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10 Tips for Better Sleep

It’s the time of year for New Year’s resolutions. Have you made any? If you’ve made a health-related resolution like eating better or getting more exercise, consider another important aspect of health: sleep. Your sleep habits can impact all areas of your life, yet many people struggle to get the good sleep they need. Sometimes, a small change, like getting a new pillow or blocking outside light, can make a difference*. Here are a few simple tips for pleasant dreams:

1. Get into a routine. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time each day–even on weekends.

2. If you can, avoid eating a few hours before bed. When your body’s busy digesting food, it can be harder to fall asleep.

3. Avoid alcohol right before bed. While alcohol can make you feel drowsy, it actually keeps you from sleeping as well as you could.

4. Exercise regularly. You don’t have to hit the gym–even going for a walk can get your blood pumping and benefit your sleep schedule.

Rise and Shine Natural Wake-up Light Rise and Shine Light wakes you up gently

5. Keep your room dark. Light affects your circadian rhythm–your internal “clock” that determines when you sleep and wake up. A dark room signals your body to get drowsy, while too much light can keep you from getting deep sleep.

6. Wake up without disturbing the last stages of sleep. Instead of a blaring alarm clock, try the Rise and Shine Natural Wake-Up Light–it gradually gets brighter for a gentle, natural wake-up call.

Egyptian Cotton Sheets are silky soft

7. Make your bed extra comfortable with high-quality sheets. Not only do they feel great, they’ll also last longer than lower-quality sheets. For example, our 400-thread count Egyptian Cotton sheet sets feel luxuriously soft and smooth and turn your bed into a cozy retreat.

8. Upgrade your pillow. A flat or lumpy pillow can keep you tossing and turning all night. Try a pillow made for the way you sleep: if you sleep on your side, a plump, supportive pillow can give you proper neck support, and if you sleep on your back, a soft yet cushiony pillow can cradle your head. Sensorpedic Dual Comfort Jumbo Pillow has a firmer side and a softer side, so you can customize it for the way you sleep.

 

Sensorpedic Mattress Topper

9. Improve your mattress with a mattress topper. It adds an extra layer of comfort and support to your bed. This is a great idea if you’d like a better mattress, but don’t want to spend that much money right now. For example, Sensorpedic 2 1/2″ Supreme Mattress Topper covers your bed with a combination of memory foam and fiber fill to cradle your body in comfort.

Complete Bed Set Bed Sets brighten up your room

10. Get some fun, cozy bedding that you’ll enjoy using. Choose a playfully patterned set like one of these Complete Bed Sets to make your bed beautiful AND comfortable. While this won’t necessarily help you sleep, it will create a sleep environment that you’ll look forward to spending time in!

*Note that sleep problems may be linked to other health issues–talk to your doctor if you’re concerned.

 

Holiday Baking Ideas

What’s one of the best parts of the holidays? Baking, of course! Cookies, pie, cake, bread…there are so many delicious things to enjoy this time of year. It’s also an opportunity to carry on family traditions. Perhaps you remember a relative’s scrumptious pie or secret cake recipe, or maybe you help your kids make a recipe you yourself learned as a child. My family, for example, made sugar cookies every year that we’d decorate with brightly-colored, powdered-sugar icing. As a kid, I loved mixing food coloring into the bowls of icing, and then drizzling it over the cookies in fanciful patterns. I also remember my great-grandmother’s cookies–she made dozens of them every Christmas. My favorite were her potato chip cookies (don’t knock ’em until you try ’em!). What are your favorite holiday baking traditions?

Keep up with your family’s baking traditions or start some new ones this year! Here are some handy products to make your holiday baking more fun.

Cookie Cake Pans

Cookie Cake Pans: the best of both worlds! Make a chocolate cake with vanilla icing in the middle for a jumbo-sized Oreo-style cake!

Holiday Baking Pan by Paula Deen

Fun holiday shapes are yours to decorate with the Holiday Baking Pan by Paula Deen.

Cookie Press

Make perfect spritz cookies in a variety of patterns with this Cookie Press.

POURfect Measuring Bowls

POURfect Measuring Bowls make it easier to pour ingredients in the bowl without spilling. Especially handy if you have kids in your kitchen!

Animal Pot Holders

Animal pot holders are so cute, they’re sure to make you smile.

Homemade Christmas Cookbook

Looking for some new recipes? Homemade Christmas Cookbook from Gooseberry Patch has some deliciously simple ideas.

Jolly Wink Santa Cake

Or if you want to let someone else do the baking, try bakery food gifts from The Swiss Colony!

4 Slow Cookers to Fit Any Budget (Plus a Recipe)

Fall weather is the perfect excuse to whip up a scrumptious meal in your slow cooker. Nothing says “comfort food” like coming home to a hot, ready-to-eat meal! I love my slow cooker–it helps me put healthy, inexpensive and delicious meals on the table no matter how busy I am. Which got me thinking: how in the world did anyone ever get by without one?!

Hay-Boxes and Bean Pots

Before there were slow cookers, there were hay-boxes. These clever devices were just wood boxes filled with hay–nothing fancy. The cook would get a meal boiling on the stove, then remove the pot from the heat and place it directly into the hay box. The hay would retain the heat so that the food could keep cooking until dinnertime. What a great idea!

The first modern slow cooker was introduced in 1970–the “bean pot”. Little did they know that someday, families everywhere would be using slow cookers for so much more than beans!

An old-fashioned Hay Box An old-fashioned hay box

Slow Cookers for Everyone

These days, there are plenty of slow cookers to fit your family’s needs and budget. There are even digital versions like the one below–all you have to do is set the programmable timer and walk away. The cooker selects the right temperature and self-adjusts to warming mode at the end of the cooking time.

Ginny's 6.5 Quart Digital Slow Cooker Ginny’s 6.5 Quart Digital Slow Cooker

Some people prefer to keep it simple with just “Hi” and “Lo” settings…and a pretty pattern to liven up the kitchen!

Ginny's 6.5-qt Decorator Slow Cooker Ginny’s 6.5-qt Decorator Slow Cooker

Or maybe one cooker just isn’t enough for your big family or frequent potlucks.

3-in-1 Slow Cooker 3-in-1 Slow Cooker

Here’s a cooker that has two different inserts, one for roasting and one for slow cooking, doubling the possibilities.

Ginny's Roaster/Slow Cooker Ginny’s Roaster/Slow Cooker

And of course, if you’re taking it to a potluck or family dinner, you’ll want a travel bag to transport it easily with no spillage!

Slow Cooker Travel Bag Slow Cooker Travel Bag

All this talk of slow cookers is making me hungry…how about you? Here’s a mouthwatering recipe from one of our customers. Give it a try and let me know how it turns out!

Slow Cooker Chicken with Dumplings

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, skinned & cut into small chunks
  • 2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4-cup onion, finely diced
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • Two 10-oz. packages refrigerated biscuits
  1. Combine all ingredients, except biscuits, in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.
  2. 30 minutes before serving, tear biscuit dough into 1-inch pieces. Add to your slow cooker, stirring gently.
  3. Cover and cook on HIGH for an additional 30 minutes or until biscuits are fluffed up and cooked through.
  4. Serve and enjoy!