on long, spiky branches. Spike Lavender has a higher yield of essential oil, thus, it is inexpensive to produce. Spike lavender oil is sometimes considered to be "inferior" due to its sharp smell. This smell comes from the higher camphor concentration. Spike lavender still has several uses. It is a great antiviral, (works well in household products). It is also used to add fragrance to soaps, detergents and other products. 

Lavandin (Lavandula hybrida, Lavandula hortensis or Lavandula burnatii).  It is a cross (hybrid) between spike lavender and Lavender angustifolia. Lavandin is a easier crop to produce than true lavender, thus making it's essential oil less expensive to produce. Lavandin also contains higher concentrations of camphor, giving it a harsher fragrance than true lavender. Due to the stronger and longer lasting scent, it is sometimes used to add fragrance to soaps, detergents and other products. Lavandin does still have some of the calming effects of true lavender, and has antiseptic properties. 

Lavender Stoechas  Lavender Stoechas is spiky plant that produces purple-blue flowers in Spring and Summer. This lavender has a significant amount of ketones and is not usually used for medicinal or therapeutic purposes. This lavender is usually used in landscaping.

Throughout its long history lavender was used as an antiseptic and for stress relief, today in addition to its past uses it is known to help with anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, cuts and scrapes,
 and headaches. it is also widely used for its wonderful aromatic scent, in teas, perfumes, in the bath,  and in the laundry.  Just tie up a bundle of blossoms in a  cheese cloth and toss in the dryer, or try lavender water for in your iron for that ultimate heavenly scent.

Lavender also makes a lovely floral accent in many dishes, and one of my all time favourites is lavender cookies.

Enjoy Spa Girls...

Lavender Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 cup butter, softened 
3/4 cup sugar 
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten 
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1 tablespoons dried culinary lavender, chopped 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 2. Lightly grease a cookie sheet 3. In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar; mix well. 4. Beat in the egg. 5. Sift together the flour and baking powder into the mixture. 6. Add the lavender; stir until thoroughly combined. 7. Drop spoonfuls of the cookie mixture onto the baking sheet; bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. 8. Let cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Organic lavender cookies with a Balsamic Reduction
 2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 large egg, room temp
1 tsp lemon zest (preferably meyer lemon)
1 tsp organic lavender flowers

preheat oven to 350 degrees. grease 2 baking sheets or use silpat. set aside. sift together flour, baking soda and salt...set aside. using an electric mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy. add sugar and cream together until well mixed. add honey and egg and incorporate well. add dry ingredients to mixing bowl and beat until well blended. add lemon zest and lavender and mix until incorporated into batter. drop by teaspoonfuls onto prepared sheets leaving approx. 2 inches of space between each cookie (dough will spread when baking). bake until cookies just begin to turn brown...12-15 minutes. remove from oven and cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. remove cookies from sheets, place on racks and allow to thoroughly cool.

balsamic reduction
2 cups balsamic vinegar
1 tsp organic honey
1 tsp organic agave nectar

Add ingredients to saucepan and cook over medium heat until liquid has reduced by half. allow to cool. store in a mason jar in refrigerator..drizzle on cookies, cheese, fruit (esp. strawberries), steak, roasted or poached chicken, steamed vegetables, pound cake....

Cooking with Lavender...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Spa Girl asks, are your Locks Thirsty?

It's hot and sunny and a fabulous time to enjoy the great outdoors, but that means the natural moisture in your hair can disperse leaving your hair dry and brittle. 

The best way to help restore, condition and bring back the shine to your dry hair is to massage oil into your thirsty locks.

There are many different natural oils that can be used . Check out the links below to find one that is perfect for you! I find a combination of natural blended oils to be most effective and you can either make a batch up yourself or try products available at your health food store. 
Your hair Spa treatment will leave that dry, damaged hair looking bouncy, shiny and well moisturised. 

I will post again on this "summer" subject as taking care of your hair is a reflection on your good health.

Selecting an oil that is right for you..

Friday, July 15, 2011

Spa Girl continues to extol the attributes of Vancouver Island

As I mentioned in my last blog, my partner and I spent a week on Vancouver Island exploring all it had to offer and fell in love with the Island, the off shore Islands (we spent a few days on Hornby Island), and the fresh catch of the day, oysters, clams, you name it! 

For nine consecutive years Vancouver Island has been ranked as the top Island in North America by Conde Nast.  It is indeed paradise for anyone who loves nature, arts and culture, great food, and fabulous Spas!

