The Bedding Snob

Cultivating relaxation need not leave you starving for style …

Posts by Brooke

Dana Moos: Maine Powerhouse

Blueberry Malted Waffles by Dana Moos via Flickr

Blueberry Malted Waffles by Dana Moos via Flickr

There are those that endeavor to do it all.  And then there are those who just go and do it.  Dana Moos fits into the latter category.  Innkeeper of the Pomegranate Inn, located in Portland’s picturesque West End, and realtor specializing in Maine hospitality real estate, Ms. Moos has a flair for spectacular photography, & a passion for food.  Being a hobbyist photographer & amateur baker msyelf, I’ve found Dana to offer incredible inspiration for both.  Add to that she’s also the author of the new cookbook, The Art of Breakfast (have I mentioned that breakfast is my most favorite meal?), well, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve found a new idol.

As I mentioned, breakfast is my favorite meal.  I’ve been known to indulge in “breakfast for dinner” without shame (my 3-year old thinks it’s awesome to have waffles in the evening).  And now I can add to my repertoire from Dana’s stunning collection of recipes. The only question, of course, is which to try first? Malted PancakesMaine Blueberry Malted Waffles with Grand Marnier Maple Syrup? Dark Chocolate Sauce on Banana Stuffed French Toast?  Or perhaps these decadent, mouth-watering Cinnamon Rolls?  How’s a girl to choose?  Clearly the answer is simple: make them all!

 

Before & After = INSPIRATION!

My own before & after of the master bedroom in our former house

I don’t know about you folks, but I am definitely a sucker for some good “before & afters.”

As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the best ways to get great inspiration.  Sure, looking at decor magazines is fun, but when you see that someone can turn something completely awful into something completely wonderful, it gives a girl hope that she can do it herself, y’know?

Of course, so much of it depends on what it is you want to make over & of course, your budget.  But sometimes you just need a good before & after to realize that maybe your kitchen needs to pop a little more or that your mudroom could use a smidge more organization.  So where do I go for my inspiration?

I was rather excited to stumble upon a whole blog dedicated to before & afters.  Meet Better After – a place where readers submit all kinds of fantastic remodels, renovations, & simple DIY makeovers.  I love this simple project that turns a kitschy taco holder into a retro organizer.   And this teeny closet turned groovy book nook shows just that with a little imagination, wasted space can become not only functional, but also fabtastic.

Other great sources for before & after inspiration are Design Sponge (how much do I love that creative lock/knob coat hook setup?) and Apartment Therapy (I adore kitchen rennos – especially ones that are low-budget and primarily DIY) .  But perhaps my favorite of all is Young House Love.  This ingenious couple have turned DIY into an art form and are widely known for their attention to detail and thorough step-by-step instructions (including pictures!) for how they remake a space.  They did an amazing job of turning their first house into a praiseworthy home (it’s amazing how paint can dress up brick & paneling) & have upped the bar with their newest home adventure (I am totally dreaming of a “grellow” kitchen now).

So, are you itching to pick up a hammer, or maybe drag out the drop cloths & get painting?  If you do, be sure to take some before & after pictures!

Long-lasting Linen: A Warm Weather Staple

Cuddledown's Italian Linen

Cuddledown's Italian Linen

Flax, flax, fabulous flax! Did you know that flax is one of the oldest farmed plants in history?  Not only isit ancient – being traced back as far as the 4th millennium BC – it also has a wide variety of uses.  According to Wikipedia:

Flax is grown both for its seeds and for its fibers. Various parts of the plant have been used to make fabric, dye, paper, medicines, fishing nets, hair gels, and soap. Flax seed is the source of linseed oil, which has uses as an edible oil, as a nutritional supplement and as an ingredient in many wood finishing products. It is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens.

But perhaps our favorite use of flax is to make linen! Linen itself has a long and royal history, used to wrap and preserve the mummies of ancient Egyptian Pharaohs, being considered a symbol of purity. Yahoo’s Encylopedia provides a condensed look at linen’s history:

Linens more than 3,500 years old have been recovered from Egyptian tombs. Phoenician traders marketed linen in Mediterranean ports. Worn by Egyptian, Greek, and Jewish priests as a symbol of purity, it also typified luxury as in the phrase “purple and fine linen.” Flax was cultivated by the Romans and introduced by them into N Europe. The production of linen was encouraged by Charlemagne, and linen became the principal European textile of the Middle Ages. Flanders has been renowned from the 11th cent. for its creamy flax and fine thread. French Huguenots excelled in working flax and carried the art abroad, notably to Ireland, where Louis Crommelin established (c.1699) a manufactory at Lisburn, near Belfast. Ireland is still the largest producer of fine linen, with Belgium, Japan, and Russia producing somewhat lesser amounts. The first flax-spinning mill was opened in England in 1787, but only in 1812 was linen successfully woven with power looms.

Linen has also been used in currency in ancient times, and to some extent, continues to be used today – US currency is actually comprised of a cotton/linen blend!

