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Group Spa Days popular at Spa Essentials

5 Feb

by Diva Karen

spaEssentialsI ran into Kelly of Spa Essentials recently and asked her what was new in “Spa” world.  Her answer surprised me.

Group Spa days are becoming more and more popular” she said.   I was curious how they work as I think of the spa as being an individual experience.

Employee and girl-friend groups are getting together in a more leisurely fashion as time is at a premium.  Spa Group Outings are perfect for brainstorming and networking at an entirely different levels – a whole new way of team-building.

As the touch-point, Kelly co-ordinates all the services for the participants during a set time period, say 4-5 hours.    All the group leader needs to do is pick a date and provide Kelly email addresses of group members.  She takes care of the rest!

Some participants enjoy a single spa service, some buy-in for a full set.    Sometimes an employer will provide a credit for each of their staff (unused credits are carried over for another visit); other times the group participants pay for their own way.  Either way, the atmosphere is set for the “party” to be fun for everyone.  And if someone is running late, or another must leave early, schedules can be accommodated.

Groups bring in their own meals and beverages – sometimes potluck, sometimes they order from one of Blyth’s great restaurants (Part II Bistro, Blyth Inn, or pizza from Bell’s).

Manicures, Pedicures, waxing, facials, eye lash extensions, various types of massage, teeth whitening, and laser hair removal services are all available at Spa Essentials.  

Spa Essentials
406 Mill Street
Blyth, ON  N0M 1H0


Brentwood on the Beach hosts Hobby Retreats … and more

8 Nov

by Karen Stewart

Today I popped in at Brentwood on the Beach while I was in the area.  I was delighted to meet a group of quilters who were on a retreat for four or five days from the Kitchener area.  Many of them have been visiting Brentwood twice a year for over ten years to enjoy the peace and solitude and allow them time to focus on their hobby.

I have about eight stunning quilts that were made by my maternal great grandmother, my paternal grandmother or my mother.  I sincerely appreciate the hours and the work that goes into these beautiful art pieces as not only were they constructed stitch by stitch (no machines then) but the patterns were, I suspect sometimes challenging.

The ladies at Brentwood are machine quilting – the work is still intricate and the results equally stunning functional art pieces.

Wendy Chandler has been enjoying quilting retreats at Brentwood for six years

Wendy Chandler has been enjoying quilting retreats at Brentwood for six years

Wendy Chandler has been coming to Brentwood with the group for about six years to enjoy the collaborative work with like-minded crafters in a peaceful setting that’s not too far from home.  She shared details of her project with me.  Wendy receives a “block of the month” package with fabric pieces already cut, ready for her to put together in a block.  The pattern is included.  At the end of the year, the 12 blocks are stitched together for a full-sized quilt.  The club she belongs to is through a quilting store in St. Jacobs although she did feel there were these types of projects available online or via mail order too.

three of Wendy's squares in the Block of the Month club

three of Wendy’s squares in the Block of the Month club

Wendy's Block of the Month squares will come together at the end of the year to make this beautiful quilt.

Wendy’s Block of the Month squares will come together at the end of the year to make this beautiful quilt.

Megan Stauch is one of the co-ordinators of the biannual gathering at Brentwood. She was working on a modern quilt that included brighter colours and squares or rectangles rather than the typically more muted colours and triangular shapes of many quilts.  She’s been coming to Brentwood for ten years and finds the area enticing – “the weather’s different every time we’re here”.  (I love visiting Brentwood too as the view of the lake is stunning – no matter what the weather).  Megan says she’s been quilting for just fifteen years but has made about 40 full size (Queen or King) quilts and 50 lap or baby quilts.  Wow … can you imagine the work!

Wendy's 'modern' quilt features bright colours and squares or rectangles.

Wendy’s ‘modern’ quilt features bright colours and squares or rectangles.

These ladies also shared with me one of the projects being worked on by one of the other ladies.  Describing the project as a block exchange, each of the ladies in the group were sent a package with a pattern and some of the “main” fabric.  Each quilter completed the block with unique fabrics.  A draw determined the winner who gets all the blocks to make a full quilt –  colours and patterns chosen by each individual made for a really interesting outcome.

These squares were made by twelve different quilters in twelve different places.  The "winner" of the draw stitches the squares together for one unique and beautiful quilt.

These squares were made by twelve different quilters in twelve different places. The “winner” of the draw stitches the squares together for one unique and beautiful quilt.

Brentwood hosts numerous crafters groups as well as individuals, couples or friends groups for getaways or retreats in their beautiful lake-front property on St. Joseph Shores – located between Bayfield and Grand Bend on Ontario’s West Coast.  The property features an indoor salt-water pool, an outdoor barbeque area, access to the beach, beautiful gardens, cozy fireplaces and warm hospitality from owners/operators Joan and Peter Karstens and their staff.

