The Bedding Snob

Cultivating relaxation need not leave you starving for style …

Snobbish Thoughts May 2011

Pucker Up: Getting Your Taste Buds Ready For Summer

Lime Pie

Tangy tastebud-tempting tart

As this past weekend was the unofficial start to the summer season, I thought I’d celebrate with some lip-puckering, mouth-pleasingly tart lime pie.  Fear not, this is not your involved eggy custard kind of lime pie.  No this is a slap-it-all-together-and- revel-in-the-sublime-flavor-while-you-relax kind of pie.  Smooth, creamy, & no eggs necessary!  And even though this is a bedding blog, this pie is just too good NOT to share.  And really, who can’t use a good, solid, summer recipe?

I will note that I went the extra mile & prepared a shortbread crust using Martha Stewart’s recipe.  I found it a bit too salty & will probably cut the salt in half next time.  I did, however, like the extra zing that using coarse sea salt provided.  I simply followed the recipe for the crust & let it cool before moving onto the pie.  (I will mention that in the past, I’ve made my own graham cracker crust & I think I prefer that slightly sweeter, crunchier crust over the tangier, salted short bread one, but alas, I didn’t have any graham crackers on hand this past weekend.)

Now onto the pie!  My mother has sent me this AllRecipes.com recipe months ago with the directive that I must try it!  I think it was the addition of sour cream that made me a bit reluctant to whip it up immediately.  While I know that sour cream works well in cakes & frostings (I have a recipe for a sour cream chocolate frosting that is pretty much just heaven on a slice of cake), the idea of it being one of the few central ingredients gave me pause.  But being the obliging daughter that I am, I hesitantly did so & finally bellied up to the table & went to it.  And it came out amazing. I even opted for just regular ol’ limes – I think 6-ish gave me the 3/4 cup of juice – and the taste was just perfect: not overly puckerish, but just enough tartness to make your taste buds sing.  (And as a quick aside, rather than measuring out 3 cups of sweetened condensed milk, you can just use 2 14 oz. cans.)

This pie can be dressed up (I’ve used both homemade whipped cream & toasted, sweetened coconut to great success) or eaten purely as is.  However you eat it, it’ll be sure to add just the right amount of refreshing zip to your summer menu.

What are your favorite quintessential summer foods?

Maine Beach Season Begins This Weekend

Higgins Beach

Higgins Beach by Joe Shlabotnik, on Flickr

Maine is famous for its impressive rocky coastline, but we also have our share of beautiful sandy beaches. And when the warm weather hits, we flock to those beaches to take advantage of our fleeting summer days with an enthusiasm fed by long winter days spent shoveling snow! So even if it looks like we might have more rain than shine this weekend, we are still thrilled at the prospect of long summer days filled with sand, sun, surf, and fresh Maine sea breezes.

Frankly, it makes us all feel like doing cartwheels.

Cybele Cartwheels

Cybele Cartwheels by therichbrooks, on Flickr

Cuddledown employees love local farmers’ markets!

Portland Maine Farmer's Market

Portland Maine Farmer's Market,
courtesy of Travel & Leisure magazine

With Memorial Day just around the corner, we can’t help but think about gardening, flip-flops, beach trips … and cookouts, of course! Along with your typical barbecue fare, we’ll be tossing some seasonal, organic vegetables on thegrill this weekend. Our local farmers’ markets are open for the season and we couldn’t be happier. Bring on the fresh produce!

The Portland Farmers’ Market, one of Maine’s most popular, is now famous on a national scale. Recently named one of America’s 10 best by Travel + Leisure magazine, this market has hosted local farmers for 242 years. Over 30 vendors gather twice a week to set up their tables with organic crops that are scooped up by restaurateurs and foodies alike. Some of the highlights include heirloom and hydroponic vegetables, seedlings, locally produced honey and fresh goat cheese. Or, if you’re in the mood for something unusual, Travel + Leisure suggests the lacto-fermented foods from Thirty Acre Farm, made without sugar or vinegar. Try the red cabbage sauerkraut, kimchi (pickled cabbage), dill pickles, or gingered carrots for a unique treat.

Farmer's Market - vegetables

Farmer's Market - vegetables

Not only is local produce delicious, but by supporting organic farmers, you’re helping to protect the environment. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) is committed to helping farmers grow organic crops and protect natural resources. The oldest and largest state organization in the country, MOFGA is continually working to raise awareness of organic practices and to demonstrate the long-term benefits of sustainable agriculture. You can view MOFGA’s website to find out more about the great work they are doing.

If you’re interested in learning more about Maine farms and to find out where there is a farmers’ market near you, check out www.getrealmaine.com. You can search for farms by location, or if you’re looking for a hard-to-find item, you can even search by product type.

