The Great Spa Escape

dscn0809.jpg

In stressful times, some people turn to food and others turn to alcohol and I go to the spa. So during the chaotic time I was home in L.A. for my stepfather’s funeral, I took some time out to get a pedicure at Los Angeles’s premiere hand and food spa l.a. vie l’orange with Mademoiselle and my cousin Lorena.

After disposing and boxing up my stepfather’s belongings and dealing with his heartless niece’s, by any means necessary (including illegal), attempts to stake her claims to his property and money, the spa was a much needed escape for a few hours of laughter and relaxation.

Since I could not bare to leave Mademoiselle behind knowing that her attachment to me would make life for the hubby completely unbearable, I sent an email to Tina, the owner of vie l’orange, asking her if she would so kindly grant me permission to bring the little one. Immediately after Tina gave the green light, I followed her recommendation from my last visit and booked two Old Fashion pedicures, which included a yummy oatmeal mask.

Shortly after our arrival, I sat Mademoiselle on my lap as I soaked my feet in a very relaxing warm bath of milk and honey. And so for a few moments the world stopped; I was allowed to just be, not having the weight of the continent on my shoulders or the demands of life pounding on me. It was nothing but rest, relaxation, and pure fun.

Though Mademoiselle was with me, she behaved like an angel throughout my treatment. The other women were not discreet with the evil glances when they first caught sight of the pink and black Pliko stroller being pushed through the doors to a seemingly hidden oasis, a sanctuary of mental safety. But, I didn’t care because it was not the first time I had taken Mademoiselle O to a spa so I knew she was going to be a good girl and that she would have them eating out of the palms of her hands by the end of our evening of pampering.

1b.jpg

Before we left, we purchased a couple bottles of l.a. vie l’orange’s Orange and Cucumber body lotion. I knew immediately why this lotion was on Oprah’s favorite things list the second I smelled it and tried a little on my hands. The lotion is not only a good moisturizer, but it’s also like putting on perfume because it contains the right amount of orange and cucumber oils. The two combined make a surprisingly delightful aroma. I love that! I slather it on after taking a shower before bedtime, and when I awake in the morning the smell still lingers as if I had just rubbed it on.

1a2.jpg

If you haven’t had a facial, massage, wrap, or pedicure, seize the moment now and plan your next great spa escape. Do it for your mental sanity. Trust me, you’ll be a lot happier if you do.

Where are the hot spa spots in your area?


Talk to the Hand

Poor customer service is the bane of my existence. It just makes my blood curdle.

If your not in the business of providing quality customer care, then you shouldn’t be in business. I don’t understand why it is so difficult to accomplish this easy feat. After all, a strong, solid customer base is the driving force behind any successful business. It does not require a advanced degree in manners 101, social intelligence or ethics to master the skill of excellent customer service. The only thing needed is just some good old compassion, understanding, and a moral business mind-set.

The ever increasing rudeness of people and this “talk to the hand” mentality in the world today is driving me crazy, and I refuse to tolerate it in the service and retail industries. Everyone who knows me, knows that I’m a stickler for customer service and will complain in a heartbeat if it’s not right. Why should I throw away hard earned money?  

With that said, back in February I emailed Maryam of Maryam’s Soap Nook, explaining the serverity of Mademoiselle’s eczema. I also informed her of Mlle O’s nut and milk allergies. Maryam quickly responded, telling me that she could whip up a special batch of body butter that included: cocoa, avocado, and mango butter, jojoba oil, vitamin E, Avena, and beeswax. After I received this email, I sent two additional that asked if this special batch would relieve baby Mademoiselle’s itching.

In repsonse Maryam sent this email:  

Avocado (Oil and Butter),  Evening Primrose oil,  Jojoba oil,  Meadowfoam oil, Olive oil, Emu oil, Cocoa Butter,Vitamin E, Calendula oil, Collodial Oats (Avena) are oils and butters that help relieve the symptoms of eczema and psoraisis and healing/ itching the best and that are not nuts or milks.

Well, I was convinced. So I immediately placed an order for a $25 jar of Whipped Body Butter (formulated for nut & milk allergies), which turned out not to be whipped at all. The butter was just a bunch of different oils that had been melted down and mixed together, creating a semi-hard substance that needed to be melted in the palm of my hands before applying. The butter also did not include the evening primrose, meadowfoam, or olive oil, but this didn’t bother me as long as the product was going resolve Mlle O’s skin woes.

