Not to add anxiety or anything but it’s nearly the end of November. If you participate in the gift-giving holidays, you’ve probably already started shopping. And if you haven’t? Well, now is a great time. If you’re like most shoppers, your list is full of things like toys, electronics, and personal luxuries like perfume and jewelry. Now these are all great things but it seems like everyone forgets the option of giving a great night’s sleep. From pillows to toppers to a new mattress, we think holiday gifting should include luxurious items that will give something valuable to the giftee year ’round. For practically every budget, we’d like to suggest a few great gift ideas. Comfort and joy, indeed!
Gift Ideas Under $35
Wrapped with a satin or silk pillowcase, or just gifted by itself, pillows make affordable and appreciated gifts. Unlike a mattress, you really don’t need to know much about the person’s sleep habits to give a pillow. Something like our bed wedge is a great option for friends and family members who love to read, watch television, or surf the web from bed. It’s really even a great gift idea for teens who love computer and video games in their rooms. The pillow styles featured below are ideal for those who sleep in practically any position.
Gift Ideas Under $120
For a larger, even more luxurious gift, consider gifting a comfortable Spa Sensations mattress topper. Much like the pillows mentioned above, you really don’t have to know much about the giftee’s preferred sleep position or comfort level to give this gift of comfort. We’ve picked our most versatile, beloved styles to feature below. You just might win relative or friend of the year after giving something like these!
Gift Ideas Under $450
For your spouse, your children, or just for yourself, a new mattress can be the height of luxury when given as a gift. Of course comfort is subjective when it comes to mattresses, but thousands of positive reviews all point to the quality, support, and comfort of the mattresses we’ve singled out to suggest here. Yes, it’s a bigger purchase but it’s one that will give year after year for at least the next decade.
Congratulations to @TrishLau, our first Comfort & Joy Twitter Contest winner! Her winning tweet warned us: “u asked for it LOL! My husband’s grody, icky-poo pillow. He needs some #comfortjoy!” And Trish was correct, her husband was desperately in need of a new pillow. Just look at his old one below. We’ve shipped Trish a brand new two-pack of luxury 36-inch body pillows. Here’s to a little comfort and joy in Trish’s neck of the woods!
Have you entered yet? We’ll pick our next contest winner on Thursday, November 29 and 11:30 a.m. central time. To enter, all you have to do is follow @spa_sensations on twitter.com, then tweet us a picture of your old bed pillow and tag the tweet with #comfortjoy. We’ll pick the oldest, most worn out pillow entered for the week. Weekly winners receive a two-pack of 36″ luxury body pillows. For full rules, visit http://spa-sensations.com/comfort-and-joy-rules/
We’ve all heard the saying “work smarter, not harder,” but when it comes to mundane household cleaning, it seems that nothing replaces hard work and time. That may be one reason why we hate doing it so much. You can only put off cleaning the toilets or doing the laundry so long, which means that at some point your stuck inside on a sunny, beautiful day doing housework rather than heading out for a day of fun. Well, maybe the picture doesn’t have to be as bleak as it seems. In actuality, you can use a good night’s sleep to start the cleaning process. In fact, we would venture to say that there are major home chores that you should only do as you sleep. Interested? Read on for our top five.
Clean the toilet
Okay, so cleaning the toilet doesn’t always take that long, yet it’s one of those chores that adds time to your routine. On the other hand, if you have hard water, cleaning the ring around the toilet can take a fair amount of elbow grease and time–or some pretty high-powered chemicals. An eco-friendly and easy solution to this task is a little white vinegar or Borax. Before bed, add a couple of cups of vinegar or 3/4 of a cup of Borax to the toilet bowl. For tough hard water rings, use your toilet brush to make sure the solution is applied above the waterline. Then go to bed. That’s right…stop everything and let the vinegar or Borax do their job. When you wake up, swirl the toilet brush around the bowl and flush. Doing this once a week should be plenty.
Clean your (non-self-cleaning) oven
One word of caution: never turn on your oven to run while you sleep. That being said, “soaking” your oven overnight is the perfect way to soften and release baked-on and burned-on oven messes. Spray the oven’s interior with your choice of oven cleaner, then place old towels or paper towels just outside the door to catch any drips. When you wake up, don your rubber gloves and gently wipe away the softened dirt and leftover oven cleaner. It’s a trick that may just give you back an hour or two on oven cleaning day.
