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How to Throw a Water Tasting Party – Make a Date to Hydrate!

11 Feb

Have you ever wondered why people pay $4 or 5 for even a small bottle of water? Does it really taste better? Is it a packaging or marketing ploy? Is it really any better?

This “watered down” version of wine party will not only answer these questions, but it’s also a fun way to help your friends keep their “drink more water” resolutions AND BEAUTY BONUS! leaves their skin superhydrated!

Antipodes a Contender for Tasting!

Assign the Aqua

There are SO many waters to choose from – limiting criteria is essential. 1st decide on still or sparkling. Next, go to the grocery and see what’s available. Choose five – you may even want to limit to a certain country. Or even take it a step further and do vitamin enchanced water beauty waters. Ideas for waters to taste:

Evian (of course!)
Tap Water (a must)
Poland Springs
Antipodes Artesian Water
OgO Water from Japan

There’s a waterworld online too at the ultimate guide to bottled water at Fine Water for a selection sure to leave you thirsty for more!

Setting up the Tasting Area

Unlike wine, where I think a tasting works better standing up, a water tasting is best seated. Set up a circle with chairs and a low table in the center – a glass or lucite table especially looks cool. I also make sure the lighting is bright so we can see the waters.

Keep the water in the refrigerator prior to guests’ arriving. About 10 minutes before the party starts, I take the water out and decant each water into it’s own glass pitcher. So I can remember which water is in what pitcher, I tie different color/pattern ribbons to the pitcher handles and keep a “key” away from the tasters.

Have a large bowl or ice tub nearby for each guest to dump their water remnants into if they don’t wish to drink the whole “taste”.

Cleanse the Palate & Whet Your Whistles

Each guest gets one water glass.

Pour tastes as you go along, reminding each guest to write at the top of their scorecards the ribbon “code” for that taste.

Make sure each guest has one scorecard for each taste. The scorecards from wine tasting kits work really well for water. As you hand these out, it’s the perfect time to instruct guests how waters have unique body, fragrance, mouth feel & undertones just like wines.

Here’s a free scorecard to download if you don’t have a store bought wine tasting kit. Just substitute water for wine.

Give each guest a few sprigs of parsley to nibble on to cleanse their palate in between each taste of water (Beauty Bonus: It’s also a detox food.)

Sip and survey! Salut!

PS: We’d love to know what waters are you and your friends’ favorites – comment below or in our Facebook Lounge.

Live, love and lounge, Candy


Bordeaux Wine Tasting Class & Party

29 Jan

As a spa on a vineyard, its no surprise Les Sources de Caudalie wine tasting classes are a guest favorite. But if you can’t get to Bordeaux anytime soon, hold your own version with this informal Bordeaux Wine Tasting Party.


Wine tastings work best with 6 – 8 guests max. Otherwise you’ll need to start buying multiples of the wine AND it allows for each guest to chat with group re their impressions. I’ve created a complimentary invitation you can print on good quality paper & download:

The Wine

You’ll note the invite requests each guest bring a bottle of Bordeaux wine. This can be confusing as it has double meanings. It can mean a general Bordeaux – an inexpensive table wine. Or it can mean it is from the Bordeaux region (& a bit pricier) We’ve chosen the former for guests to bring & we usually add a few of the regional bottles.

All You Need is Wine!


Tasting Kit

Buy a wine tasting kit for the party like All You Need is Wine for the bags to cloak the wine bottles. Kits also include scorecards and placemats. If you enjoy throwing wine tastings, make copies of the forms so you can replenish.

DIY: If you’d rather not buy a kit, the internet has a wealth of free downloadable scorecards and placements. Hide bottle with a piece of construction paper taped around it marked with a unique number. Be sure to write down which is which.  A few of our fave forms:
Detailed Scorecard from Wine Country Getaways
Wine Placemat from Wine Country Getaways
Delong Wine Graphic Scorecard

Decor & Set Up

-Wine crates (most wine shops will give these to you for free): Stack them around the tasting area/room

-A red or purple tablecloth with a protective pad under to protect the Tasting Table. Patterned fabric remnants also work well. Bunches of grapes and corkscrews at the center with room to set tasting bottles make a centerpiece.