To my surprise, the product did not relieve her itching nor did it moisturize her skin, but made it dry, which was very puzzling to me. I was upset, but since I liked the smell I decided to use the butter for my son who doesn’t suffer from dry skin and started research to create my own product that would best suite my baby’s needs. But then…

A few days later, I noticed four black spots on the side of the butter and when I opened it, I discovered it was mold. So you know what I did, I sent Maryam an email. The following is our email conversation: 

I was already upset at the fact that your body butter, which isn’t whipped, made my daughter’s skin more dry. It didn’t moisturize her skin at all. However, I got over it and said that I could use the product (10 different oils melted together) for my son. But…I was angry this morning when I discovered mold throughout the product. I couldn’t believe it! I feel it would be the right thing to refund my money and I can send you back your product.

From Maryam: I’m sorry to hear that the butter didn’t work for you, I’m also sorry to hear that you got mold in it as well, it is a natural product with no preservatives, and it sounds like you got water into the product.  Please accept my apologies.  Sorry, my message was sent before I finished writing it, if there are little white specks throughout the product it isn’t mold, that is the butters.  I re-read your email and I’ve never had or heard of the mold throughout the product,  If you introduced water to the product, there would be mold throughout the product.  When the butters harden they sometimes turn into white specks throughout the butter.

My response: No, Maryam, it is black mold. I don’t understand why anyone would put water in a body butter. I have used body butters for several years now and never did I expose them to water. I understand that it is a natural product, but no where on the packaging did it say to refrigerate. It sounds as if you’re telling me that I’m basically out of $25. Is that correct?

My email was sent on March 21st and I’m still waiting on a response from Maryam. I am pissed to the highest pissibility (made up word) at the fact that she blamed me, by saying I introduced water to the product. What! That butter was no where near water. Instead of making excuses, the right thing would have been to offer a refund or to ask how she could somehow resolve the issue.


    


Do It Yourself Pedicures

mirror.jpg 

I can never relax while getting a pedicure because I’m constantly watching like a hawk to make sure the manicurist does not clip my cuticles or cut my toe nails down to nubs. If I don’t watch then my feet will end up looking like they belong to Barney Rubble. I also make sure they polish and shape my nails correctly.

Now, the only exception to this rule is when I’m home in Los Angeles. It’s very easy for me to sit back and enjoy a relaxing foot treatment at one of L.A.’s premiere spas, L.A. Vie l’Orange or The Paint Shop Beverly Hills. Both salons offer a unique experience and are completely different from each other. Vie l’Orange offers a more serene atmosphere, while The Paint Shop has that party vibe. The Paint Shop always has great music blaring from the speakers, but I can’t really talk to my cousin, Lorena, without yelling because the seats are so far a part. I go because they’re pretty good at what they do, offering several themes to meet your individual skin needs like my personal favorites, With a twist and Rita’s and Rocks.  

I really like that Vie l’Orange offers lite lunches and has a nice size lounge area; perfect for a group or if you want to hang out while waiting for a friend to finish up with her treatment. I have to tell you, the manicurist are excellent too! Lucky for me and Lorena, our my next Old Fashion pedicures are on the house, free of charge. Yippie! The next time I’m in L.A. you know exactly where I will be.

Unfortunately, I have yet to find a place where I currently live comparable to the salons mentioned above, and not to mention I have Madamoiselle with me all day.

So, what am I suppose to do? You guessed it, DIY. Although I dislike doing my own pedicures, I want my feet to look well maintained. After watching for so long, I think I’ve mastered the techniques well enough to get the same spa results.

Here are some tools you’ll need to do-it-yourself:

  1. Cuticle oil
  2. Cuticle clippers
  3. Nail clippers
  4. Emery board
  5. Nail buffer
  6. Orangewood sticks to push back the cuticles.

ritas-and-rocks-0610.jpg

For a good scrub, cuticle cream, and foot soak, look no further than The Paint Shop. You can now bring The Paint Shop experience to your home. They not only give instructions on their website, detailing exactly how to do your own Ritas and Rocks pedicure, but also the products to get your feet ready for the warm weather.

