Holiday 2011: Germs, Cake Balls and Other Spa Girl Musings

Some holidays are better than others. I'm not gonna lie.

This year was particularly challenging given some medical complications that occurred with a close family member. Suffice it to say, the Spa Boy and I spent a significant slice of our holidays in the hospital and while the prognosis is good, we have many more hospital visits ahead.

Which brings me to my first deep thought: Germs.

One step inside a hospital and you're acutely aware of 1) your ability to infect a ward of sick people with your sticky icky germs and 2) a ward of sick people's ability to stick you with their icky germs. Hospitals go to great lengths to arm you with deterrents: anti-bacterial gel pumps at every turn, latex glove boxes aplenty and an enthusiastic “why yes, of course” to a request for a surgical mask. But it requires an enormous effort and awareness to know when you might be compromising an immune system with one silly slip-up like stroking the hand of a loved one after a pensive gnaw on your fingernail.

Urgh. And then there were the balls.

Cake balls to be more precise.

My sister-in-law, Tina, and I decided to entertain ourselves on break from the hospital by whipping up some sugary ball-shaped treats. She made Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Balls. Delish.

I made Red Velvet Cake Balls. Have you tried things? Cake balls are basically baked cake mixed with frosting, which is rolled into a ball and dipped in chocolate. Delicious bite-size morsels of heaven.

But, have you actually made them yourself? Ewww.

Not knocking this recipe; it was excellent. But the only way you can effectively mix crumbled cake and sticky frosting is with your bare hands. And the best way to roll these little suckers is with your hands. The red velvet batter turned my hands a frightening hue of crimson and by the time I was rolling up ball 17, my stomach started to turn. My sis had to take over. The cake balls tasted good and looked pretty as a cake ball can but I wouldn't recommend making them yourself if 1) you're squeamish mixing up food with bare hands, especially food that turns your skin bright red and 2) if Jenny Craig isn't knocking on your door for a spokesperson position. These dense little balls have the calories of an eight-course meal.

So with that said, I've revised my beauty emergency toolkit with the following must-haves.

Jao Hand Refresher. I could just kick myself for not having loaded up on this natural wonder for the entire family. An instant disinfectant and aromatherapy boost in one, Jao kills germs and freshens hands with ethyl alcohol, which is less drying, and a happy blend of antiseptic essential oils including lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, geranium and sage. If you're traveling, the Jao Flight Rescue Pak is must. $7-$16 at jaoltd.com.

Sprayology Life Detoxer and ImmumoBooster. Those Emergen-C fizzy packs disappear like Christmas cookies at our house but I personally have to choke it down with my nose plugged. Don't like it. Ick. But the surge of vitamin C and nutrients kicks up your immune system and energy like nobody's business. I am however a huge fan of Sprayology. Two sprays under the tongue up to three times per day delivers a dose of clinically tested homeopathic ingredients specific to life's daily assaults. You can toss a tube in your purse on your way out the door and no water or nose-plugging required. $24 each at sprayology.com.

Cetaphil RESTORADERM Skin Restoring Moisturizer. With the all the lavish lotions I've been lucky enough to try over the years, this is the one I whip out at the first sign of itchy dry skin, especially for hands that have been overly washed and de-germaphied. It doesn't smell great and it's not a pretty color. It just works to hydrate and soothe parched skin. $15 at most drug, grocery and mass retailer stores. More at cetaphil.com.

Miracle Lips Salve. Yet another NOT sexy or lavish beauty find, Miracle Lips is packed with Brazilian bee propolis and a heavy helping of tea tree oil. I tend to bite my lips when I'm stressed and a nice glop of this anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory serum before I hit the sack really helped to heal and restore moisture. $12.95 at miraclelips.net.

Skinnygirl White Cranberry Cosmo Mix. Now, I'm not by any means endorsing drinking. I'm simply saying it's not the worse thing in the world to toast a particularly trying day with a little shot of agave syrup, white cranberry, citrus and vodka. That is, if you're of drinking age and have responsible ride home. And of course, if you have not been contacted by Jenny Craig to be their new spokesperson (I mean honestly, Mariah Carey? Gaaah.). More at skinnygirlcocktails.com.

And so my faithful Spa Girls (and Boys if you're out there), as we embark upon a new year, my wish for you is to find a mascara you absolutely love, a fabulous hair style that suits the shape of your face, the love of family and a healthy dose of peace and wellness.

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