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Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pampering my gals

One of the reasons we bought this property is that it’s big enough to get reasonably lost in. Or purposely hidden in. Or accidently both, especially when you’re playing hide and seek with the kids with freedom of 5 acres, 3 buildings, 2 ponds, 2 hen houses and a “freaky forest.”

We have a separate cottage that is mainly used as a guest house and of course a perfect hiding spot, but other than that, we haven’t never really taken advantage of space. A few weeks ago, I decided that we needed to treat my girlfriends to a pamerping and spa day – away from the kdis, away from the pets and basically away from any type of responsibility other than celebrating girlfriendship. I also wanted to have the girls get made up so that we could do pretty headshot photos for each of us.

At the same time, I had promised Dole to shoot some video hosting a salad party – and it occurred to me that, “hey, maybe I can combine the two to make it tons more fun.”

Within a few days, I had booked a babysitter, massage therapist, hair stylist, makeup artist and my wonderful photographers. The date was set, I convinced Dole that photography, not video, was best for spa day – there’s much more control over photography than videography. I don’t know about you, but I’m just not presentable after a relaxing, soothing massage. Nor would I want you to see my “before” makeup and hair. I sort of get self conscious with a video camera pointing at me while my face is in disarray.

My girlfriends, Suzanne, Isabelle, Wendy, Kelly and Patti dropped off the kids with sitter, husbands and pets stayed home, cell phones were turned off and we hid out in the cottage for the entire day to get pampered.

We relaxed by the pool while we took turns with the massage therapist. He managed to rub out the past 42 days of stress that accumulated in our backs, arms and necks. Then the beautification began with hair and makeup.

The instruction to the hair and makeup stylist was, “make me up as if I was accpeting a Grammy award!”

In other words, “Glam me up, baby!”

After 4 hours of pampering, giggling, relaxing, lots of wine and snackity snacks, we brought out a tableful of fresh vegetables, cheeses, fruit and nuts to create a salad to share for dinner outside on the dock. We had little bowls full of different ingredients. Dole sent over their gorgeous lettuce that we used as the base for our creations and we each made a big bowl of salad to share.

It was so fun to see what each gal created! Below are my girlfriends Kelly and Patti. Kelly (on the left) went for a tropical theme with a base of Dole’s baby greens.

Isabelle’s pear, goat cheese and roast chicken over Dole’s perfect baby romaine was awesome for us meat-lovers!

I’d love to do the same type of event with kids too! Okay, so maybe no makeup or hairstylist for my boys, who wouldn’t be able to sit still anyways, not to mention that they’re not too fond of blue eyeshadow. But for the little girls, for sure! I’d love to see what each kid would create to share with everyone else.

It’s one thing to go to a salad bar and make a salad just for yourself….my kids’ plates ususally turn into a mish-mash of this and that….but it’s an entirely different thing to create a salad to share with other people!

I sorta opened the bag of tortilla strips with too much gusto! oops!

Then it was time to eat! We set up a table under an umbrella out on the dock in front of the cottage and passed our salads all around.

Oh, our headshots! Wanna see them?

This is Isabelle, who has the most beautiful eyes and jet black hair. Isabelle is from France and has been living in town for the past year to be near her in-laws (which are our very good friends) while her husband is deployed in Bahrain with the Coast Guard. He’s on tour for a year, with only one 2-week visit, which is coming up in July. We’ve sort of “adopted” Isabelle and their two daughters while their Papa is away on duty.

You can imagine how difficult it must be to move to a brand new area and not see your husband/father for so long! Isabelle, Audrey and Julia come over just about once a week to hang out with us – the girls bring us so much joy. Nathan has already claimed Julia as his girlfriend. Jewelry has been exchanged, but according to Nathan, “I can’t marry her yet because I’m not old enough to drive.”

Kelly (below) is the very very first friend I made when we moved here to Florida. She’s a single mom to Dylan, who is the same age as Andrew. They’re best buds and have know each other since they were born. Kelly is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and works at the local Viking Culinary Center as well as for Steamy Kitchen. She comes over once a week and we play in the kitchen together, creating and testing recipes.

Kelly and I have been through a lot in the past 9 1/2 years, we’ve seen some friends come and go, hardships all around, businesses open and close, and we’ve watched our babies evolve into loving boys.

Suzanne’s 3 kids all go to Tae Kwon Do my boys…and she and my husband, Scott, started Tae Kwon do together 2 years ago….AND….all three of us adults take kickboxing together. I think I see her nearly every other day! She makes me laugh like crazy.

