Tag Archives: Tips and tricks

Beat Insomnia with These Herbs

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Counting sheep again? Insomnia plagues millions of Americans, so know that when you’re wide awake and staring at the ceiling at 2 a.m., you are not alone. If lack of sleep due to stress (and not because of a medical issue) is affecting your sleep, consider going the natural route. For some, herbs can provide enough relaxation to catch up on missed beauty sleep. Here are nine to try.

For years, Passionflower has been used to treat anxiety and sleep irregularities. The herb contains Flavanoids, which help relax nerves, making it one of the top choices to treat insomnia. Available in tea, capsules, or tincture.

Valerian root has long been used to remedy sleep disorders and is considered safe in small doses. You can find valerian at your neighborhood health food store, and some drug stores sell the herb too. You can tell valerian by its putrid odor.

Most often used in combination with valerian, hops has a sedative effect, and that could be all your body needs to fall asleep.


Even the scent of lavender is enough to relieve sleeplessness for some insomniacs. Try a lavender tea, massage essential oil into your skin, or add it to your bath water.


California Poppy is a natural sedative. This sleep-promoting herb will ease your mind until you drift off into dreamland.


While chamomile might not be potent enough to address chronic cases of insomnia, it does have a mild tranquilizing effect for those occasional sleepless nights.

Have you had any luck with herbs for insomnia?

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Give Your Bedroom a Good Spring Cleaning

Post by Tracy Kaler.


Photo by Clean Design

Daylight is lingering, flowers are blooming, and robins are chirping. In case you didn’t know– we’re well into spring. If you haven’t given spring cleaning any thought, shame on you! Now is the time to refresh your bedroom before temperatures heat up. We still have a good two months left of the season, so get busy and start your spring cleaning with this list.

Edit first.
Find a place for any item that doesn’t have one yet (in a closet, in a drawer, stored under the bed), and donate all those items that you don’t need or wear any longer. A good edit will give you a great sense of accomplishment and prep the space to be cleaned.

Dust the walls.
I bet you’ve never cleaned your walls, have you? Take a dust mop and run it up and down the walls, including up at the ceiling line. Get on that ladder of you must.

Vacuum everywhere.
Sweep all those tough-to-reach places like corners and around door casings, lamp shades, and upholstery. After vacuuming, any upholstered furniture that still appears worn or dirty should be professionally cleaned, or perhaps recovered (see the next point).

Clean and spruce up fabrics.
Wash all bedding (that means the bedcovering, shams, and mattress pad too), and what you can’t launder, send it out to get professionally cleaned. If you have any other upholstered furniture, window treatments as well as area rugs or carpeting in the bedroom, now’s the time to call in a professional and get those cleaned too. Notice some tattered fabrics? Spring is an ideal season to recover those older pieces.

Wash down woodwork, floors, and all furnishings including lamps and accessories.
Opt for a mild cleaner like Murphy’s Oil Soap. Be sure to give your wood floors a deep cleaning and use a touch-up pen or Old English to cover scratches. If you have stone in the room, use a stone cleaner. An all-purpose cleaner from Method works wonders on many materials.

Don’t forget the mirrors, art, and windows.
Windex mirrors and art, as well as windows (inside and out) so the exterior looks brighter, which will, in turn, make the interior of your bedroom shine too.

Add a scent.
Light a candle, spray your favorite fragrance, or purchase potpourri. Lavender and sage work especially well in a bedroom.

Happy spring!



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5 Important Questions to Ask Before You Add a Master Suite

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Photo by ICF Custom Homes

Is sleeping in a tiny bedroom getting you down? I understand. I’ve lived in small bedrooms (in a studio apartment, no less) and large bedrooms where I had more than enough space for a queen bed and a sofa, and I must say that I prefer the latter. I like to relax in my bedroom and use it, not just sleep there, so a generous space works for me. If you’ve dreamt about that sprawling bedroom and decided to pull the trigger and add a master suite, here are five important questions to answer before you pull the trigger.

Is there a viable place to add a master suite?
Decide where and if you have a viable place for an addition in your home. Can you use an attic or basement space? Do you have the potential to go up with a second floor? Or perhaps you can bump out the back or side of your home, depending on lot size and setbacks. Figure out if and where a master suite would be possible.