-Download photos of Bordeaux and have them printed on 11 x 14 or larger paper. Hang on the wall or in picture frames. Check out these from Stefano Molinari

This image from Stefano Molinari sets the French mood

-Lay a placemat for each guest on the table with empty wine glasses (we use clear plastic glasses for tastes) on each number on the mat.

-Put out snacks. If you have ice buckets, they make festive cracker bowls lined with cloth or a fabric remnant.


-Assortment of cheeses that pair with Bordeaux wines: Gorgonzola, Havarti & Roquefort Brie
-Pain au Chocolate: French bread with dark chocolate melted on the top
-Wine crackers for in between each tasting to cleanse the palate (Trenton are the best)

Trenton Wine Crackers


Party Time!

Once all guests arrive, uncork & cloak their wine bottles with wine bags randomly somewhere unseen to guests. Place cloaked wine bottled on tasting table. Give guests scorecards and explain they will taste and rate each wine & give their opinion as you go.

You can also talk about the Bordeaux region of France & why you chose these wines. Make it fun and casual – at the end of the tasting enjoy discussing the best and worst and compare the prices. . . And of course finishing the wine!
Salut! Live love and lounge, Candy

Mood music La Sultana spa style.

22 Jan

Mood music La Sultana spa style. The artist traveled through Morocco recording for 5 years.  A blended Moroccan music cocktail of meditative and rhythmic tunes.  Moroccan Spirit Perfect accompaniment to your Tajine dinner from yesterday’s post.

Chic Ananda Spa Style – Calming Clothes

6 Jan

At Ananda guests wear what is called a Kurta. A sheer, gauzy, white cotton tunic top and pants set with a neru collar. I don’t know about you but I’m always at a loss for what to wear around the house. Sometimes a robe just doesn’t make you feel dressed and can be cumbersome.

Love the windowpane detailing!

Kurtas make sumptuous lounging apparel and would even look smashing as hostess pajamas. And. . . The Boutique at Ananda sells them on their website.

Now for those toes – these midnight blue Royal slippers from Goody Goody remind me of the decor and royal influences abundant in Ananda’s decor and treatments. They’ve got marshmellow soles to float you around your home!

Royal by Goody Goody - Don't ya love the tassels?

Stay tuned tomorrow for some ideas to bring Ananda ambiance to your dining room decor. If you missed our earlier posts on Ananda, check out our Feature Article & The DIY Hair Oil Conditioning Treatment how tos.

Live, Love and Lounge,

Resolution Bowl New Year’s Day Party

31 Dec

Every year I throw a New Year’s Day Resolution Bowl where we lounge and doctor our New Year’s Eve hangovers. The crown jewel of this event is the “Resolution Bowl”.

As each guest arrives, he/she completes a slip of paper with a goal they want to achieve in the upcoming year. The slip goes in a large bowl. Later we draw a paper from the bowl. If someone draws his own, they draw again.

Next, each person reads the resolution they drew and each guest writes down on a large piece of paper who’s they think it is. We all reveal our resolutions. Guest(s) with most right guesses wins a prize – usually a bottle of wine.

The Twitter #ResolutionBowl

It’s a fun way to get to know each other – but it also strengthens our resolve to make them happen. So I began to think wouldn’t twitter be an ideal place to hold a virtual Resolution Bowl?  Plus, the #HomeSpa tweetchat that Ellen of SweetSoaps and Art of the Spa are launching next week is all about creating spa ambiance at home (and who doesn’t resolve to have that?) Watch for details soon!

How To Participate:

On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day tweet your resolution with the hashtag: #ResolutionBowl Follow the conversation here to see what other tweeters are resolving or even to trade ideas with someone with a similar resolution.

Spa Solutions to Resolutions at the #HomeSpa tweetchat Launch!

