Want to sleep better? Stick your feet out of the covers

sleep-better

I don’t know about you but I like to sleep with the window open under a big, thick duvet. I don’t mind my face being a little cooler and I like to have fresh air circulating but I absolutely HAVE to have my duvet covering me. Regardless of the weather, from heat wave to cold snap – the only way I get a good sleep is to have my trusty duvet – if I get a little too hot, my leg comes out from the duvet.

Now, generally I sleep really well but I’m always interested in ways to sleep better…

Which is why this article in New York Magazine caught my eye. They suggest that to help you fall asleep faster and have a better quality of sleep, all you need to do is keep one foot or both feet outside of the blanket.

This is exactly how I manage to sleep with a big heavy duvet – the one leg out method.

Sleep researchers know that right before you fall asleep, your body temperature starts to drop; in the deepest stages of sleep, your body is at its coolest, about one or two degrees below normal. Some scientists believe cooler temperatures cause sleepiness, and although the pre-slumber cooling process happens naturally, there are a few things you can do to help it along, like taking a warm bath right before bed, for example. When you leave the tub, your body temperature rapidly cools, triggering that sleepy feeling. A warm beverage works the same way.

So, why feet? Feet contain blood vessels called the arteriovenous anastomosis, which — coupled with the lack of hair on the bottoms of your feet — are perfectly designed to help dissipate body heat.

So there we have it. If you want to sleep better – you’ve got to poke your feet out of the bed.

Do you do this?

1 Minute Poached Egg

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Well, I still have no kitchen! It’s not so bad actually, we have an electric wok, a microwave, a toaster and a george foreman grill so whilst coming up with healthy recipes is a challenge but totally do-able. In fact, after 4 weeks we’ve yet to resort to a micro ready meal {#impressed}.

Since it was a bank holiday on Monday, I fancied a bit of a simple, yet comforting breakfast that was QUICK (bank holiday’s are for tea, toast and magazines in bed if you ask me!) - only one thing could match that description – poached egg on toast!

But since we don’t have a hob, I had to turn to my humble microwave to sort it out – I know there are a lot of people who think the microwave is the devil (and before moving, I barely used one) but I’ve been doing my own research and found some interesting results – but that’s for another post.

Anyway, this is a very simple, 1 minute poached egg recipe – perfect if you’re in a rush or if you don’t fancy the fuss that poached egg usually brings (or if you’re like me and can never seem to make it work!).

What you need:
1 egg
Vinegar
Salt
A microwavable mug (< seriously, you don’t want one that will crack!)
A slotted spoon

The you simply fill a mug half way up, add salt and vinegar, crack your egg, gently pierce the yolk and pop in the microwave for a minute! Remove the egg with a slotted spoon, making sure the water is drained off and serve on warm, buttery toast.

DONE! The perfect busy girl breakfast.

The Supermarket With No Packaging…

One of the things that really gets my goat when it comes to food shopping is unnecessary packaging. I HATE seeing fresh veggies so shrink wrapped in plastic that you have no idea of the freshness of the product.  Not to mention all the waste! That plastic is getting dumped and therefore polluting our water, our soil, our oceans and harming wildlife. There is just no need for it!

So it was great to see this video (below) about a supermarket in Germany that’s done away with disposable packaging.

Now, let’s be honest, this isn’t a unique idea. Our grandparents didn’t have to contend with masses of plastics when buying their food.  They bought it direct from the source, at farmers markets or local shops. I remember there being a fabulous shop in Newport when I was a kid (not that long ago – honest) that served loose flours, cereals, nuts and dried fruits, so you only had to have (and pay for) what you needed.

So back to  Original Unverpackt, a supermarket whose ethos is to enforce a zero waste policy by not selling anything in disposable bags, jars or boxes. Take a look at these before and after shots – definitely food for thought…

BEFORE

AFTER

Like I’ve said, it’s not a new concept but it is one that needs to be revived and made mainstream. What do you think?

Eat your Way To Great Skin

Whilst its nice to have a dresser full of lotions and potions, real beauty starts from the inside.

There’s no point in spending £100′s of pounds on the latest anti-wrinkle cream if you’re going to fill your body full of junk food.

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This is a piece I wrote for Yahoo a few years ago but since they are starting to retire the old content, I thought that I’d share them with you…Try adding these super foods to your diet and eat your way to great skin…

Beetroot

Not only is beetroot a versatile veggie and adds a pop of colour to your plate but it’s also high in vitamin A, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E. Combined these make a great cleanser and clean your body from the inside meaning a nice clear outside.

Red Grapes

OK I’m not talking about pouring yourself a large glass of Pinot noir here, instead treat yourself to bunch of red grapes as they contain super powerful antioxidants and natural chemicals that act as an antihistamine to ease psoriasis, acne and eczema.

Avocado

Forget injecting yourself with chemicals, the simple avocado can help stimulate collagen in the skin and help the skin moisturise itself. Guacamole anyone?

