Author Archives: charlesprogers

Breakfast in Bed: New Year’s Day Hot Toddy

Post by Alison Hein

On New Year’s Day, people around the world will be celebrating – with food! Health, prosperity, love and luck are signified by festive, global dishes. In Japan, they will ring in the new year with “toshikoshi soba”, lengthy buckwheat noodles associated with longevity. Germans will be dining on hearty pork and sauerkraut, meant for abundance and luck. And here in our own southern United States, “Hoppin’ John”, a dish made with round black-eyed peas and salt pork, is believed to bring good fortune and a circuitous close to the year.

Perhaps you’re planning a get-together with friends and family on the first day of the year, or maybe just a quiet day of reflection. Even a day of recuperation from the night before…

You may consider a hot toddy – made hot and sweet, then splashed with alcohol and wintry spices – a good old-fashioned cold remedy or insomnia cure. I recently learned it was also a favored libation at New Year’s Day open houses, or “collations”, which were popular in colonial New York. Get this – people hosting open houses took out newspaper ads to let their friends and neighbors know of the upcoming festivities. Guests were greeted with punch, hot toddies, cakes and other snacks. This practice remained popular for many years, until bands of young men started racing from home to home, grabbing food and drink before hieing off to the next party. It makes me laugh to think of trying this in present-day New York. ☺

Hot Toddies are simple to make, but be careful, just a hint of brandy and spice makes them alarmingly addictive. Vary your toddies by using whiskey, rum or bourbon. Make them with water or tea, fiddle with the spices, or float a thin slice of lemon on top. Then serve them at your own “collation”, or simply keep them to yourself and quietly celebrate the first breakfast in bed of the year.

Happy New Year!

2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon honey
6 ounces milk
¼ teaspoon mace
1 cinnamon stick
Nutmeg, for garnish (optional)

Add brandy and honey to a small heat-proof glass, such as an Irish coffee mug. Pour milk into small, heavy pot and heat over medium to medium-low heat until warmed. Stir mace into milk. Pour warm milk into glass containing brandy and honey. Stir. Add cinnamon stick, sprinkle with nutmeg if you like, and serve immediately.

Makes one Hot Toddy.

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Bedroom Design: A Sunny Bedroom

Post by Laura Cheng.

The season calls for shorter days, so any light and warmth I can absorb from sun, I covet. On typical weekdays, I am trapped on the 40th floor of an office skyscraper, smack in the middle of the floor away from any windows. I rarely get the chance to see the sun. Lunches are generally a quick shovelling of leftovers to sustain me until I am ready to leave the office. And by that time, the sun’s counterpart, the moon is there to shadow my commute. Woe is me. The only time I get to enjoy the sun is in my bedroom on the weekends. I have 3 generous windows in my bedroom for the sun to shine in. But by time I have finished all the weekend chores and errands, and retreated back into my bedroom, the windows are no more than black reflections. So, even if my dreary life does does not always allow me to pause and enjoy Mother Nature’s source of joyful heat, it doesn’t mean I can’t utilize other methods to brighten my bedroom atomsphere, day or night.

In addition to the perfectly vibrant shades in this bedroom, symmetry just triggers happy endorphins. Matching ottomans and table lamps helps make the room appear orderly. Together with the vertically striped headboard, the furnishings add a dose of sunny colors that will bring forth an even warmer, saturated hue as night falls. When looking to brighten a bedroom, it’s hard to go wrong with crisp, white sheets that will cast a pure illuminating sheen.


Any reservations that I may have had about painting an entire bedroom’s walls a bright bold color, have vanished after seeing this bedroom’s use of yellow. I don’t consider yellow a soft, calming color. However, this zen like bedroom keeps clutter to a minimum and sunny opulance at a maximum. White linens are again key to intensifying the faux sunlit walls.


If my bedroom lacked windows, I would have even more reason to try to convert my bedroom to a sunroom. This bedroom appears to be a typical Manhattan closet sized studio with just enough room to squeeze in a bed. However, accents of the sun found in the geometric linens and book covers help to make it a golden retreat. And with the help of the canary colored overhanging lamp, the shimmering taupe wallpaper will help the bedroom shine on long after the sun has set.