Then at the launch of our #HomeSpa twitter chats on Tuesday, Jan.4 at 8 pm EST (which during Jan. will focus on DIY spa inspired lifestyle tips & ideas for the top resolutions), we will chat about some spa style solutions to master those resolutions.

Resolving to make it a date. . .

Candy & Ellen

Five Flirty Fall #Spatinis

22 Oct

First thanks everyone for all the love for our summer martinis!  But guess what?  We get thirsty in the fall too!  Sip these babies while passing out candy to the kiddos or at your next tailgate!

Or at this week’s #SpaWeekGossip Spa Halloween Masquerade Party!

1. Spiced Caramel Apple Martini from  JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Phoenix via

1/2 ounce Crown Royal
1/2 ounce Skyy vodka
1/2 ounce Concentrated apple juice
Pinch Ground cinnamon
Splash Apple Pucker schnapps
Splash Cranberry juice
1 slice Caramel-coated apples

Shake all ingredients and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a sugared rim and the caramel-coated apple. Servings: 1 martini.

2. Pecan Pie Martini from Rachel Ray

½ cup dark corn syrup, plus more for garnishing rim
2 teaspoons brown sugar
¼ cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
Ice cubes
4 ounces (½ cup) vodka
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. On a small plate, stir together 1 teaspoon corn syrup and the brown sugar. Dip the rims of 4 martini glasses in the mixture, then in the chopped nuts.
2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine 1/4 cup vodka, 1/4 cup corn syrup and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Strain into 2 prepared glasses. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

3. Pumpkin Pie Martini from Haunted Bay

• 4 oz of Smirnoff vodka
• 1 oz Stolichnaya Vanil vodka
• Cocktail Candy Vanilla Shake cocktail sugar
• Pumpkin spice

Pour liquid ingredients into a shaker 1/4 full of cracked ice and shake. Allow shaker to rest while rimming two iced martini glasses with Vanilla Cocktail Candy Rim Sugar. Strain martini into glasses. Garnish with a shake of pumpkin pie spice.

4. Spiced Pumpkin Vodka from The Four Seasons New York (via Epicurious)

Drink on it’s own as an after dinner drink or create your own autumn libations. Fills a one-liter bottle (a scant quart).

1 1/2 cups (750 ml) Stolichnaya cinnamon vodka
3/4 cup (175 ml) Stolichnaya vanilla vodka
3/4 cup (175 ml) Stolichnaya vodka
2 whole vanilla beans
2 cups raw pumpkin meat, cut into 1/4-inch slices

Combine vodkas in bottle or other glass container. Add pumpkin meat and vanilla beans and let sit for 1 week. If necessary, when mixing cocktails strain the vodka as you pour it into the shaker. Consider using toasted pumpkin seeds or some of the vodka-soaked pumpkin as garnish.

5. Candy Corn Martini from the Martini Diva

Live, love and lounge, Candy

Give Your Guy a Sweetest Day Spa at Home Treat!

13 Oct

Stuck for Sweetest Day ideas for the guy who has it all? How about a spa treatment? This ultimate masculine spa evening offers relaxation, indulgence and togetherness. Sweet!

The Invite

Mail your sweetheart an invitation to dinner (or slip it into his briefcase) Request an RSVP.

The Nibbles

Make sure food selections can be kept warm during spa time, so there is an uninterrupted flow to the evening. If you order in, ask the restaurant to bring food in heat safe containers.

Don’t forget beverages and fresh fruit as pre-spa starters. Drink choices include water infusions . . . but a bottle of wine or a pitcher of his fave cocktail or beer may help him relax.

The Present

Buy your guy a robe and slippers. Create and print a “Menu” listing spa treatments and dinner. Place the menu on top of the robe and slippers and wrap.

Set up the Spa

Prepare pitchers of drinks, gather candles (woodsy scents like pine lend masculine appeal) and music. 

Create a nook by moving living room chairs next to the sofa to create an L shape. Cushion the floor, layering blankets, quilts, sleeping bags and sheets. Lean pillows around the edge and on the floor for seating – bed pillows, throw pillows, sofa cushions, floor cushions work great.

