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

Go Green for the Holidays: Eco-friendly Holiday Decorations

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It’s time to deck the halls for the holiday season. It’s time for sparkly lights, twinkly candles, and beautiful baubles that transform your home into a cheery, cozy holiday wonderland. This year, I am looking for ways to reduce my environmental footprint. Here are a few fun ways to go green when decorating this season.

LED Lights and Candles

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LED lights utilize a lot less electricity than incandescent lights. They are also known to last longer than traditional lights.

LED candles provide beautiful, soft light without the potential fire danger or messy burning of wax candles. They are available in all shapes, sizes, and colors. There are even models that flicker to replicate traditional candles.

Christmas Tree Alternatives

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There are many green alternatives to cutting down a tree for your home. Though you can buy an artificial tree that could be reused each year, it is not the greenest option because of the materials used and the manufacturing process to make it. If you are not opposed to a smaller tree, a potted rosemary tree is a good option. Rosemary has a delightful aroma similar to pine, and you can plant the tree after Christmas. You can also make a corrugated cardboard tree or felt tree, or buy a recycled aluminum tree.

DIY Hanukkah Gelt Tree and Garland

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You can easily make your own gelt tree and garland this holiday. I found a really cute DIY gelt tree on the blog “Yesterday on Tuesday.” You can also easily make a beautiful garland for your mantle or banister by attaching layers of gelt to a pretty piece of yarn or gold string.

 Bake Your Own Ornaments

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One of my favorite family holiday traditions is baking. I am really excited to try something a little different this year by baking some cookie ornaments. You can easily find cookie ornament recipes online. You make them with a non-edible salt dough and food coloring, or applesauce and cinnamon. My favorite recipe is for non-edible gingerbread cookies that I found on the Allrecipes website. You can decorate them with glitter, too, to make them look like they have colored sugar on them.

Wintry Window Décor

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Make a pretty vintage collage in your front window with doilies of different sizes and shapes. You can also get the whole family in on the fun and cut out a variety of snowflakes to hang in your window, from your ceiling, or in a garland.

Now take these eco-friendly ideas and have fun and decorate for a greener holiday season!

 

 

 

Don’t Forget Breakfast This Thanksgiving

As we gear up for Thanksgiving, we have the turkeys prepped and the menu planned. If you’re like me, breakfast is the last thing on my mind. Breakfast shouldn’t be too complicated, because from the moment the coffee is brewing, I am busy.

To help make the morning more enjoyable and less stressful, here are several recipes that are quick, easy and delicious. Some of these recipes you can make the night before and reheat that morning. They can even become a new yearly tradition.

Crustless Zucchini and Basil Mini-Quiches

2995536015_3a950ae2e4_oMakes 4 Dozen

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil for pan
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small zucchini, grated
  • ¼ cup grated Gruyere or Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped

Heat oven to 450°F.

Prepare Batter: Put the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Whisking steadily, slowly pour in a 1/2 cup of milk, mixing until quite smooth. Whisk in the whole eggs and egg yolks, mixing again until smooth, then gradually whisk in the rest of the milk, the cream, the salt, and the nutmeg. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to one day. If using the next day, be sure to re-whisk.

Prepare Zucchini Mixture: In a nonstick pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add grated zucchini and stir until just softened, another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Oil mini muffin tins well. Put a pinch of grated cheese, a teaspoon of zucchini mixture, and a pinch of chopped fresh basil, into each muffin cup. Pour 1 tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup.

Bake until the quiches puff and start to turn golden, 15-18 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then carefully run a paring knife around the rim of each muffin cup. Carefully lift each quiche out of its cup.

Mini quiches freeze very well. Let cool, then freeze in a single layer in a covered container. Reheat on a cookie sheet in a 400° oven for about 5-10 minutes.

Spiced Crock-Pot Porridge

img_1555Makes about eight 1-cup servings; recipe can be doubled.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 8 cups water
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped apricots
  • ½ cup chopped dates
  • ½ cup chopped figs or raisins
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean, split, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 1 orange

Toppings: Chopped roasted nuts, jam, fresh fruit, more dried fruit, milk, yogurt, leftover eggnog

Combine everything except the orange zest and toppings in the bowl of a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Set the cooker on its lowest cook setting (“LOW” or 8-10 hours), and leave overnight.

