Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Benefits of Sleep (and how to get a good nights)

It's amazing the amount of people I speak to who get by on 6 hours sleep a night. Some people can survive on this with no problems, but if you are feeling tired during the day, your immune system is low  or you notice you are feeling mentally foggy, then you may need more. Most people need an average of 8 hours a night to function properly.

When we sleep, our body performs a series of tasks that it cannot do as effectively during the day - tissue and muscle repair, the release of hormones that regulate growth and appetite control and memory consolidation to name a few. If we cut our sleep short, we are definitely cutting ourselves short in the health department.

So how to get a good nights sleep?

Watch what you eat...

Truffle Gnocchi with Mushroom Ragu
Image via Simply Delicious

Foods contain all the chemical compounds our bodies need to function effectively. Eating a varied and balanced diet is essential to ensuring we provide ourselves with an array of nutrients to get the best from our health. Both carbohydrates and protein are essential in providing the amino acid tryptophan which is essential for sleep, and so ensuring you get some of each throughout the afternoon and evening is a great start. Forget the "no carbs in the evening or i'll get fat" mantra - its simply not true if you stick to sensible portions and include loads of veg. Every naturally occurring food group has a place in our diet. Think eggs on toast with wilted spinach or fish, rice and steamed veg. 

We all know this one, but i'll say it again - avoid caffeine in the afternoon and sugar before bed. We all have different tolerances, if I have a coffee after lunchtime I don't sleep properly, so if you are having any trouble with your sleep quality, you may want to look at removing or reducing the stimulants.

Set the scene...

Image via Naima Barcelona
My mother-in-law always says that you can skimp on some things, but sheets are not one of them. Several sets of high quality, high thread count, cotton sheet set christmas presents later, I totally agree with her (I love you M.I.L). 

Getting a good nights sleep is about being in an environment that encourages relaxation. So before the sheets should really come the mattress. 

I bought a new Sleepmaker mattress  just after Stella was born (if I wasn't going to be getting much sleep, I was going to make damn sure that the sleep I did get was quality!) - two years later I still crawl into bed every night and breath a sigh of contentment - it feels like I'm sleeping on clouds.  The recommendation is that you get a new mattress every 10 years. 

A calming colour scheme will also help the body to relax - think greens, blues and whites. Its also a good idea to de-clutter your bedroom - keep a basket that you can throw clothes into and make your bed in the morning. Coming into a fresh and lovely sanctuary after the madness of a toy-strewn lounge room is quite literally bliss - and its your space. 

Beating the mind chatter...

The Benefits of Sleep (and how to get a good night's)
Image by Chamomile and Peppermint

Carried out all of the above to find you have turned out the lights but are contending with your brain telling you of the myriad of things you have to get done tomorrow, or about the bills that need to be paid, or about that dirty-rat boyfriend who stayed out all night and didn't ring to let you know where he was? Mind chatter is a sleep killer and sometimes we need a little help. 

There are some beautifully gentle and relaxing herbs that can help you out. Valerian, passionflower, hops, oat straw and chamomile are all known to help with sleep and can be sourced from your health food shop. Just have a chat to the staff first so they can ask you a few questions. If you are really having trouble with sleep, go and see your naturopath so that they can work out a diet and lifestyle plan and prescribe you with the herbs that are best suited to your situation. 

Sweet dreams!

   Emma xxx

This post was sponsored by Sleepmaker. All information in this post is true and from my honest opinions.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Home Exteriors - Terracotta Roof Tiles

I spend so much time thinking about house interiors that I forget to ever talk about what's on the outside. Maybe it's being a renter.  I have more control over what I can change on the inside of my home, however I am a total Grand Designs addict and have a folder full of cut-outs of houses I love and so would know exactly what I would choose should I ever build or renovate.

I know colourbond is basically an Aussie icon - but I adore the look of terracotta roof tiles with all the little extra twiddly bits and they way they age - green and alive. Whether it's reminiscent of tuscan style villas, or Australian federation cottages, I think it is such a warm, earthy material to use. Team it with a cottage garden and you have me sold.

The word "terracotta" is actually Italian for "baked earth" and the materials used to make terracotta today is much the same as it has been over thousands of years over many continents.

