The Luxury of Sleep

It's pretty much a fact of life for most folks these days.  We just don't get enough sleep.  Sleep becomes more of a luxury than stability.  My problem is undoubtedly related to many factors.  I can't turn my brain off at bedtime.  I'm stressed.  I'm addicted to my electronic devices.  I sleep with a partner who snores, etc., etc., etc.  Plus, I'm just a naturally light sleeper anyways.  As we all know, good sleep is vital to a healthy life.  It's not just rest time.  It's time that your body needs to do a lot of essential work to keep us emotionally and physically well-balanced.  Good sleep also means that our energy levels can be up where we need them to be, so that we can do what we need to get done and lead successful, fulfilling lives.  I decided to do a little research to find out how I might get a better night's sleep and found this book at my local library, "Sound Asleep, The Expert Guide to Sleeping Well" by Chris Idzikowski.  Here are the main keys that I discovered could possibly help me get the rest I need:

  • The optimum temperature for sleep is 64.5 degrees.  Good to know!  I've been sleeping with the house at 68 degrees.  What can I say?  I get cold.
  • Do not eat for at least 3 hours before bedtime.  I seriously doubt that most people abide by this tip, but I can see how it would be beneficial.  Digestion and frequent trips to the bathroom can keep you up at night.  Note to self:  limit my nighttime snacking.
  • Don't drink alcohol.  Truth be told, I'm not a very big drinker, so this is an easy one for me.  While a drink before bedtime can put you right out, alcohol has the tendency to wake you up before you are really ready to wake up.  No bueno.
  • Get some exercise.  A good cardio session can help your body work out the tension it inevitably holds onto during the day, which can make for a much more relaxing night.  And since it can be hard to fit in an actual workout during your busy day, housecleaning counts as exercise, too!
  • Get rid of your electronics at least an hour before bedtime.  This is a tough one considering that we live in an age of technology.  I don't feel comfortable leaving my phone too far away.  We don't have a landline, so I know that if there is an emergency, I will have to be able to hear my phone.  Using the airplane mode is therefore a good way to keep your phone close at hand without being bothered by any buzzes or dings when something unimportant is happening during sleep hours.
  • No caffeine after noon.  This is also something that will be tricky for me.  I have such a busy life:  my own business, a family and house to take care of, etc.  I need tons of energy to get through every part of my day.  It is undeniable that finding new ways other than a stiff cup of java or a large diet coke may be a necessity to getting some shut-eye when I need it most.
  • Eliminate sound and light distractions.  This is the biggest sleep obstacle that I need to overcome. I share a bed with my partner and he, like so many, snores rather loudly at times.  I know I'm not the only one who gets extremely frustrated (that's putting it lightly) when I get woken up by said loud snoring.  But what to do about it?  I myself have tried those inexpensive drugstore ear plugs, but they don't stay in and they annoy my ears.  What I the most expensive ear plugs you can afford.  The moldable silicone ones apparently stay put the best.  Another neat trick that I just learned about in this book...headbands.  These headbands actually have ear phones in them, so you can listen to some white noise or any other sleep-inducing recordings via your phone, ipod, mp3 player, without having to sleep with anything annoying in year ear.  Positively genius!  Check out this example of one such headband here.  We also have the advantage problem of having a TV in our bedroom. A TV obviously offers both light and sound issues that will distract most from good solid sleep. Sure, it's fun to watch a movie or a good show in bed at night.  But we always fall asleep with the TV on.  I'm the one that gets woken up by it in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep after that.  I've figured out a resolution to that, though.  The sleep timer on the remote control works great.  That way, I'm soothed to sleep by my mind-numbing show of choice but not woken up hours later to some loud overwhelming infomercial.
  • If all else fails, take melatonin.  I've been known to succumb to the Tylenol PM or Ny-Quil method on many an occasion.  These solutions can leave me feeling pretty drowsy the next day, though.  So about a month ago I decided to try out melatonin.  And guess what.  It didn't work.  In fact it made me feel even more restless than usual.  The "Sound Asleep" book informed me why.  Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces naturally.  It is responsible for letting your body know that it should sleep when it's dark and wake up when it's light.  Dark and light are therefore the keys to a successful melatonin trial.  So if you take melatonin when there is too much light in your room, you will undoubtedly and frustratingly remain wide awake when you are desperate for sleep.  The reason it did not work for me was due to the TV being on when I should have abided by the previous tip and removed all sources of light.  Go figure.  I will have to try melatonin again, hopefully with more success next time.
  • Develop good sleep habits.  In addition to everything else I've listed above, it's important to develop actual habits...primarily going to bed and waking up at the same times each and every day.  You must train your body to know when it's time to do what you want it to do.  We obviously don't lead perfect lives.  Sometimes we have deadlines that we're trying to meet or we have a sick kid that we need to tend to or we go out for a well-deserved night on the town.  But it should be a goal to maintain some sort of normal schedule when it comes to getting rest.  Other sleep habits to adopt:  read a good book, have a cup of tea, take a bath or do some gentle stretching before you hit the hay.  If you develop a practice of doing these things on a regular basis, your body should learn that these activities mean it's time to rest and naturally go in that direction without too much additional pursuading.

