sugar and spice and everything nice: it’s all about you, ladies.

I felt pampered before I even got through the door, and it only got better from there.

The lovely Sherrie Gordon (owner of Shenandoah Concierge), who greeted us at the door, informed us that once inside this year’s second It’s All About You, Ladies! event, we’d be treated to such niceties as a massage, a hair and skin consultation, food, wine, a gift bag, and raffle prizes! I was glad I decided to be stressed out, tangled, blemished, hungry, thirsty, and lucky that day.

Hosted by Wine on Water and All Things Virginia (the two shops are adjacent to each other on Water Street, downtown), the event was also sponsored by women-owned or -operated businesses like Merle Norman, Scrumptious Suppers,  A-C Chiropractic, Vivian’s Designer Consignor, You’ve Got It Made, Polished, Inc., The Lady Jane, Miche Bags, Stella & Dot, and Shenandoah Concierge. The event allows local business women to get together about four times a year to mingle, socialize, network, and just keep in touch in general. It’s easy to lose touch with your peers when you’re managing the shop all day, after all. They keep the event intimate by only selling fifty tickets, so that all the women have a chance to talk to each other during the short three hours they’re together.

In we went. At the bar, I picked up a complimentary glass of Cave Ridge Traminette, recommended by Katrina. The next order of business was food. Brandy and I nibbled on Chicken Satay Skewers with Peanut Sauce, olives, cheese, Sundried Tomato Pesto served on cute little toasts, Artichoke and Spinach Dip with chips, and these really yummy Turkey Pinwheels with Avocado and Cranberry Cream Cheese. I think I ate about twelve of those.

And look how cute dessert was!

Swedish Cream with Raspberry Sauce.

I signed up for a massage (there were two massage therapists from Dr. Cason’s office, set up in the front window of All Things Virginia), and while I waited my turn, Brandy and I perused the shop. They have a lot of nice items in there I never would have guessed–like walking sticks and hand made cards, and peanuts and condiments. They also sell Miche bags and local artwork, and they have an in-house framer if you need him. They also sell hand made jewelry, which I browsed for quite some time… and I somehow lost my plate of food, too. But that’s okay because they had more. Anyhow, between the selection at All Things Virginia and the wines at Wine on Water, it’s possible you could do all your Christmas shopping under one roof.

And then my turn came for a massage. My belly was full and the wine was speaking to me and now Betty was tenderizing my stone shoulders.

Stress was pouring out in all directions. It was coming out in laughter that echoed through the place, it was flowing in the wine, it was steaming off the food, it was evaporating through Betty’s hands, it was escaping through tiny refined pores and hair follicles. And when I emerged from the massage (with my “halo face” from having smushed my face into the cushion of the chair), everyone seemed relaxed and content.

And then I got it–this is exactly what ladies need at the end of their hectic weeks. Not a lot, not a two-week vacation in another country (although, that WOULD be nice…), but just a kind word, a soothing touch, some laughter, some time with friends, and don’t forget the wine. So, thanks to the lovely sponsors for making this evening possible, and thanks also to all the guys who stayed home with the kids and heated up frozen corn dogs. Yes, ketchup is a fruit. Oh, come on…. just kidding!

pictured here, the sponsors: Sara Christensen, Sherrie Gordon, Kristen Lucas, Katrina Hudy, Linda Denton, Shelley Boyers, Jennifer Matthai Cottrell, Vivian Myers, and Vicki Ruckman.

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

a good HAIRisonburg day no. 27: the studio.

There are many reasons I–and other women–like to go to the salon. You go in feeling kinda droopy and frumpy, and come out looking all trimmed and polished (literally). Fingers and toes massaged and glossy, locks and tresses smoothed and shorn, “unruly areas” waxed and plucked, tension relieved, gossip released, ego boosted and mood restored. It’s therapy. It’s miraculous, really. For a few minutes you let yourself imagine you’re outfitted in a gorgeous gown and gigantic diamonds and a tiara… or maybe a sash, yes… and you step outside and see your pumpkin carriage waiting as you click click click your glass slippers toward it… Of course that fantasy shatters when you get in the car and realize you’d been sitting on a melted crayon all day. And the car smells like cheese or feet or something. And then you remember that you meant to go to the bank first and checks are bouncing all over the place… and then you look in the back seat and think, “What the heck is that?? Oh, yeah, my kids.” And then you go get a round of Slurpees. And you’re the best-looking mom in the whole 7-Eleven.

What I haven’t told you, though, is that as great as my salon is (and I’ll get to that in a minute), I hate getting my hair cut. This has nothing to do with the salon or the staff or some scarring event from my childhood. It has to do with how ugly I feel with wet hair. Yes, it’s ridiculous.

I have a love/hate relationship with my hair. First of all, it’s red. And if you are or ever were a redhead, you know that it garners a certain attention from people…and not the same kind of attention as, say, blonde hair gets. So growing up as a tall, geeky, scrawny redhead was not the easiest.

What’s more, when my hair’s wet, it sticks up, it sticks out, it curls, I have a horrible cowlick that becomes pronounced, and it causes me to have an “ugly girl” moment. This is why I cringe at the thought of having wet hair in public. You’ll never see me standing under a tropical waterfall allowing water to cascade down my head and back. No. If I’m ever doing something that involves water–canoeing, the beach, a pool–I’ll have a hat on my head nearly the entire time. You can see my hair after I get home, take a shower, and get it back under control. And so I looked at this mortifying experience (not only of having a friend witness the hair cut, but TAKING PHOTOS OF IT–oh, the horror…) as a way to face my fear.

UGH. Okay, so I’m kinda glad my crow’s feet are there to divert attention from my dorky head.

And I’d rather face my fear at The Studio than anywhere else. I’ve been going to the The Studio since 2008 and I can honestly say that since then, compliments about my hair have skyrocketed. Last Wednesday I had my monthly appointment for a hair cut. Instead of dishing about my personal life in the chair, as I usually do, Brandy and I tried to initiate a more blog-appropriate conversation. My stylist that day, Ashley K., had actually not cut my hair before because my usual stylist was recovering from a pesky hand injury. Ashley K. wasn’t at all intimidated and welcomed the “challenge of a fresh head.” It’s kinda like solving a mystery: she followed the clues Elizabeth had left a month before. That got us on the topic of the creepy practice heads.

Ashley used to leave her practice head in various positions in her car just to freak people out. Someone else left her practice head in her living room window when she went on vacation so people would think someone was home. Or they’d think there was a severed head in there and not want to break in.

Then Brandy asked Ashley if there are questions she’s frequently asked. One is, “Do you cut your own hair?” The answer is no. I imagine it would be hard to reach all the way around, even if you’ve practiced on hundreds of creepy plastic heads.

But haircuts are not all they do. They have a long list of services ranging from waxing and facials and even makeup lessons to body polishing and hot stone therapy and massages, from manicures and pedicures to hair cuts, coloring, and conditioning.

They offer bridal services for the bride and groom, and guys–you can even get a beard trim. Now, gentlemen, don’t freak out! I see lots of guys there. If you haven’t tried it, you should. At the very least, you’ll be surrounded by gorgeous women. Just promise me you won’t look when my hair’s wet.

The Studio is located on 33 East, on the same side of the road as Burger King, in a large beautiful old house with gorgeous flowers out front. One last remark: if you know someone in dire need of therapy, get them a gift certificate. It works. I know firsthand.

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.