Author Archives: charlesprogers
Bedtime Stories: Gone-Away Lake
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Ahh, summertime. Or rather, ahh, summertime when you are a kid and have nothing to do but to run around and explore and discover. I love those old-fashioned stories of children embarking on summertime adventures, roaming around, unraveling mysteries, where parents are but a peripheral part of the tale. Upon hearing of my love for The Penderwicks, a librarian friend of mine suggested Gone-Away Lake published in 1958 by Newbery-winning author Elizabeth Enright.
Ten-year-old Portia Blake and her six-year-old brother Foster get to ride the train alone to visit their favorite cousin, Julian, and his family in Western New York. Portia and Julian quickly set off into the woods behind Julian’s new home and make amazing discoveries, including a row of abandoned once-beautiful homes on the shores of a bog which used to be a beautiful lake. To their delight and surprise, a pair of elderly siblings, who lived on the lake in its prime, have returned to the erstwhile lake and the children begin a summer of new friendships and new discoveries.
So much of this book is things that most parents today would NEVER allow their children to do: wandering off in the woods on their own; going into strangers’ homes; drinking homemade sherry at strangers’ homes! If this book were written today, the reader would be waiting to find out what horrific secrets the old lady and her brother were hiding. SPOILER ALERT: they’re not hiding anything. They’re just really nice people.
A lovely, fun, innocent book of childhood, summertime, and the passage of time.
Movies in Bed: The Legend of Billie Jean
Post by Josh Zinn.
Back when I was an unattractive and rotund child, I often used to feign sickness in order to stay home so that I could play Metroid and watch copious amounts of television. Because there are only so many times a boy can defeat Mother Brain and subsequently reveal his bounty hunter’s true femininity (if you never owned a Nintendo this is probably going over your head), the videogames regularly took a back seat to the joys of daytime programming. From the lurid tales of Divorce Court; the demonic possessions that plagued The Days of Our Lives; to the scandalous biopics of Liberace and Susanne Sommers that defined a then-young Lifetime television, my real education came not from the classroom, but from soaking in the televised depravity of the human condition.
Amongst this sea of scintillation, HBO would frequently air a film entitled The Legend of Billie Jean. Now, I’m not sure what it takes to qualify as a legend these days or if a female vigilante fighting for the cash to fix her brother’s scooter truly qualifies as such, but for all intents and purposes Billie Jean was a revelation for me as to what young folks could achieve if they adopted a defiant stance, a Dolph Lundgren circa-Rocky 4 flat-top, and a wardrobe filled with neon-tinted leather. No, this wasn’t some cheap dramatization of Mr. Showmanship’s seedy late-night male deliveries; this was a rallying cry for a life beyond the borders of small-town oppression, where men with bandanas on their brow, beef jerky on their breath, and beer in their bellies ruled the land.
Billie Jean and her ragtag group of freedom fighters (including Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa Simpson!) taught me that I didn’t have to listen to naysayers who didn’t believe in the power of youth and the possibility of a life outside of a six-pack of Mt. Dew and a minimum wage job at the dollar store. Furthermore, as she handily evades both the police and the rednecks that have defiled her brother’s possession, she becomes a symbol for women everywhere that they are their own keeper; a veritable Susan Sontag of the trailer park.
Finding myself at my own crossroads as I finally graduate from college this week, it’s easy to get caught up in the memories of experiences that have shaped my life. While I would love to tell you about the amazing learning journey I had way back in junior high school, the truth of the matter is that most of that time was spent at home, “sick,” watching a media-savvy Billie Jean exclaim, “Fair is fair!” to anyone with a camera and credentials. For those words of wisdom alone, I am thankful every day my folks bought my numerous stories about the dog’s puke on the floor being my own.
Bedroom Design: Tips for Designing A Contemporary Bedroom
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
Carefully planned contemporary bedrooms look great, but can be hard to pull off. The reason most contemporary bedrooms fail is lack of follow through with the vision. If you decide you are going to design a contemporary bedroom, you have to be sure that it carries through in every aspect of the bedroom. For example, a contemporary bed frame placed amongst chunky, ornate furniture won’t look right no matter how cool the bed is. If you’re looking to create a contemporary bedroom, below are four areas you should focus on with tips to help get you started.
You should limit the palette of your contemporary bedroom to one or two neutral colors. White is the most common color, because it is bright and clean feeling. Neutral colors also give you an ideal background that will make your statement pieces really pop. You want to limit your statement pieces to one or two items, so choose them carefully. Examples of statement pieces include a colorful piece of art, a standing vase, headboard, loveseat, or even the curtains and bedspread. When choosing a statement piece, brighter is better.
2. Bed Frame
Most contemporary bedrooms feature a low profile, platform bed. Clean lines and smooth surfaces are essential. You have a number of colors to choose from when selecting a bed frame, but the most common are white, black, or wood. Headboards are also optional, but unless you want your headboard to be the main focus of the room, opt for a color that matches the wall.
