Spas in New York, Chicago and California now offer caviar facials, and the Four Seasons Hotel spa in Beverly Hills just introduced a margarita salt scrub to accompany its popular tequila massage. At the Spa at the Hotel Hershey in Hershey, Pa., the two most popular services have been the chocolate fondue wrap and whipped cocoa bath.
With more Americans seeking spa treatments every year, spa directors have been raiding their pantries for ideas to reel in new customers.
"People love the idea of being wrapped up in something good to eat," said Mary Shriver, spokeswoman for the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.
There's skepticism to match the buzz. Daniel Sauder, director of dermatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, counters that most food-based body treatments at spas are mostly "a great marketing ploy."
But you can judge for yourself. Many of these spa services use foods found in your kitchen. Tara Oolie, co-owner of Just Calm Down spa in New York, offers these do-it-yourself versions of some of its most popular treatments:
- "Ambrosia foot soak": Fill a small tub with 3 gallons of warm or hot water, then add 8 to 10 heaping tablespoons of powdered milk. In a separate bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of honey, 4 tablespoons of creme de coconut and 4 drops of a fruity essential oil. Pour the mixture into the tub and sink your feet in.
- "Ambrosia foot scrub": Take half a cup of fresh or frozen fruit with seeds strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or kiwi, for example. Crush it with your fingers, add 4 heaping tablespoons of sugar and mix it up.
- "Lady Godiva foot soak": Add 8 to 10 tablespoons of powdered milk and 6 to 8 scoops of cocoa powder to 3 gallons of water. Stir it up with a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a few drops of peppermint or cinnamon oil, then throw in a few Hershey kisses.
The sight is as inspiring as it is haunting: 1,200 glowing lanterns floating out to sea, a Buddhist armada thought to guide the souls of the dead over the "ocean of suffering" to the world of spiritual comfort. The Toro Nagashi ceremony tonight at 90-year-old Hale'iwa Jodo Mission, 66-279A Hale'iwa Road, is one of three floating-lantern ceremonies held on O'ahu each year, drawing kama'aina and tourists. Following an evening of bon dancing, the mission's families pause in silence at the shore around 9 p.m. and set afloat the candle-lit lanterns bearing the names of dead relatives and friends. 637-4382.
Can't coax the young 'uns into joining you for a fitness walk? Some fresh ideas to make the going fun:
- Walk through a park, picking up trash. Whoever collects the most gets first dibs on the next family activity.
- March, skip, walk backward. Or imitate an animal's walk and have your walking buddies guess which it is.
- Pick a category movies, kinds of ice cream and take turns calling out as many items as you can think of.
- Sing a normally slow song faster to match your speedy pace. Then slow down, pick a fast song and sing it to match that more relaxed pace.
- Play the "I'm going camping and I'm going to take" memory game. The first person picks an outlandish item a duck, for instance. Then the next one has to name "duck," plus something that starts with the last letter of it K ("kangaroo"). Try to say a word each time your right foot hits the ground.
- Follow the ice-cream truck on foot. Be sure to carry some cash.
If you can stand the food puns, think of tonight's Wok On Chinatown Block Party as a sampler platter a chance to taste five night spots for the price of a single $10 wristband. The music, art and quasi-film fest starts cooking at 9, with the goal of promoting awareness of the area's entertainment offerings. Participating clubs (all sell wristbands):
- Ground Level, 1154 Fort Street Mall, 546-9998: live and DJ-spun punk and ska, art and art films. 21 and older.
- Club Pauahi, 80 S. Pauahi St., 521-7252: live reggae, plus DJs spinning reggae, rock steady and dancehall. 21 and older.
- The Club House, 10 N. Hotel St., 536-6966: down-tempo lounge. 21 and older.
- Garden of Saigon, 1041 Nu'uanu Ave., 537-6971: hip-hop. 18 and older.
- The ARTS at Marks Garage, 1159 Nu'uanu Ave., 521-2903: live acid jazz, plus "Bonsai: The Living Art Selections from The Dragon Garden of Walter Liew." All ages (closes at midnight).
If you want to liven up a dinner with friends, let your guests get their hands in literally. As soon as people are presented with touchy-feely food, the volume of conversation rises and the laughter begins to bubble around the table. A few ideas: A crab boil, in which the crabs are turned out whole on a table covered with several layers of butcher paper and everyone is provided with nutcrackers, crab forks and bibs. Fondue, which is making a comeback (no need to invest in fancy equipment; even a saucepan over a Sterno holder plus some wooden skewers will do). An ice cream sundae buffet, with bowls of ice cream and an array of sprinkles.
Local folks know that you can get more than one fruit's worth of fruit from a pineapple: Stick the crown in the ground, and with enough sun, water, care and maybe a couple years of patience, you may get another pineapple. But other grocery store foods also can easily turn into plants. Entertain the kids and pretty up your home at the same time.
- Sugar cane: Just plant a stalk in the ground horizontally, water and allow plenty of sunlight.
- Avocado: Make sure the pit hasn't been refrigerated. Plant it directly in soil with the pointed end facing up.
- Sweet potato: Stick the potato with two toothpicks, place one end in water, and the plant eventually will grow into a vine.
- Pomegranate, guava and orange: Just plant the seeds.
The constant weekend closeness with kinfolk has a way of making some want to run for the hills. Get some perspective with "The Royal Tenenbaums," the quirky 2001 tragicomedy that became available on video this week. A star-studded cast Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Anjelica Huston, Danny Glover, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Luke Wilson tells the story of an eccentric man's attempts to reconnect with his neurotic family.
Film critic Roger Ebert gave it an "honorary mention" in his annual list of best films. Check it out at Blockbuster Video and other stores.
Also new on the video racks:
"A Walk to Remember," "Hart's War" and "Impostor." Starting Tuesday: "John Q" and "Amelie."