Things We Like: The Sound of Sleep

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

What sound do you hear when you think about falling asleep? Is it the sound of your ceiling fan whirring above, or a noisy heater in another room? Maybe it’s car horns, or other noises from the streets below. Whatever comes to mind, chances are it isn’t complete silence. While you may think that complete silence is the best thing to hear when you’re lying in bed right before drift-off, there are a number of studies that show certain sounds help us sleep better; that silence isn’t necessarily golden when you’re asleep.

Even while your asleep, your brain processes sound to varying degrees depending on your own sensitivity and the type of noise perceived. Some people may be able to sleep through a fire alarm, while others will awaken at the sound of a floorboard creaking on the other side of the house. The type of sound can also aid or disrupt sleep depending on whether it is an alarming sound, like a fire alarm, or a relaxing sound, like waves crashing onto the beach.

Since everyone is different, it’s important to find out what type of sounds relax your mind while sleeping and which ones do not. Below, are several different types of noise that people generally find relaxing. You’ll have to experiment a bit to figure out which one works for you, but it can pay off handsomely once you know.

White Noise is created by combining all the available sound frequencies together into one, similar to how white light is the product of all the other colors in the visible spectrum. Since white noise contains all frequencies, it is often used to mask other sounds. A ceiling fan is a good example of white noise that is commonly used as a sleep aid to drown out unwanted noises. There are also white noise generators that can create the “perfect” white noise, and are generally available for listening online.

Nature Sounds are another popular type of noise to fall asleep to. Whether you prefer the sound of rainfall, waves crashing against the shoreline, birds or wind chimes sounding, or crickets chirping in the night, many people find that listening to the sound of nature helps them sleep better. Additionally, you may find that certain sounds are better for blocking out different types of unwanted noise. For example, rainfall is better at blocking out household noises like appliances.

Music has long been a favorite type of noise to fall asleep to, though it may not actually help you sleep as much as it makes you happy to listen to your favorite band. If you’re goal of listening to music before bed is to actually sleep better, then you should consider very down-tempo, “chill” tracks, like the kind of music you would expect to hear at a massage salon.

Silence some people can’t stand the sound of anything when they are falling asleep, and if you’re this type of person then you have a bit of work cut out for you. Sound proof windows, well-insulated walls, and tuned-up in a very remote location are about all that’s going to

When using sound for better it’s important to experiment and figure out which sounds works best for you. If you’re looking for sleep-inducing sounds, try listening to playlists available through Internet radio stations like Pandora, Spotify, or LastFM for inspiration. And, as noted earlier, you may even find that certain sounds help you sleep better for different occasions, like if the neighbors are being loud one night, or you suddenly can’t stop focusing on the sound of the refrigerator.

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Breakfast in Bed: Mardi Gras Beignets

Post by Alison Hein.

Shimmery, jewel-toned costumes; exotic bird-like glittering faces; fantastical winged creatures dancing on air – I was snapping photos like crazy at the Grand Mardi Gras parade in Marigot, St. Martin. Not caught on film were the pulsing, thumping rhythm of the crew bands; the beating of traditional wooden drums; the keening of lustered conch shell trumpets; or the tantalizing, honey-sweet to spicy-savory scents of festival food.

After the parade, Kevin and I roamed the temporary alleys formed by vendor carts and tents. We purchased a handful of Mardi Gras Beignets from a grey-haired local woman. She fried them up fresh for us – perfect delicate spheres, lightly dusted in sweet, white sugar. The outside of each beignet was delicate and warm, the inside subtly sweet with a hint of fragrant spice.

Home from our trip, I was determined to replicate our beignet experience. The recipe I found on the St. Martin Tourist Office website seemed a good place to start (see below for address). Try as I might, my beignets turned out looking more like doughy squids and dolphins than the flawless festival rondures in St. Martin. Still, they were light and sweet, lavishly spiced and citrusy – a festive Mardi Gras breakfast in bed.

Ingredients
Oil for frying (4 to 6 cups)
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups flour
4 eggs
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon rum (optional)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Powdered sugar

Equipment
Deep-fry or candy thermometer

Preparation
Pour oil at least 2 inches deep into a small, heavy pan. Heat over medium heat to approximately 350°. Add water, sugar, butter, and salt to a second heavy saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the butter has melted. Remove from heat, and whisk in flour until batter is well-mixed and smooth. Place pan back over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until dough begins to thicken and pull away from sides of pan, about one to two minutes. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Add the grated lemon rind, vanilla, rum, cinnamon and nutmeg into the flour mixture. Stir until batter is thick and smooth, resembling a thick pancake batter.

