Holiday Green Gift Ideas

Not sure what to get for your friends and family this year and you want your gift to be clever and unique? How about a gift that is safe for the environment. Help lower your carbon footprint and show your friends and family that you’re environmentally conscious with these great green gift ideas.

  1. Conservation gifts – Adopt a animal or buy gifts that benefit an organization of your choice. The Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, and National Wildlife Federation are a few great organizations to choose from.184111_10150276836305270_6448691_n.jpg

  2. The gift of an experience – A bike tour, wine tasting, cooking class, movie tickets, sporting event or comedy show. A lot of people prefer these types of gifts because of the experience they get out of it.

  3. Gifts that cut down on waste – Water filter, dish towels, compost pail, bamboo utensil set, reusable water bottle and coffee thermos are some great waste-free ideas.

  4. Useful energy-saving gifts – Water- or energy-saving gadgets like a new thermostat or smart light switches for people who love tech gadgets.

  5. Make-it-yourself gifts – Use your creative talents with homemade candles, paper, lip balm, jewelry, photo prints, or a hand-knitted scarf. A personal touch is usually the best gift to give.

  6. Food gifts – Edible gifts like homemade jams or preserves, syrups, local honey, homemade candy & breads, or a subscription to a local meat or cheese club can also be tasty.Image-1.jpg

  7. Gifts that keep on growing – Herb plants, tree-planting kit, seedlings, or seed paper are all fun ideas. When giving a plant gift, it’s always helpful to include care instructions.

  8. Gifts for the outdoor lover – Ski lift ticket or season pass, rock-climbing lessons, sailing club, or fishing trip.AdobeStock_28806899.jpeg

For more information on green gift ideas click: HERE

Don’t Light Those Scented Candles!

Still life with candle and a stick of cranberry

As the holiday season is in full swing, many people pull out their wonderful holiday decorations of candelabras, votives and candles in wreaths. But many of those candles are scented to smell like cinnamon spice, apple, or even pine tree or more. As tempting as burning those scented candles may be, they may be causing more harm than good.

Many candles are made from paraffin wax, and when this wax is heated, the toxic chemicals benzene and toluene are released – the same chemicals that can be found in diesel fumes! These toxins are also known as phthalates , which can cause major health effects if inhaled and have been linked to cancer, asthma and common allergies.

The wicks of the candles can also contain heavy metals, most commonly lead. Inhaling lead can cause hormone disruption and behavior problems.

Not all candles are harmful. Be sure to read all labels fully to see what materials are used in the creation of the candle.

There are many alternatives to achieving the beautiful aromas of the season without the use of candles, such as:

  • Soy-based candles with wooden wicks
  • Essential oils
  • Beeswax candles with wooden wicks
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • A small live tree in a pot
  • Wreaths made from fresh branches

My favorite solution for a natural holiday scent is this Holiday Stove-top Potpourri:

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 orange (sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons cloves
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1 sprig of rosemary (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Fill a saucepan with 2 to 3 cups of water and toss in all ingredients. Simmer on low. Add water as needed to freshen up.

8 Holiday Sleep Tips So You Don’t Become the Grinch!

 

The holidays can be full of magic, family fun, delicious foods and more but they can also be full of stress, guests and interruptions of your regular schedule. Here are some ways to ensure the holidays are enjoyable and you get all the zzz’s you need to bring joy this season!

  1. Get ahead of the holidays

This time of year is always hectic. There are many things that need doing, from decorating for the holidays to baking to shopping for presents, preparing for guests, and more. Many of us put these jobs off until the last minute, which makes for a stressful holiday. It is no fun to be running around on the eve of the holiday looking for the last-minute gifts you forgot to order or grocery shopping on the day of a big dinner.

To avoid stress and sleep deprivation, get a jump start on your holiday planning. Make a list of things that need to be done and begin to make a timeline for when the tasks need to be done. If after writing your to-do list you still feel overwhelmed, ask for help!

  1. Don’t overload yourself

The holidays are about spending time with your loved ones and enjoying each other’s company. What better way to make your holiday less stressful than to recruit your family to help you prepare for the holidays? Plan a shopping trip or a baking day to help bring fun to tasks that can feel overwhelming. If you are hosting a dinner, ask family members to bring a dish to help minimize the amount you need to prepare.