Deodorize your carpets
From pet odors to musty smells, baking soda is always a good choice when carpets and upholstery smell less than fresh. The biggest obstacle to using it is the time it takes to fully absorb the odors. Of course while it’s on your carpet, you tend to walk over it, tracking it all over the house and actually removing patches of the baking soda from where it really needs to be working. The solution is deodorizing overnight. Before bed, vacuum your carpet, then sprinkle baking soda liberally. If you have really stubborn odors, you may want to work it into the carpet or upholstery with a clean broom. Then go to bed and let it do its magic. When you wake up, run the vacuum back over the area to remove the baking soda.
Clean your shower
We’ve all seen the advertisements for automatic shower cleaning solutions. Just spray after a shower, then it cleans. The problem is often that you don’t get the greatest results unless you do it the right way. First, you are going to have to clean. Find time to get your shower sparkling. This step allows the shower cleaning solution to work at its maximum potential. Second–and a big reason to do it while you sleep–fresh water running over the cleaner weakens its effects. Spray the shower down after the family’s last shower for the night, then let the solution work while everyone sleeps. In the morning, there’s no need to wipe down or rinse away. Just complete this step every night and you’ll probably never clean the shower again.
Do the laundry or the dishes
Unless the sound will keep the family awake, doing the dishes and laundry at night is smart. First, you aren’t waiting for the cycles to finish. Second, energy costs can be lower at off-peak hours like bedtime (important for those of us who are surcharged for energy use during peak hours). Fill the dishwasher and let it cycle through during the early part of your sleep. The washer, on the other hand, should be set to start in the middle of the night, if possible. If your washer doesn’t have a delayed start cycle, you can still begin the wash at bedtime. Just keep in mind that laundered, wet clothing may not smell quite as fresh after sitting in a closed washer all night long if your home is hot and/or humid. In cooler months, or if you always use air conditioning, the potential for soured laundry is nearly non-existent, making bedtime the smartest time for starting a long cycle like towels or whites.
Ringing in the new year may be the farthest thing from your mind given that it’s mid-July and 100+ degrees but designers and home decor experts are already thinking about trends and styles that extend well past January 2013. With home decor and furnishings trade shows in full swing all over the country, we’re already seeing sneak peeks of bedroom designs that may make you swoon as they begin showing up in stores and in catalogs later in the year. Will chevron be back? Is shabby chic still “in”? Get ready…we’re about to give you an inside look!
2013 Color Trends
According to ultrabright.com, the focus is upon “…the consumer’s ever-increasing need to reconnect with nature and what is around them.” Based upon this forecast, paint producers are creating and stocking hues that feature rich purple variations, greens and blues that are reminiscent of the sea, floral-inspired pinks and reds, and variations of tones visible in a vibrant desert. For a bedroom makeover, consider using the softest shades of those mentioned–sand, sea mist green, eggshell blue–on the walls to create a tranquil space then add pops of Rose of Sharon coral-pink or Rio red to create the bright color interest.
2013 Accessory Trends
The buzzword for 2013? Re-imagine. From antique-laden to mod, anything goes as long as it contains some degree of the unexpected. According to Pam Gaulin, a yahoo.com decorating and design contributor, “…one-of-a-kind items are the key to 2013 decor. Keep the look sophisticated by using common techniques in new ways.” Designers also seem to say that anything matchy-matchy is out. Avoid creating anything that is too themed. For example, if your current decor features modern touches like clean-lined furniture and metals, try adding natural items like seashells or even DIY bubble art to the mix. Again, the key terms are “unexpected” and “re-imagined.”
2013 Textile/Fabric Trends
As with decor, textile trends are moving toward the eclectic for the new year. Don’t get rid of the chevron (a huge 2012 trend) bedding or rugs but don’t pair any of it with other geometrics these days either. Opulent floral and scrolling fabrics offset the linear look of this year’s geometric bedding. If your taste trends toward animal prints, add some by all means but very carefully. The over-the-top leopard and zebra looks paired with fringe or neon of the past couple of seasons now reads tacky rather than fun and whimsical. Mix prints, mix colors but lose the fussy details for the freshest look.
If you follow us on Facebook, you know that we have a lot of fun seeking out the silly unofficial holidays that seem to pop up every calendar day (hello, National Joke Day last Friday). One “awareness week” that recently hit our radar was Every Body Needs A Massage Week, which is observed this month. After a little research, it seems that there’s more substance to this than just the silly name we were bound to make light of.