If you happen to get up during the night, give the porridge a stir as you pass by. If not, no worries.

In the morning, break up the thin film that forms over the top of the porridge and stir it in. Scrape the sides and bottom. Stir in the orange zest.

Serve with toppings. Leftover porridge will keep refrigerated for at least a week. Reheat with a little milk or water to make creamy again.

Lemon Scones

6849616359_e1952942a5_oIngredients

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1 egg, plus enough milk to make 3/4 cup

  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven 425° F

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and pinch of salt in a bowl.

Add butter and mix in a processor on “pulse,” or rub together with your fingertips until it looks like a crumble or bread crumbs.

Break an egg in to a measuring cup and add milk up to the 3/4 cup mark, and lightly beat with a fork.

Add the egg/milk mixture to dry ingredients and mix just until well combined. (Do not overmix).

Feel free to add extras at this step, such as lemon zest, cranberries, blueberries, chocolate chips, raisins, pieces of apple, or currants. There are unlimited possibilities!

Place spoonfuls of the mixture on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Tip: Keep on eye on them, because depending on the size you make, they may cook more quickly. Also, leave some space in between the scones because they grow. Serve plain or with butter or jam.

Eat up and enjoy!

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.

 

Give a Green Gift for the Holidays

During the holidays shopping for gifts can be fun, but also a bit overwhelming at times. What do you buy for your picky Aunt Bea or the wealthy relative who already has so much? How about your young nephew whose closet is already stuffed to the brim with games, stuffed animals, and other toys?

In recent years, there has been a trend in gift-giving that supports a more minimalist approach by celebrating gifts that are earth-friendly. There are many amazing gifts that do not add to our environmental footprint.

 

Give An Experience

Create lasting memories with your loved ones by giving them tickets to a concert, play, or sporting event, signing them up for a cooking or craft class, or paying their registration for a race or membership to a club. You could also give them a ski pass or movie tickets. This type of gift is my favorite, because whether I give the gift or receive the gift, I get to spend time having fun and building bonds with my loved ones.

Donate

This is probably the easiest green gift idea. You can make a donation in the name of the recipient to his or her favorite charity, or you can go a step further and donate to an organization that has conservation as its main goal. Some of these earth-friendly organizations include The World Wildlife Federation, The National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, and The Sierra Club.

Eco-Friendly Tech Gifts

For all those techies on your list, there are gifts that help conserve energy and the environment. You can stuff their stockings with wooden headphones made and packaged with recycled materials, solar gadget chargers, or a cell-phone charger that shuts off its energy-sucking capabilities once your phone is fully charged.

My all-time favorite eco-friendly tech gift is an e-reader. A book is a great gift for all age groups. An e-reader will allow the recipient to collect an endless library without amassing a huge footprint. There are also household tech gifts like smart light switches and energy-saving thermostats that can lessen energy use and make great eco-friendly gifts.

Do It Yourself

Another recent trend in gift-giving is DIY. You can whip together a batch of your favorite treat, package it in a recycled box or re-gifted vessel, and attach the recipe. You can also crochet a scarf, make a digital photo book or any other photo gift, or even write a personal letter or memory book. The gift-giving options are endless with DIY.

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Plants and Flowers

A gift back to the Earth is probably the greenest gift idea of all. Plant a tree in the recipient’s name, give an avid gardener some gardening tools made with recycled materials, or gift someone with seedlings, an herb garden, or a terrarium.

Clearing Out

In the months leading up to the holidays, I also like to clear out my home to make room for holiday gifts. To keep from filling my local landfill with all of my discarded items, I sell or donate as much as possible. Selling items online is a great way to earn some extra holiday cash. Donating items to your local thrift store, church, or shelter is a great way to benefit those in your community, too.

Lastly, you can always re-gift items.  I like to follow a few guidelines when doing this:

  1. The item is in new (or excellent and unused) condition.
  2. The item is something the recipient would like or could use.
  3. You received it within the last six months.
  4. The recipient would not be able to tell that it is a re-gift.

Now that you have some good green holiday gift ideas, check off that list!