Where do you go for fresh veggies? Feel free to share your favorite farmer’s market – and happy eating!

Hungry for sleep? Foods that make you snooze

Snoozing

Most everyone knows the cliché about a big turkey dinner making you sleepy.  The science behind the myth involves tryptophan, an amino acid that helps produce serotonin & melatonin, both naturally occurring hormones that contribute to prepping the body for sleep.  While the myth of the tryptophan-laden turkey has been debunked (it’s suspected that most people feel tired after their big Thanksgiving dinner more due to all of the carbohydrate-rich foods & accompanying alcohol than the turkey itself), there is credibility to the thought that many foods help you get your snooze on.

The trick is to combine complex-carbohydrates, like those found in unrefined starchy foods, with foods high in tryptophan.  Dr. Sears provides this explanation:

Eating carbohydrates with tryptophan-containing foods makes this calming amino acid more available to the brain. A high carbohydrate meal stimulates the release of insulin, which helps clear from the bloodstream those amino acids that compete with tryptophan, allowing more of this natural sleep-inducing amino acid to enter the brain and manufacture sleep- inducing substances, such as serotonin and melatonin.

So what do you eat when you want to get some shut-eye?  FoodDemocracy.com suggests these simple bedtime snacks that, when eaten approximately an hour or so prior to bed, can help you catch some z’s:

  • a glass of warm milk with honey is one of the oldest and best remedies for insomnia
  • whole-grain cereal with milk
  • hazelnuts and tofu
  • peanut butter sandwich
  • slice of whole wheat toast topped with a small slice of low-fat cheese
  • banana with 1 teaspoon of peanut butter
  • rice cake topped with a slice turkey breast

Of course, there’s a flip side to bedtime munchies.  There are most certainly things you shouldn’t eat prior to bed.  Experts recommend to limit caffeine intake (& be sure to be aware about hidden caffeine like that in chocolate or hot cocoa), stay away from spicy or fatty foods, avoid nicotine, & refrain from large meals 3 hours or less before betime.  And while alcohol might make you sleepy quickly, it’s also likely to give you less restful sleep & cause you to wake more frequently during the night.  So opt for a glass of warm milk instead of that nightcap.

By combining smart, healthy bedtime snack choices with adequate exercise at least 3 hours before bed, you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time!

How Rain Affects Your Health

Maine Warmers Heating/Cold PadWith cool weather and endless gray, dreary, wet weather here in Maine, we are far from the warm, sunny days we envisioned when May rolled around. We posted just the other day about how you can boost your mood with bright colors and light when the weather has you down, but what about your health?

We did some research on WebMD.com, and found that not only does rainy weather put a damper on your mood, but it can also contribute to aching joints and muscles, lead to migraines, and trigger allergies and asthma!

For those prone to aching joints, they note that the best thing you can do for long-term relief is to perform “weight-bearing exercises.” But for short term relief, we’ve found that a heating pad can work wonders. Maine Warmers Hot/Cold PadOur favorites are these soft fleecy hot and cold pads in cute animal shapes like sheep, bear, and dachshund. We love them not only because they are made in Maine, but also because they are safe, natural and filled with corn so they have a faint, but delicious popcorn smell – just the thing for curling up on a cold rainy, day!

Boost your mood with new bedding!

Cuddledown's summery "Koi" bedding collection

Cuddledown's summery "Koi" bedding collection

So – this week happens to be National Bike to Work Week, and Maine is a particularly bike-friendly state. However, the weather here in the northeast is clearly not being cooperative (and that’s the understatement of the year!)  With the chilly, grey, gloomy, rainy, drizzly, dank, nasty (I could go on…) weather due to continue into infinity… my thoughts turn to activities that can be done inside, and my eye was caught by an article about “neuroarchitecture” on Oprah’s website (quotes below courtesy of Tim Jarvis
O, The Oprah Magazine.) This hot new field explores research on how factors like light, space, and room layout affect physical and psychological well-being.

“The premise is to consider how each feature of the architectural environment influences certain brain processes such as those involved in stress, emotion, and memory,” says Eve Edelstein, PhD, adjunct professor at the NewSchool of Architecture & Design in San Diego and a research consultant to the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA).

Another researcher, University of Wisconsin’s Richard J. Davidson, PhD., says  “One of the keys to a home that elicits a lot of happiness and positive emotion is that it changes to some extent.” In other words, when you get used to your surroundings, eventually that can grow stale, so this research advocates rearranging things, adding in new pieces from time to time, changing the lighting and so on, to give yourself a boost.

That being said – I think it’s time to upgrade the bedroom with some fun, summery, mood-boosting bedding!  What do you think?  Feel free to post photos of your own “neuroarchitecture” experiments in re-decorating, and share any thoughts you have about how to beat the blues when the weather outside won’t cooperate!