I am currently a work in progress and am still trying desperately to find a way to get a good night's sleep. There are inevitably many more problems and solutions to sleep, which are further discussed in the afore-mentioned book.  These are just a few tips that I found, which I think might help me.  How well do you sleep at night?  Do you have any helpful hints for getting a solid night's rest?

Cheers to getting a good night's sleep, Julie

*pic from here, edited by me.

noir et blanc

black and white on
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10

It's getting all dark and spooky out there.  All Hallow's Eve is fast approaching.  
I love all the dark and light contrast that this time of year has to offer.  Black crows and white pumpkins, dark nights, dark mornings, too, for that matter...  Every once in a while it's nice to take a break from all of that vivid Fall color and focus on the simplicity that noir et blanc, otherwise known as black and white, can bring to your life.
All of the above items are offered for sale, if you are so inclined.
Just click on the numbered links above for more information.

Cheers, Julie

something to try: top shot photography

Ah yes, it's 2013, and all of a sudden we are all photographers.  Our world makes it very easy to be one, too.  Social media has unapologetically taken over our lives and along with it, photography has become an integral part.  Cell phones insist on the inevitable constant companionship of a camera at all times.  Most of us therefore can't resist snapping a photo here and there throughout the day and sharing them with all of our friends, fans and followers.  It's not a bad thing.  But bad photography is.  Fortunately, there are many really fantastic photography examples out there to follow, which can teach us a lesson or two on what to do or not do.  The top shot is one such example of a photography "do" that I just happen to be in love with.
top shot photography on
clockwise from top:  1 // 2 // 3 // 4
For me, a top shot photo garners instant respect for the photographer.  It not only shows off a level of mad creativity, but also that effort was put into getting that perfect angle and thus maximizing the impact of the subject matter.  I doubt any one of the above collections would be quite as interesting without a nice top shot.

top shot photography on
Top shots of office supplies and desk tops exhibit the beautiful shapes of each object.

top shot photography on
Top shot lifestyle photos show a more complete picture of what is happening at a particular moment.

top shot photography on
from the left:  1 // 2 // 3
Food photography has to be my favorite of the top shot category.  It is the modern day version of classic still life art.  What better way to see all the ingredients of a particular dish or meal?  Again, serious respect for the photographer who chooses to take top shots of food.  When you see one of these, you instantly know that this person was most likely standing on a chair over a table in a restaurant or at a friend's dinner party trying to get the perfect angle.  It truly is an art form.

You can be a top shot artist, too.  Just grab a chair or step ladder, get up high, and shoot from above.  
You just might be a top shot master!