Boasting some of the most remarkable landscape and the mildest climate in Canada, Vancouver Island in British Columbia has coastal temperatures typically well above 0°C (32°F) in winter months. Golf is a year-round sport here – as are outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking and even tennis. Spring comes early to the island, and gardens start to show their colours by late February/early March. In summer months, the Island climate is sunny and dry, averaging maximum temperatures between 28-33 degrees Celsius (83-92°F).

Mountain ranges divide Vancouver Island between its rugged west coast and leeward east coast — around which many of the Island’s historic and charming cities and towns are located. Located near the centre of Vancouver Island is Strathcona Provincial Park, which includes the only glaciers on the Island, and where the major ski area of Mount Washington is found. Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast, near the towns of Tofino and Ucluelet, is home to the oldest temperate rainforests on earth. The sunny mid and southern regions of the Island include the cities of Port Alberni, Campbell River, Comox, Parksville, Nanaimo and Victoria, all of which are extremely popular recreation areas.

And for those of us spa seekers, the island has a luxury of choices.

One of my favourite places is Sooke Harbour House & Sea-renity Spa not far from Victoria.  Make sure to stay for lunch or dinner and have one of their famous salads delicately harvested from an array of spectacular organic gardens. Or better yet stay overnight and enjoy your treatments in the privacy of an oceanfront suite or in one of the quiet, meditative areas in the Potlatch Room.  Ask to see their award-winning wine cellar where you can select a wine for a meal I guarantee you will never forget!

Vancouver Island is a place that is naturally unhurried and peaceful and a place that will take your breath away at every turn.

More fabulous Spas to visit on Vancouver Island...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Spa Girl checks out the Ancient Cedars Spa

On our summer 'walk about' my partner and I traveled to Vancouver Island in beautiful British Columbia.  Visiting Hornby Island, the Comox Valley and Tofino home of the award winning Wickaninnish Inn and its Ancient Cedars Spa  voted Canada's top year-round resort spa by readers of Conde Nast Traveler.

The Wickaninnish Inn is part of the Relais & Châteaux group and renowned for its natural splendour. Located on the Pacific Ocean on the west side of Vancouver Island it is the only resort located on the stunning Chesterman Beach. Wickaninnish Inn was acknowledged by Travel + Leisure readers as the top rated Canadian hotel and one of the top 25 resorts in North America for 2011 in their World's Best Travel Awards.

Founded in France in 1954, Relais & Châteaux ( represents the highest benchmark in hotel accommodations and fine dining, with a select group of over 450 privately owned hotels and restaurants worldwide. The concept grew from the vacationing traditions of well-heeled French society, who traveled to a variety of "relais" (lodges) and "châteaux" (castles) which, while different in architecture, scenery and cuisine, presented consistently high standards.
The essence of Relais & Châteaux lies in its "5 C's": charm, courtesy, character, cuisine, and calm.

From the moment you drive down Osprey Lane the lush well manicured driveway lined with giant red wood trees which form a canopy well above your head, smell the brine of the sea, the earthy scent of the rain forest and hear the crashing waves, you feel a remarkable sense of peace and calm.   An ideal start to any spa treatment.

Ancient Cedars Spa places an emphasis on relaxation and rejuvenation inspired by its natural surroundings and ancient customs that are incorporated into their spa treatments after consulting local members of the Nuu chah nulth First Nations. Hishuk Ish Tsawalk Awakening, a signature treatment of the spa incorporates techniques gleaned from traditional cleansing ceremonies. An extensive spa menu includes various signature treatments, results-driven skincare, thalassotherapy and esthetics, offered by a team of internationally-trained spa professionals.

The spa offers all its guests a soothing fireside or oceanside foot soak in Dead Sea salts prior to all treatments and I have to say, this is one of the most magnificent ocean views you will find anywhere. They have also taken care to scout out natural products and organic botanicals from around the globe.

They say...
We unconditionally soothe the Body, Mind and Soul by enveloping your being in a sanctuary inspired by nature.

The Spa has a great brochure which describes their philosophy, the experience, how to spa and information on their treatments from skin care, signature treatments, body therapy and yoga.  Treatments run from $50.00 for a Hydrotherapy soak to $830.00 for a side-by-side Lomilomi Duo.

If you love the ocean, want to walk in an old growth rainforest on B.C.'s rugged West Coast, see eagles soaring in the sky and be pampered in an award winning spa, then Ancient Cedars Spa at the Wickaninnish Inn is every Spa Girls dream.