  1. Don’t stop exercising

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Routine exercise is one of the greatest promoters of good, quality sleep. While it is tempting to take some time off during the holidays, don’t do it! It’s not only good for the body, it is great for the mind as well. Exercise is a great tool to help eliminate stress. You can always adapt your exercise routine around the holidays. If you have company staying, try picking activities that they can be included in, such as walks or outings. If you have young children, get outside and enjoy the outdoors, build a snowman, go snowshoeing or skiing, etc.

  1. Don’t overdo the snacking, especially at night.

All the yummy foods and desserts make an appearance this time of year, and the temptation to indulge can be a constant battle. It is ok to have some treats here and there, but stuffing yourself right before bed can cause your body to have to work harder to break down all that food while you are asleep. When your body has to focus more energy on processing those gingerbread cookies, it takes away from repairing and refreshing itself during sleep. Also late-night snacking can increase acid reflux, which can make falling asleep and staying asleep that much more difficult.

So what foods are best for nighttime snacking? Shredded wheat cereal with milk, or crackers and cheese, make great snacks. Complex carbs, milk and cheese are great at promoting sleep.

  1. Don’t drink too much

Drunken Gingerbread cookie man in a Christmas cocktail

Be aware of those tempting eggnog and peppermint specialty drinks this holiday.

While alcohol can induce drowsiness and help you fall asleep more quickly it can also disturb your rest and lessen the quality of your sleep. Alcohol decreases the amount of REM sleep, which is when dreaming occurs and learning and when memories are stored.

  1. Keep your regular sleep schedule

It is easy to stay up later than normal, catching up with old friends, attending Christmas parties, wrapping presents, etc. but those late nights can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. It is important to keep your regular sleep schedule, but if disruptions are unavoidable, try to limit them to no more than an hour off your regular schedule. Sleep deprivation can lead to mood and behavior changes, so if you don’t want to become Scrooge, make sure that sleep is a priority.

If you are traveling across time zones, it can be harder to keep your regular schedule. Try to maintain as close to a regular sleep schedule as possible, especially on “mini vacations,” so it won’t affect you in the long run.

  1. Turn off that technology

Mom with child reading book and relaxing by the fire place some cold evening, winter weekends, cozy scene

To promote restful sleep, it is best to have a relaxing bedtime routine. Turn off tablets, phones, computers, etc. at least an hour before bed to allow your brain to “power down.”

Electronic devices emit a light similar to that of daylight. Our brains get tricked by this light, as it associates it with daylight, which can delay the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.

Be sure to not let the holidays rob you of that sweet, deep slumber you not only crave, but need to make it through to the new year.

Company is Coming!

With Thanksgiving a few days away and Christmas around the corner, are you prepared for all the company that is coming to stay? Don’t worry, we have you covered. Here are a few suggestions to make your guests comfortable, warm and happy while they visit.

hideabed

The Hide-A-Bed

Our GOLS certified, organic natural rubber latex mattress is the perfect addition to any pull-out-sofa. Absolutely comfortable and organic, Its 4” natural rubber core will provide the support you need to get a good nights sleep. Like our other mattresses, it is also covered with certified organic wool and certified organic cotton to help with temperature control and pressure points. A good full nights sleep means a great family day ahead.

woolylite

The Wooly Lite

Now that you have your guests’ mattress taken care of, it’s time to add a comfort layer. Our 1.5” Wooly Lite is a great addition to any mattress. It adds 1.5” of certified wool, quilted in certified organic cotton to your mattress. This great topper will add that little extra comfort to your pressure points, helping your guests to achieve the REM sleep everyone so badly needs.

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Thermal Blanket

This lightweight blanket is great for all seasons. 100% certified organic cotton in a crepe weave comes in all sizes, from crib to king. When a comforter is just too much or too heavy, this blanket makes the perfect substitute. Accompany this with a flat sheet, and guests are good to go for a long night’s rest.

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Wool Comforter

If you live in the northern states or Canada, this 100% certified organic wool comforter is the way to go. It will keep sleepers warm in the winter and cool in the summer due to all that wool being temperature regulating and moisture wicking. It’s a great way to top off any mattress.

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Wool-Wrapped 100%-Natural Shredded Rubber Latex Pillow

This is probably my favorite pillow out of all the pillows OMI offers. This wool-wrapped, 100% natural shredded rubber latex pillow has it all! The shredded latex gives you that down-like feel, and it’s adjustable!! If it’s too high, take some rubber out; if it’s too low, add some. You can adjust this pillow to suit what works best for you. The layer of wool helps with heat control and wicks moisture away, so it stays dry.

OMI is not responsible for guests refusing to leave because of the sleeping environment and hospitality you’ve given them. Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season ahead.