No denying it, massage is expensive. With prices that range anywhere from $50 to hundreds of dollars for just a half-hour, historically massage has been viewed as a frivolous luxury that most of us just can’t justify. That being said, perceptions have changed over the past few years. According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), 90% of survey respondents in 2011 stated that they “perceive[d] massage therapy as effective in reducing pain….” This percentage has grown exponentially just since 2009. Despite this acceptance of massage therapy as a beneficial treatment, the tough economy appears to be keeping people from heading to their massage therapists for even occasional treatments. In fact, 2011 saw a 30% reduction in trips to massage therapists, according to the AMTA, despite the fact that a growing number expressed a need for massage.
Boasting results like a reduction in lower back pain, arthritis pain management, and help with insomnia, most of us would benefit from regular massage therapy. Because it can be hard to add regular massages into a tight budget, we decided to scour the web, finding easy at-home massage techniques to share. They’re safe, beneficial, and best of all…free!
WebMD.com’s “Massage Therapy for Stress Relief and Much More” is an all-encompassing, vital step-by-step guide that explains how to easily apply gentle pressure and massage techniques to relieve tired, strained eyes, ease headaches and tension, soothe tired feet, and more. For example, WebMD explains that you can lessen a headache often by placing your thumbs gently on your temples while moving them in a circular motion.
Another excellent home-massage compendium is LiveStrong.com’s “How to Do Self-Massage,” featuring massage tips to relax shoulders, soothe feet and relax hands–an important area to stretch if you spend a lot of time typing.
While the title is maybe a bit misleading (a facelift is impossible through massage alone), care2.com’s article “Massage Yourself a Face-Lift” takes you step-by-step through a facial massage. Using a great skin oil (no, that’s not an oxymoron) like extra virgin olive oil as a moisturizing slip agent, do-it-yourself massages like this one can help soothe, relax, and rejuvenate.
Of course you don’t have to complete a structured series to feel the benefits of massage therapy. For those who wear high heels often, simply lacing the fingers of one hand through the toes and spreading them gently can reduce foot fatigue and that “pinched” feeling. For those with back pain, place three (or more) tennis balls on a carpeted floor, then lie down on them making sure the tennis balls are arranged near the source of the back pain. The rubbery balls give just enough so that they don’t hurt, yet the rigidity allows the back to stretch and relax.
With simple at-home, do-it-yourself massage techniques like these, you may find that you can stretch your dollar by seeking professional massage therapy less frequently. Why celebrate Every Body Deserves a Massage Week just one week out of the year? With a little practice, you can celebrate relaxation and comfort every single day.
If Sleeping Beauty had a sister named Waking Beauty, it’s a sure bet there would be some sibling rivalry. It’s all well and good to look lovely while sleeping but it’s something altogether more magical when we awake looking good. Between the hair knots, facial creases and puffy eyes, most of us spend the greater part of our morning routine battling the effects of how we’ve slept. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Truly, a few easy steps before bed can have you looking your best the moment you finally submit to the alarm’s call. Ready to look better tomorrow morning? Read on because we’re here to help.
Bad Breath: Our mothers always told us to brush our teeth before bed, and you have probably heeded that advice throughout your lifetime. As it turns out, it’s probably not enough. A bedtime routine should include a three-pronged approach: flossing, brushing and mouthwash. Not one of the three steps can adequately remove and kill bacteria alone, and this bacteria causes both bad breath and cavities. Take that brushing a step further and you’ll have better breath in the a.m.
Facial Creases: When it comes to the ideal position for sleeping, your back is the best way to go. Between the weight of your head (7 to 9 pounds) and the friction caused by your pillowcase as you move during sleep, creases and wrinkles are bound to happen. Of course the creases go away within a few hours but the cumulative effect can lead to deep wrinkles. Your best bet is to try to train yourself to sleep on your back every single night. If you still find that you’re migrating onto your side or stomach, try a satin pillowcase. The slip factor of satin means less friction.
Shop affordable satin pillowcases at walmart.com.
Puffy Eyes and/or Face: Like facial creases, puffiness and bloating can be caused by sleep position. A bit of gravity helps fluids drain. Sleeping slightly elevated on your back is the best position. Try doubling your pillows, one on top of the other, for a good angle. A second culprit is diet. Dehydration, salt and carbohydrates can cause whole-body bloating. The MSN Living article “10 Ways to Wake Up Beautiful” explains that a dinner of rice, pasta or potatoes can lead to “carb face,” that pasty, bloated look the next morning. Of course salt causes the body to retain water, while drinking plenty of water helps flush your system for that coveted svelte look.