Nuts

Nuts make a handy “on the go” snack but they’re also packed with selenium which helps fight infections. They’re also stuffed with vitamin E, magnesium, copper, iron and calcium. An essential super food to snack on for optimum health.

Tomatoes

Want taut and healthy skin? Then start making the most of tomatoes. Like avocados they aid collagen production but also contain lycopene that helps stimulate skin circulation for healthy, glowing skin.

Garlic

Eating loads of garlic may not be a good idea if you’re about to embark on a snog-a-thon but eating some raw garlic (chopped finely and added to your salad or even stored in to pasta sauces just before serving) will give your skin and your health a huge boost. Garlic contains allicin which when eaten can help kill harmful bacteria and viruses including skin infections – which makes it great for clearing up acne.

Brown Rice

Love rice? Then swap your white rice for brown and benefit from B vitamins, selenium and a host of antioxidants whilst regulating your sugar levels and increasing your energy levels.

Kale

Kale is a bit of a buzz food but don’t dismiss it as just another fad because kale contains a vast amount of vitamins A, B, complex C, E and K. But that’s not all, it’s also packed full of protein calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, magnesium, folate and phosphorus all of which meals a great tonic for clear skin. Try popping it in a smoothie for a great breakfast boost.

Artichoke

For glowing skin, artichokes are your best bet. Often used in cosmetics they are crammed with antioxidants that can help improve skin luminosity.

Nettles

These aren’t just a nuisance in the garden. Make up some nettle tea or soup and you’ll discover they have a side line as an anti-inflammatory, helping calm the skin and improve conditions such as acne and eczema.

Do you have any more tips?  (more…)

How To Stay Positive

When things are stacking up against you, I know how hard it can be to stay positive. Even if things seem like they are going well, sometimes all it takes is just one trigger for all that positivity and confidence to simply fall apart.

How to stay

I remember when I failed my driving test(s). The first time, I accepted that it was just one of those things, the second and third however, I did the grown up thing and just took myself to bed. Did it help? For about 5 minutes yes! But eventually, you have to get up and face the world so you may as well do that sooner than later.

Staying positive isn’t easy. It’s actually pretty hard work, our brains are hard wired to look for threats and when it finds one, it focuses on it. Threats can be perceived by the brain as being something as simple as worrying about a deadline – so you can be sure it happens to everyone.

There are times when you have to consciously choose to stay positive and you can train your brain to do so…

Here are three tips on training your brain to stay in positive mode…

Be Grateful.

Everyone is going to be faced by challenges whether it’s on a daily basis or once in a blue moon, we all have to deal with different shit. However, when things are going well, and there are positive things around you – it’s important to stop and take stock of these moments. Even if it’s something as small as having a choccie biscuit with your cup of tea.

Reflecting on the positive events in your life helps your brain store these moments up. Consider keeping a gratitude journal where you can write down your blessings as and when they come. Or maybe make it a weekly ritual that you start to document all the great things that you’ve actually got going on in your life. It doesn’t have to be long, drawn out essays, just keep it short, sweet and to the point.

Use affirmations.

Affirmations work on the basis that the more you hear something, the more you’re likely to believe it’s true. So if you’ve got a self confidence issue, standing in front of the mirror and telling yourself that you are worthy – works!

Try to chose at least two affirmations that represent you, your ethos and your goals.

I love this one from Tiny Buddah…

Keep your head up and your heart open.

Repeating your positive affirmations will help you make sense of and handle negative aspects of your life.

Don’t give in to negative thoughts

After my car accident earlier this year I had a week where I just felt awful. Not just in a physical sense but about everything. I didn’t want to get up, didn’t want to work and I didn’t want to even leave the house. I had to force myself to quit moping, get up and just get on with things.

Our brains zone in on negative thoughts, they expand them and can (at times) blow them out of all proportion. If you’re constantly worrying about something, those negative thoughts become bigger and badder.

A good tip I discovered was to try and distance yourself from the negative thoughts and look at them from an outsiders point of view. Observe it and then take practical steps to actually solving the problem.

So for example: rather than thinking “I’m a failure” try looking at it from the point of view of “I’ve worked really hard, this hasn’t worked out because of XYZ so what can I do to achieve my goal on the next attempt”.

It’s not easy to do but if you keep at it then you’ll start to look at things in a completely different way.

How do you stay positive?

image credit flickr

Words to Live By

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So sad to hear of the death of Robin Williams this morning. Such a talent and played such a huge part in what I saw growing up. The world will be a much blander place without him.

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world” ~  Dead Poets Society 1998

Equal Pay FOR ALL

I have a major issue about equal pay. It really grinds my gears to hear about women (or actually, anyone) receiving less pay for doing the exact same job as someone else.

Only a couple of days ago I was reading a piece in The Independent about how equal pay for women is actually about 60 years away. 60 YEARS!