11 Great Last Minute Gift Ideas for Those Who Just Love Sleep

  1. The Can’t Sleep Colouring Book

Have a friend who is artistic and loves sleep? How about this amazing adult coloring book to help him or her get some better zzz’s at night!

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Amazon.com
  1. Night Light

Light up the room without bugging your partner! It’s motion activated, so it is only on when you are up.

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Amazon.com
  1. Aromatherapy Candles.

Reported to help with sleep and meditation, these are a great last-minute gift idea for just about anyone.

Available on amazon.com
amazon.com
  1. Nighttime Beverages

Some people love coffee, but can’t drink it later in the day without fear of staying awake all night. Here is a great gift for the coffee lover who also loves to sleep!

Available on amazon.com
amazon.com
  1. Blankets

Get them the perfect warm blanket that they can snuggle up in, either on the couch or in bed. Here’s our OMI thermal blanket, which is lightweight but so snuggly!

OMI Thermal Blanket
OMI Thermal Blanket
  1. Organic Eye Mask

For those who love to take naps or sleep in when the sun is already up, how about these great organic eye masks?

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amazon.com
  1. Dream Journal

Have friends who always tell you stories of their crazy dreams? How about this awesome dream journal?

amazon.com
amazon.com
  1. Namaste in Bed

Here’s a gift idea for your yogi friend who also loves to catch up on those extra hours of sleep.

amazon.com
amazon.com
  1. Sound Machine

Some people need a little extra help getting to sleep. If you know anyone who might have trouble, try the gift of a sound machine to help lull them back to sleep.

amazon.com
amazon.com
  1. Pajamas

Everyone loves a great pair of pajamas. For some it is even a Christmas tradition to get a new pair of pj’s every year!

seventeen.com
seventeen.com

 

  1. Alarm Clock

How about a gift for the person who likes to sleep a little too much? This particular alarm clock is also for the caffeine lover, as it brews a fresh cup of coffee as part of the alarm system.

design-milk.com
design-milk.com

Don’t Let Jet Lag Tag Along: 6 Tips to Leave It Behind

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With the holidays right around the corner, many people are starting to make travel plans. They are booking flights and hotels and getting ready to fly and drive to see loved ones. Visiting family and taking part in fun holiday traditions is something we all look forward to, but the required traveling isn’t always easy, especially when you are traveling to a different time zone. So how can we prevent jet lag from ruining holiday travel?

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According to the American Sleep Association, “Jet lag is a physiological condition caused by disturbance to the body’s natural circadian rhythm, or internal clock.” It most likely affects those who travel by air across more than two time zones. However, it can also affect those who travel for longer than 12 hours at a time. Some symptoms of jet lag include insomnia, disturbed sleep, fatigue, digestive problems, dehydration, difficulty concentrating, nausea, irritability, headache, dizziness, coordination problems, and sometimes memory loss. We’d all prefer to arrive at grandma’s house without all this excess “baggage,” so here are a few tips to prevent and alleviate jet lag.

Sleep With Your Destination

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If you plan to sleep while traveling, schedule your zzz’s as if you had already arrived. Set your watch to the local time of your destination, and sleep only if it is nighttime there. If it is daytime when you arrive, try to stay awake until your normal bedtime. If you absolutely need to nap, do so for less than two hours to ease your transition to the new time zone.

Be Mindful of Your Seat Selection

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The location of your seat on a plane can greatly affect your quality of sleep and your likelihood of preventing jet lag. If you are planning to sleep on a flight, choose a window seat that is far from heavy traffic areas of the plane. A first-class or business-class seat is always preferable for better sleep, since they are wider and provide more leg room. If that is not a viable option, choosing a window seat will still prevent you from being disturbed if other passengers get up during the flight. It also allows you to control whether or not the window shade is up or down, and consequently controls the amount of outside light streaming in through the window during the day. You can also easily position a pillow or neck rest against the window. Choosing a seat away from high-traffic areas like bathrooms and flight-attendant seating will reduce disturbances from people moving around.  Additionally, sitting in the middle or front of the plane is preferable, because the back of the plane is bumpier during take-off and turbulence.

No Tech Before Sleep

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As noted in one of my previous blog posts, the blue light emitted from phone, computer, and tablet screens delays the body’s release of melatonin, the hormone that helps you feel sleepy. If you are trying to sleep, stop using electronics an hour before you’d like to fall asleep.