Use a low coffee table or trays set to the side for treatment supplies, beverage, snacks and candles.

 Twenty minutes before his arrival warm the oil and water, dim the lights, set up the music and light candles.

Spa Treatment Ingredients
12 – 14 Smooth flat stones a bit bigger than a quarter (from outside or a craft store) soaking in a bowl of warmed apricot oil (warm in the microwave 10 secs at a time)(option – add 2 drops of pine or cedarwood essential oil)
Cotton pads
2 Bowls of warm water
Toner (use your own, just don’t tell him)
Moisturizing (non-hardening) face mask
a stack of hand towels

The Spa Treatments

When he arrives, give him his gift. Pour him a beverage. Surprise! It’s a spa night! Have him remove his shoes and socks and put on his slippers. Optional: Ask him to put on the robe. Proceed with selected treatments & food at your own pace. Here’s a mélange of DIY masculine indulgences:

Hands Down

Sit across from him, taking one of his hands palm up. Holding a pebble from the oil, rub the stone in circles radiating from the middle of the palm out, then stroking it along his fingers. Turn the palm over and rub with your fingertips in the same pattern. Place one pebble between the spaces of his fingers & wrap the hand in a towel. Repeat on the other hand. Let him relax for 10 minutes. Remove the towel and stones rubbing in excess oil.

Romance alert: While his hands are “tied” is an excellent time to feed him fruit or beverages.


Using the oil from your fingers to massage his scalp. Beginning at the hairline, vigorously knead as if you were making bread. Next, gently pull his hair to stimulate circulation. Finish by squeezing the edges of his ears from the lobe along the outer rim upwards.

Brave Face

Arrange the thickest cushions on the floor in a “bed” and have Mr.-Blissed-Out-By-Now lay face up. Wet a cotton pad with water and clean his face and neck. Rub a stone horizontally across his forehead. Then press your fingers along the bone that encircles the eyes (the orbital bone), stoke from his chin up the cheeks and press your palms against his cheeks, then stoke from his collarbone up the neck. Apply toner to his face and neck. Spread the mask over the face and neck, placing a damp cotton pad over eyes.


While the face mask sets, place the pebbles between his toes a la Hands Down above. Massage his calves and feet for 15-20 minutes. Whether he’s robed or not also makes a difference. When you’re finished, use a warm cotton pad to clean the face mask off.

The treatment series can take as long as you like, feel like extending the hand massage? Go for it! Have dinner & enjoy the rest of your Sweetest Day evening.

Live, love and lounge, Candy

SpaHome Entertaining: Grilled Cheese and Wine Bar

7 Oct

The Food Network show Man v. Food inspired this idea to elevate your next wine and cheese party. The spa twist is, of course, ours ; )

Instead of cheese cubes and crackers at your next wine party, have a grilled cheese bar to accompany your wine selections. Lay out the fixin’s below, let guests concoct their sandwich and grill. (Just think of all the cubing you’ll avoid!)

If it’s not grill weather, a grill pan allows you to cook multiple ‘wiches for fast prep. Or let your guests grill their own.

Bread –
Rosemary Focaccia

Cheese –
Sharp Cheddar
Blue Cheese

Optional – Go Gourmet! Add a few bowls of fresh herbs & spices to the bar. Try basil, horseradish, garlic, cilantro and/or paprika.

WineBath Favors

Here’s a fun spa way to recycle all those empty Wine Bottles and create inventive guest takeaways:

Buy your favorite bubble bath or bath salts in bulk at Costco or other retailer. WITHOUT RINSING the wine bottle (wine is good for the skin) funnel liquid bubble bath into the bottle and recork.

Print labels from your computer like:

Cooking with Caitlin
Wine Bath
Vintage: (date of party)

& stick over the back label. See guests grin.

Live, love and lounge, Candy

PS:  Don’t forget to hang out with us on Monday 1PM PST for Foodies Night In #fni on twitter.  This week’s topic wine and cheese!