Let that sink in and have a think about how old you or your children will be in that time! It’s a disgrace – right? According to the article, the gender pay gap currently stands at 19.7 per cent, with women earning only 80p for every £1 earned by men.

I don’t want to get too ranty but I wanted to share this video from Funny or Die where Christina Henricks (star of Mad Men) won’t work like a modern woman if she’s still getting paid like a woman living in the 1960s.

Modern Office with Christina Hendricks

Take a look…what do you think?

Happy National Watermelon Day

Thanks to Slim Paley for alerting me that it is indeed National Watermelon Day today!

Which is good news for me as watermelon has been on of my staples this week. Since I don’t have a kitchen yet (luckily, I have a toaster, microwave and grill so I’m not having to live on takeways) salads have been top of the menu for dinner almost every night.

So, in the spirt of National Watermelon Day I thought I’d share one of my favourite salads…

Watermelon & Feta Salad

All you need is:
• 180g feta, crumbled
• A bunch of mint, leaves only, any larger leaves torn
• 500g watermelon flesh, cut into chunks
• 1 small red onion, finely sliced
• Extra-virgin olive oil

Just combine all the ingredients in a bowl and serve with some freshly ground black pepper!

What’s your favourite way to serve watermelon? 

 

Make Your Own Butter

I love a good kitchen gadget. Especially one that means that I can make BUTTER!!

This week I tried out the Chef’n Butter maker…which is a great little gadget to help you make your own butter. It is seriously simple!

All you do is pour in some double cream, leave for 6-8 hours, shake for a couple of minutes and rinse with water and voila you’re left with butter.

You can then add in herbs and spices to make your own flavoured butter. I tested it out with some garlic butter which I then stuffed inside a chicken breast and baked in the oven – deliciously simple.

Home made garlic butter - recipe (and an easy trick) coming up on rachphillips.com in a few days ! #food

Check this blog post out for lots of flavour combos you could try…

How to Have A Stress Free Wardrobe {guest post}

Today I’ve got a great blog post from a real inspiration – Amy Corbin has just set up a new blog AmyCorbin.com and has thoughtfully shared her advice on having a stress free wardrobe.

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I don’t know about you but I’m guilty of having way too many clothes, moving house in the next couple of weeks is going to kick me in to action of getting rid so this post comes at the right time!

Anyway, over to Amy…

I don’t know if it’s a girl thing, or if it’s just my thing…but I used to be literally obsessed with having loads of clothes. 

The thought of not having lots of different outfit options was a scary one.

I know, it sounds ridiculous – right! But this obsession was making my life very complicated; I would spend about 2 days packing for a holiday, I would have to buy extra storage boxes to keep a winter wardrobe under my bed and it would take up to 2hrs and 4 outfit changes before I decided on what to wear before a night out, and yet I still didn’t feel good. 

Then I considered what it would be like to own fewer clothes… 

1. You would have more disposable income.

2. You would have more time to live your life.

3. Getting ready would be easy and stress-free.

4. You would be able to see everything you owned.

5. Packing for trips would be piece of cake.

6. Laundry days – you’d be wining! 

So I decided to give this a go, and boy do I not regret it. I realised that I was buying into the lie that more is better, and every season I was accumulating more and more clothes.

I was convinced that new clothes would bring joy, happiness and confidence. This may last for 1-2 days, but what happens when you’ve worn that new top a few times?? Yup, you go back out there a buy another one, and so the cycle continues.

So here is my challenge for you…Why not try a different a route with your life. Try owning fewer clothes, you will be surprised how much joy and freedom it brings.

Here are some steps you can take to living a clutter free wardrobe. 

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1. Admit you own too many clothes. This is the biggest step of them all.

2. Wear fewer clothes.  Most of us already have a favourite colour that compliments our skin tone best, why not only own clothes that make you look a million dollars.

3. Embrace the idea 5.  5 dresses, 5 jeans, 5 tops, 5 skirts – trust me this is more than enough for you to mix and match your perfect wardrobe. I now only own 40 items, that’s 330 items less than I use to own. 

4. Remove your clothes. You need to get the clothes out of your house; donate, sell, discard, whatever you need to do just get them out. This is a tough one, my rule was if I hadn’t worn something in the last 5 months it was a goner. 

5. Get over your shopping habit. For most of us, shopping is an addiction or habit. To begin breaking the cycle of shopping you need to go cold turkey for a while, I recommend 90 days of keeping that credit card in your wallet.

6. Set yourself a limit. You need to set yourself a monthly spending limit, pick a low number and stick to it. 

7. Buy quality over quantity. Only buy clothes that are good quality, they’ll make you feel better than buying 50 £7 Primark dresses.

8. AVOID SALES! The are just plain dangerous. 

Impress people with your character, not your clothes. 

REMEMBER: “People won’t notice old clothes if you wear a big smile” :)

image via ifashioncopenhagen.tumblr.com

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