Brentwood on the Beach
33937 Moore Court
R.R. 2, St. Joseph Shores
Zurich, ON N0M 2T0
(519) 236-7137 

Catherine manages much of the day-to-day needs of the guests at Brentwood.

Catherine manages much of the day-to-day needs of the guests at Brentwood.

Hermie and Anita are in the kitchen preparing breakfast.  Lunches and dinners are sometimes part of the package for hobby or spa retreat guests too.

Hermie and Anita are in the kitchen preparing breakfast. Lunches and dinners are sometimes part of the package for hobby or spa retreat guests too.

Having fun at Davara Studio

9 May

by: A Couple of Coasters – Divas Cindy Fisher and Laurel Armstrong

If you are looking for a fun small group experience, try your hands at pottery with Dave Riach of Davara Studio in Blyth, Ontario.

Cindy and Dave star glazing

On a sunny spring morning, we arrived at his studio, ready to play in the clay.  He starts off by showing us samples of pottery products and glazes which have been created by him and his wife Tamara.  Once you see the realm of possibilities, we then moved into the workshop to become familiar with hand building and wheel work.

Cindy wanted to try throwing pottery on the wheel to make small serving pieces; Laurel wanted to try making beads and decorative jewelry pieces.  The great thing about Dave is that he lets you explore your own thing while providing clear guidance about the process for doing this in his studio – he is a good sharer!

Cindy discovered that throwing pottery on a wheel takes accurate pressure and speed – but even wonky bowls have their charm.  Laurel discovered that creating clay beads and pendants for necklaces was all about textures, shapes and glaze.

Laurel and the details

Once the clay art has been created, the timing of kiln drying and glazing will be worked out to fit the mutual schedules.

Laurel and Dave glazing

So if you are looking for creative learning fun, contact Dave at 519-523-4355 and talk about the options for his hands-on ‘playing with clay’ experiences.

results in transition

By the way, in addition to pottery and other decorative items for the table and garden, he also sells stained glass creations, and does commission work.

Oh – and he also does birthday party packages for the young and young at heart– how much fun would that be!?!

Oh – he also teaches Stained Glass if that catches your fancy.

A newborn miniature horse, always brightens my day!

20 Apr

By Diva Jenna Ujiye

This past Tuesday I had to pick up some items in Londesborough, Walton and Clinton. I asked my mom if she wanted to come along with me and she did! We first stopped in Clinton to pick up the 2012 Ontario’s West Coast Guides and then headed to Home on the Range in Londesborough.

I have been to this place quite a few times and always enjoy checking out all of the horses. Tuesday, I got a bit of a surprise from owners Hugo and Friedy. The day before a baby colt had been born to one of the miniature horses! The baby, who still hasn’t been named, was probably one of the cutest things I have ever seen!.

This Horse was so tiny I was able to carry it with ease, it was literally the size of a small dog, or my friend Lindsays cat Piper! Friedy and Hugo thought it may be a record for the smallest horse, but they were still looking in to it. They say that they did find a horse online that was only 14 inches tall and this guy was about 16. Still a record in my mind though!

Home on the Range is a great place for families and they have been think about hosting walks with mini horses for children who are nervous about riding a large horse or just want to take a walk!

If you are interested in visiting the farm or want more information here are their details:

Home on the Range, Horseback Riding and Adventures

41073 Londesboro Rd. Londesborough,ON

Fresh, Local Produce at 40% off?

28 Feb

By Diva Jenna Ujiye

Apples from Laithwaites Apple Park

I’m sure many of you receive or have heard about the Huron Good Food Box by now, but I thought I would take a bit of time and tell you about it!

The website says, “The Good Food Box provides Huron County residents with local vegetables and fruits monthly. It is a community-based project that relies on volunteers. Buying in large quantities from our local producers allows us to get better pricing.” To me the program suits almost anyone who would like to get mostly local fruits and vegetables, without having to drive around the County to get them! You support local farmers and eat healthy, yummy food!

Now the program gets even better, you save up to 40%! For $15 you get almost $30 worth of fruit and vegetables. To top off this awesome deal, co-ordinator Brittany Fry, includes recipes and a monthly newsletter in the box! This program is really great and you can share it with friends and family, plus gift certificates are available!

What you need to know to get your Huron Good Food Box:

  • You can place an order at the a neighbourhood host site (see list below) by the first Friday of each month.
  • All orders must be pre-paid in cash ($15) at the time they are placed.
  • Bring your own boxes to transport your orders.
  • Pickup times may vary, PLEASE check with your site.
  • All unclaimed orders will be donated to a local food bank.