Owly Oasis – Wise Finds to Feather Your Nest

18 Aug

Who knows better than a wise owl how to feather the ultimate nest?  Especially Owly from Hootsuite he’s been flying around at night & hooting my ear off about:

Hate the hard feel, not to mention the heat of your coffee cup? Warm up your Cafe and keep your hands happy with the Cupcoat from Bright and Bold

Who better to design barware than a DJ? Sagaform ice buckets, martini shakers and more put a Spa spin on your cocktails at Unica Home

Check out these exquisite stove hoods made from Greek artifacts by Phoenician Stone. Zeus would approve!

If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. Not a very spa like attitude, but now your kitchen can be anywhere you are. Wave of the future? We think moving around instead of standing at a counter is a more fun & active way to cook. Portable Carre kitchen concept designed by students for the Berlin Design Festival via DesignBoom

The Battersea Sofette is the closest thing you’ll ever get to swimming in butterscotch pudding. Ubersoft leather and brilliant lines make it comfy and beautiful. And double bonus, no pesky cushions to arrange and clean under. From Anthropologie

The Westin Heavenly Bed I’ve been sleeping on this the past month (living at a Westin) and have had some of the best zzzzz’s ever!

Live, Love and Lounge, Candy

Top 5 Spa Margaritas to Beat the Summer Heat

9 Aug

WoW it’s hotter than Mexico out this Summer and with all the love you have shown for our Spatinis we thought you might enjoy a cool Spagarita (that’s a Spa Style healthier version of a margarita). Ole!

Mijares Restaurant Pasadena

2 oz of clear Agave Tequila
2 Tblspoons Lime juice
Triple Sec to taste

Mix & serve – for a frozen version blend w/ 1 cup of ice.

(Mocktail version from Red Mountain Spa via Healing Lifestyles and Spas)

4 ounces limeade
2 ounces orange juice
1 wedge lime, dredged in salt

Mix the limeade and orange juice. Serve over ice, blended with ice, or blended frozen.
Garnish with a wedge of lime.

Watermelon Spagarita
(from Saveur)
Serves 2

* 1 medium-size seedless watermelon
* 1 750-ml bottle of silver tequila

* 4 oz. of the watermelon-infused tequila
* 2 oz. frozen limeade
* 2 cubes of the infused watermelon
* 1 1⁄2 oz. Cointreau
* Watermelon wedges

For the infused tequila, cut a watermelon into 1″ cubes (rind removed) until you have roughly 2 lbs. of fruit. Transfer to a glass jar, pour in tequila, seal jar, and let steep for 2 days.

To make drinks, combine the watermelon-infused tequila, 2 cups crushed ice, frozen limeade, infused watermelon, and Cointreau in a blender. Purée until slushy. Garnish with watermelon wedges.

BlueBeauty Spagarita
(from yours truly)

Mix the basic Spagarita recipe at top. Add 1/2 cup of blueberries blended & subbing the clear Agave tequila for Blue Agave tequila.

Watermelon Cucumber Spagarita
(from Epicurious)

1 1/2 cups 1-inch chunks rindless watermelon
6 (1/8-inch-thick) slices English hothouse cucumber
15 large fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup 100% blue agave silver tequila
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons Simple Syrup
1 tablespoon Cointreau or other orange liqueur
2 cups ice cubes, divided
2 small watermelon triangles, each skewered with 1 cucumber round (for garnish)
2 fresh mint sprigs (for garnish)

Place first 3 ingredients in medium bowl. Press firmly on solidswith muddler or back of wooden spoon until mashed. Mix intequila, lime juice, Simple Syrup , and Cointreau, then 1 cup ice.Stir to blend well. Strain into large glass measuring cup. Divideremaining ice between 2 tall glasses. Pour Margarita mixtureover. Garnish with watermelon skewers and mint sprigs

*BONUS Spa-garita Cicles

Super icy way to enjoy – pour drink into popsicle molds like these from Tovolo and chill!  Do you have a favorite “Spa” Cocktail that’s lower in sugar/calories than it’s secular sister?  Feel free to share in the comments links welcome!

Live, love and lounge, Candy