Perfect for the warm Australian climate, terracotta is slow to warm, keeping a house cooler in summer and it breathes, allowing for fresh air to enter and leave. They are also super durable.

What's your favourite exterior style?

   Emma xxx

Monier "Marseille Earth" Terracotta roof tiles - The Block
Image via Monier "The Roofing Specialists" 

Image via Bungalow 5

An Australian Federation Home designed by Ussher & Kemp, built in 1905
Image via Federation Home

Image via Moonlight Rainbow

Australian Federation House with terracotta roof tiles by Monier "The Roofing Specialists" 
Image Via Monier "The Roofing Specialists" 

Terracotta rooftops in Italy
Image via Travel Blog

Janes Delicious Cottage Garden
Image via Garden Drum

For more info on roof tiles in Australia, contact our sponsor, Monier, "The Roofing Specialists".
Their terracotta tiles come with a 50 year performance guarantee.

This was a paid post.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Behind The Design - Jacinta from Muskwood Wallpaper and Textiles

Ok lovelies, I am very excited to share my latest discovery with you!

Whilst trawling the internet the other week for something totally irrelevant, I fatefully came across a picture of the most amazing wallpaper. Upon doing a little hunting, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was created by a small Sydney based company called Muskwood. Upon delving deeper on the Muskwood site, I found even more incredible designs than the one I had first stumbled on and thought to myself 'I have got to find out more about these guys' so that I could share them with you.

Muskwood are based in the stunning sea-side hamlet of Palm Beach, Sydney. No wonder inspiration abounds. I got in contact with Jacinta Sullivan, the creative force behind Muskwood and she kindly agreed to answer a few questions....

Muskwood Wallpaper and Textiles

What made you decide to go into wallpaper design?

I was studying Interior Design at Enmore (Sydney Design Centre) and a subject required us to find a used or recycled object and turn it into a wallpaper repeat using Indesign. It was for a design competition with the Power House Muesum. There were 20 designs chosen from our school and mine was one of them. I really enjoyed the whole process and that is where the seed of doing wallpaper design was planted. 
I love interior design, colour, illustration and wallpaper design incorporates all this.

Muskwood Wallpaper and Textiles Australia

How do you describe your designs?

Everything is illuatrated by hand, so the wallpaper designs are more like artworks, rather than just patterns.  I always start the design process with a concept or philosophy that gives meaning to my designs. The environment and other cultures are good sources of inspiration. "Natural Segue" my first collection was used as a concept to encapsulate the indigenous culture and its connections to natural environment. The designs are of a symbolic and spiritual nature and their meanings hope to act as a reminder of time before present.

Muskwood Wallpaper and Textiles Australia - Standing Arrows

Can you let us in on a little about your design background?

My love of drawing started when I was a little girl, and this love affair with the arts and travelling, took me on many adventures all over the globe, allowing my career to venture down many creative paths.   

I have applied my versatility and talents to more than one discipline, including designing and sewing for a fashion label, screen printing and residential styling in California, director of a mid-century modern furniture boutique and studying Interior Design at Sydney Design Centre. All the while, I think I was neglecting my biggest natural talent of Illustrating, because I had grown up with the idea that artists didn't make any money. Since discovering pattern design as a design discipline, I feel like I have finally found the creative direction which encompasses all of my skills and work experience so far. 

Muskwood Wallpaper and Textiles Australia - Birds of Prey

and you'll soon be expanding in textiles?

Yes! I have a few little design products up my sleeve, I am just in the developing stage at the moment. The textiles will be sold per meter and also made into cushions and upholstered one-off pieces of vintage furniture.

Muskwood Wallpaper and Textiles Australia - Neo classical grey

What does your own home look like?

My partner, our dog and I, live in a cottage up in the trees! My backyard is the national park, its very beautiful.
I like to keep my interiors quite minimal with a few select pieces of mid-century furniture, records, persian rugs and one or two pieces of art. The pieces of furniture in our house have all been found in odd places and restored and re-upholstered to their former glory. We also have timber Alaia surfbords and hand planes floating around, as my boyfriend designs and shapes them by hand. 