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Bedtime Stories: Sam and Violet’s Christmas

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Sam and Violet’s Christmas by Nicole Rubel.

Siblings are such a pain! They ruin your things just for fun! They tell your friends embarrassing things! Why would you want to get a nice present for such a mean old brother or sister?

That’s what Sam and Violet, twin cats, are puzzling over this Christmas. When Sam is poking around, he finds Violet’s present to him: an old shoe! When Violet is poking around, she finds Sam’s present to her: a box of bugs! On their own, each tries to figure out why their sibling is so terrible. But the more they think about the things the other has done, the more they remember the kindness: helping with homework, teaching the other to ride a bike, standing up for them.

Spoiler alert: those terrible gifts were merely red herrings, to throw off snoopy siblings! Warmth, love, and lovingly handcrafted gifts save the day!

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

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Movies in Bed: Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas

Post by Josh Zinn.

Way over yonder
Deep down in little Frogtown Hollow
Amidst the whisper of crickets
Tucked in-between marshes that lack mallow
There lived a little family of otters
A petite mammalian menagerie!
Anthropomorphic by design
Destined for broadcast on your tv
We’ll call the young one Emmet
And, of course, can’t forget his Ma!
See, it’s just now the two of them
Been that way since they said goodbye to Pa.
Life sure ain’t been easy
It’s dang tough to be an otter
Trying to make sense of a muppet-y world
When sense won’t bring back your fotter.
Emmet’s got him some talent, though
Can play the bass real nice.
And Ma’s got a lovely singin’ voice
But she’s always busy makin’ pies.
Wouldn’t it be nice if they didn’t have to worry?
And could let those cares just drift away?
Find some peace within their simple songs
Strummed on a guitar that has mother-of-pearl inlay?
Yes, an otter has dreams
And otter dreams deserve a chance
So Emmet and his Ma sign up for a talent show
Entering into a folksy battle of the bands.
The young otter with his jugband
Alongside ma and her sweet voice.
Against a cloud of dancing squirrels
And “The Nightmare”, Riverbottom’s rowdiest boys.
Who, pray tell, will win?
What lessons will be learned?
Will “The Nightmare” become a reality?
Thus causing a young Otter’s dreams to be spurned…
I cannot divulge what happens
It’s far too much to make into rhyme
But it’s safe to say that I believe in my heart
You should give Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas a little bit of your holiday time.

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Things We Like: Bedroom Armoires

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

One of my favorite pieces of bedroom furniture, apart from the bed itself, has to be the armoire. Stately, solid, beautiful, and functional, these handcrafted (often antique) works of art have been an integral component of a well-furnished bedroom for hundreds of years. Armoires are similar to what we think of as dressers, but with a few notable differences: armoires are taller than they are wide, do not include a mirror (though some newer armoires may have mirrored paneling on the cabinet doors), and feature a large, two-door cabinet that you can hang clothes inside of (dressers contain only drawers).

Armoires were borne out of necessity, since closets weren’t common in homes until recently. The word armoire originates from the Latin word “armorium,” which was a chest used by Roman soldiers to store their arms. The modern day armoire was first developed in France during the early 1500s, and quickly became cherished family heirlooms used to store valuables (mostly textiles).

You can read an interesting piece about armoires from the Nov. 19, 1985 edition of the Dispatch, here.

Armoires were very popular in the United States during the 1990s. Not wanting their bulky television set to be on permanent display, many households purchased oversized armoires—often high dollar antiques—to hide their bedroom electronics. Today, ultra-thin LED televisions and wireless components have made hiding technology much less of a chore, which has brought down the market premium on antique armoires making them more affordable than they once were.

While you aren’t likely to be storing a television inside armoire today, they remain very versatile pieces of furniture that can serve as the focal point of your bedroom. Whether you need additional space to store your clothes, linens, or books, armoires still have a place in the modern home. Best of all, they come in almost unlimited shapes, styles, and sizes so you’re sure to find one that fits your bedroom design. Construction methods have also evolved, making armoires much easier to move (in pieces) than earlier armoires that could only be moved as a complete unit.

You can see some more armoire eye candy over at Houzz.

How do you, or would you put an armoire to use in your bedroom? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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