To Drink or Not to Drink

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Many people believe alcoholic beverages will help them sleep. Initially, they can make you feel tired, but they can also dehydrate you, especially at high altitudes. While alcohol can help you fall asleep, you are likely to wake easier and more often and wake up feeling groggy. Whether you are trying to sleep or to stay awake, it is best to avoid alcoholic beverages while traveling to prevent jet lag. Instead, bring a water bottle, and ask the flight attendant to refill it throughout your flight.

Need Coffee, Will Travel

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Though caffeine can help you stay awake, it can cause dehydration. It is important to stay hydrated when traveling, especially when trying to prevent symptoms of jet lag. The high altitude and dry air in a jet plane can hasten the onset of jet lag. If you are like me and are intent on having your pre-flight cup o’ joe, follow it with at least 8 ounces of water to keep you hydrated.

Get Comfortable

Comfort is the key to feeling rested or preparing for a good sleep when you arrive at your destination. You can be completely prepared, well-rested, hydrated, and on-schedule, but when traveling on commercial flights, you can’t control things like room temperature, the volume of the pilot/driver’s announcements, or how many times the flight attendants push the beverage cart up and down the aisles. Prepare for comfort by dressing in layers and packing a blanket, neck pillow, eye mask, earplugs, and/or noise-canceling headphones. You’ll be thankful to have your personal comfort kit in case of the unexpected screaming child or chilly cabin temperature.

So now that you have a few good travel tips, you can be sure to arrive at your holiday destination without allowing jet lag to tag along.

 

Organic Holiday Treats

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This holiday season you deserve a special treat! Why not try an organic recipe to make a more healthful holiday delight? If you are planning on bringing a little something special to Christmas dinner, try this Organic Gingerbread Cookie recipe. For a decadent Hanukkah treat, try this Organic Zesty-Pistachio Rugelach recipe. Whatever you decide to bake, make sure you have a happy and healthy holiday season!

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Organic Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • Organic light brown sugar (½ cup)
  • Organic whole wheat pastry flour (2 ¾ cups)
  • Organic baking soda (½ teaspoon)
  • Organic sea salt (½ teaspoon)
  • Organic ground ginger (1 teaspoon)
  • Organic ground cinnamon (½ teaspoon)
  • Organic ground black pepper (½ teaspoon)
  • Organic ground cloves (½ teaspoon)
  • Organic egg whites (2)
  • Organic coconut oil (½ cup)
  • Organic vanilla extract (¼ teaspoon)
  • Organic molasses (10 tablespoons)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients and set aside for later (organic light brown sugar, whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, sea salt, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground black pepper, and ground cloves)
  3. Mix organic molasses, coconut oil, brown sugar and vanilla extract for 5 minutes with an electric mixer set on medium
  4. Continue to mix on medium and add egg whites
  5. Slowly mix in dry ingredients until evenly distributed
  6. Refrigerate dough for up to half an hour, or until completely chilled and slightly hard
  7. Place dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll out to about ¼” thickness
  8. Use some festive cookie cutters to make some fun shaped cookies
  9. Place cookies on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
  10. Bake for 8-9 minutes (not any longer, or they will get crunchy)
  11. Enjoy!

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Zesty-Pistachio Rugelach

Ingredients

  • Organic cream cheese (8 ounces, chilled)
  • Organic unsalted butter (1 cup, chilled)
  • Organic grated lemon zest (1 tablespoon)
  • Organic sugar (1/2 cup and later 2 tablespoons)
  • Organic sea salt (¼ teaspoon, fine granulated)
  • Organic poppy seeds (1 tablespoon)
  • Organic all-purpose flour (2 cups)
  • Organic egg (1, large)
  • Organic pistachios (1 cup, unsalted, finely chopped, more optional for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Blend organic butter and cream cheese in a food processor until smooth
  2. Add organic lemon zest, sugar (1/2 cup), sea salt, and poppy seeds and process until evenly distributed
  3. Add flour and pulse until it becomes a dough
  4. Separate dough into two balls and flatten each into a disk with a roller
  5. Cover and refrigerate the disks for 4 hours
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  7. Generously flour work surface and rolling pin and roll out one ball of dough into a disk
  8. Cut the disk into 16 wedges (like a pie)
  9. Brush dough with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar (1 tablespoon) and half the pistachios
  10. Roll up the wedges, starting at the wide edge and ending at the point
  11. Curve the rolls into crescents and place them on the baking sheets
  12. Brush crescents with remaining egg and sprinkle with pistachios (optional)
  13. Repeat process with second ball of dough
  14. Bake 25-28 minutes until golden
  15. Let cool and enjoy!