Muskwood Wallpaper and Textiles Australia - Pheonix

Do you think its important to live in a beautiful and individual space?

Yes, I think its important to start and end your day in a space where you feel inspired, comfortable and secure. On weekends it should be a place where you can invite your friends and family around or just a pleasurable place to hangout in.

Muskwood Wallpaper and Textiles Australia - Chic Chaw

Do you have any decorating tips for our lovely readers?

I dont belive your home has to be worth millions of dollars to be beautiful.
Certain things help; like having a northerly aspect or lots of direct sunlight, lots of windows to create good airflow, clean and natural finishes (eg, concrete or timber floors) and a few pieces of furniture and decorative items which you love (and lots of indoor plants too). Keeping it very minimal helps! 
Colour, textures and pattern are the elements which I think, really express a persons individuality/ style and they could be in the form of cushions, wallpaper, upholstered furniture, rugs, art and lighting.
These decor items, especially wallpaper and rugs, can transform a room in seconds and the great thing is, they are easily removeable and changeable. I think its really cool when you look around your space and everything in there has a story to tell.

Muskwood Wallpaper and Textiles Australia - Native Tongues Feathers

Where can we find Muskwood products?

You can buy directly from the website or in the Muskwood studio in Palm Beach, Sydney.

Monday, February 10, 2014

February Healthy Recipe Round-up

I feel like I haven't posted a recipe in quite a while and so have decided to do a round-up of some awesome food porn I have been pinning recently here.

As a naturopath in training, my real passion lies in food. I love food that is highly nutritious but also scrumptious and satisfying. I believe we should enjoy cooking and eating as a part of everyday life, all in moderation but not forcing ourselves to be purists (unless thats your thing and it make you happy).

You can follow my food board if you are on pinterest as there are so many yummy things I keep here and I find it the best inspiration for keeping things fresh in the kitchen. All of these recipes are from amazing foodie blogs so make yourself a cuppa and have a browse if you have a few moments to yourself. Why not cook something new this week?

   Emma xxx

 1. Sea salt and Vinegar Sweet Potato Chips via Undressed Skeleton
2. Labneh via Frugal Feeding

 3. Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup via Food & Wine
4. Toasted Seasame Ginger Salmon via How Sweet It Is

5. Inner Goddess Detox Salad via Iowa Girl Eats
6. Coconut Lime and Chia Pudding via Lush Loves

Do you have a recipe you would like to submit? I would love to share it! Contact me here.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Behind The Label - Lana Becker from Desvalido Lingerie

Stuck on Valentines Day ideas? I've found the perfect gift. The gorgeous creations at Desvalido Lingerie and handmade one-offs by designer Lana Becker in Newcastle, NSW.

The lovely Lana has had a chat about herself and her label -

Desvalido AU Lingerie - Handmade Couture Lingerie for Australia
My Alter Ego Blue and Gold Silk Soft Cup Negligee $99

- Hi Lana, tell us a little about yourself and your label?

I’m 20 years old, mostly from the Central Coast of NSW. I’m now based in Newcastle, with a diploma of applied fashion design & technology. I started Desvalido while I was still at TAFE, creating one-offs & small dress collections as a bit of fun, now it’s in the phase of becoming a nice business that will hopefully keep me busy enough to avoid a day job! I have too much fun as a lingerie designer, even my days off are spent experimenting in my home studio, so I guess that makes me a workaholic. I’ll always find time for relaxing baths & my fur-babies!

Desvalido AU Lingerie - Handmade Couture Lingerie for Australia
Sleep Bralette | Available in black, beige or pink  $25

- Where does the name come from?

It’s sort of a funny story! I’d been trying to think of something that I felt represented myself & my views on fashion, one day I was translating words into other languages on google & I thought "yes underdog, that’s definitely me!” … Convert that to Spanish = Desvalido … Convert desvalido back to English = destitute… Unfortunately for me I was already in love with the name so it stuck!

Desvalido AU Lingerie - Handmade Couture Lingerie for Australia
My Alter Ego | Gold Silk French Knickers $39

- Can you tell us a little about the different styles?