Patti (below) and her husband, Tom, own the Tae Kwon Do school that we all go to. She’s absolutely gorgeous and so inspiring. As I think about all of our friends that we cherish, there seems to be one thing in common – we all are students of Tom and Patti’s school. Andrew and Nathan each started when they turned 4 years old, consistently going 2-3 times a week. Our boys have learned discipline, leadership, self control and self defense too.

The “Tiny Tiger” oath that all the kiddies (from age 4 to 7yrs) start and end each class is said in unison:

To be a good person
Knowledge in my mind
Honesty in my heart
Strength in my body, and to
Make good friends 

That oath that my kids have chanted throughout their younger years have really shaped their values and beliefs.

And this is one of my best girlfriends, Wendy. She understands me like no one else – and loves my boys like her own. I’ve dragged her to NYC on a double date with a gnome and to Texas to on a video shoot with Jewel and David Tutera. If Wendy is not working and not at home, she’s probably at my house by the pool with her 2 lovey dovey pit-bulls and husband, Shawn.

What a fun time! We all agreed that this was one of the very best girls party we’ve had in a long time. We began with relaxation and ended with a light, healthy salad meal we all made together and shared. Big thanks to Dole for helping us put this together. If you’re up to hosting a salad party of your own, head over to Dole Salads to get recipes and ideas! Oh, and pssst….they’re hosting a Big Apple giveaway that’s valued at $40,000!



12 Responses to “Pampering my gals”

  1. Steph — 6/4/12 @ 4:56 pm

    I wish I was your friend. :)

  2. Looks like an amazing afternoon Jaden, and that you and your gals had a lot of fun!! I think it’s great that you managed to multitask your event like that….way cool! I’m getting ready to have some of my girlfriends over to celebrate & ring in summer….I’m combining a slumber party for my girls (4, 9 and 13) with a few of their friends with having my friends pop over too. We’ll veg on the patio while they take over the house ;)

    Happy Summer!!

  3. Maryann — 6/4/12 @ 5:51 pm

    Sounds like a blast!

  4. This is such a great idea! Love Dole salads – always fresh and a great combo of greens. The pictures turned out beautiful – such a great group of beautiful women with interesting stories.

  5. What a fun day! I felt the same way after I’d gotten a massage — like a bowl of jelly that wasn’t interested in “shaping up” for anybody! It felt great! Looks like a great way to spend a day! Salad and laughs.

    xoxo
    Cheri

  6. What a fun day with the girls! And I absolutely love everyone’s outfits and styling :) And the salads too, of course.

  7. Kim in MD — 6/5/12 @ 4:12 pm

    Wow…that’s what I call a fun girls party! Each and everyone of you look absolutely gorgeous!

  8. Jay — 6/5/12 @ 8:03 pm

    Salads looked great, but you ladies looked beautiful! Hope that you gals had fun!

  9. Kim Bee — 6/5/12 @ 10:25 pm

    This looks like so much fun. I bet the gals had a blast. And Jaden you look fabulous in yellow.

  10. Carol — 6/9/12 @ 6:00 pm

    Hello Steamy Kitchen,
    I love this post!! I hope one day to be able to treat my girlfriends and collegues to a spa day. what a wonderful way to be pampered, strengthen friendship and combine the event with work.

    I am mostly curious in the prosperity aspect! I work for a non-profit- food sustainability related- so food and community is central. However, I am always struggling with funding on a personal level and organization wise. (although I am making more than I ever have and my programs are generating more revenue than ever!)

    5 acres, pond guesthouse- dream come true! Pampering for a day.
    What is your secret to building prosperity- I see it is from during what you love very well.

    What were the costs for your spa day and how were you able to cover the cost of it all- from Dole, as a business expense, or personal?

    Hope these questions are not too obtrusive! I am truly curious and would like to learn from your insights, how too’s, as well as your recipes.

    Carol

  11. Susan — 6/9/12 @ 8:41 pm

    Wow — it sounds as if you had an amazing day! I would love to do something like this with friends. I have been ill for so long, I haven’t seen some of them for over 3 years! I really enjoyed reading your post and enjoying the day vicariously! The head shots are wonderful!

  12. neo — 6/13/12 @ 2:21 pm

    Sounds like an amazing too. I’m jealous of your property. You have very lucky friends. =)

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