How much do I have to spend?
Once you’re serious about adding a master bedroom suite, figure out your budget. Create an itemized list per room (bedroom, bathroom, etc). You might need a design/build firm to help you with planning, and then you should have a better idea what the project will cost and what you can afford. You might not be able to do the entire project at once, in which case, you could do it in stages.

Do I need a sitting area?
If you imagine relaxing evenings by the fire while reading the next bestseller, then you might like a sitting area, and with a fireplace too. That needs to be part of the plan early on, as well as a line item in the budget. If you only use your bedroom for sleeping, then you can disregard this point.

Will I reuse furnishings or buy new?
Reworking your furniture will save you time (shopping) and money. If your heart is set on some fabulous new pieces, start thinking about the overall look or theme and add another line item to that budget. Remember, of all the furnishings in the bedroom, a comfy bed that works for you is most important.

Do I want an outdoor space?
Depending on where your master suite is located, you might be able to have a patio or deck attached to it. Outdoor spaces have become more the norm for master bedrooms, and if that’s a priority, include the outdoor space in your overall plans from the get-go. Itemize it as a room because you’ll need to select finishes, and furnish it just like the interior.


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Bedroom Design: How to Avoid a Cookie Cutter Bedroom

Post by Tracy Kaler.

West Village: One Bedroom Condominium Organization

It’s easy to order every piece of furniture, lamp, and accessory from a one-stop shop, but that wouldn’t be much fun, now would it? Days of bedroom suits are long gone, and the most impressive and well-designed rooms show a selection of pieces, often borrowed from different periods of history and created by designers and furniture makers from around the globe. If you feel as if you’re in a decorating rut, then this post is for you. Read on for tips how to avoid a cookie cutter bedroom. Spoiler: It’s easier than you think.

Don’t buy matching furniture.
Selecting two different bedside tables or nightstands is completely acceptable if not preferred in some instances. Choose a drawered nightstand for one side of the bed and a small table or side chair for the other.

Shop flea markets.
Browse local yard sales, antique markets, and gently used furniture stores for affordable finds and one-of-kind items. You’ll be amazed at the cool furnishings that someone else doesn’t want or need.

Hip Child

Mix vintage with modern.
Combining styles isn’t everyone’s forte, but start with a design magazine or two for ideas. Pairing an antique bed with modern artwork provides a nice contrast, as does placing that one Scandinavian chair with great lines in the corner. Take chances and play with your room. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t after a little trial and error.

Layer fabrics.
A solid bed covering works well with a textured throw and patterned pillows. Window treatments can be a bold floral or a soft, neutral sheer.

Upper East Side Apartment

Mix woods.
Your furniture doesn’t need to be the same wood color as your floors. Don’t be afraid to pair a blond wood with a rich dark tone.

Find unique art.
Shop Etsy for unusual pieces by local artists. Hang posters and postcards. And if framed art isn’t in your budget? Try making your own. Pick up a pen or a paintbrush – take to paper and get creative!

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5 Bedtime Beverages to Help You Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Having trouble sleeping again? You’re not alone. Per the National Institutes of Health, about 30 percent of people have sleep issues, including some degree of insomnia. Not only does the amount and quality of sleep affect your mood and productivity, but a lack of sleep is downright dangerous for your health, especially if you’re sleep deprived for weeks or months.

While there are plenty of natural remedies that can help you get to sleep and stay asleep, you need to find one that works for you. The next time you’re wide awake at midnight, try one of these bedtime beverages.


Cherry Juice

It’s not an old wives’ tale that tart cherry juice can help you sleep better. As a matter of fact, drinking two 8-ounce servings daily (one in the morning and one in the evening) reduces the likelihood of insomnia because cherries are an excellent source of melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate circadian rhythm.

Sleepytime Tea from Celestial Seasonings

This herbal tea’s name says it all. A blend of chamomile, spearmint, lemongrass, and orange blossoms will surely have you snoozing like a baby.

Warm milk

Because it’s high in the amino acid, Tryptophan (known to promote restful sleep), sipping a glass of warm milk about two hours before bedtime should make drifting off a no-brainer. Add a teaspoon of honey for flavor.

Coconut water

Because it contains potassium and magnesium, this energy drink will help your muscles relax, which in turn, will help you relax.

Valerian tea

Valerian is a herb that’s commonly used to treat sleep disorders. Doctors often recommend Get Some Zzz’s from the Republic of Tea. Brew yourself a cup about an hour before you hit the hay.

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