Home Design Trends We Love

6-16-small homes

6-16-small homes by this_could_be_my_house, on Flickr

Smaller + Greener = Better If you read our blog post on the micro-sized 258 square foot apartment, this one won’t surprise you! According to “The Small Spaces Trend“, a white paper by Kleber and Associates, small homes are in – and no wonder, because they are efficient, fun, eco-friendly, and highly affordable. Inhabitat.com has a great roundup of the 5 tiniest prefab homes that clearly demonstrate bigger does not mean better.

Color pencils

Color pencils by Dominik Syka, on Flickr

Bright Colors While perhaps a more fleeting seasonal trend, we love all the color popping out this spring. From bold reds to acid greens and everything in between – the fashion and home decor industries are flashier than usual! For those who shy away from brilliant shades, this article from PaperBlog.com has some great ideas on how to start small by incorporating small flourishes of bright color in your home.

Reclaimed wood ladder in the Sleeping Cabin

Reclaimed wood ladder in the Sleeping Cabin by lightcap, on Flickr

Reclaimed Wood The use of reclaimed wood goes hand-in-hand with the trend towards smaller, more eco-friendly living spaces. Plus, as they point out on HGTV.com, reclaimed wood is not only sustainable, it is also practical, because it is “denser, more stable, adds instant history to your home and is the only source for such bygone species as heart pine and chestnut.”

Vintage Art

Vintage Art by Dee Adams, on Flickr

Vintage Along with reclaimed wood and smaller spaces, vintage is eco-friendly, too! From vintage art to reclaimed vintage mason jar lamps, it’s easy to incorporate a vintage piece into your home. You can even create your own vintage look pieces by repurposing old items from your home!

Legos for Adults (or, Microsize Your Home)

258 square foot apartment

Microsized 258 sq. foot apartment

When Christian Schallert invites friends over for dinner in his apartment in the heart of Barcelona, Spain, they first look around in amazement, wondering where his kitchen, or for that matter, his bed and any other furniture are? The 258 square foot studio apartment, complete with an outdoor balcony and view of the city, looks to the untrained eye to be one big closet with cabinet doors lining both sides.

Inspired by the interior living spaces he had seen on boats – the apartment was created by designer Barbara Appolooni to make the most of the compact space, with his micro kitchen, dining area and bedroom materializing almost out of thin air! In the video shown here, one of the people in the apartment comments that it’s like “Legos for adults” with all the pieces fitting neatly into place, to be utilized as needed.

Most people probably don’t require 4,000 square foot homes, however, this home takes downsizing to the nth degree!  Of course, in the video, it doesn’t mention a girlfriend or wife. Try fitting most women’s clothing collections (not to mention shoes) into that space!  I’m thinking he’ll be moving up about the time he starts dating someone seriously!

What do you think?  Could you live in a space such as this?

Use It Again, Sam: Repurposing Everyday Things

Pant Hanger as Gift Wrap Organizer by Real Simple

Pant Hanger as Gift Wrap Organizer courtesy of Real Simple

I recently watched Bag It: The Movie & found myself horrified by the sheer amount of stuff we throw out every day.  I mean, I knew that there is a waste problem in this culture, but to see it quantified kind of made my stomach turn.  I took a lot of things away from that movie, but one thing in particular was the idea of repurposing things.  Sure, recycling is grand, but it still takes quite a bit of energy to run recycling centers.  Giving something new life as something else should be step number one.

I had  no idea that there are so many great ideas out there for putting old, tired, or used things to new uses.  Dummies.com has a short list on how to reuse or repurpose things around the house. Gomestic gets creative with upcycling household objects including corks, tea bags, pantyhose, & old headboards. Frugal Village also has some great ideas such as creating gift bows from magazine strips.  And of course I can’t pass up this fabulous post at DIY Life on what you can do with old bedsheets.  Furthermore, repurposing just might save your life!  This How Stuff Works article gives some handy survival tips just by using what you have on you or might find when stranded alone in the woods.

Repurposing isn’t just earth-friendly, but it can also help you live more thriftily to use what you already have to do OTHER things.  Real Simple probably takes the cake for new uses for old things.  I never would have thought that there were so many different uses for dryer sheets!

So tell us, what are some creative ways that you “use it again?”

The Perfect Maine Vacation: Relaxing on Your Porch

Relaxing on a Maine porch by Dana Moos, Realtor

Ahhh, springtime … we are so excited to be able to step outside without all those heavy layers! Temps are in the 60s, leaf buds are peeping from the trees, flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining – it’s the perfect season to kick back and relax on the porch. Who needs a vacation when we have all this to enjoy right here in Maine?

Soak up some more beautiful photos of Maine at VisitMaine365.com.