Picture of feet taken from Mirror Mirror’s website.


The Hands of Time

I fool people all the time.

It seems no one is capable of discerning my true age by just looking at my face which is, for the most part, great! Looking younger than what I actually am only bothers me when people assume or ask my son if I gave birth to him at 12. Why would that bother me? Well, I guess it has a lot to do with what it implies, a young, single, promiscuous female with three kids by three different men. Or, perhaps it has to do with growing up in an era when being pregnant at 16 or younger wasn’t acceptable.

Let me give you a prime example of what I’m talking about. While in the ER waiting for my DH to pull the car around, I told the nurse on duty that I could not understand why I was having such a difficult pregnancy with Mademoiselle. She then asked if all my kids had the same father. Excuse me! “Well, I’m only asking because it does make a difference in determining the type of pregnancy a woman will have,” she said. Oh really! “No, honey, I’ve been married to the same man for 14 years. “Oh, you look so young.” Now, please explain to me why she assumed the worse case scenario. You should have seen the look on her face when DH appeared, helping me put on my coat before gently escorting me out of the room.

Or what about a few summers ago, I was walking down the street of a college town with my two sons and niece when a college counselor stopped me to ask if I was aware of  academic services and support provided by the University of California, Berkeley for single moms. “What!” “What made you think I was a single mom?” I sarcastically asked. “I’m so sorry, I thought you were 19,” she said with a bit of embarrassment.

While I might have fooled them with my face, if they had only taken a close look at my hands, they would have known the truth about my age. The reality is, our hands reveal a lot about age due to the natural aging process that leaves them looking wrinkled or as if they belong on someone else’s body.

Our hands can age up to 10 years older than our face and body; therefore, it is important to take the necessary steps now to maintain young-looking hands. 

  • You must wear gloves in the winter time and a sunscreen during the summer months, especially if you spend a lot of time in a car with your hands on the steering wheel.
  • Wearing protective gloves while doing housework is the best way to keep hands safe from being overexposed and undermoisturized.   

The same process of cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing you perform on your face should also be done on your hands. Exfoliation can be done twice a week, but moisturizing must be done on a daily basis. Sometimes I like to use a good hand cream immediately after washing my hands. 

I’ve used several hand creams in the past, but none moisturized my hands like the three I’ve discovered.

1.jpg 

The Body Shop’s Hemp Hand Protector is an excellent intense hand therapy for dry to extremely dry skin. This is the only cream my DH will use. Because the scent is so strong, I only use it indoors since I don’t want anything interfering with my favorite fragrance Sugar.

1a.jpg 

Aveda’s Hand Relief is good to carry in my purse because it has a mild sent and the rich cream is also excellent for normal to dry hands. It also contains vitamin E which is believed to slow the aging process.  

3.jpg

But, my all time favorite is Kiehl’s Intensive Treatment and Moisturizer. This is an awesomely ultra-rich hand cream great not only for extremely dry hands, but also for callused areas. The avocado oil and shea butter work well together to soothe my hands. Although this cream is VERY greasy and works well as an overnight treatment, I still use it during the day and carry it around to use while I’m out and about.


Treat Thyself

It is a rare occasion for me to indulge in a relaxing bubble bath or take long showers. Typically, I don’t like to take a soak in the tub in the afternoon because the warmth of the water on my skin puts me right to sleep, but after I laid Mademoiselle down for a nap I immediately jumped at the opportunity to treat myself to a little me time.

I grabbed my free issue of Mother Jones, a journalism magazine, turned on the water, andcoconut-bath.jpg poured in my favorite Coconut Foaming Bath by The Body Shop. Because The Body Shop’s foam bath creates the perfect bubbles, I couldn’t wait for the tub to finish filling up before slipping in. The scent of coconuts filling the entire upstairs helped to make the perfect thirty minute escape from the mundane concerns of every day life. Before I forget, the foam bath normally sells for $16 dollars, but is on sale for $8 online.