It’s kind of amazing that we are still using a material that was used thousands and thousands of years ago.  It must be some pretty special stuff then, eh? Indeed, there are several benefits to using linen:

Many fabrics are not breathable, but linen possesses high air permeability and heat. The heat conductivity of linen is 5 times higher than wool and 19 times than silk. This means in hot weather, people dressed in linen clothing are found to have a lower skin temperature than others wearing silk or cotton garments. One more thing, interesting about linen – according to some studies, a person wearing linen clothes perspires 1.5 times less than when dressed in cotton clothes, and twice less than when dressed in viscose clothes. Meanwhile, in cold weather, linen works in reverse, proving ideal for retaining warmth.

Which is why our Italian Linen is one of our best selling bedding products. Offered in both plain hem and triple hem styles, our Italian Linen is medium weight, sturdy, softens with every wash, and temperature regulating.  Best of all, right now, it’s on SALE.

Not sure linen’s right for you?  Check out our guide on how to choose the perfect sheeting, the first step to getting a great night’s sleep.

Centering Yourself: Meditation Tips

meditation by AlicePopkorn via Flickr

meditation by AlicePopkorn via Flickr

It’s easy, especially during the busy summer months, to get a little frazzled.  No doubt there are vacations to pack for, summer programs that need to be scheduled, and day-trips to take.  But summer is also the perfect time to re-center yourself.  Beginner meditation can take as little as 10 minutes a day, allowing your body & brain to relax & de-stress.  Psychology Today states that the benefits include “a reduction in stress, an increased ability to enact mindfulness, greater concentration and a lowered tendency toward immediate and excessive emotional dysregulation.”  Who wouldn’t love to feel clearer, more mindful, more at-home in one’s body?

Best of all, all you need is yourself & a quiet space.  The Conscious Life provides a simple guide for beginners, breaking down the process into 4 easy-to-swallow parts:

  1. Choose a conducive environment. Find a nice, quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for fifteen minutes or longer. Sit down, relax and rest your hands on your lap. You can sit on the floor cross-legged with the support of a meditation cushion, or on any chair with your feet resting on the ground. It’s not necessary to force yourself into a lotus position if you’re not used to it.Regardless of how you sit, it’s important to maintain the natural curve of your back. That means no slouching forward or leaning backward — either of which can strain and hurt your back. People with chronic back problem may find a kneeling meditation bench useful, especially for prolonged meditation.
  2. Breathe slowly and deeply. Close your eyes softly. Begin by taking a few slow and deep breaths — inhaling with your nose and exhaling from your mouth. Don’t force your breathing. Let it come naturally. The first few intakes of air are likely to be shallow, but as you allow more air to fill your lungs each time, your breaths will gradually become deeper and fuller. Take as long as you need to breathe slowly and deeply.
  3. Be aware. When you are breathing deeply, you’ll begin to feel calmer and more relaxed. That’s a good sign. Now, focus your attention on your breathing. Be aware of each breath that you take in through your nose. Be mindful of each breath that you exhale with your mouth. Continue focusing on your breaths for as long as you like.If you find your attention straying away from your breaths, just gently bring it back. It may happen many times. Don’t be disheartened. What’s important is to realize that you’ve wandered and bring your attention back to where it should be. As you develop greater focus power, you will find it easier to concentrate.
  4. Ending the session. When you are ready to end the session, open your eyes and stand up slowly. Stretch yourself and extend your increased awareness to your next activities. Well done! You’ve done it!

Goodlife Zen is another resource, with a handy list of 10 tips.  I particularly like this tip regarding focus:

In ordinary consciousness we are hardly ever present. For example, sometimes we drive the car on autopilot while being preoccupied with thoughts. Suddenly we arrive at our destination and don’t remember anything about the drive!

So, meditation is a wonderful way of waking up to our life. Otherwise we miss most of our experiences because we are somewhere else in our mind! Let’s take a look at what focus is. In ordinary life, we tend to equate focus with concentration. That’s like using the mind like a concentrated beam of light. But in meditation, that kind of mind isn’t helpful. It’s too sharp and edgy. To focus in meditation means to pay soft attention to whatever you place in the centre of awareness. I suggest using the breath as a focus. It’s like a natural door that connects ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Zen Master Toni Packer says:

Attention comes from nowhere. It has no cause. It belongs to no one

(I am incredibly guilty of driving on auto-pilot.  Both literally & figuratively.)

Essentially, it all boils down to posture, breathing, & focus.  Being someone who has a constant monologue running through her brain, taking the opportunity to let go of that jumble of thoughts & simply be, is enormously refreshing.  What do you do to gain some inner peace?

 

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?

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!

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?”

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!

Protect yourself from bed bugs when on the road

Photo courtesy of Mi Pah

While many of us like to bring home a souvenir or two when we travel, there are certain things we’d rather not bring home with us.  Falling into this category would definitely be bed bugs.  If the very thought of these creepy crawly bloodsuckers eeks you out, there are some precautions you can take when traveling.