Cheers, Julie

positive thinking ... weekend wisdom 10/19/13

positive thinking on

We often times forget what the power of positive thinking can do for us.  I'm certainly guilty of that.
People who know me, and I mean REALLY know me, would probably describe me as a glass half-empty kind of girl.  And that admittedly may be true. You see, I'm a Virgo, so I tend to get caught up in details.  And all those details can really stress me out.  It's hard not to be negative about things when you are feeling the pressure.  If you ask me, though, I'm not negative at all.  I'm what I like to refer to as a realist.  I like to address a situation exactly for what it is, not for what I want it to be.  That's my way of preparing for the worst, and yet hoping for the best.  But maybe realism is simply just a disguise for negativity?  I don't really know.  What I do know, though, is that I always feel much better about life when I choose to spend time with those who lean more towards the positive approach of thinking.  And, yes, it's probably a bit more attractive to see a sunny happy positive smile on my face rather than a negative stressed-out scowl.

How would you describe your own personal approach to life?  Positive?  Negative?  Just being real?

Happy Saturday...Julie

colorful design inspiration

colorful design inspiration on

colorful design inspiration on

colorful design inspiration on

colorful design inspiration on

colorful design inspiration on

colorful design inspiration on

colorful design inspiration on

Some people rely on a calm serene monotone color palette to decorate their homes with.  I respect that.  
No judgement.  I love that design aesthetic myself.  But when it comes to gravity, I'm more often drawn to design that hosts an undeniable, unapologetic saturation of color.  Mixing different shades together in unexpected ways is more my cup of tea.  I think the inspirations I've chosen above definitely lend themselves quite nicely to that concept.  

How do you feel about color?  Do you enjoy mixing it up?  
Or maybe prefer to keep things on the calmer side?

Only one more day until Friday!!!  Julie

artsy architecture

Sometimes I just like to sit back and geek out over interesting architecture.  It's always entertaining to daydream about visiting one of these gorgeous buildings in a future life of travelling that I am secretly planning, but will probably never be able to afford.  Here are a few beauties that I discovered recently via that time-sucker otherwise known as Pinterest.
 Business Park Airport Hotel by Petersen Architects in Berlin
Have you ever seen such a colorful building?  An instant attention-grabber.

The Parker Hotel in Palm Springs
The Parker Hotel might as well be called the mid century design mecca of the universe.  If you are into the mid century design movement in any way, shape or form, you will someday want to visit this place.  Not only is it a design masterpiece, but it's also been worked over a bit by designer extraordinaire, Jonathan Adler.  It's like a glorious two-fer-one if you are an interior design nut like me.

Dorset House, 1935 in London
Art Deco architecture and London aren't two terms that I often affiliate with one another.  But alas, it's true.  Beautiful art deco architecture isn't just reserved for the sunny shores of South Beach!

National Museum in Brasilia, Brazil
No one really needs an excuse to visit Brazil, do they?  
But certainly if they did, the National Museum would be an ideal one.

art deco building
Art deco rides again.  The windows are a true work of art all on their own.

The Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs
Another gem of Palm Springs...Who's down for a trip to see this beauty?  
My chips are on the table.  I'm all in.

So happy it's not Monday anymore...Julie

music monday...the go go's

It's Monday.  Insert cuss word of your choice here.  
This is just going to be my new Monday mantra.  I actually used it in an email today.  Really, I did.
Some people like Mondays and are excited for the week to begin.  I am not one of those people.
At any rate, we can't do away with Mondays.  Best to just get into the groove of the new week and get on with it.  Fun upbeat music is always helpful for doing that.  And the Go Go's will suffice quite nicely...
music monday ... the go go's on
Are you a super cool kid of the 80's like me?  Maybe not.  
But even if you weren't there, you can appreciate the hip vibes of The Go Go's. 

music monday ... the go go's on
Fun, sexy, strong feminist ladies that knew how to get you up and dancing.

belinda carlisle ... the go go's
I always had a little bit of a lady crush on Belinda Carlisle.  Wasn't she cute?

Jane Wiedlin ... the go go's
Besides Belinda, Jane Wiedlin was the other Go Go that became a separate entity all in her own right in the music world.

music monday ... the go go's on

music monday ... the go go's on
These ladies really rocked it.
Vacation, We Got the Beat, Our Lips are Sealed...They put out a ton of fantastic 80s music.

And I saved this one just for you to help you get through the Monday Blues...Enjoy!

Here's to Friday getting here quick...Julie


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