One thing I love to encourage is trying new things, as opposed to the typical bra & brief set. I have a few little collections out at the moment, my silk range is sort of hardcore-meets-Cinderella. It’s extra special to me because it was my first, & there is a vintage edge you won’t find in a lot of Australian stores, especially the knickers! Then there is my sleepwear range, which I’m still adding to. I wanted to create good looking summer pyjamas instead of singlet tops that make me look like a blob! So it’s basically cute underwear that you can sleep in, comfortably & attractively. The style of that one is very young & playful. My new range is Be Mine, brought out as a little Valentine’s Day treat (this is where trying new things will really come in handy!) I went a little bit bondage with this one, but the beauty of it is that it can be worn so many ways. I feel it’s a transition range for customers that might not have ventured into the world of cup-less bras & sheer underpants, but it’s not as hard to pull off as you’d think- confidence wise. Each item comes in black or white so there are so many different ways you can style them. 

Desvalido AU Lingerie - Handmade Couture Lingerie for Australia
Be Mine | Frame Bra $35

- What sizes do you cater for?

At the moment I cater for ladies size 6 to 16 & from A cups to D cups. I’m hoping to expand as soon as I can learn & perfect those bigger bust sizes, I get asked all the time!

Desvalido AU Lingerie - Handmade Couture Lingerie for Australia
My Alter Ego Silk Push Up Bustier $69

- Why would Desvalido make the perfect Valentines Day gift?

To me, Valentine’s Day was always a celebration of myself & why I am loveable. I often hear customers say “I did not think that would look on me but it did, I’ll take it!”. Desvalido is about feeling confident & looking good, which makes it a gift that a couple can both enjoy in different ways.

Desvalido AU

Desvalido AU Lingerie - Handmade Couture Lingerie for Australia

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Inside The Home of Elsie from A Beautiful Mess

A Beautiful Mess is one of my favourite blogs for awesome DIY, crafting, recipes and home inspiration.

Started by Elsie in 2007, then joined by best-friend Emma in 2010, this blog now employs Laura and Trey to help with the load. These guys are serious bloggers and are good at it. It's actually really inspiring to read about their journey and what they have achieved.

Today we are going to have a look inside Elsie's home which speaks tomes about her quirky, creative retro style and love of DIY, recycling and all things bright.

This post is also laden with awesome DIY links back to A Beautiful Mess so that you can recreate some of your fave bits or scout a little more of the ABM style!

Love it?

Emma xxx

 Elsie's front porch is a space created to enjoy a morning coffee or an evening glass of wine. She attributes the greenery to making the place "come alive" and created the hanging planters herself. Cushions were handmade and you can find the tutorial here.

The living room is based on bright furniture and personal accessories against a neutral white backdrop. This increases the amount of natural light from the gorgeous window and makes the colours pop! You can check out more here.

The mantle is a real feature of the living room. Elsie changes this space often, but it currently houses a blown up blueprint copy of a photo she has taken herself surrounded by black triangles for a graphic look. The gorgeous yellow and white flowers in recycled bottles echo the other colours in the room and Elsie admits she has to be careful of her over collecting leading to clutter (I have absolutely no idea what she is talking about).

In her bedroom, Elsie has HANDPAINTED!!! a feature wall behind her bed. It looks fantastic and I have to grant her total kudos for patience. It took three days but she says it was her favourite project to date. See the tutorial here. The pops of yellow in the lamps make it even more fun.

Nice wallpaper? Nope, Elsie hand stamped this feature wall in her kitchen to look like little clementines. Doesn't it give this room such a sunny feel? I love the green door and salmon chair that mimic the colours in the paint. For more of Elsie's kitchen click here and for the clementine wall tutorial click here.

Elsie's dining room had had an impressive makeover from when they first moved into the house. You can see some great before and after shots here. The table was a DIY job and you can find here. The chairs were all bought second hand and painted yellow. The feature lighting was also DIY genius and this repetition of shapes is echoed by the hooks on the picture rail.

This feature in the hall is another clever and cheap alternative to wallpaper. Elsie created this with a handmade stencil and paint pen. Find the how to here.

Finally I had to include this one of the laundry. I love the peach with the black and white accents, but most of all I love how Elsie took the boring out of whitegoods by decorating them with electrical tape. Creative DIY at its best :)