Using 2 spoons, carefully drop a scant tablespoon of batter into the hot oil for each beignet. Cook about six beignets at a time, allowing oil to retain its temperature. Turn the beignets several times while frying, until they have reached a deep golden brown color, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove beignets from pan and drain on paper towels. Toss with powdered sugar (I use a small paper bag) while still warm. Serve immediately.

Makes about 2 dozen beignets.

NOTE: Monitor oil with candy thermometer to maintain stable temperature.

Adapted from the St. Martin Tourist Office website recipe for Mardi Gras Fritters (http://www.stmartinisland.org/st-martin-focus-of-the-month/93-specials/369-stmartin-culinaryspecialties.html).

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Bedroom Design: Kiddos

Post by Erin Sears.

It’s vacation week at my day job, but even when I’m away, I’m still thinking about the kids. I know a lot of families who took great care in preparing a nursery for their lovely little miracle, but once the kid got older, the design part of the room got kind of lost. Raising kids will wear you out (with love and other stuff).

Here are a few ideas for super awesome kid rooms to give your little one a special place that feels just like home. Be aware that professional decorators created most of the rooms in these examples and they may feel a little far from your current life. Don’t worry- you don’t have to be an overachiever to gain a great space. These photos exist to inspire, so let’s glean the best from them!

KIDTASTIC ROOM #1:

Art!

Source: http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/american-pastoral-miranda-brooks-and-bastien-halard-brooklyn-home/#/magazine-gallery/miranda-brooks-brooklyn-house/10

Every kid is born an artist. Honor their good works in the landscape of their own room. If you value their art, they will value their art. What is valued persists.

KIDTASTIC ROOM #2

Color!

Source: http://mamamekko.blogspot.com/

Children aren’t afraid to use color and you shouldn’t be either. I recommend painting rooms in vibrant shades, but if that isn’t practical in your home, why not add colorful furniture and art?

KIDTASTIC ROOM #3

The Good Stuff!

Source: http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/american-pastoral-miranda-brooks-and-bastien-halard-brooklyn-home/#/magazine-gallery/miranda-brooks-brooklyn-house/10

I believe that kids deserve REAL furniture. When it’s time for a big kid bed, go for it! This blue iron beauty of a bed is kid friendly heirloom material. You’ll keep it and use it FOREVER.

KIDTASTIC ROOM #4

Elements of Joy and Whimsy!

Source: pinterest user Jonathan Lo/happymundane

Kids are fun. Decorating should be too. Don’t forget that your audience is really your child. Be a little silly. PLAY. You won’t regret it.

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Bedtime Stories: Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Adam Rex.

You know what is annoying? When parents make all kinds of unreasonable demands on their children. And what’s even worse than that? When they go making completely unbelievable threats like, “Do your homework or I’m sending you to the moon.” Or, “Don’t make faces or one day that face will stick.” In Twitters family, it’s always, “Billy, take out the trash or we’re buying you a blue whale.” Or, “Billy, eat your vegetables or we’re buying you a blue whale.” Which is of course a RIDICULOUS threat because nobody in his right mind is going to burden a kid with a real live, full-grown blue whale!

So, maybe Billy’s parent’s are in their right minds because what do you think Billy saw staring through his window one morning? That’s right: the giant eye of a blue whale. Not only that, but Billy couldn’t leave the whale at home; it’s his responsibility. And to make matters worse, his teacher was so excited by the whale’s presence he decided to devote the class to a study on cetology, when they were SUPPOSED to watch a movie in class. It wasn’t Billy’s fault, but the kids all blamed him.

Adam Rex and Mac Barnett have teamed up for another hilarious story. I am personally in love with Adam Rex and his attention to little details. Like the fact that Billy put the whale on a skateboard before trying to pull him up the hill to school on his bike:

It’s fun. It’s silly. It’s totally worth a read.

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Bedtime Stories: Chicken Soup With Rice

Post by Mark T. Locker.

I had a little blast from the past this morning when my son was given a little box set of Maurice Sendak books, including “Chicken Soup With Rice” and “Alligators All Around”. I had the same box set as a child as well at the Really Rosie record, in which Carole King sang versions of the books. Thanks to the magic of Spotify, I can revisit the musical versions of these songs. For me I cannot disassociate “Chicken Soup With Rice” from Carole King’s musical interpretation. But my demanding son was very disapproving of me every time I drifted into singing the words.

“Pierre” is fun to read; it’s a cautionary tale about a boy who only says “I don’t care”. So, he gets eaten by a lion. It’s also fun because every other line (practically) is “I don’t care” so I just have my son say that line over and over and over. I just hope it doesn’t carry over into real life as well.

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