Pamper Yourself

With summer comes an endless parade of special events, nonstop lawn growth, potlucks and picnics and summer "vacations". Need a vacation from your vacation (or otherwise busy schedule)? Then give yourself an afternoon to pamper yourself.

Sometimes taking a little time for yourself can leave you rested, relaxed and so much more able to tackle the list of things you need to get done before yesterday! After all, taking a few days isn't always possible and enjoying one afternoon is hardly something you can end up feeling guilty about -- so go for it!

Now, everyone's idea of pampering varies, so I'll start by suggesting that you choose one or two things that you really like and make you feel special and go that route. For those that want some inspiration (or are just curious), read on to get a taste of my own version of a pampered afternoon.

Pampering Those Toes

Out of all of the parts of the body, the foot is often the first to be neglected. Throughout the winter months they are stuffed into thick shoes, tights and socks. With summer here, they will be wandering the streets in sandals and even barefoot. All that wear and tear takes a toll on them, but don't worry. With a little pampering on a regular basis your feet can be brought back to life with ease. And you can even paint your toenails for a fun effect -- your choice.

Here's what you’ll need:

  • Warm soapy water
  • Essential oil (optional)
  • Towel
  • Pumice stone
  • Orange stick
  • Nail scissors
  • Emery board
  • Moisturizing cream
  • Cotton balls (optional)
  • Nail polish remover (optional)
  • Nail polish and topcoat (optional)

Begin by washing your feet in warm soapy water. If you have a foot spa that’s even better. Make sure that you cover your toenails thoroughly. To give your feet a pleasant fragrence, add a few drops of essential oil -- rose and lavendar are my favorites.

Pat your feet dry and begin using a pumice stone lightly rubbing over any hard dry skin, often found on the heels and balls of the feet.

Use an orange stick to gently push back your cuticles. This will make your nails look rounder and healthier.

Trim your nails carefully and file with an emery board.

Rub in a thick rich moisturiser over all the areas you’ve worked on and leave your feet to dry. If you don't want to paint your toe nails, you're done.

Otherwise, once they're dry, apply some nail polish remover to a cotton ball and gently swipe it across all of your toe nails. This will clean the surface and make your polish adhere better. Once your toe nails are dry, paint them in a nice bright color (if you are very pale go for a light subtle shade) and admire your work. Make sure you leave adequate time in between coats. Apply 2 coats of color and one clear topcoat.

Sipping Summer

My pampering afternoon wouldn't be complete without a tasty beverage, a good book, and a relaxing place in the shade to enjoy them. To tackle the first thing on my list, here are a few recipes to try at home. Be creative and invent your own specialty tea drinks with your favorite teas, fruit juices and syrups.

Chai Iced Tea

  • 8 chai spice tea bags
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup evaporated skim milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Ice

Brew the tea bags in boiling water, steep for 3-5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and add the evaporated skim milk and sugar.

Cool the mixture slightly, then pour it over ice. For a slushy consistency, pour the Chai and ice cubes into a blender and blend for about 30 seconds.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Orange Creme

  • 5 orange spice tea bags
  • 1 peppermint tea bag
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream (frozen yogurt, sherbet, or sorbet may be substituted)
  • 1 cup ice

Brew the tea in boiling water, steep for 4 minutes. Let cool. Pour it into a blender, adding the orange juice, honey, vanilla ice cream and ice. Mix the ingredients until fully blended.

Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Triple Berry

  • 4 oz. ice
  • 6 oz. wild raspberry iced tea
  • 2 oz. cranberry juice
  • 1 oz. blackberry syrup

Combine the ice, iced tea, juice and blackberry syrup in a cocktail shaker or a jar with a lid. Shake until cold and frothy. Pour into a tall iced tea glass.

  • Yields: 1 serving
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Made in the Shade Now, about that book, I'll admit that it could be anything. But the one that I've got my hands on now is called I'm Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking by Alton Brown. Brown is the host of Food Network's Good Eats and, thankfully, is not your typical TV cook. He's a cook that cares about why food does what it does when we step into the kitchen and is hilarious while he educates those around him about it. His first book is certainly more than a cookbook, although there certainly are some recipes to play with as well. It's entertaining, informative and just plain ... good reading. I highly recommend picking up a copy and finding that perfect spot in the shade.