Breakouts: No matter what time you go to bed, wash your face before you turn in. You may be tempted to skip this step when you’re exhausted but that’s always a bad idea. With or without makeup, dirt, oil and toxins build up on your face throughout the day. Failing to remove this dirt leads to clogged pores. For a deep, relaxing clean, choose a cleansing brush. The Clarisonic is ideal but expensive. An effective but more economical choice is the Olay Professional Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System. Use your favorite cleanser and brush away the poor-clogging dirt and debris.
Dull Skin: Night is the perfect time to work a skincare treatment into your beauty regimen. If you’re feeling a little lackluster, try a sunless tanning cream. A gradual tanner like Coppertone Sunless Tanning Lotion goes on clear and builds gradually, which means you won’t stain your sheets with the formula and you won’t have to worry about fast-forming splotches. An AHA skin moisturizer like St. Ives Naturally Smooth Fruit AHA Complex Body Lotion also does wonders for uneven skin tone, light sun damage and breakouts.
Knotted, Dull Hair: Our mothers and grandmothers slept in soup cans and curlers to wake up with gorgeous hair. Thankfully hair tool technology has changed a bit; however, it’s still a good idea to take some beautifying steps before bed. Night is a great time to apply a deep moisturizing hair conditioner. You’ll have to wash it out the next morning, but your tresses will look silky and shiny. When you aren’t deep conditioning, make sure your hair is pulled up while you sleep. Buns and high ponytails keep locks knot-free. If you’re hoping for beachy waves, try braiding your hair in three or more plaits. Upon awaking, just shake out the braids and spritz some texturizing spray.
Rough Heels: Especially during warmer months, a nighttime foot treatment will lead to perfect sandal-ready feet the next morning. For a head start, slough dry skin and callouses with pumice stone or foot file immediately after an evening bath or shower. Apply an ultra-moisturizing foot cream like Sally Hansen Intensive Overnight Heel Repair Cream, then slip moisturized feet into lightweight cotton socks. By morning, feet will be soft and smooth.
Ah, February. While many of us tend to think of the shortest month of the year as the season of love and romance, it’s also a month devoted to the heart in a very different way. February is American Heart Month. Bearing very sobering statistics, heart disease claims the lives of many every year and is the number 1 killer of women in the U.S. It’s also a disease that is largely preventable with diet, exercise, stress management, and physical rest. Not to minimize the diet and exercise part, we do know a thing or two about the latter. And, really, our heart-healthy tips are absolutely affordably-indulgent. (No tofu and carrot sticks here!)
For a healthier lifestyle, treat yourself to…
Have a Cup of (Green) Tea: With its powerful antioxidants, green tea is widely recommended by healthcare professionals for a number of health benefits. And, in fact, a recent study from the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation found that human blood vessels functioned better within 30 minutes of drinking a single cup. (Source: WebMD.) Besides being so relaxing, green tea is also an affordable luxury.
For about $10, pick up Keurig K-Cups featuring Bigelow Green Tea at Walmart.com or at your local store.
A Yoga Session: Yes, time is hard to come by but in as little as 12 weeks after incorporating yoga into your day, many see a reduction in cholesterol and lower blood pressure. (Source: American Heart Association.) As a bonus, you may experience a greater feeling of relaxation, leading to better sleep and rest.
Whether for cardio or relaxation benefits, you should always consult your own doctor before beginning an exercise regimen. When you are ready, the yoga set featured above garners rave reviews.
Read a Good Book or Begin a Journal: No matter your favorite book or magazine genre, simply taking a few minutes to read each day can reduce your stress level and, therefore, benefit your heart. The American Heart Association recommends finding just 15 minutes in your day to do something enjoyable, whether reading, having a cup of tea with friends, or writing in a journal.
Recording the day’s events or special memories in a journal like the one featured above both beats stress and creates a lasting memory to share with others or just yourself.
Enjoy Aromatherapy During a Relaxing Bath: When it comes to rest, relaxation, and better sleep, aromatherapy and a warm soak each evening can be the ultimate indulgence. Even for just a few minutes between the kids’ bedtime and your own, there’s plenty of time to reap the benefits of this lavish, beneficial stress management technique.
For the ultimate multi-tasker, try this lavender-scented bath product (less than $5!) to calm and relax for a better night’s sleep and, ultimately, greater stress management.
This year, instead of anticipating candy and chocolates for Valentine’s Day, celebrate good heart health with one or all of these feel-good ideas and products.