Buying Local in Maine: Sustainable Paper

Tour of Verso Mill, a Maine-based Sustainable Paper Company

Jeffrey (Clifford Paper), Deb, Kristina, & Chris (Cuddledown)

Cuddledown recently made a trip to Jay, Maine to visit the Maine branch of our paper mill, Verso. We love the fact that Verso has a long history with Maine paper, currently employs over 1,600 Maine workers, and takes great pride in sustainable practices!

So what exactly does a sustainable paper company do differently? Glad you asked!

“Verso has invested more that $62,000,000 in energy projects in Maine in the past two years, reducing Verso’s dependence on foreign oil, as well as the company’s carbon footprint.”

In recognition of all their steps towards a more sustainable business, Verso was even awarded the Green Business Innovator of the Year Award in 2009.

We couldn’t be happier about being able to print our catalogs on Maine-sourced paper harvested from local, sustainably farmed forests!

Cuddledown’s Cinco de Mayo!

Cuddledown Cinco de Mayo 2011

Cuddledown celebrates Cinco de Mayo 2011

Happy 5th of May! On a grey day in May in Maine – Cuddledown celebrated Cinco de Mayo as employees from throughout the company crowded into our compact kitchen to enjoy an amazing fiesta spread provided by our stellar Customer Service staff!  From jalapenos, guacamole and tacos to hamburgers (even veggie burgers) – to delicious “virgin” margarita and pina colada cupcakes, there was quite the feast! The décor even included a pinata (unfortunately I had to leave before they broke it – perhaps more pictures to come?)

Not sure how anyone’s going to top this one – Customer Service has sure raised the bar for office parties!  Everyone works so hard – it’s nice to be able to celebrate sometimes!

Hope everyone else is having a great day – let us know how you celebrated!

How to get some shut-eye in the air

View from airplane window

Vacation season is just around the corner in these parts, and while many people find it nearly unimaginable to sleep on a crowded, noisy, claustrophobic plane, for others it’s a necessity (especially for those who want to save some dollars & opt for a red-eye flight). And by following a few tips, you’ll find that catching some z’s “on the wing” isn’t as impossible as you might think.  It just takes a little preparation to feather your temporary nest:

  • Perhaps one of the most important steps is this first one: put some thought into picking your seat. Do you want to an aisle to allow for easy accessibility to the bathroom or general movement? Or do you prefer the window so you can gaze at the view?  Are you tall & prefer the extra legroom of an exit aisle?  Do you want to ensure that you’ve got a full window & not just part of one?  Seatguru.com can help you find just the right seat on your flight.
  • Wear comfortable clothes.  It goes without saying that the wrong clothes can really ruin a long flight.  Dress in layers so that as your temperature fluctuates, you can add or remove pieces as needed.
  • Some travelers highly recommend bringing your very own pillow from home, to help give you a sense of familiarity.  However, airplane seats are narrow (especially if you’re flying coach) & even a standard pillow can be a bit big for the space.  Instead, you may opt to purchase a travel pillow to bring with you.  It will undoubtedly be more comfortable than an airplane pillow!
  • Limit or abstain from caffeine prior to flying.  As tempting as those airport Starbucks coffees are, REFRAIN.  Not only will the caffeine keep you up, it will also cause additional trips to the airplane bathroom (ew).
    A good fitting sleep mask can be an important tool in blocking out the glow from the overhead TV & the general ambient lighting on the plane.
  • If you’re sensitive to noise, be sure to bring earplugs or indulge in some noise canceling headphones.  These, combined with your sleep mask, will help transport you do a calm, quiet, dark sleepland.  (Though, personally, I’d probably be more apt to bring along an iPod & drift off to some favorite tunes.)

For more indepth travel tips & sleep tricks, you can check out Indepenent Traveler, this article on Mahalo, & the ever-popular Pilot Paul.  Armed with these suggestions, doing some in-the-air snoozing should be right within your grasp!

Get the perfect gift in time for Mother’s Day!

Gift wrapped box

Pssstt! We offer gift wrapping!

Mother’s Day is just around the corner – which is why are are offering 4 hours of free shipping* today! Place an order before 1PM EST today and get the perfect gift shipped in time for Mother’s Day.

From silk pillowcases to soft 100% cotton Calida sleepwear to bath and body care, you are sure to find something to bring a smile to Mom’s face. Just click through this post to activate your free shipping offer – happy shopping!

* Free Shipping is UPS Standard Ground shipping. Discount applies only to orders placed on our website 5/2/11 until 1PM EST. To receive discount, orders must be placed after clicking through this email, or the promotion code I1127 must be entered during the checkout process. Orders containing furniture, mattresses, rugs, wall art, mattress pads and toppers do not qualify for this free shipping offer. Free standard shipping offer is applied to all shipments within a qualifying order. Cannot be combined with other promotions. Not applicable to previous purchases.

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