Friday, May 13, 2016

The Dos and Don'ts of Burning Candles

I think burning a candle in your home is one of the simplest pleasures of adulthood. Gone are the days when your R.A. or boss demands you use a candle warmer; there’s nothing quite like the ambiance an open flame provides. When it comes to candles, if you want to let it burn for fifty-eleven days, um-teen hours there are some ground rules you should follow.

DO: The first and most important rule of candle care is the one that inspired me to write this post. I’ve been burning candles for way too long without realizing the first burn is insanely important as it determines the life of the rest of your candle. The first burn is called a “memory burn.” Since wax tends to follow the same patterns, the amount that you allow the top to liquify the first time is as far as it will reach in the future. You may know this frustration if you’ve had a candle that only burns down and not out; the biz refers to that as “tunneling.” Don’t let this happen to your candles, especially if you bought them at Anthropologie (because $).

DON’T: Don’t underestimate how long the “memory burn” will take, otherwise you’ll have to stay up later than intended watching Parks & Rec reruns while waiting for the top of the candle to completely liquify. I mean, I’m guessing that’s what would happen… The memory burn usually takes one hour per inch of diameter in the candle, so for the candles pictured here, you’d need to allow about 5-6 hours for this process to happen.

DO: Remember to keep the wick trimmed to ¼” at all times.

DON’T: Don’t put a lit candle on the back of a toilet stool because a few weeks ago I heard a story about how a guy caught his hair on fire while, y’know, using the toilet.

DON’T: When your candle has neared the end of its life, don’t burn it lower than ½” from the bottom of the jar. If you burn lower than this, the glass could break, and that sounds terrible.

DO: Remember you can use the jars your candles come in to make pretty stuff! After your candle has a ½” of wax left, you can place it in the freezer and gently remove the wax with a butter knife once it's hardened. You'll be able to remove the wick and reuse the glass jar for, oh, I don't know... maybe a succulent or something.

DO: Check out these candles if you're in Springfield, MO at The Market. I *love* them.

Monday, April 4, 2016

5 Steps to Better Sleep

Do you ever struggle to fall asleep? Perhaps you've tried counting sheep or breathing exercises, but nothing seems to do the trick. Here are five ideas to put you on the path toward a full night's sleep. If all else fails, I'll try to make this post a total snooze so you can just read this each night and it's a win-win. You'll fall asleep effortlessly and I'll get a bunch of blog hits.

1. Don't Read in Bed

Many sleep experts recommend reading to relax before bedtime — as long as you don't devour that page-turner in bed. According to the American Sleep Association, reading in bed associates your brain with wakefulness. Or, y'know, you associate reading with sleepiness and fall asleep reading emails or at work if you're a magazine editor. Worst-case scenario, you read something crazy like Gone Girl and then you definitely can't sleep.

2. Don't Drink (Too Much) Coffee (in Bed)

As often as those trendy blogger-girls drink their coffee in bed, I can only assume they spend their sleepless nights dreaming up their next Instagram post. That's because they're likely not doing any real dreaming. A study found in Psychology Today urges you to stop drinking coffee by 2 p.m. to ensure that it doesn't affect your slumber. (Sidebar: Does anybody else feel really silly ordering either tea or decaf at coffee shops in the afternoon and evening hours? I always want to stand up and say, "Hi, I'm Ana, and caffeine adversely affects my sleep" to the 19-year-old barista who just chuckled to himself that grandma over here ordered a mint tea.) Back to the point at hand: If people think reading in bed associates the bed with wakefulness, then drinking coffee in bed certainly seems like a bad idea. And yeah, I'll probably still do it, but now I'll feel like some self destructive, rebel-without-a-cause cool chick when I do.

3. Turn off the Electronics

Back to those Instagram posts — it turns out ending your day by mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds is a bad idea. The National Sleep Foundation explains how light—even a small amount of light produced by a cell phone—can negatively affect our circadian rhythm.

4. Buy Cute Pillows

Buy cute pillows. It's not scientifically proven, but I think you sleep better if you're happy in your environment. On that note, buy cute pillows and clean your room.

5. Be Mindful

A lot of the advice out there on how to sleep better just starts with being mindful of triggers that may prevent you from a good night's sleep. If you have a tendency to overthink or worry at bedtime, chances are that you struggle with that during the day, too. Consider setting aside intentional time for prayer or meditation before bed instead of running through the next day's to-do list. A bedtime routine  could include shutting off technology early, drinking a cup of herbal tea or even yoga to calm yourself from a long day and prepare yourself for a long night of sleeping (instead of tossing and turning.)

P.S. Only take sleep aids (including melatonin) as a last resort, otherwise you might become totally dependent on them to sleep and then what happens when you go on a camping trip and forget your melatonin and you're awake all night and there might be bears and ...?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

31 Signs Spring is On its Way

For this post I’m working with 31bits, a socially conscious jewelry company that gives displaced women in Northern Uganda an opportunity to combat poverty through fashion. All of their pieces are handmade using “bits” of paper, and the ladies who make them are part of a 5-year program that teaches the skills they need to begin their own businesses. I absolutely love this company, both for their look and mission, and I hope you check them out!

This is the time of year when I get extra anxious about the arrival of spring. Anybody else? I’m eagerly monitoring every sign of birds chirping, blossoms blooming, and things growing. The good news is my favorite season isn't too far off! Here are a few signs spring is on the way:

1. The groundhog said it was going to be on time this year (finally!)
2. You’re painting your fingernails every bright color you can get ahold of
3. ...and you finally remembered to paint your toenails
4. People care about college basketball for one month, and one month only
5. You’re trying to memorize choral music for a Good Friday service (just me?)

6. You just looked up a recipe for detox water (#beachbody)
7. And Peeps are finally on sale
8. ...but you can’t eat them because they’re not part of your Lent diet
9. This week’s forecast shows rain 6/7 days
10. You just got a great deal on snow boots, and you can’t decide if you hope it snows so you get to wear them, or if you’d rather it never. snow. ever. again.

11. Sunrise is at 6:33 a.m.
12. ...but you can’t decide if you’re happier the sun is out or if you resent it waking you up before your alarm
13. You shaved your legs for the first time in 4 months
14. You make an excuse to go to the greenhouse every weekend just to soak in the vitamin D
15. Your boyfriend thought it would be a good idea to try out Whole30
16. ...and you’re ecstatic that you can still eat deviled eggs for Easter

17. You can’t decide if you’d rather spend your hard-earned cash on new clothes for cold weather or new clothes for warm weather
18. If you live in the Midwest, you know tornado season is on its way
19. It’s about to be prime petting zoo season (BABY ANIMALS, PEOPLE)
20. Pastel season is officially upon us — although that’s all year this year

21. You’re sick of wearing all the sweaters in your closet
22. ...but most days, you still need a sweater
23. So you google “transitional weather outfit ideas,” and buy jewelry instead.
24. You might be taking a spring break trip
25. ...or you might be watching Snapchats of your college-aged friends taking spring break trips and sighing to yourself as you slave your days away inside working a 9-to-5 job

26. You reminisce on every vacation you’ve ever had and begin to plan your next
27. You can finally cancel that gym membership you never used and go for outdoor bike rides
28. You have an unexplainable craving for Skittles (again, just me?)
29. You’re feeling inexplicably happier and a little less SAD

30. Your playlist instantly switches from Bon Iver to Spice Girls, or something equally embarrassing
31. Daylight Savings Time is less than a week away — YOU CAN MAKE IT!

Let me know what you’re doing to celebrate the beginning of spring! The official start is only 11 days away, yesssss.

Photos by Austin Elliott of Locke + Stache Media.