  • You can quickly check BedBugRegistry.com to see if your destination has had any reports of bed bug outbreaks.
  • Bring your own pillow, such as our 600 Fill Power White Goose Down Travel Pillow.
  • If you’d rather not pack a pillow, you may prefer to simply pack a bed bug proof protector that you can slip on over the hotel’s pillow.
  • Line your luggage with bed bug travel liners or some other type of air-tight bag.
  • Upon arrival, take a few minutes to give the room a once-over.  Pull the bed away from the wall, look in the seams of the mattress & boxspring, couch cushion seams, drape creases, corners where the walls meet & where the walls meet the floor.
  • If the hotel provides a luggage rack, be sure to use that instead of putting your luggage on the floor or couch.  If there is NO luggage rack, try to use a dresser, or better yet, the bathtub.
  • Keep dirty laundry in heavy duty trash bags that you dispose of OUTSIDE your house upon return.  Or you may opt to purchase dissolvable laundry bags to forgo keeping potentially infested trash bags on your property.
  • Wash your clothes immediately in hot water & dry on hot to kill any bed bugs.
  • For additional tips, check out BedBugInfo.com, GoGirlFriend.com, & BedBug.com.

By taking some precautions, you’ll be able to rest a little easier that you won’t be bringing home some uninvited companions!  Happy traveling!

Behind the Door: How to Organize Your Linen Closet

My own newly organized linen closet!

While the biggest thrust of spring cleaning is to tidy up the spaces you live in, it’s just as important to clean out those more utilitarian areas, like the linen closet.  Springtime is the perfect time to take stock of what you have & decide what needs to be kept & what needs to be ditched (& by ditched I mean that gently used items can be donated while more rigorously used items can be recycled into cleaning rags).  Lots of people have proposed methods for tackling the linen closet.  We also have a couple tricks up our sleeve regarding linen closet organization & caring for your bedding.  Martha Stewart, of course, has several articles that have worthy points of interest.  I’ve found her tip to place bed linens inside a matching pillow case to be rather ingenious idea (though I’m doubting this would work terribly well with winter bedding, like flannel).  Personally, even though I absolutely dread the whole tedious task, once it’s done, I find myself smitten with just how organized & clean things look.  It’s not unlikely for me to create reasons to go into the linen closet just to gaze at my handiwork.  Isn’t it nice to be able to open the door &  not be assaulted by piles of disheveled, unidentified stuff?  Rather, you can easily grab whatever it is you need & be on to your next task.  Fantastic!

Do you have any successful linen closet tips that you’d like to share?  What’s your most loathsome spring cleaning chore?

Green Cleaning

It’s that time of year again, when you throw open the windows and air out the house. Time to shake out the rugs, consider packing away the flannel sheets, and time to CLEAN. Before you reach for that blue cleaner, check out your pantry. Chances are, you’ve got all the makings of a green cleaning kit right on your shelves or in your cupboard. Not only can you clean your house without putting you or your family at risk, but it’s also cheaper. Personally, I’m a huge fan of a basic, simple, all-purpose cleaning spray that is equal parts water, white vinegar, and a dozen or so drops of essential oil (favorites are tea tree oil, lemongrass oil, and rosemary oil). You can buy the big jug of vinegar for next to nothing (especially if you go with store brands), big box stores offer spray bottles on the cheap, water you have. The most expensive part is the oil (which isn’t a must; it just helps dilute the vinegar smell a bit) – and luckily, that lasts for quite a while as you only use drops at a time. Voila! An easy-to-make and good-for-you all-purpose cleaner. Use it to spray down counters, sinks, stoves, toilets. whatever surface needs cleaning; it even makes a fantastic, streak-free window cleaner!

What are your favorite green-cleaning tips or suggestions?

Icky little critters: How to prevent a bed bug outbreak

I don’t know about you, but the very idea of sleeping with an uninvited companion leaves me feeling just a wee bit violated.  And if you listen to the current media about the recent bed bug resurgence, one could be sleeping with MILLIONS of uninvited guests.  Which is why taking 3 1/2 minutes of your time to watch this short video is a good idea.  Cuddledown Product Associate, Renee, gives us some valuable tips on how to prevent a bed bug outbreak at YOUR house.

Like free stuff?

Who doesn’t, right?  Well then here’s what you’re going to want to do: hop on over to our Facebook page, “like” us, & keep your eyes peeled.  We will periodically be giving away FREE stuff.  Sandy from Massachusetts was our lucky first winner – she’s getting a 100% cashmere, zip-front lounger sent right to her.  And what did she do?  She commented FIRST.

So again, here’s what you need to do: like us on Facebook + comment first on giveaway post = super fabulous FREE stuff for you!

Have your say

Okay, so you saved up to buy that expensive down comforter and after that first night, you can’t imagine how you ever slept without it.  Or maybe you bought some sheets & while you liked them, perhaps you think that they should be softer, lighter, less-wrinkly.  And that synthetic pillow your uncle gave you? You can’t believe how easily it washes!  The point is, we want your feedback.  To that end, allow me to introduce our New & Improved Product Reviews – making things easier, cleaner, & allowing you to more fully have your say.  And, when you do post your Product Review (because I’m an optimistic girl, & I know you’ve got something to say), for a limited time, we’ll give you FREE SHIPPING.  Consider it a thank you for telling us what we’re doing right or where we need to improve.  Because really, without you, we wouldn’t be here.

Comments or Questions?

Back to top

Page optimized by WP Minify WordPress Plugin