3. Light Fixtures
Having the right light fixtures shouldn’t be overlooked when designing a contemporary bedroom. Unless you want to make your light fixtures a focal point of your bedroom, you should look for pieces that are understated and blend in with the color of the wall. If you are having trouble selecting a color, it’s hard to go wrong with brushed stainless steel or glossy white. While it’s important for the fixtures to match the design of the bedroom, it is even more important that your light fixtures be functional.
4. White Space
There is no room for clutter in a contemporary bedroom. When designing a contemporary bedroom you need to be thinking minimalist. It’s easy to get carried away in decorating your contemporary bedroom with a lot of great pieces; however, this will hurt the effect you’re trying to achieve. Use negative space to your advantage, it will keep your bedroom looking clean and contemporary and really help your statement pieces pop.
5. Keep it Personal
Ultimately, your contemporary bedroom should reflect your personal taste. There are a variety of flavors within the broad category of contemporary that you can explore. Settling on one design approach that you like best, and that also fits in with the overall design of your home can be a real challenge. However, as is with any design project, remember that it’s a journey, not a destination.
Breakfast in Bed: Bread Pudding
Post by Alison Hein.
Due to a last minute change in dinner plans (don’t ask), I found myself the following morning with a beautiful, untouched loaf of Calandra’s Italian semolina bread. Lovely…golden…stale. ☹ Too perfect for homemade breadcrumbs, I decided to make bread pudding.
Sometimes called Poor Man’s Pudding, bread pudding is really a custard. And, since it is still summer (and they were buy one – get one free), I had a pint of blueberries on hand. Eggs + bread + fruit = breakfast, right?
I like to leave little icebergs of bread above the custard to bake to a crispy brown, making a tantalizing contrast with the warm, gooey bread pudding center. Top this with some fresh fruit syrup for a sweet and tangy, perfectly balanced dish. If you don’t want to fuss with the blueberry syrup, simple maple syrup is always a winner. Or, if you want to fuss a little more, try crème anglaise for a rich and decadent cream on cream delight.
It takes a little time for the bread pudding to bake and set, but actual prep time is only about 10 minutes. My suggestion? Do the prep work and get the bread pudding in the oven. Then go relax, and get someone else to dish up and serve you a tantalizing, poor man’s breakfast in bed.
1 loaf stale French or Italian bread
½ cup sugar
4 cups milk
¼ cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
Cut or tear bread into bite-sized cubes (should be around 6 to 8 cups). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish, spread bread cubes evenly in dish and set aside.
In large bowl, add eggs and whisk until slightly thickened. Whisk in sugar and milk. Add butter, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and mix well. Pour egg mixture over bread cubes and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes to allow bread to absorb liquid. Preheat oven to 350°.
Bake bread pudding for 40 to 45 minutes, until it is puffed up and the top is golden brown. Serve hot with blueberry sauce, maple syrup, or crème anglaise. Add a dollop of whipped cream, if you like
Makes 8 servings.
2 cups (1 dry pint) blueberries
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Add blueberries, water, sugar and vanilla to small, heavy pot. Place on stove over high heat and bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes, until blueberries are soft and popped open, and syrup is thickened. Set aside and allow to cool. Syrup will continue to thicken while cooling, so adjust cooking time to your preference.
Makes about 1 ½ cups of syrup.
Bedroom Design: The Olympic Bedroom
Post by Laura Cheng.
I find it fascinating how sports can harmoniously unite disparate countries. That’s what my senior year thesis should have been about. Not the death of a beautiful American icon, Marilyn Monroe, but the Olympics – the optimistic antidote to the current politics in the world; the supernatural athletes delivering the cure.
Source: http://photos.denverpost.com/2012/07/25/photos-london-2012-summer-games-olympic-village/#name here
Considering the amazing feats the athletes accomplish, it’s hard to remember that they are still a human form. They are kinda like me – they spend a good deal of their time sleeping. During the Olympics, this all happens in the Olympic Village. The concept of an Olympic Village was created during the 1924 summer Olympics to allow the athletes to easily access the Games’ venues. A week before the Games, athletes, trainers and officials move into their homes. US water polo captain, Tony Azevedo, compared the event to be similar to the “first day of college”. With a little bit of nonchalant wall décor, their bedrooms no doubt resemble a college dormitory. English diver Tom Daley shared a pic of his Olympic Village bedroom on Facebook. “My room in the Olympic village all decorated :)”.
If you can’t tell from Tom Daley’s bedroom, the beds in this year’s London Olympic Village are just 68 inches (5 feet 8 inches). That’s smaller than an American twin mattress! It’s just about the size of bed my 6 year old nephew sleeps on, complete with a Kmart-esque comforter. I was not surprised to learn that many of the larger sized competitors stay in hotels outside the Village.
As reported by Dan Devine on Yahoo!’s latest sports coverage:
“American hurdler Lolo Jones was hanging out with some members of the U.S. men’s national basketball team on Thursday, before the upcoming Opening Ceremony officially kicks matters off at the ‘12 Summer Games. The largest man on the team — starting center Tyson Chandler — momentarily took a load off and stretched out on one of those same Olympic Village beds. The image seemed so comical that Jones just felt she had to share it with the world, alongside the caption: ‘Ok, so run this by me again @tysonchandler, why won’t the men’s basketball team sleep in the olympic village?’”