For more information visit You can also follow the “Huron Good Food Box” on Facebook.

Neighbourhood Host Sites

Community Payment Location Pickup Location
Bayfield Nancy Scotchmer
Tel: 519.565.2596
Anglican Church Bayfield
Tel: 519.565.2790
Blyth Blyth Public Library
Tel: 519.523.4400
Blyth Public Library
392 Queen Street, Blyth
Tel: 519.523.4400
Clinton Clinton Public Library
Tel: 519.482.3673Huron County Health Unit
Tel: 519.482.3416Huron County Social Services
Tel: 519.482.8505
Jacob Memorial Building
(located next to the Huron County Health Unit)
Exeter Exeter Public Library
Tel: 519.235.1890
Exeter Public Library
330 Main Street, Exeter
Goderich Goderich Public Library
Tel: 519.524.9261
St. George’s Anglican Church,
87 North Street, Goderich
Grand Bend Grand Bend Area Community Health Centre
69 Main Street East, Grand Bend
Tel: 519.238.1556 Ext. 222
Grand Bend Area Community Health Centre
69 Main Street East, Grand Bend
Tel: 519.238.1556 Ext. 222
Hensall Grand Bend Area Community Health Centre (Hensall Site)
122 King Street, Hensall
Tel: 519.262.3459 Ext. 229Hensall Major Appliances
107 King Street, Hensall
Tel: 519.262.2728
Hensall Major Appliances
107 King Street, Hensall
Tel: 519.262.2728
Seaforth Sally’s Consignment Store
Tel: 519.527.0550
Municipality of Huron East
72 Main Street, Seaforth
Tel: 519.527.0160
Vanastra Vanastra Recreation Centre
Tel: 519.482.3544
Vanastra Recreation Centre
26 Toronto Blvd., Vanastra
Tel: 519.482.3544
Wingham Wingham Public Library
Tel: 519.357.3312
Wingham Public Library
281 Edward Street, Wingham
Tel: 519.357.3312
Zurich Zurich Public Library
Tel: 519.236.4965
Blessings Community Store
45 Main Street, Zurich
Tel: 519.236.4376

mmm beefy…

11 May

It has recently come to my attention that Zehrs, and other grocery chains will be switching their beef products over to provide Ontario corn fed beef. I was fortunate enough to get a chance to talk to Zehrs assistant store manager Brad Lewis. I sat down with him and asked a few questions. Here’s what I know.

Zehrs decided to make the switch from American beef to Canadian beef due to consumers demand for it. We asked, they answered. It became very apparent that people are very interested in where their food is coming from and how it is prepared, so Zehrs stepped up their game to provide with many local products.

Lewis couldn’t think of any real cons regarding this switch. He felt certain the product quality would actually improve and that prices should relatively stay the same. I also asked about other meat products and if Zehrs intended to make a switch to Ontario poultry and pork as well. He was not 100% sure but said it was something they had talked about and he hoped the rest of the meats would follow suit.

This is very exciting news as far as I am concerned!!! I always felt very concerned about not knowing exactly where my beef was coming from. Fortunately when I am at home I know exactly where I am getting it – my back yard! However that is not an option for the majority of consumers. The Ontario Cattle Feeders Association is a group of like-minded farm families that share the same visions, challenges and, hopefully, future successes. The meat comes from 110 independent family run beef operations. That’s right family run, no corporate nonsense. These farms are located all across Ontario, with farm sizes ranging from 150 head of cattle to 5000. All of the farms participating are 2nd and 3rd generation family farms.

Another great thing about this Ontario beef is that the certifications that the beef must meet are very strict. All families must have completed an environmental farm plan, 80% of the animals diet must be corn, all medical records must be accountable and feed samples are to be provided upon request. Those are just a few of the certifications that I read, there are many more!

Jim Ginn, Reeve of Central Huron, and also a beef farmer informed me that, “Canada has some of the highest standards and stringent guidelines for chemical residues in food, whereas the imports from other countries may not always meet Canadian standards… local food ensures safe and high quality food for consumers. It also cuts down drastically on our ecological footprint and helps out our local economy enormously. All in all this is a wonderful change.”

Finally we can feel good again about eating meat! We can know where it came from, how the animal was fed, and how the animals were treated!


Interview with the one and only Tyler Hessel!

5 May

Yesterday afternoon I stopped in at Tyler Hessel’s store in Bayfield, called Outside Projects. I wanted to chat with him because he is someone that is very actively involved within the community, as well as being a store owner, he is also Counselor at large in Bluewater. Enjoy the video.