After a bath or shower, I usually apply The Body Shop’s Coconut Body Butter and body-butter.jpgCoconut oil spray. Thanks to these products my skin is as soft as silk, resulting in my boys constantly telling me how soft I am. In fact, I recently started buying the butter for them since they were unable to refrain from using mine, claiming they too wanted soft skin. Normally, I don’t wear perfume because the scent is strong enough and lasts the entire day. 

I have to tell you this funny story before I go on. I used to take a spin class once a week before I got pregnant. One day during class the instructor yelled out, “Who smells like coconuts?” “Uh, that would be me!” The scent of my coconut body butter and oil filled the entire class. After I fessed up, the instructor replied, “Wow, you smell good.” 

Although it doesn’t make as many bubbles as The Body Shop’s foam bath, I also use Lush’s Bubble Bars because I love the scent of bath-bomb.jpgcandy and other pleasant fragrances they offer. I often make my own bath time cocktails by combining the Bubble Bars with Lush’s Bath Bombs and Bath Melts, which are great if you have dry skin. Please be warned if you buy the melts in the summer be careful; they’re made of cocoa butter and will melt if left sitting in a hot car.

What are you waiting? Go and treat thyself!  

      

     


Mixed Emotions

…You’re not the only one with mixed emotions, you’re not the only ship adrift this ocean. This coming and going is driving me nuts, this to-ing and fro-ing is hurting my guts, so get off the fence it’s creasing your butt, life is a party lets get out and strut…

This song, Mixed Emotions, by the Rolling Stones is so befitting because we as women often display such a wide range of emotions. For many, it’s the weight of the world on their shoulders, for some, the circumstances of life, while others were simply born moody. Fortunately, we know how to work what the universe has dealt out to us, turning it into something fierce and sassy, meaning distinctively smart and stylish.

body_cream_creme_brulletnnew.jpgNeedless to say why I love the concept behind Mixed Emotions’ products. The products go right along with however you’re feeling when you wake up in the morning. If you are in a lovable mood; there is the Kiss Me line, including a body butter, scrub, and shower gel. Then, there is the Bite Me collection for those times when you feel like sucker punching the next person that asks you a stupid question. Of course, they have the confident diva in mind with their Bee Me products.

Mixed Emotions also offers an all in one soap & sponge ($12.50) that is good for cleansing and exfoliating, and it will last for about 15 showers.

celebrate-me-spongeable-165.gif


Everybody Should Love Sumbody

Don’t you hate it when things don’t work out as planned? It is an aspect of life that is quite frustrating for me, especially when I’ve been planning for several months. In 2005, shortly after I returned home from a trip to Vegas, I was looking forward to returning again in July of ’06 for the Girlfriend’s Birthday Celebration. Since I live miles apart from my friends, celebrating our birthdays together is a great way to stay connected.

The plan for this weekend getaway was to stay at the Venetian, shop, and enjoy a few hours at The Bathhouse Spa for some much needed rest and relaxation. When I received the travel information via email from Nanora, I immediately booked my flight on Southwest. Later I emailed Nicole, informing her of my spa treatment selection. Needless to say, I was really looking forward to this trip.

To make a long story short, my plans were derailed because of the complications I developed as a result of my pregnancy. It was very upsetting because I knew that I would not be able to meet up with them again until 2008. Why you ask? Because Mademoiselle Ori will still be nursing.

One day, I took a wrong turn down an unfamaliar street filled with stores and restaurants. So I drove slow to check things out, and that’s when I discovered a store called Sumbody. Of course, I had to stop and take a look.

bonbon.jpgOnce inside, I found so many delightful treats for the body, but what stuck out the most were the Bonbon Salt Scrubs. I absolutely love these chemical and preservative free goodies due to the fact that they fit in the palm of my hand, eliminating the mess left behind from the typical jar scrubs. Lord knows I have plenty of body scrubs that simply go unused because I can’t stand dealing with the jars, but Sumbody offers the perfect solution for this problem with their bonbons. 

Sumbody’s Bonbon Salt Scrubs come in a variety of flavors, including chocolate orange and rasberries and cream. They are the perfect solution for exfoliating dry skin. And, that’s why everybody should love Sumbody.  

Now, you’re probably wondering how Sumbody’s bonbons relate to my foiled trip to Vegas? Well…I was planning on giving these blissful body treats to my friends as party favors.  

$3.50 at Sumbody.com